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Discussion Starter #1
Hi everyone,

I've had trouble for the past year or so with my new Keilwerth and the pads on the upper stack refusing to stay in adjustment. I have brought the sax into the shop many times, only to have the pads in the left hand suddenly start seating terribly (to the point of not being able to play the horn at all badly).

The problem seemed to settle down for a while, but I suddenly started having issues again. I have the left hand adjusted two weeks ago, and the horn became unplayable again a week and a half later. I got it fixed again yesterday, took it home, checked that it was still fine with a leak light, and then flew from CA to Florida for a grad school audition. I check again when I got here, and the pads were fine. In the course of practicing today, the back side of the B pad seems to have swelled up, so it no longer seats properly, and it also keeps the pad above it from closing on a B (it's closed by the middle or third finger when you play an A or G).

When I had the horn worked on yesterday, I insisted that this was a recurring problem, but the tech (a very good and well known tech) said there was nothing wrong with the instrument. The problem is definitely occuring with the instrument while I'm playing it. It goes from being fine at the beginning of the practice session to bad in the middle. I am almost certain that I'm not bending the keys (the problem is always that the back side of the pad hits the tone hole early, which is the opposite problem I would expect if I were bending the key). Could there just be something wrong with the pad? It the leather just not sealed right so it's swelling? This is driving me insane, costing me an enormous amount of money, and I am extremely stressed out because I have my graduate audition in two days. Can anyone suggest anything!?
 

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Discussion Starter #2
Also: The tech checked the tone holes and said they're not warped (with it being a Keilwerth and all the controversy over that).

When I told him the pads got significantly worse over the course of a single practice sessions, his reaction was "That's not possible." I'm certain it's happening (as easy as using a leak light, practicing, and then using the light again).
 

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Have you tried testing them with a cigarette paper?

http://www.shwoodwind.co.uk/HandyHints/LeakyPads.htm

A badly set pad can sometimes show as sealing with a leak light, but a cigarette paper will show you whether one side of the pad is seating more firmly than the other.
In the case of your sax I suspect you'll find that the pads bite down firmly at the rear and rather less so at the front (probably due to their having been compression set at the factory).

Pads get wet in use, and tend to expand slightly - a well seated pad is able to accomodate this expansion and retain its seat, but if it's poorly seated it will tend to show a leak.

Cigarette paper can be used to test the pads when they're dry - when they're wet you'll have to use something waterproof. The cellophane wrapping from a box of chocolates will do...or a piece of audio cassette tape.

Regards,
 

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Also check that your case is holding it properly, too tight or too loose can and will cause damage to the regulation and setups, neck reciever cap still there

Add into any unorthodox playing style and you may have another answer other than pad swelling, which I would find to be a very unusual problem
 

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Are the pads secured with a substantial bed of hot-melt glue (and that includes shellac)?

If not, then reliably adjusting pad alignment will not work by the common method of heating the key cup and lifting parts of the pad. It is unreliable because it introduces air pockets behind the pad. Some techs seem to be fixed on only using this method, when altering the alignment of the key cup itself would be the only reliable method.

And some less than enlightened techs use clamping as their main means of adjusting pad seating. This also fails, because the felt gradually reverts somewhat to its pre-heated configuration.

Is your sax an ST model? If so, it is quite likely that pads are glued in with air pockets behind them &/or a type of glue that does not allow adjustment with heat.

I'm just informing. Not incriminating. I don't know him or his work from a bar of soap.

But I do know that if pads are secure in key cups (either with or without a thick bed of glue), without air bubbles, and alignment adjustments are made well, using a method appropriate to the method of pad installation, then they don't keep going seriously out of adjustment.
 

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I don't know if the pad swelling you are suggesting is the problem in this case, but just a couple of weeks ago I worked on an instrument with this problem. It was pretty strange. The pad was still original and none of the other original pads on this instrument had this problem. When you pressed the key firmly on the tone hole you could hear the 'pfffff' type of noise of air coming out of the pad. If I wet the pad it soaked right into it and then pressing the key would make the sound and squeeze the water out of it. That said, some type of unreliable adjustment is a lot more likely, but everything's possible.
 

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Discussion Starter #7
I just got up in the morning and checked with the light again: the problem is gone. This is very bizarre. My best guess is that it dried out and flattened out again(?) I'm constantly having water leak out of my left hand keys when I play, so they get very wet, but I've been told that's not **supposed** to affect the pads much...

I don't know what method has been used to fix the pads. The leaking is definitely at the back side of the pad (sometimes it's so bad I can tell it's not closing just by looking at it, without the light).
 

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Hmmm . . . very interesting. A couple of if's

- If the upper stack pads were not installed with shellac all the way to the outside edges and/or
- If the leather in the pads is excessively porous and/or have not had a water proofing treatment
- If you are constantly having water leak out of your left hand keys when you play

Then there is a strong possibility that there is enough moisture being absorbed by the felt inside the pads causing the felt to swell. This would have the effect of causing the pad to become too thick for the orientation of the key cup to the tonehole thereby causing it to hit first in the back. This is a common occurrence where I live with flutes and piccollos during the often wet marching band season.

The solution if the pads are in otherwise good condition is to remove the upper stack and spray the pads with a product such as "Kiwi Camp Dry" Then reattach the keys and recheck the seating and regulation. If the pads are water stained and the leather is beginning to get hard, then I would advise replacing them with new pads and also adding the spray after they have been seated.
 

