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Discussion Starter #1
Yeah, the title is funny to me, too :)

I noticed a leak in the pad in my low D key, and at closer inspection it seems to be due to the 'circle indention' or 'groove' that the tone hole sits in having 'collapsed', which is allowing the leak to happen. I'm not going to attempt to repair this myself, but I still have a few questions.

1. I think I recall seeing a video (maybe Matt Stohrer - I don't think it was the pad prick hole removal vid, but maybe) where he used a heated pad slick, or something, to 'coax' the leather back into place.. just like in the pad prick removal vid.
2. What kinds of things cause the sort of 'groove' collapse?
3. What is that groove called?

Here's a pic, in case my description is dumber than I think it is:

View attachment 238290
 

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I don't have any repair advice, but do admire your informative infographic.
 

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Take it to a tech. The pad MIGHT simply need to be refloated (heating the pad cup to move the glue/shellac around to give it the proper seat it needs. It could also need to be replaced. Neither is a big deal.
Not sure what you mean by groove collapse, but that groove you're referring to is simply referred to as the pad "seat" against the tone hole. Should there be a seat/groove there? Yes, but as pads age, the leather becomes more dry/brittle and if the tone hole itself has any sharp(er) edges, it could also eventually cut the leather of the pad, causing leakage.
The only hassle with replacing the low D pad is the LH pinky cluster most likely needs to be taken apart/removed in order for the lower stack rod to come up far enough to remove that low D key. Again, if that's all you need, a decent/competent tech. could do that job in 15-20 minutes.
Good luck!
 

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Discussion Starter #5
Take it to a tech. The pad MIGHT simply need to be refloated (heating the pad cup to move the glue/shellac around to give it the proper seat it needs. It could also need to be replaced. Neither is a big deal.
Not sure what you mean by groove collapse, but that groove you're referring to is simply referred to as the pad "seat" against the tone hole. Should there be a seat/groove there? Yes, but as pads age, the leather becomes more dry/brittle and if the tone hole itself has any sharp(er) edges, it could also eventually cut the leather of the pad, causing leakage.
The only hassle with replacing the low D pad is the LH pinky cluster most likely needs to be taken apart/removed in order for the lower stack rod to come up far enough to remove that low D key. Again, if that's all you need, a decent/competent tech. could do that job in 15-20 minutes.
Good luck!
Thank you for your response!

That's my plan, I'm heading there first thing in the morning.

So, the 'flattened' look, in comparison to the rest of the seat is from the pad drying out and becoming brittle? I understand what you're saying about the tone hole cutting it, I'm curious about what causes the flattening out.
 

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Thank you for your response!

That's my plan, I'm heading there first thing in the morning.

So, the 'flattened' look, in comparison to the rest of the seat is from the pad drying out and becoming brittle? I understand what you're saying about the tone hole cutting it, I'm curious about what causes the flattening out.
It may be that there never was an even seat all the way ‘round.
 

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'Seating Ring'
I'm seeing a poorly set-up key in which the seating ring has never been well-established. This is not atypical on the normally open keys but it can be better. The pad is probably fine. To fix this, you'll need to cork it down or put a set of clamps on it. To cork it down, press hard on the key while jamming a wedge of thick cork (cut out of a wine cork) under the key foot but without damaging the cork or felt on the foot or under it in this case. It will have a more pronounced ring the next day. You can also cork down the whole sax or put key clamps on it and leave it in a hot car for a few hours.
 

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'Seating Ring'
I'm seeing a poorly set-up key in which the seating ring has never been well-established. This is not atypical on the normally open keys but it can be better. The pad is probably fine. To fix this, you'll need to cork it down or put a set of clamps on it. To cork it down, press hard on the key while jamming a wedge of thick cork (cut out of a wine cork) under the key foot but without damaging the cork or felt on the foot or under it in this case. It will have a more pronounced ring the next day. You can also cork down the whole sax or put key clamps on it and leave it in a hot car for a few hours.
That will also force the already-present seat to go even deeper. There’s nothing to gain from that as it will need to be forced harder to make contact with the deeper groove. It is better to level the pad properly.
 

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Thank you for your response!

That's my plan, I'm heading there first thing in the morning.

So, the 'flattened' look, in comparison to the rest of the seat is from the pad drying out and becoming brittle? I understand what you're saying about the tone hole cutting it, I'm curious about what causes the flattening out.
Ahh, now I understand (from what others have replied) what you mean by "groove collapse". Yes, I'd also wager that there probably never was a decent seat in that area of the pad in the first place.....either by just a crappy job installing the pad or I'd also suspect an out of level tone hole. Still could potentially be saved by refloating, but you'd probably be better off by simply having the pad replaced and the tone hole filed/leveled.
 

