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Forum Contributor 2012, SOTW Saxophone Whisperer,
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Discussion Starter #1
Anybody who has been around a few old instruments knows THAT smell that I refer to.

Most people say to leave it outside to air out on a sunny day.

I heard the following today and I have no clue about the validity.

Using a Black light will disinfect and neutralize the case oder. Not the light bulb type but the florescent type. It has to be in a dark room with the black light on for like 12 hours.

I have no clue if this will work - like I said - just something somebody told me today. Thought I would throw this out to the SOTW community for any kind of confirmation if this works or not?

Anybody know

Charlie
 

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Distinguished SOTW Member/Sax Historian
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7,110 Posts
I know what doesn't work - for long anyway:

Febreze
Carpet shampoo
Sunlight

...ie: everything anyone ever recommended.
 

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Distinguished SOTW member/, Official SOTW Sister
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19,221 Posts
All of those 'remedies' work for a short time. Once the STINK is in there... It's in there.
I've got cases that still stink years after a thorough cleaning and airing.
I've got old horns that still stink years after washing, oiling, new pads, and have set out on pegs to air.
The only way I've found to get rid of the offensive odor is to burn the case and get a new one. But that doesn't do anything for the stinky horn. :(
 

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There is a new product someone on another forum recommended called Atmos Klear I don't currently have a stinky case to try it on, but when one comes along, I will give a report on how well it works. The best product I have tried so far is the Doctor's Case Odor Eliminator but even that has not been effective in the worst case scenarios. :mrgreen:
 

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Forum Contributor 2012, SOTW Saxophone Whisperer,
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Discussion Starter #6
Stinky Horn I can fix with a good overhaul where everything gets replaced and I can wash out the horn really well. I have had no real luck with the case stink as well. I have found many things that seem to deaden the smell and overtake it with perfumes.

I have gutted a couple cases and replaced the insides with success. I was just curious about something I haven't tried that sounded somewhat plausible.
 

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I have always thought that stinky case smell was metallic oxidation and corrosion depositing metal compounds into felt, etc... There's no getting it out and perfumes only leach their essential oils for a brief time...
 

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Sorry Graysax, I should have said Stinky CLARINETS. :)
That stench is never going to go away...
My stinky saxophone smelled much better after an overhaul.
 

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Distinguished SOTW Member/Sax Historian
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Metal? Or just years of untended mildew? Sax pads and cases are great traps for humidity.
 

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It's the padding in those older cases that's the cause. Changing it out is probably the only real solution. That padding resembles the padding under the carpet in you car and you know how that stinks when it gets wet. I redid an old flute case with a velvet type cloth, synthetic cotton like padding, and Elmer's glue I bought at one of those crafts stores. Looks original.
 

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Distinguished SOTW Member/Technician
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I vacuum the case and put in some dryer sheets along with a sock filled with about a half cup of baking soda. Takes some time but becomes OK. Sometimes putting a piece of leather that has a strong smell will cover up the stink too. Also put in a clean horn as the horn carries some of the smell. Replacing the dryer sheets helps. I hate Febreeze as it smells worse than the old horn aroma.
 

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I doubt that the Doctor's products spray works that well if it's anything like the odor eliminating spay available here. The one I have contains zinc ricinoleate, which is the odor absorbing agent used in most deodorants, as well as some bactericides. Even though I aired and sunned my old Conn case half a dozen times and spayed the hell out of it with that stuff each time, it still kept a strong smell, albeit a different one. It seems the spray has it's own slightly perfumey aroma and though it may have eliminated a lot of the original stink, the purfume combined with the remaining stink to create a different and equally strong odor. And that includes the wood under the felt and the faux-leather covering material on the outside too. The only fix was to seal the sucker in a garbage bags and stick it in the storage unit, just in case I sell the horn and the new owner wants it.

As to the cause of the smell, I thought it had to do with years of the case lining absorbing saliva and condensed moisture running out of the saxes of people who didn't swab them dry each time. That is a perfect substance to cultivate mold and mildew. If you don't rinse your mouthpieces and reeds off after use (I can't imagine not doing that, but some people don't) all you need is one whiff of them to see how stinky your saliva immediately makes them become. A few years of that and that smell is forever.
 

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Distinguished SOTW Member, Forum Contributor 2012
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The only solution I have found is to learn to love the smell... When I'm snooping through pawn shop horns and catch that whiff, it usually means there's something interesting nearby (that can be taken a lot of different ways...). I used to work with vintage avionics and electronics and they too have a very unique odor, it's just one of those things you come to expect. At least it's not a sulpher smell or something really pungent.

I do minimize it by doing the same thing as Bruce. Find dryer sheets with scent I like and leave a couple in the case. Have done the baking soda thing with a bit of success, but haven't tried the leather thing.
 

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I used to work with vintage avionics and electronics and they too have a very unique odor, it's just one of those things you come to expect
Yes, old case have a particular smell as do old gliders. I'm talking about the club two seaters that have been used for training and joy flights for years. It's like a combination of sweat and vomit. But perhaps there was a touch of vintage altimeter or air speed indicator that I wasn't aware of until now. I must pay more attention to the subtelties.
 

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Don't waste your time trying to revive an old smelly case. I've had a couple of old cases with that smell. I tried everything, airing out for many days, fabreze, the works. Nothing worked. Best way to go is to just get a new case.

The smell is mostly from storing a horn away for some time without letting the pads dry thoroughly first. I don't think it has anything to do with the metal. I have an original case with my '40 silver-plated Aristocrat tenor and the case doesn't smell at all. If the metal was the culprit it certainly would smell after all these years. I don't use the case, though because the latches are not trustworthy. If you don't want your case to develop this smell, don't store the horn for more than a few days, unless you make sure the pads are dry before putting it away. Leave the horn out on a stand for a couple of days prior to storing it away for any length of time. Better yet, pull the horn out everyday and play it!

And yes, if a horn is overhauled, that will get rid of any odor on the horn, mostly because it will have all new pads.
 

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Go to a pet supply store and look at the products for sale that eliminate odors. Dog, cat, whichever. I bought something used in dog kennels. A powder. I sprinkled it over the inside of the case, left it with the case closed for a few days, vacuumed it, sprinkled a second dose, waited, cleaned it out. No more offensive aroma.
 

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I vacuum the case and put in some dryer sheets along with a sock filled with about a half cup of baking soda. Takes some time but becomes OK. Sometimes putting a piece of leather that has a strong smell will cover up the stink too. Also put in a clean horn as the horn carries some of the smell. Replacing the dryer sheets helps. I hate Febreeze as it smells worse than the old horn aroma.
+ 1 for vaccuming (a lot) and baking soda.
I've used some of the Arm+hammer powder or spray products for pet odours in the case. I vacuum before put the product on, leave it for a day or two, vacuum again. It worked well and the smell didn't return.
 

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If the case smells real bad there is nothing that would work, it is that simple (I've tried : febreze regular, charcoal and baking soda, sunlight for days, freezing (-10° c ) weather exposure for days.

The best results that I did get with a mild(ew) case (! I love these puns !) was to use carpet cleaner foam. It gave the case a moderate soapy (marseille soap) smell which was more than bearable and the offensive odour was gone.
 

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I know what doesn't work - for long anyway:

Febreze
Carpet shampoo
Sunlight

...ie: everything anyone ever recommended.
Au contraire...I did the Febreeze and Sunlight thing. Febreezing daily for a week then in the baking sun each day for a week worked for me.
 
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