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How to remove saxophone pad and glue in a new one


Well-Known Member
Frankston Victoria Australia
Happy new year to all.
I hope you have all had great 2012 and find 2013 to be even better.

I found a damaged pad on my yamaha yts today so I intend on replacing it.
Can anybody tell me the glue that yamaha use to stick their pads on with, and the best way of removing the old pad.
You need to measure the diameter and thickness of the pad.

Remove the key from the sax. Gently remove the old pad with a screwdriver.
Measure the internal diameter of the cup, preferably with calipers. This is the diameter you need, pads are slightly undersize to fit. Measure the thickness of the old pad. Also the diameter of the reflector if it has one.

Glue will either be hot melt (like a glue gun/clear) or shellac (dark brown). I don't think Yamaha used kit, which is a form of sealing wax. You can use either when replacing the pad, just make sure you clean the old glue out properly. Both use heat to melt and seat/adjust the pad. Try to estimate how much glue was in originally and replicate this when replacing the pad. Be careful not to burn corks, key touches, felts when assembling/adjusting. Pad must seal all the way round at the first gentle touchdown. And make sure you don't mess up the regulation if the key is linked to others.
Good directions from Kev. :thumb:

After removing the key from the saxophone, I like to heat the keycup to get the old pad to release. While it is hot I use a cloth over my index finger to wipe the old glue out of the keycup. Sometimes the key needs to be reheated to remove all the glue. Using a hard object such as a screwdriver to "dig" the old pad out works as well, but one must be careful not to damage the edge of the keycup.

If you can tell us which key's pad you are planning to replace, we can help you with any collateral issues that you may have to deal with such as regulation, etc. Any .160" (4mm) thick pad will work in your Yamaha.

If you have not yet read Curt Altarac's The Push and Pull of Installing Pads, it is an excellent description of a process that produces consistently good results.
Thanks to Kevgermany and JBT
Yes ive read the push and pull and ive got a reasonble idea of what Im going to do now
I have watched some of the u tube vids as well.
Can you tell me how much heat I will need to put to the cup ....Will this heat afect the lacquer on the key and how long the shellac will stay fluid after heating ?
I will be removing said keys (low d, high f, high d.) from my tenor to do the work ..... will a hot paint strip gun on low heat be ok....? I will probably need to make an orifice to fit to the gun to focus the concentration of heat to a smaller area especially for the push pull proceedure.
I was going to get my replacement pads through music medic.
Also I thought I might upgrade the quality from plastic resonators to brass, What do you think?
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How much heat.... How long is a piece of string? Experiment carefully using an empty key cup heat it just enough to get the glue moving (e.g. high D). Shouldn't be runny, more treacly. When it gets runny, pads drop out. Takes a bit longer on the sax with a pad in it. If you overheat shellac it boils quickly and lifts throws the pad out. If you don't overheat, you won't damage the lacquer.

Can use a spirit lamp, low power gas torch, but don't use something that has a yellow/sooty flame. Some guys use a modified soldering iron, but I'l let JBTsax describe that. Not sure about the heat gun - they will be hot enough but tend to heat everything. I've heard people say they use them.

You'll need to heat the key in place on the sax to adjust the pads. By having a static lamp/torch with the flame going up you can hold the sax over it in such a way that the heat mostly only gets to the key you're working on. It's harder with a fixed sax and moving lamp as the flame goes out in an upwads arc. Keep the sax moving, don't let the heat build up in one place - and give it time to get through the glue.

If you're working on an unlacquered silver sax, make sure the flame has as little air as possible without going yellow. This minimises the oxidation of the silver. And in any case work with a minimum of heat. Too little does no damage and you can easily add more.

Be really careful of burning corks/plastic parts/pearls.... And remove any pearls near to the heat (low D/E). Best to shield any you don't remove with aluminium foil wrapped loosely around, but not so loosely that you leave a path for the flame to get in.

If you make sure the tonehole and key are flat/straight to start with (dry fit the pad without glue and test on the sax), you should only need minor adjustment once fitted. Pay close attention to how high the pad sits in the cup and make sure you maintain this when you fit with glue.... With smaller pads you may be able to put the pad in the cup slightly high, fit to the sax, warm and get it to self adjust with gentle closing pressure, but this is harder with the bigger keys. Not sure why, could be me....

Low D is a bit tricky to regulate. Make sure you really understand the linkage before touching it, including the linkage to bis Bb and G#, not just E and F.
This thread describes the sources of heat that I use for padding. Fortunately the newer epoxy lacquers are not as easy to burn as the old nitrocellulose lacquer found on vintage saxes. The formula used by Yamaha is especially hardy. This is not to say that it can't burn or turn "milky" if the heat source is kept in one spot for too long.

The open tip soldering gun is useful only when there is bare metal to contact, since the heat is created by the metal key itself completing the circuit. I would caution not to try the heat gun without adding an attachment such as shown in the linked thread. Unfocused very hot air can burn things in its general vicinity---including fingers.

Each heat glue has three temperature dependent states---solid, plastic, and liquid. As Kev indicated it takes practice using each type to get the feel for how long to heat each type. I personally prefer the dark shellac from Ferree's Tools because it melts at a relatively low temperature and remains in the plastic state for a longer period of time than others I have tried. The downside is it is quite expensive at $7.00 per stick. The amber shellac from Music Medic is also a good choice at $6.00 per stick.

If you are careful, the D key can be removed without taking off the entire lower stack. Just pull the rod out far enough to release the D key. A tip for the palm keys is to put the rod back in the posts once the key is removed to keep from getting the rods mixed up, or losing them (not that I've never done that). :)
Thanks JBT
Dont worry im a welder by trade I`ll be able to figure out the heating method in a snap.
I was hoping to find out the melting temperature of the glue/shellac , I should be able to do that I guess, when I get the packet
and if its not on there then I`ll be able to email the manufacturer.
I havent got a spare cup key to test with but i`m sure I could find a piece of brass sheetmetal to give me a fair idea.
yes that heat gun you show is exactly the type of wepon i intend to use (i havent seen yours before but the nozzle on the end is
just what i will need to make) although mine wont step down it will cone down and probably have a short lenght of curved tube
on the end to allow for directing the heat around parts.
I`ll send you a photo when ive made it.
Thanks for the tips
Shellac starts melting around 115-120 degrees Celsius. I use an alcohol lamp/flame when I do padwork.
I havent got a spare cup key to test with but i`m sure I could find a piece of brass sheetmetal to give me a fair idea.

Use one of the keys you take off to replace the pad. Easy does it and you won't break anything. One of the LH palms would be a good starting point.
Shellac starts melting around 115-120 degrees Celsius. I use an alcohol lamp/flame when I do padwork.

thanks thats the answer I was looking for,
now I have a guide in my head of how much heat to apply.
not much higher than whats required to boil water.
very little in welding terms.
yes an alcohol lamp would probably be bout the right temp.
dont think I`ll use the good brandy though,

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