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I recently saw a video where he was using a pad slick as leverage to fix a leak. Is this standard practice? Isn't it bad for the tone holes?
 

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Anything made of a metal that is harder than brass runs the chance of making an indent in the top of the tonehole. I have found using large wooden craft sticks top be a good alternative. They can be made thinner or shorter as needed, and they are quite inexpensive. I get mine at Walmart. I should add that professional repair techs don't bend keys, they straighten them. ;)

Jumbo craft sticks
 

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I recently saw a video where he was using a pad slick as leverage to fix a leak. Is this standard practice? Isn't it bad for the tone holes?
There’s a lot of standard practices in sax repair that are highly questionable....the best most of us can do is find a highly regarded tech and trust in them!
 

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Sorry...while I can completely respect the OP's question...this thread thus far has gone in a very silly direction.

For chrissake....using a metal spatula-like tool to bend/adjust a keycup is most certainly NOT going to damage a tonehole unless the tech is a clumsy gorilla and puts really odd leverage on it, somehow...

Sorry...but seriously. I mean if someone used a spring-puller or other non-flat shaped utensil, I could understand being concerned. But right now....I can see people coming along and reading this thread and then observing their tech doing key adjusting with a pad slick or such, and getting all stressed out.

I do this all the time...use 2 different metal pad slick-like tools to adjust keycups....and have never 'damaged' a tonehole, pad, nor cup.

BS.....anyone with some mechanical aptitude can learn sax repair.
And anyone with some mechanical aptitude and a tad of experience could use a slick in this manner without hurting anything...

There’s a lot of standard practices in sax repair that are highly questionable....the best most of us can do is find a highly regarded tech and trust in them!
Out of curiosity...standard practices such as ?
 

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I started out using Ferree's saxophone key bending levers which are made of a hard brass and I found that they were making marks in the tops of the toneholes which is why I switched to using wooden craft sticks. This is what is taught at Redwing as well.
 

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I totally agree with JayLID.

Whether a brass slick is appropriate depends on how you use it. As I recall I have only once never seen specs of light leaking where the pad slick put pressure. I underestimated the crappy softness of the Chinese brass. I dealt with it, free of charge.
If I want to use extreme force then I use something more yielding.

If I want to correct the alignment of the keys on a Conn 20M, the crappiness of which has to be seen to be believed, There is is no way the key cup arm is going ot yield without first reducing its depth to about half, so I do that first. Then the once seriously-wavy-from-manufacture tone holes are safe when I use my spatula tools.

Part of being a good technician is one hell of a lot of knowledge - call it acquired intuitive if you must - of exactly how the variety of relevant materials behave. Most of that knowledge comes from one hell of a lot of attentive experience. If you think your local DIYer has that experience, go for it. If you think your local tech does not have it, avoid him.
Pretty sample really.

Next thing we'll have someone telling us that we are using MDRS with the wrong polarity, that wrecks the sound waves that are resident in the sax body.
 

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@JayLID...I wasn’t referring to any specific process as standard and poor, but I’ve seen a lot or really poor sax technician work over the years that the tech would have considered standard procedure but weren’t good practice or good for the horn.

@saxcop...I respect your viewpoint, but I don’t share it. I do not think there is anything too challenging to the concepts and mechanisms in a sax, but I tend to agree with GordonNZ that being a good tech requires a lot of knowledge gleened from years of experience. I agree that the average joe could repair/set-up a sax, but a skilled and experienced tech will obtain results that most could never dream of.

Just my opinion....take that for what it is worth.
 

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OK, thanks, and yes, the Forum is littered with stories about poor tech work, so no doubt there are some practitioners of the craft who are, shall we say...wanting. This may be the result of just laziness or ineptitude or slipping skills, or also may be the result of certain techs doing better with certain instruments as opposed to others (for example, a tech who ostensibly repairs both brass and reeds, but really is far better at brass than reeds, and much prefers working on the former to the latter, etc...).

But your earlier post intimated to me that there were some widely and conventionally-used repair techniques which were incorrect...so that's why I asked.

Cheers.
 

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Let me try to be more specific. It is not uncommon to have a pad that is quite heavy at the back. This can be from a number of causes and I have even seen it on horns right from the factory. One remedy that I like to use is to bend the front of the key down to get the pad to seat evenly. To do this without special pliers, one takes a "fulcrum" of some material and puts it at the back of the pad covering the tonehole and the edge of the resonator. Bending the front of the keycup down can take considerable pressure depending on the strength of its arm and the brunt of the force is directed to the front edge of the "fulcrum" which can cause it to "dig into" the sides of the tonehole if it is made of a material harder than the brass. I would agree that bending the key cup from side to side takes a lot less pressure and therefore is less likely to cause a problem when a "slick" made of steel is used. I have found the wooden craft stick to be an "elegant" and safe solution and it is one of my most used tools at the bench.
 

