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detect a leak and make leak light?

tom9437

Member
Messages
175
Hi all coud anyone tell me of a good way to detect a leak? Also how to make a cheap leak light please. My problem. I have always found my sax easy to blow but in the lst few weeks i have found it a little harder i think its around high E its not really bad but i know its not right. Thank you

Tom
 

kevgermany

ex Landrover Nut
Subscriber
Messages
21,947
First I recommend you get Stephen Howards Haynes Saxophone manual.

Are there other symptoms - squeaks, difficult notes, octave jumps?

Leak lights are easy to make. You can find instructions on the web. However I made one from two super cheap D cell torches and a piece of bell wire. From one torch I took the lamp holder, trimmed the reflector until it would go down the sax neck, and connected the bell wire to it and refitted the bulb. . (I should have soldered it, but heat was going to melt the plastic, so I used tape). Make sure the wire comes straight(ish) out of the back of the holder, not at right abgles. The rest of the torch isn't needed. From the second torch I removed the 'lens' and connected the wire into the bulb holder where the bulb would normally go. Total cost - 2 euros, cos I had the bell wire in my tool box.

In a slightly darkened room, pass the light into the tube of the sax and look for light.... Any keys that should be open, close gently and see how the shut, should shut evenly all the way around, with very gentle finger pressure. Anything that needs firm pressure to close is leaking. Keys held shut by springs should be closed all round and need no extra pressure. Try opening and closing slowly. Should still seal evenly.

Make sure you look closely around the back of the pad as well. Often the keywork makes this difficult to see.

Watch also for keys closed by other keys. In an ideal world they close together. Often the don't and this leads to leaks. If you need significant pressure to get both key's closed, there's a leak.

You can also test with a cigarette paper, should be the same drag on the paper all the way round with almost no pressure on the key. Make sure you cut off the gummed part...

For octave pips, try pressing on the body octave key while you're playing - or get someone to help. For the neck pip, remove neck, block one end of the neck and blow in the other.
 

MartinL

Member
Messages
366
A few days ago I was wandering around the local "pound" shop and i came across a computer keyboard light, its just an array of six LED's on a flexible neck that plugs into the PC USB port, this for a pound plus a USB extension lead at another pound and I have a very very effective leak light. At 2 quid, first class.
 

MartinL

Member
Messages
366
leak light

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koumou

Member
Messages
168
Hello,

I've bought a 1meter long rope light complete with end plug and mains cable. This is weather proof. It cost €4.50 from my local electric lighting shop. Works a treat.
It helped me detect a leak on the palm F key of my alto, which as it turned out was a very serius one. I fixed it and the horn is completely tranformed, altissimo is very stable and I can play down to a whisper. The higher up the horn the leak is the more serius it is as it acts like an octave pip. My midle D was terrible, it was very mufled, now it plays like all the other notes.
I also detected a leak on the low C of my Tenor.
Saxophones are very complex and sensitive mechanisms and a leak light I think is a must have for all sax players

Regards
Koumou
 
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Stephen Howard

Well-Known Member
Messages
2,096
A leak light can be an invaluable diagnostic tool, but I would strongly recommend that you learn how to use feelers.
Something I always look for is how even a pad seat is. It's perfectly possible to find pads that show no leaks with a light, and yet when tested with a feeler show that some areas of the pad sit tighter against the tone hole than others.
In the short term this might not matter too much - though if it's on a key that's linked to another it can point up a problem - but in the long term it will mean that as the pad expands and shrinks with use it's more likely to throw a leak on those less snugly seated areas.

It also provides a means of testing how rough or smooth the tone hole rim is.

Techs will often use both methods, with a preference for one or the other.

Regards,
 

kevgermany

ex Landrover Nut
Subscriber
Messages
21,947
Just a comment on the feelers. I was working on a friend's flute, a few corks had fallen off. It's an oldish, but good one, with no adjusting screws, all the links between the keys are set by adjusting corks with sandpaper. My home made leak light is too thick to go in the flute so I had to use feelers. I didn't have cigarette paper, so used 3-4mm wide strips from a thin plastic bag. This worked really well, but was a little time consuming as you're constantly putting the feelers in each time you need to make an adjustment. Another downside of the plastic was that it gets charged with static and then won't go in easily. Doesn't tear like cigarette paper.

