Stinky sax

gladsaxisme

Try Hard Die Hard
Subscriber
Messages
3,391
Location
manchester
This is an alto sax that stinks of cigarrettes what is the best way to get rid of the stink? I'm thinking that the sax will have to be stripped down and emmersed in a washing solution but what is best and will this actually get rid of the smell and then there's the keys with pads I suppose this means sacrificing the pads and doing the same as the body then re-padding my main worry is will cleaning get rid of the smell and what's the best solution to use?
Any advice much appreciated
 

jbtsax

Well-Known Member
Subscriber
Messages
7,168
Location
Beautiful Springville, Utah USA
Unfortunately most odors are typically found in the porous materials such as pads and case linings. For cases, the product I have found works the best is Dr's Case Odor Eliminator. For smelly pads you might try removing the keys and cleaning the pads with Dr's Pad Cleaner. A tech could do this as part of a Clean, Oil, and Adjust which generally costs about $150 - $200 in the states. This would also give the body a good cleaning inside and out along with a "play condition".
 

JayeNM

Formerly JayePDX
Messages
891
Location
New Mexico, US
Unfortunately most odors are typically found in the porous materials such as pads and case linings. For cases, the product I have found works the best is Dr's Case Odor Eliminator. For smelly pads you might try removing the keys and cleaning the pads with Dr's Pad Cleaner. A tech could do this as part of a Clean, Oil, and Adjust which generally costs about $150 - $200 in the states. This would also give the body a good cleaning inside and out along with a "play condition".
Jbt is 100% correct....I regret to inform you, @gladsaxisme :( However, I have found no TOPICAL pad treatment which is really gonna 'successfully' get rid of that. Because again, a topical agent hits only the leather. The felts have long ago soaked up the cig scent.

Having serviced too many cigarrette-smoke infused horns...cleaning the body and even the keywork and leaving it at that will do very, very little. I mean, you do that - don't touch the pads, and the improvement is negligible, IMHO (talking maybe 15% 'better'). The odor is in the pads, and that means the ENTIRE pad, including in the felts beneath the pad leather.

My experience has been, if one:

1) disassembles horn and gives horn and neck full chem bath (followed by a soap rinse obviously)

2) replaces neck cork

3) uses a topical cleaner on the exposed portions of the leather pads

The scent will be reduced by around, ohhhh...25-33%. Not bad, I mean it'd be noticeably BETTER....but still quite present.

The only way to get the cig smell OUT of the horn, period....is to replace the pads.

Now, what I HAVE done, in situations where really, the pads didn't NEED replacing (in the sense that they were still performing well)...was incrementally start replacing just some of the pads, maybe around 25-33%.
THIS did noticeably reduce the aroma further.

With the aforementioned treatment plus, say, the palmkeys, side keys, octave keys, and G key pads replaced, the scent did decrease further...it became in the vicinity of 50-60% 'better' than how the horn arrived. That is significant enough an improvement for many folks.

The case, as jbt notes, is easier to deal with....although will require repeated treatments, likely.

If you, @gladsaxisme ...are gonna make this a DIY, then probably just disassembling & cleaning with a dishwashing soap will suffice. You can even DIY the pads with the topical cleaner as jbt suggests. All of this ONLY if you are mechanically inclined and feel confident doing that stuff.

A tech would give her a chem or sonic bath, followed by a soap cleanse and rinse.

It might just be worth spending $200usd-ish and having a tech do it all....it might get to $250-ish if you have them replace those 5 or 6 pads (easy and quicker pads to replace because they are not linked to the regulation of the stacks or table). Prices sorta depend on your locality....I dunno how tech prices are in UK.
 
Last edited:

Wade Cornell

Well-Known Member
Subscriber
Messages
1,619
Location
New Zealand and Australia
If lazy, the quick and dirty is to use an essential oil that you like. Treat the case and swab the instrument with it. Desn't fix the problem, but covers it with a stronger smell. I use peppermint oil (mainly for old instrument case stink). Should work for tobacco stink which is not as bad as that old case stink.
 
Messages
223
Location
Dartmoor, SW UK
My bari's previous owner was a smoker, and everything was pretty smelly when I bought it. I swilled out the neck and pigtail with vinegar and liberal applications of "shake and vac" and febreeze to the inside of the case, then left some activated carbon in the case (bicarb would probably work, like @Colin the Bear mentioned). After a few weeks the smell was pretty much gone, and eventually went completely.

It had been repadded just before I bought it though, so possibly the pads hadn't had time to get stinky.
 