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I have long used tongue depressors and popsicle sticks for pad leveling. you can get some from your doctor, or 7-11. works great. I even once made a working model ferris wheel with them. That was 60 years ago though. I had

more spare time at 15!
 

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In my early attempts at adjustment, which happened to be on flutes, I used a bank note, folded to a suitable thickness at one end.
Now NZ has plastic bank notes which resist folding.
 

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Let me try to be more specific. It is not uncommon to have a pad that is quite heavy at the back. This can be from a number of causes and I have even seen it on horns right from the factory. One remedy that I like to use is to bend the front of the key down to get the pad to seat evenly. To do this without special pliers, one takes a "fulcrum" of some material and puts it at the back of the pad covering the tonehole and the edge of the resonator. Bending the front of the keycup down can take considerable pressure depending on the strength of its arm and the brunt of the force is directed to the front edge of the "fulcrum" which can cause it to "dig into" the sides of the tonehole if it is made of a material harder than the brass. I would agree that bending the key cup from side to side takes a lot less pressure and therefore is less likely to cause a problem when a "slick" made of steel is used. I have found the wooden craft stick to be an "elegant" and safe solution and it is one of my most used tools at the bench.
With all due respect, I bend keycups from the back to the front fairly often....using a pad slick or spatula right on the tonehole surface, and have never, ever, ever remotely had any sort of damage occur to the tonehole.

The force being applied to the edge of the hole is straight down...not lateral. Unless, as Gordon noted, the hole chimney is very very thin or the brass of the body is quite soft....nothing happens.

If the fulcrum/spine point at the keycup intersection is that robust and unyielding...then it is probably a better idea not to do that sort of bending while the key is on the horn.

I am sorry to keep on this, but again....of the dozen-plus very good techs I have worked with regularly over the past 16+ years....all of them have used metal spatula-type tools when bending keycups, regardless of the direction of the bend.

I am glad your method works for you and do not disparage it in any way...but it's an absurdity to claim that a tech using a metal spatula tool for keycup adjusting is 'doing it wrong', or 'taking a chance with your horn'...or any such malarkey.

And again, this is where internet chat boards become sorta ...if not dangerous...at least very irksome.

Because readers can come along knowing very little about the subject at hand, catch a thread at a specific time, and walk away with the conclusion that a method that has been used regularly by very good practitioners for generations is 'wrong', and then can get the incredibly mistaken impression that their tech is going neanderthal on their horn.
 

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Discussion Starter #14
These responses, info, and debates are very helpful. What it does is reinforce that there are many things to take into consideration, and it also cuts to the meat of some of the important lessons you all have learned. These solid opinions aren't arbitrary, they're earned.

Thank you all for taking the time to answer!
 

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With all due respect, I bend keycups from the back to the front fairly often....using a pad slick or spatula right on the tonehole surface, and have never, ever, ever remotely had any sort of damage occur to the tonehole.

The force being applied to the edge of the hole is straight down...not lateral. Unless, as Gordon noted, the hole chimney is very very thin or the brass of the body is quite soft....nothing happens.

With all due respect, hopefully this discussion will motivate you to carefully inspect the top of the tonehole under magnification after using a steel fulcrum when bending the front of the key down which is something I suspect you haven't done.
 

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A tool is a tool, whether it damages the item it works on or not is completley subjective to the skill of the operator using it.

Example, I use a circular saw to cut wood, a circular saw can cut and potentially kill me, does that mean every time I use the circular saw I will cut myself or possibly die, of course not, the potential is there, its the operator that provides the skill and know how to reduce said risks

A spatula, whether its made from steel, brass, even wood has the potential to damage the tone hole, does it, totally up to the hand skills of the technician

Steve
 

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Anything made of a metal that is harder than brass runs the chance of making an indent in the top of the tonehole. I have found using large wooden craft sticks top be a good alternative.
I had no idea this would turn out to be such a controversial statement. :) It was not meant as an "attack" on techs who choose to use steel pad slicks to bend key cups, and I regret that some have interpreted it as such. That was never my intent. My intent was more along the lines of "when using a tool made of metal harder than brass, care must be taken". Techs can and will use the tools they are comfortable with. For me when I am working on a customer's expensive saxophone I like to "err on the side of caution" and use a soft wooden stick when manipulating key cups. That is where I am most comfortable.
 

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First, I am possibly the worst to give advice as I suffer from foot in mouth syndrome all the time, especially when I think I am dumbing something down for others to understand.


I had no idea this would turn out to be such a controversial statement. :) It was not meant as an "attack" on techs who choose to use steel pad slicks to bend key cups.
That is almost a tongue in cheek comment to make following this one.

With all due respect, hopefully this discussion will motivate you to carefully inspect the top of the tonehole under magnification after using a steel fulcrum when bending the front of the key down which is something I suspect you haven't done.
Steve
 
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