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Discussion Starter #1
Does anyoone have a suggestion for how to remove a cotton sax swab from an alto. In swabbing out the sax it has gotten jammed in and doesn't seem to budge. I've had swabs get stuck before, but I've always been able to work it out. This time I can't do anything. I really would prefer not to have to bring it a tech for this if possible -- it's a bit embarrassing :cry:

Thanks.
 

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Use a flute cleaning rod, or something similar, to push the swab down towards the bell, don't pull it, it will make it worst.
 

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Discussion Starter #3
daigle, I can't thank you enough. I had tried any number of "similar" things and hadn't even thought about the flute cleaning rod. The swab was really stuck -- I had to lightly hammer the flute rod while my wife held the saxophone in order to get it to loosen up. It took a little effort and patience so as to be careful not to harm anything, but it worked like a charm. :)
 

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An easy way of preventing the pullthrough getting stuck is to use a pad saver instead.
 

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yes, but then the moisture stays on the pads while the horns in the case,

duh?!

most people swab it out then put a padsaver in.
and also the pad savers leave almost all moisture to collect at the bottom of the hoen where it doesn't reach.

anyway, let's not start a pad saver/swab convo ;)
 

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A wooden dowel that has a small enough diameter to clear the body octave pip works well to tap out stuck material in the body. I would be very careful with tapping anything made of metal that could slip to the side of the obstruction and scratch or gouge the inside of the bore.

John
 

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SearjeantSax said:
yes, but then the moisture stays on the pads while the horns in the case,

duh?!

most people swab it out then put a padsaver in.
and also the pad savers leave almost all moisture to collect at the bottom of the hoen where it doesn't reach.

anyway, let's not start a pad saver/swab convo ;)
Ok, now tell me where you put your wet pullthrough after swabbing the sax with it? Back in the case, and very much wet. Duh!

And do you leave a puddle of water in the bow of your sax after playing and expect the pullthrough to mop it all up, or do you tip it out from the bell?

When the sax is in it's case, the bow is no longer the lowest point of the sax for water to collect in (and it is usually tipped out as I've already mentioned) - it's now the main bore when it's laid down, right where the padsaver is, doing it's job.

As most pads on a sax are in open standing keys, the pad saver isn't in contact with all of them, only 8 closed pads in total (the remaining 13 are either open standing or out of reach - as in the low C# pad which is closed and out of reach) - as the padsaver is put in, it will pass the top pads taking the moisture down with it.
 

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Actually, I let my wet pullthrough cloth to dry before I put it back in the case.

Keeping the swab nice and wet lets the bacteria fester and grow... and you want that in your sax? ;)

I had my pullthrough get stuck once... I pushed it out with two chopsticks taped together, haha...
 

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Newton's law and a crazy spit solution

Chris Peryagh said:
And do you leave a puddle of water in the bow of your sax after playing and expect the pullthrough to mop it all up, or do you tip it out from the bell?
I would hate to imagine, given the amount of spit that sometimes drains out of the bell when I upend the sax after playing, that anyone would simply put it away in the case like that. Yuck!:shock: Problem is that draining the spit from the bell is a double-edged sword. That's because when you upend the horn Newton's law dictates that it not only drains out of the bell (which is big enough to be wiped out by hand with a cloth), but worse, that a quantity of it also oozes back down the bore of the horn, recoating everything as it goes, and only some of that drips out of the neck from whence it originally came. That reverse flow of spit remains on the bore, the tone holes and the pads. Supposedly the pull through and the pad saver absorb it, but many people say they don't do a thorough enough job.

Frankly, that has made me wonder why no one has thought of a simple solution that uses gravity to an advantage so that the spit drains downward only. When you want to drain your crankcase or your radiator, would you turn the car over and shake it even if you could? So why isn't there a spit valve at the bottom of the bell that could be opened and left open after playing to allow all the juice to flow out that way, rather than back up through the horn? Trumpets have them, so why not a sax? It would be an easy matter to design it to seal well when closed so as not to leak, and be smooth inside so as not to effect the acoustics of the bow, and be placed so that the sax would drain fully when left on the stand after playing. You could put a small cup under it between sets, or after playing, and it would be much drier inside when you were ready to play the next set or clean it and pack up.