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Discussion Starter #11
I should clarify, that picture is not of my pads, I just grabbed it to illustrate what I'm talking about.
 

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A "pad seat" does not need to be deep. It just needs to be even and consistent the full circumference of the tonehole in order to provide an airtight seal with minimal pressure on the key. To make minor adjustments I heat the keycup and nudge the low spots of the pad toward the tonehole. Curt Altarac calls this the "push and pull" of pad seating. When using this technique on previously installed pads it is important to know what type and amount of glue is under the pad. When installing new pads I get the pad completely even and then close the key with firm pressure for a count of 20. Then I release the key and "read" the impression made by the tonehole to check if it is even. That is all the "seat" it gets. Unlike some pad installers I do not clamp or wedge keys closed to force a deep indentation in a newly installed pad. I have found a light impression that may increase over time as the instrument is played works the best for me.
 

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Well, the ring or pad seat is a depression in the pad. As these develop, you are likely to need to adjust the little corks (or adjusting screws) so that the pads that need to close together do so.

A couple other things can happen:

- the pad or key cup can get twisted, or deflected sideways, so now the edge of the tone hole doesn't hit in the pad seal;
- the pad can actually get cut through at the seat, and now you're relying on the felt behind the leather, which doesn't make a good seal;
- with repeated wetting and drying the pad can warp/swell/get hard and no longer seal properly.

Because pads are cheap, and it's pretty easy to change one out, most people (myself included) will simply replace the pad, re-seat it, and then adjust the corks or adjusting screws to make sure it interacts with the other pads properly. Some of the problems above might theoretically be fixable without replacing the pad, but it's uncertain, so why not just change out the pad.

As some have noted, tone hole rims can often be unlevel, either as the result of a manufacturing process, or after a hit to the body near the tone hole. There are different ways of fixing this, but unless the rim is at least somewhat level, getting a pad to seat properly on it is unlikely.

I understand that the photo is just an example. But what I see there looks like a reasonable pad seat, yes a little deeper in some areas, but I would expect that to seal OK.
 

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Can you clarify? It sounds like you think the ring/seat itself is causing a leak? That seat is normal and almost always on any pad. The seat itself doesn't cause a leak.

Maybe it is an adjustment issue of the D pad not closing enough (blocked by the back bar), so it seems like the indentation is making the pad "higher".

I know the photo is just an example, but some have commented on it, so worth mentioning that pad seats can't really mean anything in photos, because of light angle they almost always look uneven. In this particular photo not only that, but the back is out of focus.
 

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Can you clarify? It sounds like you think the ring/seat itself is causing a leak? That seat is normal and almost always on any pad. The seat itself doesn't cause a leak.

Maybe it is an adjustment issue of the D pad not closing enough (blocked by the back bar), so it seems like the indentation is making the pad "higher".

I know the photo is just an example, but some have commented on it, so worth mentioning that pad seats can't really mean anything in photos, because of light angle they almost always look uneven. In this particular photo not only that, but the back is out of focus.
Yes, I'm also a bit confused. "Collapse" sounds like something happened suddenly.

In addition to what others have said about the ring being an indicator of an out of whack pad (either due to seating within the keycup or the keycup itself being misaligned) there is the other issue:

If the seating ring has some parts wider than others or signs of a double indentation, then this could point to excess play in the key cup (worn or short hinge tube, worn hinge rod for example). Alternatively it could mean a pad was reseated with no regard to the original seating ring position. (If you are going to take a pad out and put it back in, mark its position within the keycup first)
 

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By playing ?
I have found that although you can obviously notice a leak by playing, diagnosing where it actually is might be not so straightforward.

A specific note that doesn't respond well can often be due to a leak higher up. Having said that one reasonably reliable playing diagnostic is when extra pressure is required on only one key.

In the case of leaks due to screw/cork adjustment it can work to play a note then with your free hand gently press all keys one by one to see if that reveals a culprit). Helps to have three hands.
 

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All very true Pete. I was more interested in how the OP determined a leak existed.
 

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Grafton alto | Martin Comm III tenor
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All very true Pete. I was more interested in how the OP determined a leak existed.

Me too :)

It was a really nice picture, but sadly it appears to be of a different pad. :(
 

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You guys can opine all you want about the depth of the seating ring but it totally depends on the pads used. I always base my thinking on a factory set-up which will always have very well-defined seating rings, usually on thicker, softer pads. Many pro techs will clamp a sax down and heat it in an oven after a pad job for the very same purpose as well as possibly a little self-leveling (floating) of glue thickness.
 
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