Sax on the Web Forum banner

1 - 13 of 13 Posts

·
Registered
Joined
·
78 Posts
Discussion Starter #1
Silicone sax pads seem like a good idea (at least to someone who doesn't know much on the subject). Some presumed advantages: they should be airtight; stable in different climates; maybe longer-lasting(?). I'd like to try to make and test silicone pads. But before I get into it a lot, I'd like to know if this has already been well-tried and rejected? If so, what were the issues? More generally, I would love to hear from anyone who has some experience or knowledge on the subject. Thanks.
 

·
Distinguished Technician & SOTW Columnist. RIP, Yo
Joined
·
17,204 Posts
There are heaps of previous threads on alternative materials for pads.

The levelness of a tone hole is never "perfect".
The "wigglefreeness' of pivots is never perfect.
The mounting of a pad is never perfect.
Pillars that hold mechanism, and the mechanism itself flexes.
There are anomalies caused by key cups hinging from the side rather than rising vertically.

Wool felt has the amazing property of accommodating to the situation it is in, and within limits, retaining that accommodation. Actually leather does too.
An elastomer never does that, so the player finishes up having to press the keys harder to capitalise on the springiness of the elastomer in order to achieve a seal - every time the pad is closed. Players don't like doing this.

Silicone is an elastomer.

It (or something very similar) was tried by Boosey & Hawkes as "Permapads" on flutes decades ago. A total disaster. My stock sits unused.
A couple of decades ago it was presented as god's gift to clarinet players in the form of "Norbeck" pads. Not quite such a disaster, but they were rejected on account of stickiness. My stock sits barely used.

You don't see it because it does not work.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
78 Posts
Discussion Starter #3
Very interesting. Thanks. I did google the subject quite a bit. But I did't find enough detailed information. To elaborate a bit, my thinking is not toward unusual mounting mechanisms, but rather (for starters) just attach a suitably soft silicone to a cup with suitable adhesive. I don't expect it to help seal more easily, so all the care of starting with level tone holes and key cups is unchanged. Your point about elastomers and players having to press harder is well taken. I also wonder about the wear of silicone, the stickiness if any (more/less?). And of course I have to research a suitably soft and resistant silicone compound.

Actuallly, I'm not stuck on silicone...heh; I'm open to other materials. I'm significantly motivated by the desire achieve a fully sealed sax---by "mag machine" standard---meaning without the permeability of leather pads. Will there be a difference in sound or playability? I've built a mag machine and begun experimenting.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
3,006 Posts
Actuallly, I'm not stuck on silicone...heh; I'm open to other materials. I'm significantly motivated by the desire achieve a fully sealed sax---by "mag machine" standard---meaning without the permeability of leather pads. Will there be a difference in sound or playability? I've built a mag machine and begun experimenting.
That is a lofty goal. The only pads I know of in common use that show zero pressure loss on a magnehelic are the Jim Schmidt gold pads. Players who have installed them claim that they make a difference in the sound and response. The best players in both jazz and classical styles who sound great have played on instruments with somewhat porous leather pads going back many years. I am personally not convinced that effects of sound energy lost due to the "porosity" of saxophone pads are as significant as the size of the reflectors (resonators) or the sound absorbing softness of the pad covering itself. It may be that the effects of the gold pads comes from the fact that the entire pad works as a reflective surface like a resonator rather than the airtight seal they provide. I am looking for this answer myself.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
5,451 Posts
If you are wanting an elastomer pad where the elastomer is the surface that contacts the tone hole, silicone is probably a poor choice due to its stickiness.

I would look at a low durometer neoprene, EPDM, polyurethane, or FKM before I would look at silicone. It's easy to order sheets of any of these from any rubber distributor. Cut into circles, float into pad cups, and see what you think. You might want to use concentric circles of card behind them to fill up the slight dome shape of the pad cup.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
8,025 Posts
I knew a tenor player who had a couple of neoprene pads on his horn. He was from Montreal so I assumed someone there did the work.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
718 Posts
I work with a variety of addition-reaction polyvinylsiloxane silicone materials. They come in a dizzying array of colors, viscosities, setting times, and firmness when set. They are dimensionally stable and completely non-sticky other than to another similar silicone material. I've often thought of how one could make a pad from one or a combination of materials, but never have had the inclination to go forward with it, although I did make an octave pip pad out of a silicone material marketed as bite registration paste called Blu-Mousse. It lasted at least a couple of years and was still working fine when I gave the horn to a student.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
122 Posts
Several years ago I almost bought a Vibrato plastic sax but came back to my senses thankfully. One of the attractive features for me were the easily replaced silicone pads, which were fairly cheap and came in many colors. Maybe a set of those could be adapted to a real saxophone?
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
3,006 Posts
Clarinets have used synthetic pads for many years, including bass clarinets. Krause Omni Pads and Valentino Pads are the most common. I asked Ed Krause at a clinic if there would ever be any saxophone pads made with a similar material. He said it has been tried, but the difference in toneholes and the "feel" sax players are used to make it unlikely that they could achieve any degree of success. When I tested various pads for porosity I included a neoprene pad to establish a standard for air tightness. It never occurred to me to make several in different sizes and try them on a saxophone.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,735 Posts
Clarinets have used synthetic pads for many years, including bass clarinets. Krause Omni Pads and Valentino Pads are the most common. I asked Ed Krause at a clinic if there would ever be any saxophone pads made with a similar material. He said it has been tried, but the difference in toneholes and the "feel" sax players are used to make it unlikely that they could achieve any degree of success. When I tested various pads for porosity I included a neoprene pad to establish a standard for air tightness. It never occurred to me to make several in different sizes and try them on a saxophone.
A friend had a new Bundy with the red floating silicon disc pads in high school. It played well, and controlled leaks well. It might have felt a little different, but I don't recall a big difference. Maybe they deteriorate with age, but I solo'd on that horn more than once - might have even won an award with it, can't recall.
 

·
Distinguished Technician & SOTW Columnist. RIP, Yo
Joined
·
17,204 Posts
... It may be that the effects of the gold pads comes from the fact that the entire pad works as a reflective surface like a resonator rather than the airtight seal they provide. I am looking for this answer myself.
AFAIK the effect gained by a resonator is mainly on account of its rigidity. (Compare a sax where the whole body was made of a far less rigid material such as leather... It probably would not play.)
I doubt that a microns-thin coating of gold on a leather pad would add significantly to its rigidity, hence would not affect the sound.

But who knows! It would be an interesting thing for UNSW to research, seeing they have a specialization focus on the acoustics of wind instruments.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
78 Posts
Discussion Starter #12
Thank you all for the responses. I tried to investigate the addition-reaction polyvinylsiloxane silicone materials. But I still haven't found information or a source describing/offering different hardness formulations (colors eventually). I'll keep looking. I'm also open to neoprene and other materials.

To reiterate, I'm looking for a simple way to create a quality sax pad at home (or at work), either as a cheaper solution or as a convenience when the right pad is not immediately available. And also create an impermeable pad so that the "Mag" Machine will work on a sax as well as on a flute or clarinet.

Perhaps the simplest solution may be to mold in place, right in the key cup (mold, attach resonator, adhere). With more setup, one could cut disks from a sheet (could use laser cutter for smooth cuts ~$300?), or maybe 3D print (with nicely beveled contour) if appropriate printer and material exist. I've found 1, .5, .3, .1mm thick silicone sheets on Amazon; could it replace leather on a pad (sandwich of paper, felt, and silicone)? We'll see.
 
1 - 13 of 13 Posts
Top