Cleaning a smelly saxophone

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104
Location
Canada
#1
I have an old SML saxophone , a gold plated mouthpiece and used to really love playing..
Then I got married and my man isn’t musical at all so I lost interest. My saxophone has been refurbished a few times; new pads, new cork etc., BUT it’s been sitting for years and smells like musty basement. YUCK!
Plus one note doesn’t work. It’s a good saxophone but the smell of it just turns me off big time.

Can an old musty saxophone ‘really’ be cleaned and disinfected..It REALLY smells!
 
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Pete Thomas

Chief of Stuff
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11,694
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The Blue Ridge Mountains
#2
You mentioned you were looking at a Yamaha YAS 280 instead, I would seriously look at getting your SML fixed up and destinkified.
These are great horns, it will probably need a repad to get rid of the smell, but maybe needs that anyway. We have quite a few members in Canada who could point you to a decent repairer.

If the smell is in the case, that's a different issued may not be so easy to sort. but do a forum search, we have plenty of info on stinky cases.

But you shouldn't need to pay more on the SML than the cost of the YAS 280, and I think you could end up with a better, real pro horn.

See here for a start:

Technical - Why do old saxes and cases smell like that? And how can it be stopped?
 
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aldevis

Surrealist Contributor.
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11,714
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London
#3
I have an old SML saxophone , a gold plated mouthpiece and used to really love playing..
Then I got married and my man isn’t musical at all so I lost interest. My saxophone has been refurbished a few times; new pads, new cork etc., BUT it’s been sitting for years and smells like musty basement. YUCK!
Plus one note doesn’t work. It’s a good saxophone but the smell of it just turns me off big time.

Can an old musty saxophone ‘really’ be cleaned and disinfected..It REALLY smells!
Getting married can indeed affect one's musical life.
And a healthy musical life can affect marriage.

I am a big fan of my SML alto.
If the stink is putting you off, a proper destinkifation can vary, according to the specific stink.
Also remember that while we all often suck at playing, the goal is blowing correctly, so we don't really inhale any stinking agents.
I assume you already had the mouthpiece cleaned in lukewarm water and washing up liquid, and the reed replaced.

Leaving the instrument out of the case is the first step, unless it stinks of cheese (or worse). In that case go for the full overhaul.
Ideally the shorn should spend brief times in the sun, to get rid of that mouldy smell. We in England don't have a suitable sun and so I guess neither you do, in Canada.
There are UV lamps, but I think it would be too extreme.
If the pads are rotting, or insects nested there, go for the full monty.

That reminds me to take my SML out of the case, where it has been for years, now.

Have fun
 
Messages
104
Location
Canada
#4
No way! You have an SML saxophone?
You are the first person I’ve met who has one. I actually love mine also; especially after recently playing other saxophones which I thought would be better and they certainly aren’t.

We DO indeed have sun here in Canada
Just not now. Lol! That’s actually a good idea. Yes the mouth piece was cleaned but I should let it soak.

The pads aren’t rotting and there’s no bugs in there that I know of. Ok now that I’m completely grossed out. Haha! I think I’m going to call Long & McQuades and see if this is cleanable. Without pictures and a sense of smell, nobody can really tell me.

I think I’ll hold off on buying another for now.
Perhaps I can fix this again.

Thanks Al.. How old is your SML?
I recently read that the makers of the SML saxophone were disgruntled Selmer employees who got together with another maker to produce their own brand.
Of course I could be WAY off. If it’s a fun interesting story all the same. Lol ;)
 
Messages
104
Location
Canada
#5
You mentioned you were looking at a Yamaha YAS 280 instead, I would seriously look at getting your SML fixed up and destinkified.
These are great horns, it will probably need a read to get rid of the smell, but maybe needs that anyway. We have quite a few members in Canada who could point you to a decent repairer.

If the smell is in the case, that's a different issued may not be so easy to sort. but do a forum search, we have plenty of info on stinky cases.

But you shouldn't need to pay more on the SML than the cost of the YAS 280, and I think you could end up with a better, real pro horn.

See here for a start:

Technical - Why do old saxes and cases smell like that? And how can it be stopped?
You are right Pete. I came to the same conclusion. I think I will look into getting a new case, getting it professionally cleaned and that one note fixed up because it really IS a lovely saxophone and I’ve had it since 1974. Yes I’m old.

Besides which I think I’d cry if I had to sell this one. I’ve had such fond playing memories. We’ve done banquets, grand openings, dances, etc.

And the guy selling the Indonesian made Yamaha is being a bit of an jerk so I’m already put off. I hate arrogant bullies.

Ok gentleman. Thank you kindly. I’m going to start cleaning and researching. My husband might even wanna kiss you at this point. That 10 hour drive : he thought I was crazy !!!

