Saxophone Forum


by candyapple
(16 posts)
6 years ago

pad sticking

Greetings, can anyone give me some tips on how to stop a pad from sticking? My g sharp sticks sometimes and now i find that the key is sticking when i play the middle and high b -flat, almost every time i press it. Any suggestions would be appreciated.

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  1. by STEVE GOODSON
    (291 posts)

    6 years ago

    Re: pad sticking

    clean the tops of the tone holes with #1000 grit emery paper. Do NOT put lighter fluid or other cleaners on the pads, as it will dry out the leather.

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    1. by candyapple
      (16 posts)

      6 years ago

      Re: pad sticking

      Thanks for the suggestion! I will try it!

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      1. by cuber
        (653 posts)

        6 years ago

        Re: pad sticking

        an old worn-out dollar bill will help get some of the gunk off the pad. The gunk tends to collect on the pad, rather than the key cup.

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        1. by JBTSAX
          (364 posts)

          6 years ago

          Re: pad sticking

          Most saxophones today have pads that have a waterproof coating of some type. These pads can be cleaned just fine with Naptha (lighter fluid) without harming the leather. You can tell by touching the edge of the pad with a moist Q tip. If the pad turns dark when the moisture touches it, it is untreated leather. If there is no color change, then the pad has a treated surface and it is ok to clean with lighter fluid. Many professional techs use this all the time very effectively. Yamaha Powder Paper is also a quick and effective way to stop pads from sticking if they are not too bad. The top surface of the paper puts a fine powder on the surface of the pad while the bottom side of the paper cleans the tonehole surface. I will often use the Naptha first to remove whatever sticky substance is on the pad and then pull the Yamaha Powder Paper out from under the pad with a slight amount of pressure on the key cup. Occasionally a pad will not respond to any of these techniques to stop the sticking and must be replaced to solve the problem. John

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        2. by Tranesyadaddy
          (279 posts)

          6 years ago

          Re: pad sticking

          going at your tone holes with emery paper à la Steve Goodson is a bit drastic considering how often pads become sticky. a bit of towel dipped in warm water is usually enough to clean my tone holes. as for the pads themselves, a quick wipe with lighter fluid, called Shellite if you're in australia, will do the trick.

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        3. by Tranesyadaddy
          (279 posts)

          6 years ago

          Re: pad sticking

          for a quick temporary fix if you're at a gig and you don't have time to remove keys from your horn, put a bit of talc powder onto the pad via a dollar bill or whatever.

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      2. by MarkLavelle
        (300 posts)

        6 years ago

        Re: pad sticking

        The dollar bill (or cigarette paper) trick works well enough, but I've got an even better solution, at least for saxes that don't get put away in a case after every use (I just leave mine on a stand). When I'm not playing I use an old reed to prop open the C# pad (under the arm, not the pad itself), which also holds the G# pad open. Everything gets to dry out completely (at least here in relatively dry CA) and I never experience sticking. On the other hand, when I first pick up the sax I often wonder why the notes aren't right! ;-)

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      3. by STEVE GOODSON
        (291 posts)

        6 years ago

        Re: pad sticking

        That's an excellent suggestion, Mark. Actually, if you will take just a moment to blot all your pads dry every time you play, they will rarely stick. A "pad saver" won't do it, but a paper towel or soft cloth run across each pads surface will.

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      4. by JBTSAX
        (364 posts)

        6 years ago

        Re: pad sticking

        Do you blot every pad dry after every time you play Steve?

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      5. by Tranesyadaddy
        (279 posts)

        6 years ago

        Re: pad sticking

        I used to leave my horn on a stand until my technician admonished me for taking him a horn covered in dust.

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      6. by cuber
        (653 posts)

        6 years ago

        Re: pad sticking

        i clean out most of the spit with a swab, then leave it on a stand to let the extra spit not taken out by the swab evaporate outside the case

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      7. by candyapple
        (16 posts)

        6 years ago

        Re: pad sticking

        Thanks to all for your suggestons. I tried the dollar bill and it seemed to work. I practice enough so i will try leaving it out of the caseon the stand and see how much that helps in the future. I was told my tech that one should swab out the instrument before putting in the pad saver, as this will help the life of the pads.