As an aside her main flute, a Muramatsu, needs a complete overhaul. Last time she had it done it cost over 700 euros. Will be interesting to see what it costs this time (and how long it takes). But I've now seen where the money goes - it's the time it takes to get things right. You're working to very fine tolerances, with soft pads which have more give in them than the tolerances you're working to. And quite a lot of the keys are interlinked and need to be set up very carefully in order, as they affect each other, just like a sax...
 

old git

Tremendous Bore
Messages
5,545
Kev,
Just spend an hour or so looking at Ian McLauchlin in the Just Flutes workshop, yes the very same haunt of The Griff. Pad and operating mechanism removed, special paper segment cut and used to correct the pad level, reassembled, feelers used again, any correction made, tried again for every pad, makes you glad that sax pads are floated on a setting sticky. Mechanism to set up but all so small and fiddly. €700 seems to be good value for money to me.

Thinking of setting up a new business, visits to watch Ian and Griff in the workshop. Would make us much more appreciative of Musical Instrument Technicians skills and very moderate rates. Stephen, would need to charge more for your Open Days owing to transport costs. Griff must discuss B & B rates and transport for "a day by the sea with your Tech" days.
 

kevgermany

ex Landrover Nut
Subscriber
Messages
21,947
Fully agree. I'm doing it for fun because I enjoy working with my hands, and I'm under no illusion about my ability to do anywhere near as good a job as the pros do.

It's a very skilled, labour intensive job and I take my hat off to guys who do it for a living. I don't know how they can do a full service at the prices they charge and still make a living. Trouble is that a 3-4 figure price tag for a music teacher making a couple of thousand a month, with kids to support, is a huge bill, even if it's tax deductible at the end of the year. I've just picked up an old Boucet flute on ebay. Will be doing a repad on it. I'm guessing at 30-60 minutes per pad, plus all the other adjustments, so when I sell it on, there's no profit, except experience. Cos you can't charge a fair price - people just say "I'd rather have a new one for that money" and the bottom end Yamahas and so on are really good value for money, as well as being good flutes.

Love your idea of guided tours round a woodwind workshop. I think all players should go on one. And I'm being serious, even though you weren't (completely).
 

Lodger

Member
Messages
108
I completely agree with the skills needed and the fully justifiable cost of high-quality professional work. However the rather depressing thought is that as new instruments, obviously not the quality ones, become cheaper and cheaper, they won't be worth working on to repair/adjust and will become throw-away articles unless owners learn to do the work themselves.
 

kevgermany

ex Landrover Nut
Subscriber
Messages
21,947
I completely agree with the skills needed and the fully justifiable cost of high-quality professional work. However the rather depressing thought is that as new instruments, obviously not the quality ones, become cheaper and cheaper, they won't be worth working on to repair/adjust and will become throw-away articles unless owners learn to do the work themselves.

We're already there with some instruments. On the really bad ones there's so much play in the keywork, you can't adjust/seat the pads properly. And we had that with a Stagg clarinet. Instrument technician refused to work on it, cos it was so badly made he wouldn't be able to get it right, or guarantee his work....
 

gladsaxisme

Try Hard Die Hard
Subscriber
Messages
3,435
We're already there with some instruments. On the really bad ones there's so much play in the keywork, you can't adjust/seat the pads properly. And we had that with a Stagg clarinet. Instrument technician refused to work on it, cos it was so badly made he wouldn't be able to get it right, or guarantee his work....

It's not so much the poorly made instrument that is the problem.Take my lovely ELKHART 2 it is a really well made sax there is no play in any of the mechanics and it's been fitted with some good quality pads and great intonation and easy fingering.I have been using it for 3.5 years now and never had the slightest problem with it the only thing that has happened is some spotting under the lacquer on a few soldered joints,but hey that can happen to a lot of top quality saxes

Now what happens when it does need a reppad and overhaul,what's that gong to cost £300 maybe.I can go out and buy a brand new one for not a lot more so what do you do, go out and buy a much more expensive instrument so it makes it worthwhile to have it overhauled, it's a bit of a conundrum isn't it...john:confused:
 
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