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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I like these large silk cloth swabs with a long string. they grab and absorbe humidity very quickly and are easy to fold and store.

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for as long as I remember since starting on sax 30 years ago, I always throw the string into the bell, flip the sax upside down and pull it from the tenon end. before that, I do the same on the neck, starting from the tenon, pulling from the mouthpiece end. in summary, I swab from the larger diameter towards the smaller one.

Looking at Selmer's revamped site recently, I noticed in this page they demonstrate swabbing in the opposite direction: https://www.selmer.fr/en/beyond-the-sound/category/entretien/maintenance-of-a-saxophone

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I can see the point that you'd want to move humidity way from the smaller pads first, but I feel if I do how they demonstrate, the swab gets so compressed at first that when it goes passed middle of the sax it's no longer touching the walls and pads around it. Maybe a chamois swab like they show would not compress as much?

In which direction do you swab and why?
 

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I Swab same as you, putting the string into the bell and flipping the horn around and pulling it out the end. I always thought it was a good idea to never push all the spit into the bell or spread it around to where there was never to begin with. But I think as long as you swab your horn it really doesn't matter.
 

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I used to put the swab into the top and pull out of the bell. One day I saw a friend of mine do it the other way after play testing a horn at his repair tech we visited. I asked him about it later and he explained. I realized how ridiculous it was to do it the other way around, how I had done it for a decade or so.
I actually just taught a beginner how to do this in a virtual lesson today and explained the reasoning behind it.

I used to do it top to bell and left over moisture would always end up near my right hand keys. The problem stopped as soon as I swapped the direction I pulled the swab. It *definitely* makes a difference.
 

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Before I swab I tip the horn upside down to drain condensation that's collected in the bow out the bell. Then I swab by dropping the weight down the bell and pulling out the other end. A friend does it the other way. I don't think it's worth worrying about as long as you swab. Also I don't think the swab is going to touch most of your pads anyway so I don't see that as an issue.
I've been blotting my pads after playing and their really seems to be only a few pads that get significantly wet. Mostly the left hand palm keys.
 

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... I swab by dropping the weight down the bell and pulling out the other end. ... I don't think it's worth worrying about as long as you swab. Also I don't think the swab is going to touch most of your pads anyway so I don't see that as an issue.
I've been blotting my pads after playing and their really seems to be only a few pads that get significantly wet. Mostly the left hand palm keys.
That's my philosophy and similar to what I do as well.

I first blot the pads and then insert the big fluffy brush before swabbing - I leave the brush in while I swab the neck. Then I remove the fluffy brush and use a nylon swab.

I'm always worried about the octave pip since it extends into the body so far. I've had the silk swab catch on it.
 

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One reason the Selmer way may be safer, and thus makes sense to be a manufacturer recommendation, is that the swab is less likely to get seriously stuck if you go narrow end first. Not fun to find out the swab is too big when you are 4/5 through the sax. Needs not be too big either, just folded/bunched in an unfortunate position.
 

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I like these large silk cloth swabs with a long string. they grab and absorbe humidity very quickly and are easy to fold and store.

View attachment 265306

for as long as I remember since starting on sax 30 years ago, I always throw the string into the bell, flip the sax upside down and pull it from the tenon end. before that, I do the same on the neck, starting from the tenon, pulling from the mouthpiece end. in summary, I swab from the larger diameter towards the smaller one.

Looking at Selmer's revamped site recently, I noticed in this page they demonstrate swabbing in the opposite direction: https://www.selmer.fr/en/beyond-the-sound/category/entretien/maintenance-of-a-saxophone

View attachment 265308

I can see the point that you'd want to move humidity way from the smaller pads first, but I feel if I do how they demonstrate, the swab gets so compressed at first that when it goes passed middle of the sax it's no longer touching the walls and pads around it. Maybe a chamois swab like they show would not compress as much?

In which direction do you swab and why?
I've been doing it the same as you, since I began a couple of years ago. It just makes sense to me. I would think that unless the cloth has a very long string, it could get caught inside the upper part of the horn quite easily. I actually have a few different cloths and after the last one comes out dry, I take strips of paper towel (cheaper than buying those 'cigarette rolling type papers' )to soak up the moisture from the pads - after every session.
 

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For clarinet I do wide end to narrow.
But for AT neck to bell, like in the picture, (it just seems easier to navigate the weight at the end of the pull that way) - but wide - > narrow for the neck and mouthpiece... Opposite to the picture
Just mechanical convenience
 

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Always bell to neck tenon and tenon to cork. Don't know why other than that I've seen pretty much all other players do it this way. If I tried to construe some logic, I would say that most of the condensation occurs at the narrower parts and I don't want to just smear it all over by pulling down. But I guess there are enough arguments to the opposite as well.
 

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I solved the problem years ago when I stopped swabbing out my horns. I cannot honestly say I've seen a lick of difference from this benign neglect. I do dump the condensate out of the bell before I put it away.
 

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I don't use a swab. I insert a HW Pad Saver in and out 3 or 4 times and then feel the fibers. If they feel moist, I store the pad saver on top of the sax in the case. If they don't feel moist, it goes back into the sax. This is so much faster and easier than using a swab, especially for younger students. The neck is dried with a hanky type clarinet swab.
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
One reason the Selmer way may be safer, and thus makes sense to be a manufacturer recommendation, is that the swab is less likely to get seriously stuck if you go narrow end first. Not fun to find out the swab is too big when you are 4/5 through the sax. Needs not be too big either, just folded/bunched in an unfortunate position.
This is one of the reasons I moved away from chamois swabs after one got stuck in my soprano once. The silk tissue is much thinner and more slippery. But your point about manufacturer's liability is an interesting one.
 

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I don't use a swab. I insert a HW Pad Saver in and out 3 or 4 times and then feel the fibers. If they feel moist, I store the pad saver on top of the sax in the case. If they don't feel moist, it goes back into the sax. This is so much faster and easier than using a swab, especially for younger students. The neck is dried with a hanky type clarinet swab.
I use both methods but especially on gigs, the pad saver is always moist and there is no good way of storing it when breaking down. At home, I use mostly the pad savers just as you described it.
 

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I鈥檝e always dropped it down the neck, although I did see somewhere, possibly here, that this was foolish and it should never be done that way, so I tried it the other way, didn鈥檛 like it and went back to my bad ways, at least Selmer are on my side. I can鈥檛 see what difference it makes, it鈥檚 still wet inside whichever way you do it, just less wet.
 

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Just as most others have said here, I tip the horn upside down and pull the swab from the bell out through the tenon. And in the neck from the tenon out the top end. I think I've always done it this way because it seemed less likely to get stuck, but can't say if that's really the case.

I think it's true that a swab won't dry the pads, but it will remove a fair amount of moisture from the inside of the horn which could run onto the pads. The best way to allow the pads to dry is leave the horn out on its stand on in an open case for a few hours before putting it away.
 

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Just as most others have said here, I tip the horn upside down and pull the swab from the bell out through the tenon. And in the neck from the tenon out the top end. I think I've always done it this way because it seemed less likely to get stuck, but can't say if that's really the case.

I think it's true that a swab won't dry the pads, but it will remove a fair amount of moisture from the inside of the horn which could run onto the pads. The best way to allow the pads to dry is leave the horn out on its stand on in an open case for a few hours before putting it away.
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