Is that a foolish idea, or should I have patented it before posting this? Maybe I'll ask my tech how much he'll charge me to solder a flugelhorn spit valve into the bottom of my horn. LOL.;)
 

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"So why isn't there a spit valve at the bottom of the bell ..."

One consideration is that this area of a sax is probably the most exposed to damage. It's bad enough dealing with a smashed-in reinforcing strip here, without also having to deal with a distorted, or crumpled, or ripped out, now-leaking spit valve.
 

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Gordon (NZ) said:
"So why isn't there a spit valve at the bottom of the bell ..."

One consideration is that this area of a sax is probably the most exposed to damage. It's bad enough dealing with a smashed-in reinforcing strip here, without also having to deal with a distorted, or crumpled, or ripped out, now-leaking spit valve.
What about one with some sort of guard over it like a more open version of a pad guard? Would it be feasible?
 

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It's not spit it's condensation.

I live on the windward (wet) side of the Big Island). I have to tip my bell several times an hour to let out the condensate (water), more when it's raining.

If I play a gig on the leeward (desert, Kona) side, not enough condensate gets to the bell to have even one drop to tip out the bell--Even after a three hour gig.

Just empty the bow, and don't worry about it.
 

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The only kind of swab to use on any instruments is one with a string on EACH end. If it gets stuck you just pull it back the other way.

If you try to push a stuck swab the pushing action will compress it and make it harder to get out. You have to PULL it out.

I just had a trombone slide with a stuck swab in it and someone tried to push it out with a chop stick. They compacted it so tight it was like it was made of cement then the chop stick got stuck into the swab.
 

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I really like these http://www.wwbw.com/Search.list?N=61&Ntt=bell+brush things. After a couple times with a silk pull through, I put one of these in, then pull it out and reverse it and leave it. It almost always picks up a little moisture on the insertion.
 

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hakukani said:
It's not spit it's condensation.
Well I guess you might be right that breath condensation is what causes most of the liquid, and it is quite humid here on the Mediterranean coast so that would explain it too. However, sometimes I have a lot of saliva or mucous due to nasal drainage or my allergies, and from the viscous drool I see inside my mpc I have to believe that some of that goes farther down the horn with the water vapor aiding its movement. I try to clear my nose and throat and spit it out elsewhere but maybe some of it is getting into the horn too.

So I used the search button and found a thread about spit from 2003 in which Gordon said:

Some players launch saliva into their instrument as well.
Some spit all over the outside as well.
Some blow various matter out their nose at the same time.
Some manage to produce a thick, gooey, lining of dead mouth tissue inside the sax as well.

Yes, some saxes are nauseating to work on!
Sounds gross, and even if Gordon was in jest, believable to me cause if you had ever worked backstage at an opera company as I did (photog for the Santa Fe Opera for 3 years) and seen the singers coming off stage after doing an aria with strings of snot hanging out of their noses and hawking up loogies, you'd know how gross vocalizing can get.:shock: And that was in New Mexico, a place so dry the trees bribe dogs to **** on them.

Fact is opening your airway that much clears out everything in it, not just breath, no matter how much throat clearing you did beforehand. Maybe sax playing doesn't work the air passages and sinuses as much as opera singing, but it might, depending on the person, whether they smoke and drink, or play in a smokey environment like that found in most bars and clubs.

And I don't know if a spit valve would help clear any inadvertent lung cheese out of the sax, but if it did run down aided by gravity and the condensed water vapor, it could be helpful to be able to just open a cockvalve and decant it right there at the bow, rather than have it oozing back up the bore to coat the pads everytime you turned the horn upside down or slime it around with your pullthrough. Yee-uck!! That old expression stickier than snot on a hot day comes to mind, although it might be we should paraphrase it to stickier than snot on a roo pad.;)
 
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