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Distinguished Technician & SOTW Columnist. RIP, Yo
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Discussion Starter #1


A private message to me read, "I recently acquired a sax and it has new cork on it. I tried several mouthpieces but they don't go on easily and they all play flat. Should I thin out the end of the cork nearest the bell with an emery board or fine sandpaper?

Seeing this is a common problem I decided to make my response more public:

The neck is tapered. The hole in the mouthpiece is cylindrical. But it is a thorough nuisance to have a tapered cork going into a cylindrical hole, because the further you push the mouthpiece on, the more ridiculously difficult it becomes to push it on.

So IMO, anybody installing a new cork, should use some method, eg say 120 or 150 grit sandpaper, to remove quite a lot of cork from the non-tip end of the cork, until the entire cork tube is cylindrical on the outside.

(My own process involves quite a bit of thinning before the cork is even glued on, using a sandpaper file - http://www.cws.au.com/shop/category/-sandpaper-file-quick-change - then more adjustment with the same tool after gluing and trimming with a knife.)

If the cork tapers at all, then it should probably taper in the opposite direction, i.e. fatter at the tip end. Allow me to explain... It is important that the tip end, say for the first cm, seals well. Otherwise, low notes can warble and other odd acoustic effects can occur. So this end must be a firm fit. The other end has no other function other than to stop the mouthpiece wobbling, so it does not need to be a very firm fit, even though it usually is, I suppose partly simply to reduce sand-papering time.

All this cork removal should be done before any cork grease is applied, because sandpaper barely works on greased cork, and quickly clogs with grease, even if the surface grease has been removed using naphtha (lighter fluid).

Just how much needs to be removed so that the mouthpiece eventually fits well with grease, is an educated guess based on experience. I suppose if the mouthpiece can be forced tightly on an ungreased cork about 1 cm, and no more, and the cork has been sanded cylindrical, then it will be somewhere near right once greased.

Unfortunately, it is rare for sax manufacturers to taper this cork. I suppose some technicians do; some don't.
 

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I'm definately with you on this Gordon!! My Personaline mouthpiece is the only mouthpiece I have a hard time fitting my cork...maybe its not completely cylindrical??
 

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For what it's worth; the easiest way- for me at least- to effectively sand the neck cork is to cut a long strip of sandpaper off a sheet of same and then pull it around the area of the cork to be sanded as though you were shining a shoe. Be careful not to do all your sanding on one side of the cork and protect the finish on the neck against inadvertent scratching by wrapping a length of masking tape around the brass right above the end of the cork while you're sanding. Go slow and don't rush things- you can always go back and sand it thinner, it's a bit more challenging to sand it thicker...
 

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Right on Gordon. I fit every neck cork I install so the mouthpiece can go on the cork all the way to where the end of the neck stops inside the shank of the mouthpiece. Once the mouthpiece is on as far as it will go I then trim the last part of the cork using the mouthpiece as a guide and then clean the remaining contact cement by "ragging" the neck at that spot.

I also melt paraffin wax into every neck and tenon cork I install and then add a light coat of cork grease. The paraffin tends to fill the pores and seems to extend the life of the cork in my experience.
 

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On altos and tenors I fit a 35mm wide crook cork as standard as it seems to be the best width neither looking too short nor too long.
 

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Gordon,
In a post earlier today I remarked how it use to be that every player always took care of replacing and adjusted their cork ( http://forum.saxontheweb.net/showth...i-Pulldown-Crook-Plate!&p=1644951#post1644951 )

To many of today's players think it's some kind of mystery to replace/adjust (and taper) a neck cork. It was back in the early 70's when Dexter Gordon shared with me his ritual of replacing his neck cork about four or five times a year and making it "a lubricated sleeve" to slide his mouthpiece on, a couple years later I discovered that Jimmy Moody replaced and shaped his allot also, if the cork lost the smallest chunk on it somewhere he would replace it.

You do a great service here to promote all players to learn how to and why to replace and adjust the neck cork!

JR
 

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I'm definately with you on this Gordon!! My Personaline mouthpiece is the only mouthpiece I have a hard time fitting my cork...maybe its not completely cylindrical??
I have the same issue with my Made in England Personalines, as their bores are larger that the other Brilharts I have. The modern Otto Links seem to be the same bore size as my MiE Personalines and also fit looser on the cork. I have a US made black Personaline and it is similar to my Ebolins in size.
 

