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Sax Care

cinameng

New Member
Messages
2
I've just started to learn the sax and for now I am self learning until I can afford some lessons.

Does anybody have advice for me with regards to looking after my sax? I currently give it a good wipe after each and every use but I wasn't sure if there was something more substantial I should be doing periodically.

Thanks
James
 

jbtsax

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Beautiful Springville, Utah USA
I've just started to learn the sax and for now I am self learning until I can afford some lessons.

Does anybody have advice for me with regards to looking after my sax? I currently give it a good wipe after each and every use but I wasn't sure if there was something more substantial I should be doing periodically.

Thanks
James

In my experience the most important is to remove the moisture from inside the sax, neck, and mouthpiece after playing. I like to use a clarinet "hanky" swab for the neck and mouthpiece. For the body I use a Pad Saver although pull through swabs are fine. To keep the outside lacquered finish clean and shiny, I recommend spraying a light mist of Lemon Pledge onto a soft cloth and rubbing the surfaces. Regular oiling of the keys is "overkill" in my opinion and unnecessary---especially if you have a new instrument.
 

Taz

Busking Oracle
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3,669
Locality
Rugby UK
I couldn't agree more, little and often is the best way to go. I tend to leave mine far too long and then have an inch of dust to remove from the key work which is a pain in the proverbial!
 

llamedos

Senior Member
Messages
429
Locality
Lincolnshire England
Sound advice above - gently does it! It might become a bit of a bind allowing time after a session for cleaning purposes but it will pay off in the long run by avoiding problems and keeping your instrument operating as it should for longer. When drying out, keep an eye on the pads to make sure that they are not getting over-wetted and dry them if necessary . In the early days you might find that some water (condensation or saliva - both tend to be equally wet) finds its way around. My cleaning kit includes cigarette papers for pad drying as well as microfibre cloths for general wiping purposes.

The only advice you need for doing something substantial periodically is to keep playing and above all, ENJOYING!

Dave
 

Taz

Busking Oracle
Messages
3,669
Locality
Rugby UK
Just to add a little bit to Llamedos, watch out for the glued strip on cigaret papers. If you are going to use them just cut the glued strip off. You really don't want to get anything sticky near your pads. And whilst I'm on the subject of sticky things, when you're playing you should avoid sticky drinks too. I've no idea how true this is but it sounds good to me. If you have been drinking sticky drinks then it could leave a sticky residue on the inside of your mouthpiece, sax and even as far as your pads. Like I say I don't know is there is any evidence to back this theory up, but it sounds plausible.
 

Jane M L

Member
Messages
265
Locality
Newcastle Emlyn, Ceredigion
Here'a my penn'orth after 5 months from start -
Don't forget to use a smaller pullthru on the neck and mouthpiece. I read somewhere that it's a good idea to superclean the mouthpiece every week. Fill the mouthpiece with vinegar and water mix, holding a finger to prevent the octave key hole spilling onto the pad there. Pour out the vinegar into suitable jar- useful for soaking reeds - and leavempc wet for 5 minutes after which you can use the pullthru both wayys to thouroughly dry. I drop the mouthpiece into the vinegar for a minute or 2 once per week and use pullthru to clean grot [ usually visible ] completely.
Sometimes I put vinegar lightly on the body pullthru and make sure the disinfecting properties of the acid are gently distributed throughout - but that might not be a good idea.
As for being self taught - there are so many brilliant lessons on the web that you should find something that is exactly right for you. The only thing missing is an experienced player to hear what you are sounding like and help with breathing and tone which aren't obviously very wrong always and difficult to hear for oneself even with recording.
Good luck!
 

Jamesmac

Well-Known Member
Messages
1,872
The Sax is a fairly robust instrument. Wiping the keys etc will clean off the moisture and stop wear on the lacquer. As far as stuffing things through the Mouthpiece, and using something that you wouldnt rub into your skin is a bad idea. Be carefull what you use, a microfibre cloth to dry the bits you can reach is all you need to do on a daily basis. You hear of more problems with things getting stuck where they shouldnt. I always brush my teeth before playing, particularly if ive just had a coffee. Hope that helps.
 

Saxdiva

Older, wiser, should know better....
Messages
533
Locality
Burgess Hill, West Sussex
I always clean the inside of my sax after playing with a pull through and the mouthpiece and neck with a smaller one made for the purpose. I then lightly wipe over the keys and any fingermarks with a microfibre cloth. I give mouthpieces a gentle disinfect every few weeks.
 