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Just thinking "outside the box" - Have you double checked (when it goes funky on you) with a different mpc? What you are explaining also sounds like a mouthpiece with a funky table. The reed swells and you no longer get a good seal of the reed if the table isnt flat. Just another ave. to eliminate to confirm the problem is on your sax. Mouthpiece tables have been known to warp.

Charlie
 

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Discussion Starter #10
jbtsax:

1. I'm not sure how much shellac is on the back of the pads. I've just been going to the repairman and sayinig "These pads are not seating, can you fix it and tell me what's causing the problem to recur so often?" I then come back a few hours later and am told "Pads usually move. There's nothing wrong with the actual horn." Next time I'm in I can check about the shellac though.

2. I also don't know if the pads have been waterproofed.

3. I am constantly having water leaking out of the left hand keys.



Graysay:

It's definitely the saxophone. It's obvious with the leak light, and when I bring into the repair people they look at it and say "Yea, that's leaking atrociously."
 

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Couldn't it just be pad mites that had chili for dinner? :bluewink:

Having said that, I'd probably puncture the bad pad with a needle two or three times, near the key cup rim. If this helps, okay, else we're back at square one with little loss.
 

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Couldn't it just be pad mites that had chili for dinner? :bluewink:

Having said that, I'd probably puncture the bad pad with a needle two or three times, near the key cup rim. If this helps, okay, else we're back at square one with little loss.
Actually this technique is used to good effect when installing clarinet pads so that when the keycup is heated the air inside the airtight bladder covering of the pad has a place to escape when it expands due to the heat applied. The leather saxophone pads which are somewhat porous to begin with would not require, or respond to this process in my experience.
 

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Actually this technique is used to good effect when installing clarinet pads so that when the keycup is heated the air inside the airtight bladder covering of the pad has a place to escape when it expands due to the heat applied. The leather saxophone pads which are somewhat porous to begin with would not require, or respond to this process in my experience.
That's what I was thinking too, until I heated a (clarinet) keycup with a leather pad in order to reseat it. Went up like a doughroll in the oven. Thus I'm not that sure about pourousness any more... :scratch:
 

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I always puncture sax pads as one would do with clarinet pads. It ends up being a no hassle deal when setting them and seating them, and they look so elegant and "slim" afterwards!

Another suggestion that no one has made yet, are you sure it gets swollen? (the back of the pad?) maybe if the hinge screw is bent out of shape, if it grabs and rotates under playing condition (you having an audition and maybe going over and over the same phrases again strikes me as the ideal "overstress" condition both for the player and the mechanism) maybe when it reaches the "lower" point in the screw bend the B padcup hits in the back. Try rotating the screw a couple of turns up and down while carefully watching the stack. If the keys "wiggle" around then it's 100% surely due to mechanism binding.
 

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Discussion Starter #15
jicaino--

I can't be sure if it really is the pad swelling. I was assuming that it was, since I've been told that the problem is with the seating and that the saxophone itself is okay, but it does seem like maybe the tech might have checked the tone holes and posts but not noticed that the problem is intermittently affected by the actual screw.

Do you mean try the screw that is at the top of the long vertical rod that the B and A keys are attached to? I don't have a screw driver with me now, but I will try that soon. It seems like a strong possibility since the amount that the pads go out of alignment might be too extreme to be caused just by swelling. I also haven't actually oiled my horn since I bought it (just did now, though), which wouldn't help.
 

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There sounds to be alot of issues happening,

If you want it fixed then you have to address a few problems

first,if you have really really wet fingers when playing, that sounds like a problem to start with, Im guessing your playing with way way to much pressure """"Guessing""", really I would need you to be in front of me to actually see the problem itself So based around this assumption, I would try to make it easier for you to play the note, example probably go a softer reed or shallower mpc table to try and reduce the amount of playing pressure and in turn hopefully reduce the wetness happening, Im guessing your blowing way to hard or trying way to hard to create your sound, so many times I see people come in and test play theree instrument with super hard finger pressured, big puffy cheeks and trying to hammer the sound through, if its set up properly you can just swing out a nice long tone with almost no effort / spittle / exhaustion

After this, get all the pads in the upper stack changed, then we know there seated properly, no air behind them, correct fit, waterproofed etc, after this the problem should theoretically be gone.. but any little issues after this can be addressed

The problem your having appears to be an unusaual one. Correct repair and diagnosis is hard to achieve via an internet forum
 

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I'm willing to bet there's mech binding.

Yes, I'm referring to the screw that holds "a bunch of keys" together, one of them keys would be the B key that's giving you a hard time. Check if when you move (turn) that screw, the B key hinge "wobbles" axially.
 

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That's what I was thinking too, until I heated a (clarinet) keycup with a leather pad in order to reseat it. Went up like a doughroll in the oven. Thus I'm not that sure about pourousness any more... :scratch:
Yes, that can depend on the type of pad. I have clarinet leather pads that swell from heat so I puncture them. Sax leather pads from the same company, including ones that are treated, waterproof, with an addition plastic disc, don't swell. I've seen other models of clarinet leather pads that don't swell.
 

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I'm not a tech but I know for certain after this became a chronic problem I would have all the pads changed. I would think that when your tech had the horn apart to do this he would discover any other underlying mechanical problems.
 

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Yes, that can depend on the type of pad. I have clarinet leather pads that swell from heat so I puncture them. Sax leather pads from the same company, including ones that are treated, waterproof, with an addition plastic disc, don't swell. I've seen other models of clarinet leather pads that don't swell.
Could it be that the hole for the resonator in the center of the pad acts like a vent? I don't know of anyone in the US who uses leather pads on Bb soprano clarinets. However, they are still quite common on bass clarinets.
 
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