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FWIW, When I worked at Erick Brand, we sold a replacement grinding stone for a sax neck cork grinder they use to market. It was long obsolete when I worked for them due to the cost of the machine I supose. The machine allowed you to attach a sax neck and grind away the entire length of the cork to the diameter, and taper or cylindrical shape you wanted it.

I sand neck corks to a cylindrical shape and put a round over on the front edge. I usually use a coarse 120 grit then finer 220 grit abrasive cloth to do the sanding.
 

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a good cork is a mandatory part in a good work. It's like fitting everything tightly and good. If the neck cork's toast and then the tenon is poorly fit, the horn can be all perfect and it will sound like crap
 

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FWIW, When I worked at Erick Brand, we sold a replacement grinding stone for a sax neck cork grinder they use to market. It was long obsolete when I worked for them due to the cost of the machine I supose. The machine allowed you to attach a sax neck and grind away the entire length of the cork to the diameter, and taper or cylindrical shape you wanted it.

I sand neck corks to a cylindrical shape and put a round over on the front edge. I usually use a coarse 120 grit then finer 220 grit abrasive cloth to do the sanding.
The tool sounds like a worth while addition, whilst its easy enough to do by hand, it would certainly guarantee unifromity to the job and speed the process up.

Gordon.. Nice post
 

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There is a lathe attachment so you can shape alto and tenor crook corks while they're spinning which will guarantee uniformity over the entire length (provided the crook isn't oval).
 

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You mean Ferree's neck spinner? It is kind of dangerous... to secure a very uncentered mass distribution piece using such a flimsy securing way.
 

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The tool sounds like a worth while addition, whilst its easy enough to do by hand, it would certainly guarantee unifromity to the job and speed the process up.

Gordon.. Nice post
If I were going to do many neck corks (10-20 or more per day)I would probably make an attachment for my lathe or setup a cheap mini lathe model. I'm thinking a grinding wheel in the chuck and an expandable mandrel attached to the compound rest to align the centrline of the sax neck tangent to the grinding wheel.

I do have an expandable mandrel that fits in a lathe to spin sax necks. Balance is an issue, so you have to spin them slowly.

Matt
 

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Matt do you have any kind of image of that Eric Brand's cork grinder? The best cork surface is achieved by grinding. When I used to do german piston fillers fountain pen repairs, I used the grinding attachment a lot on my lathe, to spin the piston seal.
 

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Matt do you have any kind of image of that Eric Brand's cork grinder? The best cork surface is achieved by grinding. When I used to do german piston fillers fountain pen repairs, I used the grinding attachment a lot on my lathe, to spin the piston seal.
Juan,
Somewhere around the house I have the catalog I use to work out of at EB. If I find it I'll scan a picture. As I recall it looked like a tool and cutter grinder of sorts with a device to hold the neck. It's been 20 years...

Matt
 

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Distinguished Technician & SOTW Columnist. RIP, Yo
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Discussion Starter #17
...Dexter Gordon shared with me his ritual of replacing his neck cork about four or five times a year ...
He must have been a nutter! A good cork, well fitted, and lubricated with a non-destructive grease, easily lasts a decade.
 

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Discussion Starter #18
It did make me wonder what damage it could do if it went wrong!
Ouch to the knuckles or fingers, perhaps unable to work for a week, and goodbye neck!
 

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Discussion Starter #19
... The best cork surface is achieved by grinding. .. QUOTE]

True. But here, I think "Best" means nicest to touch and see. I do ponder that a slightly rougher surface, eg 150 grit sandpaper, retains cork grease better.
 

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... The best cork surface is achieved by grinding. .. QUOTE]

True. But here, I think "Best" means nicest to touch and see. I do ponder that a slightly rougher surface, eg 150 grit sandpaper, retains cork grease better.
Not really. Cork will still retain the normal oil/grease absortion properties and it will not keep on "sanding" the inner shank on mouthpieces. What will happen is that if yu don't grease up EVERY time, a snug fitting piece may be a pain in the butt to remove after a long playing session.
 
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