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should you clean pads ? what with and what to use in the bell ?

swaps1122

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Hi all,
If there anything you should put on pads to keep them good or clean them ? Also do you clean the inside body with the likes of alcohol to to stop any nasties growing ?

Thanks Alan
 

HPS

New Member
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28
All good information, thanks Stephen. Is it advisable to use any forms of leather conditioner on the pads to keep them supple and moisture resistant or would that affect the seal on the tone hole or cause sticking pads?

Thanks
 

Stephen Howard

Well-Known Member
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1,855
I've never found any 'conditioner' that didn't lead to other problems further down the line - but some folks are happy to bung all kinds of rubbish on their pads.

Just keep them clean - and when the leather's looking worse for wear, you can be sure that the underlying felt is in a much worse state. That's the time to change them.
 

thomsax

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3,681
Just a reflection: Do you clean the pads with lighter fuel even if they are not sticky? Sometimes the pads are just dirty. I bought some saxes with workable pads, I cleaned them with soap+ water.

I also use to damp a swab with vinega + water.

We talk a lot about playing the saxophone and saxes these days due to the convid19. Lots of "facts" and not so easy to kow what I should believe.
 

Stephen Howard

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You can certainly use lighter fluid to clean a pad if it's just dirty but not sticky, but the less you touch a pad the better for the pad it'll be in the long run. A light detergent solution can also be used (I often use both).
The problem with trying to clean a dirty pad is that it's often stained - and the marks will never come out. But people will try...and that's when the leather gets damaged. If a light swab with lighter fluid or detergent won't shift it, give up and find something better to do.
 

just saxes

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102
The best thing you can do is preventative: don't play after eating unless you at least rinse your mouth pretty thoroughly, and don't drink beer and then play without doing the same (rinse with a sip of water, or something, at least). If you like to have a beer, or martini or whatever, when you play, I understand (I also enjoy these, in a general sort of way -- I'm enjoying a glass of wine, now) but you will have sticky pads and it will be your fault, not the pad's.

I no longer remember what their name was, but there was a company that used to sell a powder in a small, white, plastic bottle with a red label that you would squirt over that pad as a non-stick treatment. That powder was terrible. It would work, and then it would end up caked on the pad contributing to sticking. BUT, the cloth squares that came with those were better than cigarette papers or dollar bills or any of the other "old man's remedies."

I have my own solution. I'll share it publicly some day if I ever see it noted here or on another saxophone forum.

It will have to wait to be shared publicly til I do. I know that comes off badly, but I've learned the hard way that what I share today may come back to haunt me tomorrow.

Lighter fluid is a better choice than vinegar as a cleaning agent. Vinegar will increase the verdigris effect on your toneholes (they are bare brass, most likely, along their "rims").

I would tend -- for old, pre-contemporary, leather pads -- to recommend Neet's foot oil as a cleaner/solvent, even though it isn't really either of those -- followed by Olde English or something else that won't cause verdigris to grow on your toneholes (that will will make the pads stickier, in the end).

I still use Neet's Foot oil on occasion, for really old saxophones with really old pads, when I want to bring the pads to life for, say, one last play before I overhaul, so that I can have some idea what to recommend for resonators, etc., before I begin the overhaul.

My recommendations are limited because, as I mention, I have a solution that is sort of "proprietary information" at this time.

I'm not trying to be annoying. The situation is inherently annoying. If you come see me in person, you get to know what I'm not sharing here. I share it with anybody that walks through my door if it comes up, but with the request that they not share it on the web.
 
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Stephen Howard

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"Not sure if srsly."
In fact it's true...up to a point.
Certain metals are very hostile towards 'bugs', of which silver and copper are among the most effective.
It's been found that the latest coronavirus is destroyed after around 4 hours of sitting on a copper surface. This likely means it can survive a little longer on brass (which, of course, contains copper).
I very much doubt it's something you'd want to bet your life on, but it's nice to know nonetheless.
 

Pete Thomas

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It's been found that the latest coronavirus is destroyed after around 4 hours of sitting on a copper surface. This likely means it can survive a little longer on brass (which, of course, contains copper).
I’m sure that is true but I wonder if, in the case if lacquered instruments, any lacquer on the brass would make it slower killing process. The question was in regard to the inside of the bell which may have lacquer. Not sure how far down the lacquer goes, you’d know better than I would, but I’m sure it covers any areas where a person might be concerned about touching a virus.
 

Stephen Howard

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Any effect the brass may have on bugs would be entirely negated by a coat of lacquer. So while the bore of a horn may be rather less germ-free than one might imagine, the exterior and the keywork have to be viewed as a painted surface (unless the horn is plated or the lacquer is significantly worn) - and thus the usual precautions should apply.
 

just saxes

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I think you all may be referring to one of the outcomes of the early, 1st surface test that came from China but was published in a Western medical journal (Lancet or JAMA?). If it's the same one I'm thinking of, all the surface tests were done at 72 degrees F and 65% humidity, which is actually a very harsh environment for the virus. I thought when I originally read it that it was saying copper is inhospitable to the virus, but I think it's actually not much less hospitable than plastic or stainless steel, which I believe (and I may be wrong) were about 3 hours for the virus under the same conditions.

