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Shellac or Hot Glue for pads?

DavidUK

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I have always steered clear of pad replacement but now feel I'm up for swapping a few pads on a "test bench" horn I have.

Dawkes today said to use a Shellac stick as this is the best way, although they do also sell rubber (hot) glue sticks for pad replacement: Rubber Glue

I already have a hot glue gun and sticks so know how this works on other materials.

My local tech, Paul Carrington, today said stay with the hot glue as shellac is medieval and more difficult to work with. He always uses hot glue for pads.

So, as a competent DIY-er who has done lots of other sax repairs apart from pads and dent removal, which adhesive would you recommend and why?

I'd get new pads from Dawkes or Wind Plus unless anyone has any better ideas?
 

jbtsax

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This is a controversial topic in the U.S. There are strong opinions on both sides. I personally prefer shellac since it is the method I learned to use when getting started. What I like about shellac is that it stays in a "plastic state" longer when heated which gives more time to manipulate the pad into position. It is also easier to clean from pad cups when replacing pads. I find it less "stringy" when applying glue to the back of the pad, and while still warm can be pressed against a bench anvil to flatten the shellac before inserting the pad into the key cup---something you can't do with hot glue. Generally speaking, I feel that I have more control with shellac than hot glue, but I do like hot glue for clarinet pads. The only downside I can think of is that it is more expensive than hot glue, but I factor that into the cost of my repairs. For example a repad generally takes about 1/2 of a Ferree's amber shellac stick which runs $12 per stick. That amounts to 1% of the cost of a $600 repad/overhaul to put it into perspective.

Whichever you choose to use, it is important to get to know your material and how it behaves. I have my repair students hold an empty key cup face up over a flame and count while they touch a stick of the glue to the inside surface. This enambles them to develop a sense of how long it takes to heat the key sufficiently to make the adhesive flow. In my work with the shellac and torch I use small key cups take an 8 count, medium key cups a 12 count, and large key cups a 16 count.
 
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DavidUK

DavidUK

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Evo stick 4 me.
Does that set hard enough so the pad isn't floating on jelly? Having said that, what's wrong with a "floating" pad which can find it's own sealing point? I guess it's the amount it time, though split second, it would take to find this sealing point.

@jbtsax holding over a flame to melt shellac is OK, but what about adjusting new pads once refitted... do you use a small butane torch? Don't want to burn lacquer or pearls. And does not glue need more or less heat? This kind of thing is what has stopped me previously.
 

Phil

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Hot glue makes a terrible mess. Its awfal gloopy garbage made for home crafts...not fine instruments. I would not purchase a horn that it was used on...unless it was of course a 25 dollar yard sale MK VI.

I am a complete horn repair amateur but I would use shellac any day. To me it simply behaves better.

It is easier to put on a thin coat. It quickly hardens gets sticky and it is easier to float a pad. If you are not an expert you will be floating and refloating a few times.

IMHO use shellac. On the surface it seems more complicated but I think if you tried them side by side you would realize there is a reason it is still the method of choice on professional instruments. It just works.
 

jbtsax

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Does that set hard enough so the pad isn't floating on jelly? Having said that, what's wrong with a "floating" pad which can find it's own sealing point? I guess it's the amount it time, though split second, it would take to find this sealing point.

@jbtsax holding over a flame to melt shellac is OK, but what about adjusting new pads once refitted... do you use a small butane torch? Don't want to burn lacquer or pearls. And does not glue need more or less heat? This kind of thing is what has stopped me previously.
Adjusting pads previously installed can be done using either a small butane torch like the Blazer ES-2000 or a hot air torch like the one supplied by Music Medic. It takes a bit of practice to get the flame the right size and intensity and to accurately judge the heating time needed. The shellac I use from Ferree's has a relatively low melting temperature. Some of the hot glues, ie. George's Glue have a relatively high melting temperature. With the baked epoxy lacquer on modern saxes there is almost no danger of burning the lacquer as there was with the older nitrocellulose lacquer found on vintage horns. Key pearls can be easily safequarded using a "pearl protector".
 

kevgermany

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As an amateur I've used both. On saxes where hot melt was used, I continue that way. Same for shellac. Preference is for shellac, but it's close.

