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Saxophones Metallic taste in silver sax

Messages
4
Location
sydney
#1
Hi
I just acquire a vintage silver Buescher alto sax. I find it has a strong metallic taste. I was a bit worried about toxicity! Can anyone enlighten me please? And is there anything I can do about this?
Thanks.
 

nigeld

I think I need a different mouthpiece
Subscriber
Messages
3,052
Location
Bristol
#2
@matsy - Please can you explain what you mean - is it the smell? or do you get the taste on your fingers? or do you get a taste in your mouth while playing?

It is fairly normal for very old saxophone cases to smell funny. There are various remedies, but my solution was to get a new case.
 
Messages
4
Location
sydney
#5
@matsy - Please can you explain what you mean - is it the smell? or do you get the taste on your fingers? or do you get a taste in your mouth while playing?

It is fairly normal for very old saxophone cases to smell funny. There are various remedies, but my solution was to get a new case.
@matsy - Please can you explain what you mean - is it the smell? or do you get the taste on your fingers? or do you get a taste in your mouth while playing?

It is fairly normal for very old saxophone cases to smell funny. There are various remedies, but my solution was to get a new case.

Thanks. What I meant was a distinct taste in my mouth, both during and after playing.
 

Phil

Member
Commercial Subscriber
Messages
121
Location
France
#7
Are the pads snelling from mildew? Does the case smell. I can see that smell described as metalic. A silver horn will smell no different than a brass horn. The inside is raw brass on all of them.

My hunch is your horn stinks because its old and musty. that is the only time ive ever tasted a horn. if its the brass itself it can be cleaned. Im not sure of the ideal dyi method. If its musty pads you have an expensive problem.

If the case stinks dont put the horn back in it.
 

nigeld

I think I need a different mouthpiece
Subscriber
Messages
3,052
Location
Bristol
#8
I also have a vintage silver Buescher Truetone alto, and I don't experience a metallic taste when I play it - it is just like a lacquered sax. But the case smelled, and the sax used to smell of the case when I took it out, so I got a new case for it. But beware: the Buescher has bell keys on both sides, so it won't fit into most alto cases. There is an old thread about this. The cases that work are Hiscox, Protec XL, and another one that I can't remember.

You can clean the sax with ordinary silver polish. Don't use anything abrasive or you will take off the silver plate.
 
Messages
4
Location
sydney
#9
Are the pads snelling from mildew? Does the case smell. I can see that smell described as metalic. A silver horn will smell no different than a brass horn. The inside is raw brass on all of them.

My hunch is your horn stinks because its old and musty. that is the only time ive ever tasted a horn. if its the brass itself it can be cleaned. Im not sure of the ideal dyi method. If its musty pads you have an expensive problem.

If the case stinks dont put the horn back in it.
Thanks a lot, very informative :)

I also have a vintage silver Buescher Truetone alto, and I don't experience a metallic taste when I play it - it is just like a lacquered sax. But the case smelled, and the sax used to smell of the case when I took it out, so I got a new case for it. But beware: the Buescher has bell keys on both sides, so it won't fit into most alto cases. There is an old thread about this. The cases that work are Hiscox, Protec XL, and another one that I can't remember.

You can clean the sax with ordinary silver polish. Don't use anything abrasive or you will take off the silver plate.
OK thanks that's very helpful and good to know :)
 

Phil

Member
Commercial Subscriber
Messages
121
Location
France
#10
If those pads are old they are probably mildewed.

Im not expert on mold...unless its on cheese. BUT...I am under the distinct impression that breathing mildew is a quite unhealthy.

In the least I would put that horn out in the sun. Id take something damp and run through the horn several times. And see if the smell goes away. If its in a stinky case but the pads are not mildewed the smell may come out of the leather and felt of the pads.

Otherwise I suspect you are looking at the expense of a pad job.

Disclaimer: Im a mouthpiece maker...not a horn tech.
 

thomsax

Well-Known Member
Messages
3,049
Location
Sweden
#13
Try to clean the tube. Damp a swab with vinegar and pull through. To clean a tube can be done without take your sax apart. The best way is to dismantle the keys and clean the tube with lukewarm water with washing-up liquid. Use a sax bore brush or something in that style. I have a brush from Ferree's Tools. I guess you can find brushes in the that style in shops as well.? When I hand in a sax for service they are not cleaning the inside of the tube. Is it the same in UK, US .... ?
saxborste.JPG
 

altissimo

Well-Known Member
Messages
2,837
Location
leicester
#14
Hi
I was a bit worried about toxicity!
Thanks.
there's little worry of toxicity from the metal, your mouth isn't coming into direct contact with the crook and neither silver nor the copper and zinc in the brass are paticularly harmful - certainly not in the tiny quantities you might possibly ingest, you'd have to saw a few inches off the end of the crook and grind it up into powder and swallow it to get ill from metal poisoning.
Some people play bare brass and bronze mouthpieces without any ill effects. Sometimes you can taste things that are barely measurable, so the water vapour in the crook can have a few metal ions in it and you can taste it, in the same way that you can have a metallic smell on your hands after handling something made of metal
There is the possibility that any dirt inside the crook could harbour bacteria, but cleaning it thoroughly will minimise that risk. I hardly ever clean the inside of my sax and it's never caused me any harm, but I do leave my instrument to dry out and don't just shove it in the case still damp and leave it to fester.
There have been a few reports of wind instrument players getting infections from mouldy instruments, but it seems very rare compared to the number of wind instrumentalists there are around the world.
If you play the sax when you've got a sore throat or cold make sure you wash the mouthpiece and replace the reed afterwards - I've reinfected myself with a sore throat a few times by forgetting to do that.
 

altissimo

Well-Known Member
Messages
2,837
Location
leicester
#17
But you put the mouthpiece in your mouth surely, not the actual saxophone.

:headscratch:
While I ain't going to bother googling the biology of the sense of taste - you can do that for yourself, I seem to recall that our sense of taste also involves the sense of smell,.
If we can agree that instruments that have been in mouldy cases can have a mouldy taste even when using a clean mouthpiece and fresh reed and our mouths aren't in direct contact with the instrument, then why is it so difficult to believe that an instrument that smells metallic can have a slightly metallic taste under similar circumstances?
I've been working with metals on and off for several decades and I know that it takes very little disturbance of the surface of a piece of metal for you to be able to smell it from a distance of a few feet and even handling it can be enough to smell that metallic smell without having to bring your hands close to your nose. So if you're breathing through a bit of brass tubing that is full of damp air and condensation it's not unlikely that some tiny amounts of metal ions can become dissolved in the moisture vapour in the tube and find their way into your mouth and react with your taste buds or olefactory nerves. Some people may not notice it, different people have different acuteness of taste and smell and some might define it more as a smell than a taste, but I've noticed it a time or two on old saxes and given the crook a good rinse through the try to get rid of it. It seems more prevalent on saxes with a lot of green verdegris inside the crook
 

saxyjt

Well-Known Member
Messages
1,828
Location
France
#19
@matsy how long have you been playing?

Is this your first sax?

Sorry for the basic questions, but we don't know much about you, so we may not be providing answers that are appropriate until we know a bit more.