MandyH

Sax-Mad fiend!
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The Malverns, Worcs
be wary of leaving the pad savers inside the crook (neck) or mouthpiece.
At the weekend a colleague in our band pulled her pad saver out of her Tenor crook, and only half came out - the wire in the middle of the pad saver had rusted right through and snapped off. with a bit of careful poking from a pencil, we managed to poke the remaining end out of the crook, but it was a worrying few minutes.

I dry my sax bodies and crooks with a pull-through, pulled through 2 or 3 times. Then I leave the sax on the stand.
I always take the mouthpiece off the sax, remove the reed dry it and the mouthpiece and put them away in a drawer separately - having lost a mouthpiece to the horrific effects of the sun (no, really sunshine in the UK), they now see as little sun as possible.

Also, occasionally for high-days and holidays, I wash the outside of my saxes with a cotton hanky made damp in normal tepid tap water and buff the a good shine with a dry hanky. I also use a pipe cleaner folded in half, made damp (holding the bare metal ends in you fingers, so the folder fluffy end is the action end) to get into less accessible nooks and crannies, under rods and key cup arms etc.
 
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Rogerb

Member
Messages
764
Locality
Costa Blanca, Spain
I am told it is NOT a good idea to put a whole ebonite mouthpiece into vinegar, as it tends to turn them green!.
If you wish to apply vinegar to the inside only, stuff a soft cloth inside and apply enough vinegar to wet it without dripping.
I have a gold-plated metal mpc and occasionally give it a gentlescrub with a soft toothbrush and diluted washing-liquid, followed by thorough rinsing and drying.
The sax bore gets a quick swoosh after use with a pad-saver(which gets washed occasionally) and is left to dry on its stand.
And the neck is dried with a pull-through.

I noticed Alastair Hanson was a fan of Lemon Pledge on the outside! I just use microfibre cloths, and an occasional polish of the accessible areas with Renaissance Wax.

(The last time Stephen Howard serviced my alto, he asked if I owned a cat ... at the time I did! I now cover my sax ... when I remember... on its stand with a cotton pillow case to keep off the ubiquitous Spanish dust, and dog hairs! ... the cat died :crying: )
 

photoman

Daydream Believer
Messages
235
Locality
County Limerick Ireland
I bought most of the advised cleaning kit (horn body "pad-saver", horn pull-through; crook pull through; MP brush and swab, soft polishing cloth) when I bought the Sax 4 weeks ago.

I have actually now stopped using the padsaver in the body having read one or two known experts on the subject (some around this very forum) suggest that they may leave dust on the pads, over time, and cause more harm than good.

So I now only use the pull through on the horn and put the body "stopper" on when I take the crook off" and/or when putting the Sax in its case.

Any other thoughts on this?

Stephen
 

sushidushi

Mine's an espresso
Messages
651
There are quite a few threads on here that discuss padsavers, but no clear consensus on their use. The main advice seems to be that, if you wish to use them, use something of good quality, or you risk the fibres becoming detached from the padsaver and attaching themselves to the pads, which could ultimately cause problems.
 

kevgermany

ex Landrover Nut
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My alto came with a pad saver, so I use it cos it's the only neck plug I have. in 3 years the ancient and decrepit pads haven't got any worse. I do use a pull-through first, though. I think it's a personal choice, doesn't seem to be a real problem with them.

However the cheapo in an old soprano has a different problem - the grip comes off, one day I'll have to pull the gubbins out with a pair of pliers.... maybe it's time I sold it.
 

Ivan

Undecided
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Peeblesshire
I lost my pad saver many moons ago

I've not replaced it because I don't see how the thing could possible work

Man-made, non-absorbent fibres that do not pass far enough through the tone holes to reach the pads? Howzat going to do owt?

To my mind they're placebo
 

Stephen Howard

Well-Known Member
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3,037
Locality
UK
I lost my pad saver many moons ago

I've not replaced it because I don't see how the thing could possible work

Man-made, non-absorbent fibres that do not pass far enough through the tone holes to reach the pads? Howzat going to do owt?

