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Discussion Starter #1
The leaks I have are due to the back of the pad coming down before the front of the pad. It is my understanding that this is OK if it closes completely with hardly any pressure, but if it takes too long to completely close it can cause some problems and my D1 does cause a problem. So I fixed the D1 using a tool I made myself out of an cheap butter knife. What I did was slide the blade under the back of the pad while carefully using pressure to bend the the front of the key down. I did this several times while using a leak light to check my progress. When it looked OK, I checked the back of the pad to make sure I hadn't gone too far. I was recently told by an expert that the way you are really supposed to do this is to heat up the cup and then adjust the pad to make it fall evenly. Which is the preferred method?
 

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You shouldn't bend sax keys. Mainly what you are doing is warping the key cup which is going to have to be straightened at some point. The cause of your problem is the use of thicker pads than the sax was designed for and/or too much glue behind the pad. You can sometimes 'float' the pad into closing correctly but it will be cocked in the cup, which is not a big deal. 'Floating' is the process you described of heating the glue and pressing the cup down. Players carry butane lighters sometimes to be able to do this on a gig if a pad gets loose.
 

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The problem you described is a common one and often found on new instruments just out of the factory. The term I like to use is heavy in the back. I use the same system you did but prefer using a wooden craft stick similar to a tongue depressor. There is less chance of putting a mark in the tonehole and the softer wood is more forgiving and safer to use to bend the key cup. A word of caution is to be sure to catch part of the back of the resonator with your "fulcrum" so that you don't just compress the back of the pad. If that happens you will think you have corrected the problem and come back a few hours later and find it is still heavy in the back.

Heating the keycup and floating the pad works too if you know exactly what is inside the key cup. If your advisor was really an expert, he would have told you there is more than one way to do this that works, and there is no "one right way" to do most repair tasks. A slick trick that I learned from Jeff Peterson from Yamaha at a repair workshop is to heat the keycup till the shellac is in its "plastic" state and then using a pad leveling ring around the resonator, push or pull the pad in the direction of the low area (or away from the high area). The reason this works is that the pad rides up slightly on the rounded inside edge of the keycup.

I disagree with what 1saxman posted earlier. If done properly the keycup is not "distorted" but merely tilted at the key arm. Professional techs do this all the time. We also have specialized tools to lower the backs of the keycups. Of course any technique that is over done or poorly done can alter the shape of the keycup. What I am talking about are small adjustments to the geometry of the keycup. If someone doesn't know any better than to try to install pads that are too thick for a particular instrument, they certainly have no business tilting keycups.
 

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You shouldn't bend sax keys. Mainly what you are doing is warping the key cup which is going to have to be straightened at some point.
I disagree with what 1saxman posted earlier. If done properly the keycup is not "distorted" but merely tilted at the key arm. Professional techs do this all the time.
In general that's true saxoclese, but an important thing is the design of the saxophone. Some saxophones (quite a few) are poorly designed in a way that, even when done properly, the key cup can warp. That's a result of a too strong key arm and too weak key cup. The instrument should be made so this doesn't happen. Even some (old) professional models had this issue to an extreme, with absurdly strong/thick/short arms and incredibly flimsy key cups.

Of a course a good repairer would know not to cause any problems even in this situation. The claim in the first replay that you shouldn't bend sax keys is dead wrong... unless they meant the OP specifically :) and in that case... who knows.
 

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Discussion Starter #5
You know, I worried about compressing the back of the pad which would give me a very short term success, but this morning my sax is playing better than ever (I have my fingers crossed.) I've got to do some serious research on sax repair; this is as important as breath control.
 

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You know, I worried about compressing the back of the pad which would give me a very short term success, but this morning my sax is playing better than ever (I have my fingers crossed.) I've got to do some serious research on sax repair; this is as important as breath control.
If you are serious, there are three excellent resources available:

- Music Medic Articles
- Stephen Howard Haynes Saxophone Manual
- Videos by Matt Stohrer
 

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You shouldn't bend sax keys. ....
I, too, disagree with that.
And it is really obvious that manufacturers do because there is no evidence that they did anything else. (There is seldom a bed of glue.)
 

