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Neck Cork Replacement

by Paul R. Coats

[ Continued from Paul's: Pad Replacement article ]

Sources of Saxophonerepair supplies

To replace the neck cork, you need some 1/16" sheetcork, contact cement, black electrical tape, single edge razorblade or Xacto hobby knife, and some lacquer thinner. Also somemesh type sandpaper such as that used on drywall.

Clean off the old cork by scraping, clean the oldglue off with the lacquer thinner. Be careful not to get it onthe rest of the finish of the neck. Most modern saxes arefinished with an epoxy type lacquer, which should not be damagedby the lacquer thinner. Be careful anyway.

Cut a strip of cork the width of the old cork, andlong enough to wrap around the end of the neck, plus 1/4" (12 mm)extra length. Sand one end of the cork to a sharp edge, that is,bevel it. This is so that when you wrap the cork around the neck,you will have a smooth overlap.

Contact cement may be ordered from Ferree's, or maybe purchased at hardware and lumber stores. This type of gluelooks and smells like rubber cement, but is applied differently.Contact cement is applied it to both surfaces to beattached. Then it is allowed to dry for 15 or 20 minutes. As soonas the two pieces are touched together, they stickimmediately.

Spread the contact cement on the neck, on the back ofthe cork, and also on the beveled edge. After about 15 minutes ofdrying time, starting on the bottom side of the neck, stick onthe beveled end of the cork. Wrap the cork smoothly around theneck, pressing it firmly on as you go, smoothing it down. Keepwrapping the cork around the neck until you come back to thebeveled area on the bottom. Then overlap the cork on top of thebeveled area.

Cut off the excess cork with the hobby knife or razorblade. Place a strip of electrical tape, or some other heavytape, around the neck between the cork and octave key to preventscratching the lacquer when sanding the cork. Now sand the corkto shape with the sandpaper. The drywall sanding mesh lets thecrumbs of cork fall through and not clog, but ordinary sandpaper,100 grit, will do. Keep sanding and testing the mouthpiece untilyou get a good fit. Use cork grease while test fitting themouthpiece. Clean off the cork grease with lacquer thinner on arag before continuing sanding, so as not to clog up thesandpaper. Try to get an even shape all they way around. Finallyremove the tape and you are finished.

While key corks may also be glued with contact cement, this istoo slow. I use "CA", or alpha cyano-acrylate glue. This iscommonly called "Super" glue. This is the type of glue that onetiny drop is used and it dries FAST (and sticks your fingerstogether)!!! I prefer the thick, gel type, or the thick mediumdrying speed type. These glues may be bought in hardware storeswith brand names such as Crazy Glue, Bondini, or Loctite. Athobby and craft shops, Zap, Hot Stuff, and Carl Goldberg brandsare excellent. Avoid the thin, watery type. This type fumesbadly, and is too easily spilled. Apply CA glues to the new corkwell away from the instrument.

Needle springs, either the old blue steel type, or the newerstainless steel type may be purchased. I suggest purchasing anassortment to begin with, rather than buying the individualsizes. Ferree's also has replacements for the Norton Screw InSprings used on the old Bueschers.

From all of the above you can see that for about $50-$70 U.S.,you will be able to buy pads and other supplies needed tomaintain your saxophone, and keep it playing well, for manyyears.

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Created: June 16, 2000.
Updated: January 8, 2005.

Paul R. Coats
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Additional notes:

Richard Booth advises that a small crochet hook makes an excellentspring hook. Further, by filing or grinding a notch on the opposite end, that end may be used for pushing springs from theopposite direction.

Gary Hodo cautions about the use of CA glueswith black lacquer saxes. The vapors may cause a frosting nearthe freshly glued cork. This is not usually a problem with thegel type CA glue when used sparingly. A spill of CA glue canseriously damage the lacquer.

George Thomas contributed information onmaking an excellent leak light. In lumber and home improvementstores (such as Lowe's) you may find an assortment of items forthe "Cable Light" or "Rope Light" brands of decorative lighting.This consists of a power cord and a clear flexible plastic"cable" with tiny light bulbs spaced every inch. You willneed:

#1308 "18" Repair Section", $7.96 US

#1301 "Power Pack" 6' cord, $5.97 US

Total cost was $14 and tax. All of the plugsand parts I needed were in there. It can be assembled in just afew minutes. I did not even use the included switch, as I willplug and unplug as needed.

Woodwind players that travel a lot can carrythis leak light easily. Every saxophonist needs one of these. Nosoldering, no tools to assemble it. It easily fit down the boreof all my saxes, and easily snaked around the bell bow, even onmy little curved soprano. I knew I could get into the straightsoprano from the bottom, but the light went right down the necksocket, too.

Steve Goodson contributed tips on use of the carpenter's hot meltglue sticks for shellac, and how to correctly check the pads forleaks.

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