To my mind they're placebo

Well, you were probably swayed by the name - and to be fair, 'Pad saver' isn't a very accurate description of what they do.
The generic name, 'Shove it swab' is more descriptive, and better hints at what they really do...which is to keep the bore clean.
Rather interestingly you touched upon another aspect...which is that although the fibres rarely touch the pads, they do go some way into the tone holes - and this helps to 'scour' out some of the crud that collects on the tone hole walls. This stuff eventually finds its way onto the pads, so in that sense they do save the pads...though it's a bit of stretch.
 

Ivan

Undecided
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Peeblesshire
Well, you were probably swayed by the name - and to be fair, 'Pad saver' isn't a very accurate description of what they do.
The generic name, 'Shove it swab' is more descriptive, and better hints at what they really do...which is to keep the bore clean.
Rather interestingly you touched upon another aspect...which is that although the fibres rarely touch the pads, they do go some way into the tone holes - and this helps to 'scour' out some of the crud that collects on the tone hole walls. This stuff eventually finds its way onto the pads, so in that sense they do save the pads...though it's a bit of stretch.

I bow to your better informed viewpoint
 

Stephen Howard

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UK
I bow to your better informed viewpoint

Better than that - next time you see one being used, have a close look at how it works and how it moves/fits into the bore.
All these things have pros and cons but in most cases it's pretty easy to work out what they are.

For the very best bore care I'd recommend using both a pullthrough and a pad saver - but personally I just shove a pad saver in all my horns when I'm done...and I have a vested interest in keepng my own horns off the bench.
 

photoman

Daydream Believer
Messages
235
Locality
County Limerick Ireland
Better than that - next time you see one being used, have a close look at how it works and how it moves/fits into the bore. All these things have pros and cons but in most cases it's pretty easy to work out what they are.

This is slightly off topic - but while SH may still be around, can I just say that as a professional photographer and teacher (and a specialist in music photography for many years) I think the Haynes Saxophone Manual - which I have recently purchased - is a thing of beauty, and I don't say that often or lightly. The photography is exceptionally good (enhanced for me by the fact that I own a Bauhaus Walstein) and the writing is top rate.

I'm buying quite a few sax related books at the moment - while I'm suffering from SAAAS (Sax And Accessories Aquisition Syndrome) and this is my favourite. A great bedtime read and a wonderful book to say I own. And I've never taken anything apart in my life - and probably never will.

Stephen Power

My Most Recent Music Book
 
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Stephen Howard

Well-Known Member
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3,037
Locality
UK
High praise indeed Stephen! Thank you - I am truly flattered.

I don't mind admitting that my approach to photography tends to be "Oooer...what does this button do?", but I will say that I coupled it with a sense of knowing that I wanted a very particular shot. I would imagine that a proper photographer would nail a shot in perhaps a couple of goes - whereas I would have to trawl though fifty or so, each ever so slightly different, before I got 'the one'.
I also freely admit that I never realised the importance of matching white balance, and knew absolutely nothing about RGB/CMYK conversions or colour profiles etc etc. And let's not even mention Photoshop.

I'm not much more efficient now, but I splashed out on some kit for the clarinet manual and had a (slightly) better understanding of how to take photos - with the result that I know have a burning desire to completely re-shoot the sax manual. Switching from a stock zoom lens to a dedicated macro and a pro zoom lens - and full frame - really made a difference, though I've probably forgotten what a complete pig it was to light something as complex and reflective as a close-up of a saxophone key.

So to have someone of your calibre pass along such generous compliments means a very great deal to me - and in case anyone doesn't quite get the magnitude of that, it's a bit like having someone like Pete King come up to you at the end of a gig and say "Hey, nice playing man!".

Cheers!

Steve
 

photoman

Daydream Believer
Messages
235
Locality
County Limerick Ireland
I don't mind admitting that my approach to photography tends to be "Oooer...what does this button do?", but I will say that I coupled it with a sense of knowing that I wanted a very particular shot.

Well, the shallow depth of field in the lovely shot on page 8, and the precise focus and broader DoF on many others, shows me that you found the right buttons and worked out what they do PDQ. The reflective surfaces of Sax keys and the bodies are probably as difficult a subject to light and as any I can think of - and I have to say I looked at some of them wondering what technique you used. In any case, it's pretty impressive.

All I can say - if it doesnt seem too arrogant; I definnitely don't rate myself as a Peter King of the photography world - is "hey man, great images", and I look forward to the end of most days and still being awake enough to read a few more pages of your stunning book.

Stephen
 
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