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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I have a Yamaha YAS-280 alto saxophone and had it since I got it new last November. When I play it, I brush my teeth beforehand and only drink water to not to blow anything unwanted into it as I play. I usually play for about 2-3 hours about 4-5 times a week. When done, I clean the mouthpiece, swab out the body and neck well, dry the neck cork to remove any cork grease, use pad dryer on the pads and Yamaha powder paper to keep the pads from sticking. I also have key leaves which I put on the low keys to keep them and the G# open to prevent sticking. I leave it out to air dry for a few hours before putting it away. I don't play nor leave it in a humid environment with the room I play it in being between 43-55% humidity usually.

Back in late June/early July I started noticing several pads were sticking constantly, so I sent to a good repairer to check over as I also accidently knocked it over on its stand and needed one of the low keys fixed. She checked the pads and the tone holes and did some adjustments and fixed the damage. I got it back, but soon after, the sticking was back. The repairer said she didn't notice the sticking when she had it, but said she'd look at it again, so sent it back to her and I had 5 of the pads that I found the sticking mostly in, replaced with new ones, from the darker Yamaha pads with plastic resonators to orange pads with metal resonators (not sure which pads these are). I got it back, and after playing it on/off for a week, and I am still having sticking issues, not as bad on the replaced pads (low C seems to stick ever so slightly, one of the replaced pads), but it is there and making the keys with the sticking feel slightly sluggish to play and I can hear the sticking sound. I even sent her a recording I took of the sticking pads so she could hear the sticking, but she said she is lost at what to do next to fix the sticking as she can't seem to find a fix for it and she said I was doing everything right in terms of cleaning and drying the saxophone after playing it.

Anyone know what I can do? The issue seems to happen a few minutes after I start playing and won't go away no matter what I have tried.
 

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Maybe the pads have that silicone stuff on them that causes sticking. I had the same issue with a student's Cannonball sax many years ago. We couldn't solve it for the life of us.

Might sound nutty, but have you tried the dollar bill trick? Not a permanent solution but usually works short term for me. I've seen lighter fluid with a q-tip said somewhere, but have never done it personally.

- Saxaholic
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Maybe the pads have that silicone stuff on them that causes sticking. I had the same issue with a student's Cannonball sax many years ago. We couldn't solve it for the life of us.

Might sound nutty, but have you tried the dollar bill trick? Not a permanent solution but usually works short term for me. I've seen lighter fluid with a q-tip said somewhere, but have never done it personally.

- Saxaholic
I have read recently about some pads having coatings and those could cause an issue, but never thought about if the Yamaha pads have a coating or not, but looking it up, I read that the Yamaha pads have a plastic coating on the leather and it may be causing the sticking as I definitely am getting less sticking issue on the replaced pads which are not the same as the Yamaha pads.

I haven't tried the dollar bill trick but I know of a few people that have and said it worked for a while. I have read about using lighter fluid, but I don't really want something like that on my saxophone.

Have you tried to clean the tone-hole rims? DAVE
When I sent it to the repairer she cleaned the tone holes, since then, I have cleaned around the holes a few times but it hasn't helped.
 

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DaveMcC: OK, but just to be clear, I meant the sharp edges of the tone-holes where the metal contacts the pads. The condition you describe can be bothersome, for sure. I hope you solve it.

As far as the dollar-bill trick, I always got a laugh when I'd use a C-note to clean a sticky pad between tunes. Everyone needs a shtick . . . DAVE
 

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Some things that have worked for me are cleaning the pads and toneholes using naptha (lighter fluid) on a flattened Q-tip followed by pulling a strip of 1000 grit wet-or-dry between the pad and tone hole several times. For pads that still make a sticking sound I repeat the procedure. If that doesn't work I remove the keys and using my finger rub teflon powder into the pores of the pad and blow away the excess. While the key is off the sax I also check the tone hole for burrs which can also produce a sticky sound especially if there is any depth to the pad seat. If none of these work, the pad is replaced with a new one. Naptha is commonly used in the repair trade and does not harm the surface of the pad nor the body of the instrument. It is an effective solvent and evaporates quickly with little or no odor. If kept away from an open flame it is safe to use.
 

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1. Certain plastics stick a lot more to certain plastics than they do to metal.
Yamaha lacquers - i.e. plastic coats - the tone hole edges. Draw 1000 grit sandpaper onder the closed pads to remove any lacquer on the tone hole edges.

2. Almost dried saliva is relatively sticky stuff. Are you blowing saliva down the instrument? If so, it is better to collect it under your tongue behind your front teeth, and swallow it as the opportunity arises. Just blow moist air down the sax.
 

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I've had one of those a few times and tried EVERYTHING, the pad obviously needs to be replaced.

Baby powder on a dollar bill or pad paper is the only thing that consistently works for me. But....It only lasts a few hours and will eventually gunk up your mechanisms. Just use in a pinch.
 

