Saxophone Forum


by MHreczuck
(14 posts)
8 years ago

Tricks for sticky key?

The G# on my vintage Conn has begun sticking closed and I'm not sure what I can do to correct it. The pads are only a year old or so I believe and when I purchased the horn it worked fine for half a year. . I've been storing it with a slip of cosmetic paper under the pad to dry it out and keep it from sticking more permanently after playing. However when I start playing again after a couple songs, when the horn has warmed up and spit starts collecting, it sticks again and repeatedly through the rest of playing. The hole itself doesn't feel wet, but I think it's getting moisture from the key above it. It's right at the surface area, no lube issues, it's well oiled.

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  1. by BillW
    (1 post)

    8 years ago

    Re: Tricks for sticky key?

    I have great luck with cash register receipts, the slick kind that are printed with heat, not ink.

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  2. by barisax999
    (400 posts)

    8 years ago

    Re: Tricks for sticky key?

    there probably something in the pad reacting with the water to stick it up. i think selmer makes pad de-sticker, not sure where to get it. or take it to a good tech and they can do a pad treatment and clean up that pad. if i had the money i would get it done, but im poor so i stick with cleaning out the pad with a dollar bill every time i play.

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    1. by landrusax
      (44 posts)

      8 years ago

      Re: Tricks for sticky key?

      The G# key is one of those keys that is always closed unless the button is pushed. This causes more buildup than usual on that pad. Even though the pad is only a year old, if the problem persits after cleaning the pad and cup, replace it. It will be pretty cheap and save you further headaches.

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  3. by 2saxy
    (25 posts)

    7 years ago

    Re: Tricks for sticky key?

    This has happened to me a ton of times. In my opinion, sliding a dollar bill right under the pad works the best. The G# hasn't stuck since.

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  4. by Nimyad
    (21 posts)

    7 years ago

    Re: Tricks for sticky key?

    rub a dollar bill on the sticky pad for about 10 seconds. ive had great luck with this.

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  5. by bleeding gums
    (18 posts)

    8 years ago

    Re: Tricks for sticky key?

    Lighter fluid and a dollar bill. trust me. soak a little of the fluid on the bill and clean the pad, you won't believe the results

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    1. by Linky
      (26 posts)

      8 years ago

      Re: Tricks for sticky key?

      You also need to make sure you are cleaning out your saxophone before packing away, using a swab just pushes the fluid it can't absorb quick enough into the tone holes, this is primarily the G# key as the swab doesn't do a good job until the bore gets thinner. And as this key is closed all the time (in storage) you've got a nasty problem. Make sure you aren't eating, drinking, smoking before playing, it all goes inside your sax and clogs it up. Don't buy something advertised as an aid for sticking pads, they do not help, they worsen the problem. Use the lighter fuel and note tip someone else posted.

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  6. by swingstreet
    (315 posts)

    8 years ago

    Re: Tricks for sticky key?

    One trick I learned was to take a drop of DW40 oil and spread it on a thin tissue paper. The kind of tissue used for wrapping, not blowing your nose. Put it over the tone hole, close it, and pull it out gently. I have found it useful, and it keeps the pads supple.

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    1. by MHreczuck
      (14 posts)

      8 years ago

      Re: Tricks for sticky key?

      Hm, I'll have to give that I try I think!

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      1. by altoman
        (1 post)

        8 years ago

        Re: Tricks for sticky key?

        Old enlish oil on a pipe cleaner for all pads twice a year. Keeps pads soft, water proof, and not sticky. This is from the sax doctor himself, emilio lyons

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        1. by selmer 4evr
          (309 posts)

          8 years ago

          Re: Tricks for sticky key?

          NO NO NO LIQUIDS ,,, use some talcum powder on the pad !!!

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        2. by Sax Mom
          (964 posts)

          8 years ago

          Re: Tricks for sticky key?

          If the dollar bill by itself doesn't work, try putting a small amount of Windex on the dollar bill--helps to clean things up a little bit.

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        3. by STEVE GOODSON
          (291 posts)

          8 years ago

          Re: Tricks for sticky key?

          (1) clean the top of the tone hole chimney with 1500 grit emery paper (2) clean the pad with saddle soap. Do not under any circumstances or for any reason use lighter fluid, windex, or any other solvent. These liquids will considerably shorten the life of the leather. (3) Do not use talcum powder. It does nothing but absorb and retain moisture. Although it may give temporary relief, it will ultimately make the situation worse becuase it builds up on the pad. Use only a Teflon based pad treatment, such as Mojo's Never Stick Pad Powder or Charlie A's Gig Dust. (4) have the mechanism contact points between the key touch and the key coated with Teflon (5) be certain that the relative spring tension between the two parts of the mechanism is correct. The key touch spring should be at least 50% stronger than the key spring. (6) add a G# helper spring as illustrated in the "Sample Modifications section" of www.saxgourmet.com

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        4. by MHreczuck
          (14 posts)

          8 years ago

          Re: Tricks for sticky key?