OP
gladsaxisme

gladsaxisme

Try Hard Die Hard
Subscriber
Messages
3,391
Location
manchester
Thanks everyone for your help and especially our on line techs jayeNM and jbtsax for their advices,it seem pretty much as I imagined and the pads are toast which is not a problem as I would like to replace them anyway.
@JayeNM you mention a chemical bath, what would this consist of and is it available for an amateur like myself to buy as this my main concern that a wash in soapy water might not remove the smell completely.
My apologies for the late reply but I haven't been able to indulge my sax hobby for a while and some how haven't had any notifications your advices are a great help to me.
As the sax in question is a vintage King Zephyr I was hoping to replace the pads with all white ones as some of the old ones are white or at least something that resembles white already,advice on the best place to acquire these would be a great help.I did buy a set of tan pads from fleabay supposedly for the sax because they were quite cheap just to see what they might be like and was not impressed with the quality at all and at the moment haven't checked if all the right sizes are there as the sax is still in one piece,is there a genuine list of correct pad sizes for a king Zephyr available as I believe they do exist for a lot of American saxes.
Thanks again for everyone's help
 

JayeNM

Formerly JayePDX
Messages
891
Location
New Mexico, US
.... the pads are toast which is not a problem as I would like to replace them anyway.

@JayeNM you mention a chemical bath, what would this consist of ? and is it available for an amateur like myself to buy as this my main concern that a wash in soapy water might not remove the smell completely.

As the sax in question is a vintage King Zephyr I was hoping to replace the pads with all white ones as some of the old ones are white or at least something that resembles white already, advice on the best place to acquire these would be a great help.

I did buy a set of tan pads from fleabay supposedly for the sax because they were quite cheap just to see what they might be like and was not impressed with the quality at all and at the moment haven't checked if all the right sizes are there as the sax is still in one piece,is there a genuine list of correct pad sizes for a king Zephyr available ? as I believe they do exist for a lot of American saxes.
1) OK so if you were gonna get a repad then that will solve the problem right there

2) Chem bath - well, it sounds like you are gonna do the work yourself ? Because typically if you were having a tech do a repad, you could just ask 'em to chem bathe or sonic bathe the body and keys as well and that would be that.

IF you are gonna try this at home, you could do a home brew chem bath using Wrights Copper Cream or Barkeeper's Friend (if available in UK), followed by a soap and water bath.

OR if you are gonna do the repadding yourself, you could ALSO simply remove the pads and take the disassembled sax to a tech and have them do the chem/sonic bath. This would be relatively cheap particularly since the tech doesn't have to disassemble and reassemble the horn themselves.


3) White pads - the real good ones are the Roo pads (although I personally do not like Roos, I find they harden too much with age and feel too hard under the fingers once they do). MusicMedic.com here in US in my go-to supplier for Roo pads...perhaps someone closer to you can suggest who might carry white Roos on your side of the Pond.

Keep in mind now, chinese makers have jumped on the white pad wagon and are also producing white pads...not kangaroo leather, just standard leather, but white. Their quality is as variable as asian-sourced tan pads - some decent, some notsomuch.
(As humanity often goes, this of course has led to unscrupulous sellers claiming their repadded/overhauled horns have been outfitted with brand-new sets of white Roos, when in fact the pads are just chinese standard leather pads which happen to be white - but I digress...)


So you can find white pads on eFlay as well (problem here becomes they usually sell 'em in pre-sized sets - although even THERE I have in past contacted some eFlay sellers and asked them if rather than sending me THEIR sizes, I can give them my pre-measured sizes and they sell me THAT set In a few cases, actually, they agreed to that).

4) Pre-sized Pad Sets - OOOOOMPH. Nope. Uh-uh ! (as opposed to uh-huh !) Inevitably on vintage horns a pre-sized pad set is gonna have a few pads which are wrong...and I don't mean off by .5mm...I mean wrong to the degree where you really cannot use those 3-4 pads on the horn if you wanna do a proper job.

My advice (always) - Buy yourself a set of digital calipers, and when you remove the old pads measure the pads and the keycups - write everything down, and order the pad sizes the calipers tell you exist. This is the only way to get a proper set of pads for a vintage horn.

Good luck, if you have any questions about my comments above feel free to message me or ask here. Perhaps JBT or Stephen can add their opinions/suggestions as well.
 
Last edited:

Phil

Member
Commercial Café Supporter
Messages
596
Location
France
As a side note, Bar keepers Friend is great stuff to have for the kitchen too. It is sold in Europe and through Amazon UK. In the kitchen nothing removes stains on pots and pans better....if you happen to care and enjoy cooking. I had no idea you would put it in a chem bath but I can see why it would be used now that Jaye mentioned it. I dont suggest the liquid form. Its just paying for water. Also over time the material settles and becomes extremely difficult to mix in...Im talking the need for a metal dowel to break it up.
 
