If you find out then let every other sax player know.
Failing that you can try cleaning them with lighter fuel on a cotton bud or water. It depends on what's making them stick. I would recommend particularly not drinking beer at a gig. Advice that I wilfully ignore. Same goes for coke (the drink, that is) and other sugary drinks.
Always use a pull-though to get the condensed breath out of your sax after use. Use a cloth or a special brush for the neck and mouthpiece... dry and store the reed off the mouthpiece.
Any pads prone to stick (bottom C#, top F# are common) it pays to dry the pads with a cloth. You can also leave a handkerchief or light cloth trapped between pad and tone hole when you put the sax away.
Also, as Nick says, avoid sugary drinks.
It pays to clean your teeth, too, before playing - unless you want a stinky sax and mp.
A friend used to place a small foam block under the low C# key and this kept that key and the G# key open while the sax was in its case. Always make sure that your keys are working before you start playing. You can use whatever notes you have in your wallet, as pad papers, if there is nothing else to hand. Follow all the advice above.
I use 1000 grit wet-or-dry sandpaper cut into a strip slightly wider than the tone hole. I wet the paper side with Naptha (lighter fluid) and pull it out from under the pad several times with light pressure with the paper side up. This cleans the surface of the pad and also the top of the tonehole. If this doesn't work, I remove the key, clean the pad again and rub a generous amount of fine teflon powder into the pores of the pad and brush/blow away the excess. If the pad sticks again after that process, it gets replaced.
I guess I'm at the end of the road with remedies, having taken advice from Steve Howard, including the fine emery pull-through and lighter fluid tricks. I clean the pads, mostly the B, Bb, A, G, G#, Aux F, F, E, D, with lighter fluid on a cotton bud. Clean all the way around with a wet bud, and the tone hole rims, and for a while the stickiness goes away. But after a few plays, and when the pads are really wet, the stickiness returns.
I always pull through with a chamois patch and a micrifibre one, and recently bought an HW padsaver which I insert while holding the keys closed on the main tube so any moisture transfers from the pads, then withdraw and keep separate. Still no joy.
I'm going to take it to Paul Carrington Tuesday week. He says Selmer pads often have this problem. Bearing in mind I've had "quite a few" horns of all makes and models this is the ONLY one that's ever suffered from sticky pads, apart from the occasional G# maybe elsewhere. So I really don't think it's my saliva. A combination of my saliva and these pads, perhaps. Or maybe the previous owner tried something different to clean them with and that's been absorbed into the leather, oozing out a little at a time when wet. Perhaps I should pressure wash them?
Paul suggests I just have the sticky ones replaced but I'm not so sure I shouldn't have them all done while I'm at it? They're no doubt the originals and although they look fine and feel soft, there's something going on that's just niggling away at my confidence when playing my favourite horn. Plus, it's difficult to know where the really sticky pads end and the "good" ones start! Paul's recommending Pisoni pads, which I've heard nothing bad about.
Has anyone else encountered this Selmer-only issue? Did you find a remedy other than replacing them?
Should I go to the extra expense of a full re-pad?
The only way to cure sticky pads (after you have already tried the usual) is to replace them. Have it fully repadded or you will always have one sticking, if the repad is done properly, the sax will sound and respond better. I know of players that have the left hand palm keys replaced once a year...
anyway that's what I think: one last thought: has the sax been cleaned internally? Just thinking if the stickiness could be caused by old "debris" in the bore/toneholes which moves as you heat/wet as you're playing...
Hope this helps,
It looks clean inside. I agree I'm going to feel happiest having a full repad done rather than having half new pads and gradually finding another, then another, goes regularly sticky. It's good to have an "as new" sax again, once in a while.
A couple of thoughts: How deep are the seats in the pads? There are times when the seats are quite deep that the leather "wraps around" the top of the tonehole and this increased contact area contributes to the stickiness. The most interesting part of the description is that the stickiness returns when the pads are wet. I have found that when there are "water soluble" deposits on the surface of the pads that naptha does not work very well. In those cases I use Doctor's Pad Cleaner. If you are comfortable taking then keys off the sax it is easier to do a more thorough job of cleaning the pads. In extreme cases I will rub "teflon powder" into the pores of the pad after they have been cleaned, and blow away the access. If there is any sticking after all of these steps, then replacement is the only option left IMO. The top of the line Pisoni pads are an excellent choice for a repad. Of course the "roo pads" being untreated tend to be less sticky than pads with a water proofing.
@Colin the Bear I can see what you're getting at if it's anything like the silicon sealant you use around baths etc. That dries so the surface is slippery but not sticky. A bit like teflon on a pan. Hmmm... wonder if there's a teflon spray for something or other? There's teflon grease but that won't dry. I guess I could try your remedy on the upper stack whilst leaving the lower stack as is, for a "control"? What's the brand of grease, and can you confirm it does go completely non-sticky?
@fibracell I always brush my teeth before playing, don't take sugar in drink, or smoke. Connollys tried some powder, Yamaha I think, but again my thoughts are that the minute "fur" this creates on the rim and pad will clog with saliva and attract more debris. What I need is a smooth slippery surface on both pad and rim with no foreign elements altering my saliva to form a glue. There must be something in, or added to, the original Selmer pads which becomes soluble when wet and then sticky. It could be the previous owner had a high sugar content to his saliva which has permeated the pads over time and is now seeping out.
Graphite powder may be better than Yamaha powder but it's still adding a layer of gumf for more grot to stick to.
There are silicone sprays. Spray a bit into a very small container / spoon soak a Q-tip and apply to the pads. The solvent should evaporate from the pads and leave a silicone coating without much grease or anything else in addition. Never done it myself, but just a thought if you are sceptic about silicone grease. Not sure if it solves the problem once and for ever but worth a try before a full repad
On SOTW is a discussion of "Neverwet" a hydrophobic 2-component coating. At least the youtube videos are amazing. However, as amazing as they seem a SOTW member reported to have used it on pads but they began sticking again after 6 month. Seems Neverwet is not available in Europe though.
@jbtsax I guess the water proofing makes the saliva build up on the outside forming a "pool" of water and stickiness? Yamaha pads for instance, being non-waterproof, allow the water through the surface and reduce stickiness BUT I imagine the inside of the ad is going to become a cesspit of spit. What do you make of Colin's silicone grease idea?
I did try this having read up about it...
...didn't work. Is Doctor's pad cleaner similar? Is it, and teflon powder, available in the UK?
Paul also advised he uses this for waterproofing pads...
...tried it on one or two pads, applying to the pad with a cotton bud. Again, no luck.
@kevgermany I don't like the powder idea as it would add more minute lumpy surface area and encourage more rubbish to stick. That's what I've read anyhow.