          So far I've tried the English oil. It worked then I had a recurrence and have treated the pad again just this week. I did spring a couple leaks since the start of this post, but they were unrelated (higher up on the horn), and am keeping an eye out for things like that. Talcum, hrm, all it did was gunk up my sandals in college, I don't think it would do much better on a saxophone. :) And yeah, no dangerous fluids. The G# modification is an interesting one, but it's a vintage horn, I don't want to mess with its design and I think it's just a matter of finding the right maintenance for it. I came off a horn that didn't need any work but pad changes. If the oil doesn't work out I'll try the saddle soap.

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        5. by STEVE GOODSON
          (291 posts)

          8 years ago

          Re: Tricks for sticky key?

          Using an oil like Old English or Neatsfoot oil, although it does make the pad more supple, attracts dirt, gunk, and other stuff you don't want to live on your pads. You should ONLY treat pads with products that absolutley do not leave a sticky film!

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        6. by eman19
          (131 posts)

          8 years ago

          Re: Tricks for sticky key?

          This may be true, but my sax prof (who's been playing for 40+ years) swears by lighter fluid.

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        7. by Tbone
          (120 posts)

          8 years ago

          Re: Tricks for sticky key?

          [Quote by eman19: This may be true, but my sax prof (who's been playing for 40+ years) swears by lighter fluid.} I'm not trying to disrespect your professor but just because he plays and teaches the saxophone doesn't necessarily mean that he knows how to repair or properly maintain a saxophone. Most pro players actually know very little about how their instrument works. It stands to reason though because they spent all their time playing it and not playing with it. Many of the "quick fixes" listed here and elsewhere may work in the short term but will actually shorten pad life in the long term. The best way to prevent keys from sticking is to stop blowing that crap you just ate or drank down your horn. Rinse your mouth with water before playing and drink only water while playing. Swab and dry after playing. Your pads will last a long time if you follow these simple steps.

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        8. by bleeding gums
          (18 posts)

          8 years ago

          Re: Tricks for sticky key?

          I totally agree with the above post, however I think that what people are getting at here is what to do when you have a gig to play and have an old gross pad that probably needs to be replaced soon anyway. A tiny bit of lighter fluid on a dollar bill is a "quick fix" ie: something that will temporarily alieviate the issue.

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        9. by Slausonm
          (51 posts)

          8 years ago

          Re: Tricks for sticky key?

          It's always weird how a "old gross pad" suddenly needs a quik fix like lighter fluid on a dollar bill? I'm with Steve on this one. Don't put gunk on your pads and don't let little problems turn into emergencies. Either fix it yourself correctly before the gig or send it to the repairman that can do the job.

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        10. by jmm1713
          (3 posts)

          7 years ago

          Re: Tricks for sticky key?

          Runyon Pad Dope or A Dollar Bill :)

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        11. by wls525
          (3 posts)

          7 years ago

          Re: Tricks for sticky key?

          dollar bills should not be used due to the ink on the bills. use silk swabs after you finish. preventive medicine is the best medicine. don't drink soda or eat sugar before or during sax use. this is a no brainer but I fall victem to it with scotch at gigs. I try to quickly take a swig of water and swish before I play. beer is worse than scotch I believe........

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        12. by Sax Mom
          (964 posts)

          7 years ago

          Re: Tricks for sticky key?

          Yeah, I smudge the ink on dollar bills all the time... that was sarcasm, by the way. Dollar bills are just fine. The ink will not in any way harm your horn, as it does not come off the bill! (Unless, of course, what you're using is counterfiet!) On the other hand, the dirt that a dollar bill can accumulate may be a different story. That's why it's better to use C-notes. Of course, then you have a higher risk of getting some cocaine on your pads... Ungummed cigarette papers remain a good option, as they stay in the package until you use them, and people are less likely to swipe the package out of your case (unless, of course, your friends are into smoking their own). You will, however, need a person of a certain age to purchase the cigarette papers for you...

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        13. by eman19
          (131 posts)

          7 years ago

          Re: Tricks for sticky key?

          Well I've tried Runyon's stuff for the last few months and it seems to be making a big difference. However, it smells just like WD40. Makes me wonder a bit what its made out of.

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