This is important enough that I'll look it up and come back later. Just don't have time to confirm right now, but it's important enough to document in some detail.

The main thing I wanted to interject is that an early study that lots of the surface/virus notions and policies come out of is largely misinterpreted because both media and secondary sources tend to overlook that the conditions for the study are more inhospitable to the virus than most everyday envirnoments were when the study was released (still Winter), and one that is more inhospitable than a lot of indoor environments in Summer if the temp is artificially kept lower than 72F, for example in an an air-conditioned movie theater or mall.

Conditions are important enough that at 4C the virus can survive "weeks" on smooth surfaces.
 

just saxes

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I’m sure that is true but I wonder if, in the case if lacquered instruments, any lacquer on the brass would make it slower killing process. The question was in regard to the inside of the bell which may have lacquer. Not sure how far down the lacquer goes, you’d know better than I would, but I’m sure it covers any areas where a person might be concerned about touching a virus.
The early surface studies (there are at least 2 more after the 1st one from a study in China) seemed to suggest that porosity was more important than other things we might guess (such as inherent charge/valence, pH, etc.), and the commonly repeated suspicion (in US media) was that with surfaces like cloth and cardboard the virus had more gaps and grooves to sink down into. I have no idea how that does or doesn't make sense relative to the studies' methodology. It could just be a brilliant idea/guess of some "journalist one" that just got loose and repeated widely. No idea. But I'll try to find out when there's time.
 

Stephen Howard

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This is important enough that I'll look it up and come back later. Just don't have time to confirm right now, but it's important enough to document in some detail.
That would be good. It's long been held that copper is particularly aggressive to towards various organisms.
Bear in mind though that the humidity in a bore is elevated, as is the temperature.
 

nigeld

I don't need another mouthpiece; but . . .
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and the commonly repeated suspicion (in US media) was that with surfaces like cloth and cardboard the virus had more gaps and grooves to sink down into. I have no idea how that does or doesn't make sense relative to the studies' methodology. It could just be a brilliant idea/guess of some "journalist one" that just got loose and repeated widely. No idea. But I'll try to find out when there's time.
I have read somewhere that cardboard, in particular, absorbs water, which is not good for the virus.
 

Wade Cornell

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Getting pretty far off topic...what would be the circumstance of sharing saxes without thinking about consequences? Otherwise it's just you with or without your cadre of bugs.

Agreeing with "just saxes" that prevention is best. Swabbing after playing helps, but the swab doesn't easily take away moisture that will be at the edges of where the closed pads seat. This is particularly important for all the keys that are generally closed and can't dry out easily. There is a pretty good video available that goes into this:
View: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ySOTzXFGuGY

The last section of this makes recommendations using propriety items.. I just use scraps of paper for the palm keys and all the other closed and problematic keys (G#, D#, C# side Bb, etc.). No sticky keys and it's likely that the pads will last a lot longer. Takes a few extra minutes, but if I can get a few extra years out of my pads as a result then I think that's worth it. Which have you got more of...time or money?
 

thomsax

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I just use scraps of paper for the palm keys and all the other closed and problematic keys (G#, D#, C# side Bb, etc.). No sticky keys and it's likely that the pads will last a lot longer. Takes a few extra minutes, but if I can get a few extra years out of my pads as a result then I think that's worth it. Which have you got more of...time or money?
Amen! That's what I've been doing as well. I bouhgt a great Martin HC (Comm I) back in 1995. I've been playing that tenor a lot and still playing well. A good treatment is good for your sax and yourself.
 

Pete Thomas

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Apologies to @jbtsax and @nigeld

Posts detailing fake remedies (albeit as a joke/sarcasm) were deleted. A while back I got an email from Google Adsense that the site was served with a penalty notice because of this.

Very silly, but we cannot afford any Google penalties.

Thank you for your kind understanding. (Please don't shoot the messenger)
 
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Stephen Howard

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1,855
Getting pretty far off topic...what would be the circumstance of sharing saxes without thinking about consequences? Otherwise it's just you with or without your cadre of bugs.
What we'd need to find is someone - or a group of people - who regularly play other people's horns, and ask them how they've been affected by doing so...

"Hi Steve! You regularly play other people's horns in the course of your work. Have you ever suffered from any ill-effects from doing so?
"Hi me! Great question (and may I add how remarkably fresh-faced you're looking after all these years!). The answer is...no ill effects at all!"
"That's great Steve (and cheers...and you're not looking so bad yourself!). But can you tell me if you take any special precautions?"
"Sure, I use my own mouthpieces - and if testing a flute I give the chimney a quick squirt with 70% IPA."
"Fabulous, thanks! But do you think other repairers might have had a different experience?"
"Another great question! I doubt it, or we'd have heard about it over the years."
"Cheers mate!"
 
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