Hot glue, used properly isn't messy. Just cut little chunks of it put in the keycup heat and put the pad in, rotate/twist to spread the glue. Then put key back on sax, heat until soft and adjust the pad to seal. This assumes level tone holes and well adjusted keys with the correct size/thickness of pads.
 

kevgermany

ex Landrover Nut
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You can also heat the cup, then rub the end of the glue stick in it. This leaves a well controlled amount, but gives you a messy tail as you pull the stick away.
 

Stephen Howard

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I use both. For the most part I only use hot melt glue (hmg) for octave key pads or pads that are prone to waterlogging (top B, palm keys).
Hmg is more tenacious than shellac and will hang on to a crusty old pad when shellac would have let go a long time back.
But hmg is less stable and isn't so good at confining the heat to specific areas...which makes precision pad adjustments trickier. Granted, you can learn how to adjust your setting technique to accomodate this - and there are a wide variety of hmgs with varying degrees of density and melting points.
Try both, and see which one gives you the best and most consistent results...then stick with it (ahem).
 
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DavidUK

DavidUK

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No doubt there are some tips in your Haynes manual Steve, as with other areas of DIY repair I've already used it for. I'll strip it down and see what's needed. It's a Yamaha 23 "Vito".
 
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DavidUK

DavidUK

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Hadn't tried to play the Vito since purchase, until today. You know what, even with some dodgy looking pads it plays perfectly! Had a few of these over the years and have always been tempted to keep one. BUT... I always ask myself "can it really be THAT good for a cheapie?... and I pass it by.

Other "issues" to fix... neck won't quite tighten and feels as though the tenon isn't being pinched.
Side keys rattle a bit. Can't see the problem - maybe just need some oil to dampen the rod movement?
A few minor dents - may strip it and take over to "magic" Matt Sheward at Sheward-MIR. He's the guy who invisibled 17 dents on my Grassi 2000 Pro tenor. I have a thing about dents!
 
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DavidUK

DavidUK

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Near Lutterworth, Leics.
I recall taking a horn to Paul Carrinton a few years back with a really annoying rattle. He immediately put a finger on a rod and it stopped.
It was a felt rod "cup", the little piece which is "U" shaped and goes atop an intermediate rod post. Now I know for the future...
But it is quite fun trying to work out what causes these odd noises, even if you fail sometimes. I'll have a better look when I'm stripping one evening...

Oh, and Colin... I never pay a fortune, c'mon! :rolleyes:
 

jbtsax

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The secret to making side C and Bb quiet lies not in lubrication, but taking all the play out of the key by swedging. With the key perfectly fit, Make sure you have teflon tube on the post that extends from the key and then close the sides of the "U" just until the key no longer closes, and then open spread them just a tiny bit. Sometimes it helps to bend the arm with the "U" very slightly to get the best result. I also sometimes use a thick synthetic oil on the teflon. I know it is counter intuitive because teflon eliminates the need for oil, but sometimes it is that last step to achieve perfection.
 
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DavidUK

DavidUK

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Near Lutterworth, Leics.
Ah yes, I recall now that on an old horn the tubes wear or flatten where the "U" acts upon them and have previously turned the tubes 90 degrees so as to present a fresh, unworn, surface which takes up any play.

How would bending the "U" arm help? Which way are you bending it?
 

jbtsax

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How do you know?
Ah yes, I recall now that on an old horn the tubes wear or flatten where the "U" acts upon them and have previously turned the tubes 90 degrees so as to present a fresh, unworn, surface which takes up any play.

How would bending the "U" arm help? Which way are you bending it?
I use smooth jaw flat nose pliers to "close" the "U" by squeezing. If I go to far, I insert the closed pliers in the end and expand the jaws.
 
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