I’ll post pics of MY saxophone later.
Thank you.
 

aldevis

Surrealist Contributor.
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London
#7
Thanks Al.. How old is your SML?
I recently read that the makers of the SML saxophone were disgruntled Selmer employees who got together with another maker to produce their own brand.
Of course I could be WAY off. If it’s a fun interesting story all the same. Lol ;)
The story is pretty much accurate. SML was a groundbreaking instrument that never made it commercially.
Mine says "gold medal" and I seem to remember it's late 50s
Looking forward to see pictures of yours

The first, premature question would be: does yours have rolled toneholes?
"Rolled toneholes" are not a Liverpool Christmas dessert or a Scottish profanity, but part of the horn. Most toneholes are not rolled, but some SML's are.
"Rolling Toneholes" would be a great name for a rock saxophone quartet
 
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Messages
104
Location
Canada
#10
Omg guys! My sax is worth more than the Yamaha I was considering. It’ is from 1953 and is in pretty awesome shape considering.
I’m so glad I never got rid of it or spent almost $1,000 on a new one.

A new case is required. It needs cleaning, some new pads and a note fixed but I’m going to get it done. It really DOES have a beautiful, rich tone. Mine is the two toned one with Rolling Toneholes!!!
Hahaha. I’m not sure why I find that so amusing but I do. Lol.

Pics coming soon.

Thank you people.
 

saxyjt

Well-Known Member
Messages
2,414
Location
France
#13
I bought a used Yamaha a couple or years ago that was filthy but a good clean did the job.

Of course a good clean, in my case meant removing all the keys to clean the horn thoroughly (shower with soap) and reassemble after dealing with each key individually. Even if the pads aren't great it's playing really well.

So my take is that you have to find a good tech to put it back in shape.

There are many SML fans here, including some in Canada.

Cheers and enjoy.
 
Messages
104
Location
Canada
#14
I’m so glad I joined this forum. Once I started asking the man selling the Yamaha too many questions he got a sudden attitude and since it’s a 10 hour drive it made me seriously reconsider my choices.

The SML I have I bought second hand from my high school music teacher that I purchased for $400 and that was back in 1973. I was 13 years old but in the senior band with my brothers.

This saxophone came with this awesome metal mouthpiece that totally rocks. I’ve since purchased a selmer, Meyer and Morgan mouthpieces which are really nice . The choice depends on the music I’m playing or it used to. In fact I’ve come to appreciate this instrument more and more the older I get. It’ holds some incredibly good memories .

It was made in Paris France in 1953 and I’ve played it off and on for years now with no major issues. I just finished playing silent night on it and the tone is still fabulous and the Yamaha doesn’t even gone close.

I’ve never had a saxophone stand and I certainly need a new neck strap. I lost my favourite one somehow. A few pads are missing and I have no C# or G# so they need fixing.

With a good cleaning and a new case I should be good to go. Plus I just recently thought of all the possible free accompaniment I could download, making practicing WAY more FUN.

I’m super excited. I’m gonna ROCK this Christmas!
 

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Messages
104
Location
Canada
#16
Long & mcquades in Toronto is where I’ve taken it the last few times and they have always done a very good job so I’ll take it there again. I’ll keep you posted how it’s going.

Thank you all again.
 

aldevis

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London
#17
I have no C# or G# so they need fixing.
That's super easy: find the cups that are supposed to open and force them up: they are just stuck by ancient spitty saliva!

This saxophone came with this awesome metal mouthpiece that totally rocks. I’ve since purchased a selmer, Meyer and Morgan mouthpieces which are really nice .
That mouthpiece is really interesting. I'd guess made by Lelandais for SML
Anyway, I'd probably prefer the Meyer or the Morgan for everyday's work
 
Messages
47
Location
Canada
#18
Nice horn, Nikki! I almost bought an SML Gold Medal tenor for CAD200 a few months back, but didn't get to it in time. Still kicking myself.

L&M shops usually have dependable techs. You could try a UV lamp as aldevis suggested, but if the smell's strong, you'll probably need to strip it, chem bathe it, and replace the corks, felts, and pads. Still, even with the price of a full refurb, you'll still be ahead if you ever wanted to sell. But I'm guessing this one's a keeper, eh?
 
Messages
104
Location
Canada
#20
That's super easy: find the cups that are supposed to open and force them up: they are just stuck by ancient spitty saliva!


That mouthpiece is really interesting. I'd guess made by Lelandais for SML
Anyway, I'd probably prefer the Meyer or the Morgan for everyday's work
Yes those straight springs either stick or slip out of place. Thanks for the reminder.

You’d think that mouthpiece would give a jazzy only sound but to my ear it sounds rich and mellow. I love the Morgan or Meyer mouthpieces if only to give my embrochure a rest. I’d forgotten that it came with the saxophone.
 
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