OP
gladsaxisme

gladsaxisme

Try Hard Die Hard
Subscriber
Messages
3,391
Location
manchester
@JayeNM thanks for the great advice on the various points I will be looking on Amazon for the Bar Keepers Friend you suggest

Immediately after my last post I went to music medic's sight and found that you could order a set of pads for a king Zephyr and it seemed you could specify them in white Roo for in the region of $80 plus some extra for any chosen resonators and they gave a guarantee to change up to 4 incorrectly sized pads at no extra cost as long as they were requested all at the same time which seemed to be a good deal.As far as the resonaters go they didn't seem to have an option for smooth black coated metal resonaters or even black plastic so that's a minor problem.I haven't contacted them yet to see if they would send to England so that might be another.
In their advice they say that many manufacturers used different thickness of pads between the lower and upper stacks so that would be another problem as is deciding the best thickness too use in the first place all part of the joys of being a novice I suppose.
I do already have a set of digital callipers so measuring the cups and pads wouldn't be a problem but from past experience I have found that even after ordering to your own measurements your lucky to get within two or three of a complete good fit on all pads.
Thanks again for your help I might just be contacting you for further help.
 
Last edited:

jbtsax

Well-Known Member
Subscriber
Messages
7,168
Location
Beautiful Springville, Utah USA
I have had Music Medic white roos in my silver plated SBA alto going on 16 years and have had no problems with them whatsoever. Every couple of years I remove the keys to polish the body using Haggerty's silver spray and at that time I clean any pads with soiled spots using a white art eraser. The keys are polished using a silver polish cloth. I prefer the look of the seamless domed silver resos on white pads on a sliver plated sax.
 

JayeNM

Formerly JayePDX
Messages
891
Location
New Mexico, US
As a side note, Bar keepers Friend is great stuff to have for the kitchen too. It is sold in Europe and through Amazon UK. In the kitchen nothing removes stains on pots and pans better....if you happen to care and enjoy cooking. I had no idea you would put it in a chem bath but I can see why it would be used now that Jaye mentioned it. I dont suggest the liquid form. Its just paying for water. Also over time the material settles and becomes extremely difficult to mix in...Im talking the need for a metal dowel to break it up.
If going with powdered Barkeepers, what one does is dissolve the cleanser in warm water in a sink or basin. Not hot water. Just a tad to the warm side of lukewarm.
Probably only half the cleanser will really dissolve, the rest will sink to the bottom. But it will make the water milky. Submerge the body in that for around I dunno...8 minutes. The harder red-rot or verdgris areas (if there are any) can be gone at with more dissolved cleanser and an extra-soft toothbrush. Do not over-abrade physically, let the cleaner do the work. If it doesn't get the red/green stuff off on first run, rinse off and repeat.
There will be a significant residue left on the horn - this is where Barkeepers comes in second to Wrights Copper Cream, which is a finer agent and rinses off quicker. So besides a water-rinse, the likelihood is a post-Barkeepered horn will need two soap and water cleanings afterward...inside and out. Then probably a paste-polish hand-polishing as well, as this product does not produce any sort of lustre.

Again, this is a distant second to having a tech do an immersion in their chem bath or sonic bath. But it is better than simply a home-soapwash.
 

JayeNM

Formerly JayePDX
Messages
891
Location
New Mexico, US
@JayeNM thanks for the great advice on the various points I will be looking on Amazon for the Bar Keepers Friend you suggest

Immediately after my last post I went to music medic's sight and found that you could order a set of pads for a king Zephyr and it seemed you could specify them in white Roo for in the region of $80 plus some extra for any chosen resonators and they gave a guarantee to change up to 4 incorrectly sized pads at no extra cost as long as they were requested all at the same time which seemed to be a good deal.As far as the resonaters go they didn't seem to have an option for smooth black coated metal resonaters or even black plastic so that's a minor problem.I haven't contacted them yet to see if they would send to England so that might be another.
In their advice they say that many manufacturers used different thickness of pads between the lower and upper stacks so that would be another problem as is deciding the best thickness too use in the first place all part of the joys of being a novice I suppose.
I do already have a set of digital callipers so measuring the cups and pads wouldn't be a problem but from past experience I have found that even after ordering to your own measurements your lucky to get within two or three of a complete good fit on all pads.
Thanks again for your help I might just be contacting you for further help.
Probably your best bet is the Music Medic sourcing. I just thought that there must be somewhere in Europe which sells those pads too; if for nothing more than convenience/time factor (i.e. you get the pad set, indeed 4 pads are mis-sized, and Medic will replace those for free but now you gotta wait for the add'l 4 pads to cross the Atlantic. And I can tell you now, Medic's predetermined set will include mis-sized pads).