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Discussion Starter #9
I have Steve Howard's book. I don't know if I have the latest version, I'll check. Thanks for the other addresses. I've been using Music Medic swabs for a while, but I'll check out their articles. BTW, Steve says in his book that it is not practical to dry every pad after playing. He should change that. I do this after every hour of practice. Just checked; I've got the 2017 book. I love Matt Stohrer; when every tech I visited couldn't fix my YAS62, Matt's video on pads told me what I needed to do.
 

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...BTW, Steve says in his book that it is not practical to dry every pad after playing. He should change that. I do this after every hour of practice.
Try playing in a theatre orchestra pit with 5 or six instruments around you. You could not do what you currently do (which seems bordering on obsessive), not even at the interval. They'd close the theatre long before you finished after the show.

... I love Matt Stohrer; when every tech I visited could fix my YAS62, Matt's video on pads told me what I needed to do.
Just be aware that what you read in books, no matter how thorough, is really only touching the surface. Also, there are many ways of doing a job, and what is in any particular book or video may not always be the best way. Furthermore, whether any particular method is good or not is typically dependent on the minute detail, which is often overlooked in books and videos. This is mostly learnt from years of experience unless you have an extremely analytical instructor who is actually aware of the detail they have come to carry out.

As an illustration: Try tying a shoe lace 10-20 times slower than usual. Watch and be aware of every movement of every finger and thumb. Chances are you will be doing a heap of stuff you had never thought about.
 

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Try playing in a theatre orchestra pit with 5 or six instruments around you. You could not do what you currently do (which seems bordering on obsessive), not even at the interval. They'd close the theatre long before you finished after the show.


Just be aware that what you read in books, no matter how thorough, is really only touching the surface. Also, there are many ways of doing a job, and what is in any particular book or video may not always be the best way. Furthermore, whether any particular method is good or not is typically dependent on the minute detail, which is often overlooked in books and videos. This is mostly learnt from years of experience unless you have an extremely analytical instructor who is actually aware of the detail they have come to carry out.

As an illustration: Try tying a shoe lace 10-20 times slower than usual. Watch and be aware of every movement of every finger and thumb. Chances are you will be doing a heap of stuff you had never thought about.
Even beyond that, saxophone repair like many other things is a CRAFT. In a craft, there are just an unutterable number of little things that are the body of knowledge and skill that you can maybe learn by reading, but you cannot do them properly and repeatably until you practice them many many times. Matters like how much force one uses to do this or that, just the right amount that will be effective but not enough to break something. These are things that you can hack your way through the first few dozen times but it's not until you have done it many times that you can start to really do it right and have the deep down internalized understanding of what you're doing.

I am not at that level with the saxophone-specific elements of sax repair like padding, though for sax repair jobs that are more closely related to general mechanical work (soldering and brazing; making new mechanical fittings, that sort of thing) I would say I approach that state. But I am that kind of expert on some other kinds of mechanical work and so I understand what it's like.
 

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+1 on what Gordon and turf3 said.
 

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BTW, Steve says in his book that it is not practical to dry every pad after playing. He should change that.
I think that's his opinion so I doubt he'll want to change it. I think technically or theoretically it may be practical if you have the time and inclination, but what he means is that it's not really worth worrying about if you have other things to do.
 

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I have to disagree with Gordon(NZ). No one is talking about stopping a performance and drying pads. It takes five minutes to dry every pad, and I do it when it's convenient. Now I'm not sure if this really helps, but many do it and claim it does. I know I'm hard on pads, and I don't want to have to drive two, two hour round trips to the tech to get pads replaced if I can help it.

I agree that fixing a sax is difficult, but unless you have a master technician living in your basement, you have to be able to work on your own sax. Here's a good masters thesis for some music educator out there. Do a study to find on the number of young students who quit playing saxophone because the thing never works.
 

