C-Melody Re-pad issues

NigelP

New Member
Messages
12
#1
I'm in the process of restoring a 1924 Buescher C-Melody sax. It was kind of working before I started although with a few rough edges shall we say. I fitted it with a full set of Music Medic soft tan pads, just dry-fit initially to make sure I'd got it all right. I've had to do a bit of re-corking/padding and regulation to get it light-tight.

So now it is reluctant to produce proper sounds below low-G and simply blows D,E,F etc on the upper octave. Everything above low-G works correctly including palm keys. It has a swan-neck (tenor-style) and when trying the Selmer tenor mp or the supplied Bundy, or the custom Earlham mp or Link NY metal from my tenor sax nothing solves the problem; the Selmer worked fine originally. I use Rico Royals on all my saxes and recently upped my alto from 2.0 to No2.5; tried Rico 2, 2.5 and some 3.0 I just got in from InternetReeds but nothing actually fixes the issue, just variations on a theme! It's as if I can't get enough air going down the tube.

I've done a 1 to 1 comparison of key/cup actions with my alto to make sure I've not re-assembled the Buescher properly but I can't find anything un-toward...... any suggestions..... it must be something obvious that I can't see?
 

saxyjt

Well-Known Member
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Location
France
#4
It's unclear wether G works or not. You mention everything above and below but what about G itself?

My Cmel is about the same age but a Martin. Octave mechanism can be tricky. So what @vries1 says sounds plausible...
 

JayeNM

Formerly JayePDX
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330
Location
New Mexico, US
#7
Ahhhhh, but you seeeeeeeee...you have failed to take into account ......this:

C-Mels aren't supposed to get re-padded.

Just hung on the wall.

(It's just trying to tell you that)
 

jbtsax

old and opinionated
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Beautiful Springville, Utah USA
#8
I have a better response than my first one which would have been on point if the notes below G were difficult to produce. If the notes respond easily but go to the second octave, it indicates as vries1 stated that the body octave pad isn't closing completely. In my shop I have a Buescher tenor about the same vintage as the C-Mel which gave me the opportunity to study the mechanism. At this point I suspect that the pad in the body octave was replaced with one that was not as thick which gave rise to one or both of the keys in the photo touching the body of the sax.
Photo with text.jpg
 

NigelP

New Member
Messages
12
#9
So, some more specifics. The pads are retained with the original snap-ins. It works down to and including G & G# (including the natty G/G# trill key). It starts going rough around F#/F/E and then D (and lower) refuses to play in the low register (with a bit of a warbly sound) but reproduces the upper octave correctly with the octave key depressed. As far as I can see all the keypads have indentations from the tone holes so presumably are closing correctly. No amount of (undue) pressure on any pad seems to improve the problem, leading one to assume the pads are actually sealing.

Fingering a G and depressing the octave key produces the expected upper/lower octave pad toggling (ie upper/lower octave pads shift between the G & A fingering). The new octave pads also show tone hole indentation so I'm sure they are closing properly. In the photo above, the tenor has a different mechanism to my Cmel. There is a kind of double-action toggling coupling mechanism between the two octave cups on mine.

The body octave pad definitely still has spring pressure when fingering a G (or below). The body octave cup has a double arm arrangement such to ensure that the body octave cannot open when playing A upwards (ie only a G/G# and below will allow the body octave to open).
 

Shauninho

New Member
Messages
1
Location
Adelaide
#10
Hi NigelP,
I'm not a sax-tech, however I do have a 1929 Buescher C-mel that I had completely re-padded/restored by my local (amazing) sax repairer a few years ago, so if you need any reference photos etc of mechanisms I could possibly help there.
Cheers
 
Messages
108
Location
Montpellier area, France
#11
There wouldn't be a leak at the neck tenon? The site below describes a few methods for finding non-pad-related leaks. I once located a body-to-bow leak using the "cling film method". Note: the cling film method will cause the pads to close with more force than one would normally apply to the keys, so this method is actually not very sensitive for pad-related leaks.

Stuff Sax: Finding the Leak When a Leak Light Doesn't Find It
 
Messages
12
#13
Still plodding on; did try the glove test but I couldn't really say whether it told me anything useful.... certainly no perfect air seal but then also how to quantify the time it takes for the glove to return to normal?

I'd be very surprised if the neck tenon was leaking. The tenon goes way below the slot-end in the body and the screw tightens up really nicely without any tendency to rotation. Unfortunately I can't also try my alto and tenor necks because the C-Mel neck tenon is different in diameter to both, even if it accepts a tenor mouthpiece on the business end!

The thing to remember is that before I replaced all the pads the sax was largely playable (top to bottom) with just a few imperfections. Current state of play is that playing a scale downwards on the lower register it works until I get to D (just about) after that all I get is the overtone instead. Also If I try to hit low-D directly it won't play correctly (ie it plays only if I do the down-scale sequence).

During all this I'm trying different mouthpieces and reeds in case it's all getting masked by air-flow issues back at the mouthpiece end (no real conclusions... just variations). I have three tenor mouthpieces to try plus a Bundy oddball (think it's tenor but it's significantly shorter) and range of reeds from 1.5 to 3.0.

Next week I'm going to ask a friend of mine who plays a mean tenor (therefore using a matching mouthpiece) to give it a try to see whether he can come up with any silly problems. I'm hoping I've done something really stupid but for the life of me I can't see what right now.
 

saxyjt

Well-Known Member
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2,335
Location
France
#14
There must be a leak somewhere. Checking individual keys is not enough. You must check them for each note. Links can affect other keys in ways you didn't expect.

I'm currently working on a soprano sax from the 20s and it's a nightmare. It's now sort of playing ok on the lower octave, but I have trouble on the higher range. It's a useful exercise in terms of learning the skills but can be frustrating and certainly requires to be patient.
 

jbtsax

old and opinionated
Subscriber
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Beautiful Springville, Utah USA
#15
Did you install the pads with just the snap on resos holding the pads in place? I am reading "assumptions" that a professional tech would typically not make without further checking. 1) There is a visible indentation in the pad made from the tone hole, therefore it must not be leaking. 2) The neck "feels" tight, therefore it must be airtight.

1. A bright leak light in a darkened room using only light finger pressure will tell you if a pad is leaking or not. Not only should no light be showing through, closing the key should "eclipse" the light at nearly the same time all 360°.

2. The only way to be sure a neck tenon is air tight is to use a "neck leak isolator" from JL Smith or a "neck checker" from Music Medic. Tenons that are slightly "oval" can feel tight but still leak. In some cases a "bubble" develops under the slot in the receiver from over tightening. That can also produce a leak if left unattended.

If the answer is yes to my first question, there is a possibility that air can be leaking under a snap-on reso that has a loose fit. This is why I always install the pad using shellac first and then add the snap-on---making adjustments as needed.
 

Colin the Bear

Well-Known Member
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11,612
Location
Burnley bb9 9dn
#16
If your saxophone plays well and after you repad it, it won't play. I doubt it's the reed or mouthpiece.. Pads need seating, The mechanism needs regulating. And then regulating again sometimes. I've been having reed issues lately and problems playing quietly. Decided to check the saxophone over and found a worn through pad palm F. When will I learn that it's not the reed. This was causing loss of tone down low, poor subtoning and a tendency to split the octave on the bell notes when played quietly.

Have a really good look at what's happening.
 
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