Also...Music Medic, well.... overthinks things sometimes. Maybe they should get outside and kick the ball around a bit more :oops: . Joke tho, good people they are. BUT this notion of thick pads in one location on horn, thin for other - no, I cannot subscribe to that. I have never had to do that on a horn, vintage or contemporary.

The resos...I suppose you could actually buy unriveted pads and buy resos seperately from a different source (?) then install your preferred resos in your preferred pad. I would never recommend anyone but a professional tech attempt this, however.
My advice: live with the resonator choices a supplier has available, even if they might not be your wish-list resos.
 

Stephen Howard

Well-Known Member
Messages
1,655
Location
UK
@JayeNM thanks for the great advice on the various points I will be looking on Amazon for the Bar Keepers Friend you suggest
The 'magic' ingredient is Barkeep(ers) Friend (BF) is oxalic acid (nasty stuff...don't breathe the powder in).
It works on non-ferrous metals because pretty much any acid will attack the brass to a greater or lesser degree. The main advantage of BF is that it contains a scouring compound....but this is pretty much superfluous for cleaning a horn, unless you like a scratch-brass finish.

As such you can use any domestic/weak acid you like. Vinegar is the most common, but it tends to make your house smell like a chippy - so I'd recommend you get hold of a box of citric acid crystals. It'll set you back less than two quid.
Half a box in the amount of water needed to cover a horn will be plenty enough. It's less nasty, does exactly the same job and doesn't leave a residue. As with all acid-based dips it's vitally important to observe the process diligently. The strength of the acid can vary, as can the alloy the horn is made of.

Personally I'd kick off with a straight wash/soak in plain detergent...it's far, far less risky if you've not done the job before. If it works - great. If it doesn't...well, the horn's apart, and it's no big deal to up the ante.
 

JayeNM

Formerly JayePDX
Messages
891
Location
New Mexico, US
The 'magic' ingredient is Barkeep(ers) Friend (BF) is oxalic acid (nasty stuff...don't breathe the powder in).
It works on non-ferrous metals because pretty much any acid will attack the brass to a greater or lesser degree. The main advantage of BF is that it contains a scouring compound....but this is pretty much superfluous for cleaning a horn, unless you like a scratch-brass finish.

As such you can use any domestic/weak acid you like. Vinegar is the most common, but it tends to make your house smell like a chippy - so I'd recommend you get hold of a box of citric acid crystals. It'll set you back less than two quid.
Half a box in the amount of water needed to cover a horn will be plenty enough. It's less nasty, does exactly the same job and doesn't leave a residue. As with all acid-based dips it's vitally important to observe the process diligently. The strength of the acid can vary, as can the alloy the horn is made of.

Personally I'd kick off with a straight wash/soak in plain detergent...it's far, far less risky if you've not done the job before. If it works - great. If it doesn't...well, the horn's apart, and it's no big deal to up the ante.
Interesting....yet another home brew to try someday !

Stephen, where do YOU source white Roo pads over there ? I am assuming techs in UK have some source /supplier on that side of pond ?
 

Stephen Howard

Well-Known Member
Messages
1,655
Location
UK
Interesting....yet another home brew to try someday !

Stephen, where do YOU source white Roo pads over there ? I am assuming techs in UK have some source /supplier on that side of pond ?
I don't use/fit them.
I use three ranges of pad from the Pisoni Pro downwards. The number of clients who ask for esoteric pads is small enough for me to turn the work away.
 
OP
gladsaxisme

gladsaxisme

Try Hard Die Hard
Subscriber
Messages
3,391
Location
manchester
@Stephen Howard thanks for the additional advice on what to use to clean the sax I have just ordered some BF from Amazon and will now be seeing if I can get some of the crystals you mention from somewhere.
I have had a look through most of the British sites that supply pads and none of seem to list any white pads at all wether roo or leather so trying to fit white pads seems to be a bigger problem than I first thought it would be without ordering them from Music medic in America.
Looking on eBay there are plenty of Chinese sax pads available in white but sold in sets for two bob so God knows what they're like they don't even give a list of the sizes in the set but for £7.00 it might be worth sending for some just to see what you get
 

Phil

Member
Commercial Café Supporter
Messages
596
Location
France
Unless you get expert advice dont skimp on cheap pads. The list of reasons if long. In the end saving 30-50 bucks is expensive.
 
Top Bottom