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I think that's his opinion so I doubt he'll want to change it. I think technically or theoretically it may be practical if you have the time and inclination, but what he means is that it's not really worth worrying about if you have other things to do.
Pete,with all due respect, I'm not interested in opinions, I'm interested in the truth. An opinion is "I like blue better than green". The truth is that it is NOT impractical to dry every pad before putting the sax away in the case. What I would like to know is whether it does any good.
 

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Pete,with all due respect, I'm not interested in opinions, I'm interested in the truth. An opinion is "I like blue better than green". .
Much of any technical book like this is opinion. We know this from the number of techs here who disagree with each other, and yet I'm sure are fine technicians. It isn't the same as preferring blue to green, it's about different opinions regarding what they have perceived to work well in their professional experience.

The truth is that it is NOT impractical to dry every pad before putting the sax away in the case. What I would like to know is whether it does any good.
I've never dried a pad in my life beyond shoving a shove-it in and out, possibly with a little bit of a dance step:

You put your shove-it in,
your shove-it out,
In out in out shake it all about...
 

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Well, I have been playing sax for almost 40 years now, and I've had my flirtations with shove-its, but honestly I don't think I have ever dried off pads unless I got a spit bubble on the upper tone holes of a soprano.

I think the pads on my horns last about as long as anyone else's.

There's a lot to be said for learning how to change a pad yourself. Especially palm key pads go the fastest, and they're dead easy because there's no interactions and they're normally closed. If I were smarter I would measure all the palm keys of all my horns and order up replacement pads now so I'd have them.
 

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Almost all modern pads with the exception of Roo pads have a water proofing. That means that any water that gets on the surface of the pad beads and rolls off. That in addition to the fact that not many of the pads in a saxophone even come in contact with moisture when the instrument is played makes drying each pad every time one plays a bit of overkill in my opinion. The photo below was made as part of a test to prove to SG that cleaning a pad with naptha does not "dry out" the leather. The pad shown is a Music Medic tan pad.

View attachment 204705
 

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I have to disagree with Gordon(NZ). No one is talking about stopping a performance and drying pads. It takes five minutes to dry every pad, and I do it when it's convenient. Now I'm not sure if this really helps, but many do it and claim it does. I know I'm hard on pads, and I don't want to have to drive two, two hour round trips to the tech to get pads replaced if I can help it.

I agree that fixing a sax is difficult, but unless you have a master technician living in your basement, you have to be able to work on your own sax. Here's a good masters thesis for some music educator out there. Do a study to find on the number of young students who quit playing saxophone because the thing never works.
Couple points -

* 5 minutes is a long time if you have to put 3 or 4 horns away at the end of the gig. Your ride has gone, or if you are driving then your girlfriend has left with someone else. Ask me how I know...
* It might be worthwhile to focus on the pads most likely to soak - low Eb, G#, palm keys, maybe the Bis Bb. Otherwise, as they say, you'd have to show me that it was worth doing.

I've been playing saxophone (and other woodwinds) for almost 60 years, and made my living doing that for 25 of those years. Never dried a pad. You say you're hard on pads - what does that mean? How can you be "hard on pads"? Do you have the grip-o-death when playing, or concentrate on playing a lot of 16th and 32nd notes (oh man, it's the triplets that really kill those pads...)? I can't imagine someone being "hard on pads", I mean pads are meant to be opened and closed a gazillion times before they are retired.

I agree with you about working on your own horn. It's just part of being a being player. I've done a full repad on a couple horns, but that kind of thing appeals to me in general. Most people don't have the inclination, but taking a horn apart to do a clean and oil job should be part of everyone's repertoire. Kinda like knowing rhythm changes, or adjusting reeds...

Bottom line, forget about drying pads. Run a swab or shove-it thru the horn and put it away. Once a week or so, at home, give it a thorough going over. Then forget about it and play.
 
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