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I've had one of those a few times and tried EVERYTHING, the pad obviously needs to be replaced.

Baby powder on a dollar bill or pad paper is the only thing that consistently works for me. But....It only lasts a few hours and will eventually gunk up your mechanisms. Just use in a pinch.
I have had horns with and without this problem. Honestly, given the variations in my instruments, I cannot for the life of me determine any common factor. The only cure I know of is to replace the pad and while doing so clean the tone hole thoroughly. I have used any variety of solvents on pads and tone holes and if the same pad is left in place the problem reoccurs. I have never, in 40+ years of playing, been able to convert a sticking pad to a non-sticking pad, only to alleviate it for a while.

I have a hunch that silver plating on the tone holes might be helpful, if combined with pads that have no coating whatsoever. Of course with age the silver will wear off and then verdigris will build up, and that's quite sticky and gummy.
 

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Turf3, did you ever try making your own powder paper by rubbing microfine Teflon powder onto a piece of note paper, shaking off all excess, and dragging that under the pad.
Blueboy, the powder used like this will never get on the mechanism.
And for those who think powder will eventually always get damp and make sticky "porridge", you haven't a hope of getting water to mix with Teflon powder. (Yamaha's powder on their powder paper will mix with water.)

It has worked for many horns I've worked on, but I never hear what happens after a few months.
I don't play enough now for carrying out a valid test on my own saxes.
 

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Went through this identical issue after an overhaul of a new-to-me Selmer
alto Reference 54. I am a heavy spitter with impeccable oral hygiene. After
months of various solutions, including replacing a few of the already replaced
pads the left hand keys still kept constantly sticking. The worst was the Bb/bis
key that I had to pry up.

My tech suggested one last solution which was to strengthen the spring on all
of the upper keys. Mercifully it worked and no longer need paper money, lighter
fluid, Q-tips etc. etc.

That was a couple of months ago and the issue hasn't returned despite playing
several nights a week and continuing to be a spitter.

Cheers.
 

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Around the time when the Reference series came out, Selmer was using incredibly sticky pads, smoke labelled Selmer on the back, and some labelled Chanu (a French pad maker). I suspect the Selmer-labelled ones were also from Chanu.

Perhaps they should have used Music Center Pads from Italy, but I think that may be contrary to the French Psyche.
 

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Dave, you should try Yamaha powder paper first.
 

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Went through this identical issue after an overhaul of a new-to-me Selmer
alto Reference 54. I am a heavy spitter with impeccable oral hygiene. After
months of various solutions, including replacing a few of the already replaced
pads the left hand keys still kept constantly sticking. The worst was the Bb/bis
key that I had to pry up.
Do you swab your horn after use?
 

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soybean: I have those Yamaha pad papers somewhere, along with most of the other stuff. But there's nothing like Mr. Franklin's face under my low C# pad. But I haven't suffered sticky pads for many years. DAVE
 

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I've had this problem off and on ever since I started playing sax, particularly with alto sax. saxoclese (Post #7 above) has the right solution:

Some things that have worked for me are cleaning the pads and toneholes using naptha (lighter fluid) on a flattened Q-tip followed by pulling a strip of 1000 grit wet-or-dry between the pad and tone hole several times… Naptha is commonly used in the repair trade and does not harm the surface of the pad nor the body of the instrument. It is an effective solvent and evaporates quickly with little or no odor. If kept away from an open flame it is safe to use.
I don't use the sand paper, though. After cleaning the pad and rim with the q-tip soaked in naptha (Shellite) I usually soak a soft cotton cloth in naptha, insert it between pad and rim, and with pad closed I gently pull the cloth across the hole, several times.

The pads which stick are usually the ones which are sprung closed, such as the middle G#. I've taken to inserting a q-tip between pad and rim to hold the key open, when I put the alto back on its stand, or when I dismount it for storage. The key never sticks if I do that.

(BTW, saxoclese mentions several other tricks in Post #7 above: check them out.)
 

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... I am a heavy spitter ...
Have you considered dealing with that? I'd consider that a top priority in preventing sticking pads.
 

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Around the time when the Reference series came out, Selmer was using incredibly sticky pads, smoke labelled Selmer on the back, and some labelled Chanu (a French pad maker). I suspect the Selmer-labelled ones were also from Chanu.

Perhaps they should have used Music Center Pads from Italy, but I think that may be contrary to the French Psyche.
I've had the exact same issue with my Ref54 alto. I don't think I'm a "heavy spitter" though. I tried all remedies mentioned here and some more. I was recommended to change to (chocolate) Roopads but it did not take many hours of playing until they started sticking too. I cleaned them with lighter fluid and put some ptfe powder on now them so I hope it will get better now.

I'm not talking about the G# and C# keys but all that are spring opened. Well, the other ones stick too, but they are forced open.
 
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