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Pad thickness or adjust with amount of shellac or glue?

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Folks, as luck would have it I have a full set of pads and one of the old ones just fell out. The bad news is, it's the B key. It looks complicated to pull that strip (or stack?) out for someone not too experienced, but here is my actual question:

The replacement pad looks pretty much like the original, but if I put it in the cup (the key is still seated) to see about the fit, It sinks farther down.

Is the height of a pad adjusted with the amount of /height of shellac or glue or is the replacement pad too thin?
 

Stephen Howard

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Depends.

Some repairers prefer to set pads that are the correct thickness (just a tad thinner than required) and rely on a thin layer of glue and the angle of the key cup to bring the pad into line. Others prefer to use a thinner pad and rely on a bed of glue to adjust the height (known as 'floating').
Both methods have their pros and cons.

You're likely to have more luck by fitting a pad that's the correct thickness rather than trying to attempt to float a pad into a seat, so I'd suggest cutting some discs out of various thicknesses of paper or card and popping them in the key cup until you get the pad height about right. You can then glue the disc to the pad (contact adhesive will do) then glue it into the cup in the normal fashion. From there you can make any adjustments required.
Bear in mind that it's always better to err on the thinner side than the thicker.
 

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Is it unreasonable to start by removing the left hand stack to repad? The B key pad needs to be stuck back in. I'm not ready to do a full repad, but I'd like to do that one key (and any other on the stack that really needs it. I see how to remove it, I'm just wondering if I am crazy. I watched a video to calm my nerves a little, and now I think I can do this. Maybe.

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View: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-BrLEFljQPc
 

nigeld

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I've disassembled a sax and put it back together again. It felt a bit scary, but it isn't hard.
The worst bit is when you pull out one of the rods and several pieces fall onto the bench,
I took lots of pictures while I was taking it apart, but I didn't need them.

Make sure you have a couple of containers for bits. It is worth putting screws and rods back immediately. Otherwise you should label them.
And make sure you disengage all the springs before you start, or a some point a small but vital part will fly across the room.
 

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The video explains that fairly simply and he does put the rods back right away. Just poking around, I already managed to change a spring tension by accident. Had to remove the G key to get to the left stack. I didn't finish the disassembly, because I was waiting for any comments here. This looks like an excellent chance to learn. It is my 30-year old YAS-23, not my everyday one! When he removes the left stack, a bunch of stuff falls right off. It is a little scary.
 

jbtsax

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In an emergency I will sometimes replace a pad without taking the key off the saxophone, but as a general rule I remove the key so the keycup can be completely cleaned of the old adhesive. I also like to take my three sided scraper and "etch" the inside of the keycup if it is smooth. If I were replacing just the B pad on the upper stack, I would first remove the three palm keys and the front F key to give me better visibility when checking the seating of the (small) C pad and the B pad.

Before removing the old pad I always take note of its "protrusion" beyond the edge of the cup to try to match that with the new pad either by using a full shim (rare) or by using the correct amount of shellac (preferred). During re-assembly once the pad has been inserted I make sure the adjusting screws are backed out the full distance and then attach the front F key "upside down" when it is part of the upper stack. (If it is on a separate hinge this is not an issue). Next I add the C key and then the B which requires the C for the proper spacing.

At this point I work with the B pad to make sure it eclipses the light 360° with just the lightest touch before regulating the B with the adjusting screw to also close the C. When this is in order I again remove the keys, clean all of the hinge tubes with a cotton pipe cleaner with a bit of valve oil on the end, and clean the rod with a soft clean cloth. When reassembling the keys one at a time, I put a drop or two of key oil in the end of the tube and then turn the hinge rod as it goes into the key. It is important to keep a cotton bud handy to catch any excess oil that comes out at the ends of the hinge tubes.

Other techs may do things a bit differently, but this the procedure that I have found works for me.
 

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Appreciate all the input. I'll get my nerve up soon.
 
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Stephen Howard

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It's not unreasonable at all - in fact it's a reasonably common job ( a top-end repad).
The pads at the top end of the horn are among the first to wear out, due to the amount of water they soak up (and the corresponding drying out). They also tend to collect the most...gunge - though the low Eb is similarly affected.
As a rough rule of thumb it pays to deal with leaks nearer the mouthpiece first, then move down to the lower notes thereafter...as and when funds allow.

Here's my repadding order for the top stack:
G first. Access can be slightly hindered when the rest of the stack is in place - so get this one done and dusted first.
A next, followed by Bis Bb. Once both pads are set, adjust the regulation between the A the Bis Bb.
B next. You'll nearly always have to fit the Auxiliary B while setting this pad, and you don't want the Aux pad to be 'holding off' the B.
Aux. B.
Refit the stack (bar the G, unless it's integral), set the regulation, set the height, refit the G.
 

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Got the E side key and left stack off, glued a new B pad, struggled with getting the G and the rest of the left stack properly re-sprung.
It looks and feels like it's right as far as key movement. It's too late to actually blow notes, but I think I did it!
I've soldered miles of cables, jacks and plugs, but this is the first time these hands have ever held a blow torch. It is oddly exhilarating!

Having been through this, I think I can eventually repad the instrument. Not that I am anxious to do that, but I think I could.

1. Good thing I have a new alto to look at for springs. Photos don't move, so they're less obvious.
2. Good thing I have the Café people to help me!

THANKS! Everyone, have a drink, coffee or tea on me, you deserve it!

Hope any woes tomorrow are minor. I'd hate to start over.
 

jbtsax

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If you don't have one already, you may want to pick up a Music Medic style spring hook that allows you push or pull springs into place as needed.

12993
 

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If you don't have one already, you may want to pick up a Music Medic style spring hook that allows you push or pull springs into place as needed.
The pads and the torch being the biggest investment, I'm definitely going to order better specific tools.
 

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Status update
I'm sure you will not be surprised to hear there are a few problems. :blush:

On the positive side, I learned how to take a significant part of the alto apart and put it back together. It wasn't a breeze, but it was less difficult than I expected, considering I never was good at automobiles or motorcycles.
On the negative side, I obviously do not have a eye for pad seating. The one key that matters, the B key, can't be heated or adjusted (at least be me) without starting over. I'm not sure when I will want to do this, because I also want to take time to play.
 

jbtsax

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When using a flame to heat keycup containing a "pearl" to adjust the pad I use a "pearl protector". Felt or cork in the vicinity can be protected by covering with aluminum foil.

13000
 

6441

 
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That's a great tip! I must order these tools. I did heat and manipulate the pad to seat it better. There are still problems, but that key is either fixed or nearly so. I'm not sure I can get the sax into shape in time for the July 6th trip. If I take it to the tech next week, he'll probably want to do a full $500 repad. In the absolute, he's right, of course. I don't want to invest that much, so I'm trying to learn more about the mechanics of the instrument. Fascinating, if nail-biting (for an amateur).
 

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Almost there! I found a leak in the E side key pad, that was easy to fix. It's almost baxck to normal. Now it's more the springs that will need fiddling with.
 

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If you don't have one already, you may want to pick up a Music Medic style spring hook that allows you push or pull springs into place as needed.
I'm having a hard time finding these tools in France or the UK. They must be available, but I'm not seeing them at sax.co.uk, amazon.fr or dawkes.
 

Stephen Howard

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Try Windplus - they carry springhooks, but not pearl protectors.
If you've got a scrap horn lying around, a top F key makes a good pearl protector.

If all else fails, you can always use a lump of Blu-Tack. Just squish it over the pearl, then heat the cup as required. Be careful when removing the Blu-Tack as it'll be hot (and rather sticky).
 
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