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      8. by STEVE GOODSON
        (291 posts)

        6 years ago

        Re: pad sticking

        A few thoughts on this topic: I suggested 1000 grit emery paper, which is extremely fine. A coarse emery paper may damage your instrument.... Talcum powder and pad powders containing corn starch, such as the Yamaha and Selmer pad powders leave a residue on the pads which ultimately retains moisture and makes the problem worse....the powders also tend to form lumps which may cause leaks.... If you're going to use a powder, only use one that is Teflon based. This material does NOT accumulate moisture and form lumps....... Naptha or any petroleum based product breaks down leather over time.... removing moisture from the pads after playing via a soft cloth is the best method. Yes, I do it EVERY time I play any of my horns. I also treat my pads with Teflon (ironing it into the pores of the leather) as I install them.

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      9. by Tranesyadaddy
        (279 posts)

        6 years ago

        Re: pad sticking

        keep any abrasive surface away from your toneholes, unless you're an experienced technician with the intention correcting warped toneholes, in which case you'll probeably be using an abrasive block, which has its own flat surface, unlike paper.

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      10. by STEVE GOODSON
        (291 posts)

        6 years ago

        Re: pad sticking

        the 1000 grit paper I suggested is about as abrasive as toothpaste, and doesn't pose a threat to tone holes. Coarser paper is, of course, to be avoided for the reasons you state. The ultra fine paper removes the deposits on the tone hole rims which is the primary cause of pad sticking.

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      11. by JBTSAX
        (364 posts)

        6 years ago

        Re: pad sticking

        I am so impressed that you blot EVERY pad after EVERY time you play with a clean soft cloth. That is just unbelievable that someone would go to that much time and trouble---especially someone as busy as you are. Most sax players just run a swab through the sax or use a lavoz pad saver.

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      12. by STEVE GOODSON
        (291 posts)

        6 years ago

        Re: pad sticking

        I guess that's just the difference between me and most sax players. A swab or pad saver doesn't fully dry the pads, only the interior of the body tube. Saliva is a digestive juice and breaks down the leather if it is left on the pads. It also promotes the forming of that nasty green oxide on the top of the tone holes that is the culprit behind most pad sticking. I've been blotting my pads after each and every playing since I was about 14. My first "real" teacher was a fanatic for this, and it was good advice that has served me well. A couple of companies sell special blotters for saxophones. I know that BG is one of those. I simply use a soft cloth. It takes less than 60 seconds to blot each and every pad dry. A small price to pay for long pad life, no oxidation of resonators, and no sticking pads! It's really about taking the best possible care of the equipment that earns you a living. I guess we have different standards....

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      13. by Tranesyadaddy
        (279 posts)

        6 years ago

        Re: pad sticking

        that, we do.

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      14. by chalazon
        (547 posts)

        6 years ago

        Re: pad sticking

        I knew a cat who ran a swab through his horn after every tune..I thought this was a bit excessive, but his pads lasted pretty much forever..

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      15. by cuber
        (653 posts)

        6 years ago

        Re: pad sticking

        hey, whatever floats your boat

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      16. by candyapple
        (16 posts)

        6 years ago

        Re: pad sticking

        I read that one should not use a pad saver on a professional saxophone; causes mold to grow and takes away from the pad life. Is there any truth to this?

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      17. by MRFIXIT
        (19 posts)

        6 years ago

        Re: pad sticking

        A Pad Saver or swab should not be left damp in ANY sax. It will hold the moisture right where you do not want it. That is right next to the pads that are made from cardboard, felt and leather. That is good for making a smelly sax and case, and rock hard pads. Get the water out and get it away from your woodwind instrument. And please do not put oil on your pads unless you wish to spend more at the repair shop. Thanks!

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    2. by brigont
      (4 posts)

      6 years ago

      Re: pad sticking

      Guys, I heard that blotting some paper with mineral oil and then placing the oiled paper between the pad and tonehole can help to alleviate sticking without sanding. It is also a great conditioner for the pad, as opposed to some of the petrol products Thoughts?

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    3. by MartinMods
      (63 posts)

      5 years ago

      Re: pad sticking

      Rubbing powdered PTFE (teflon) into the pores will keep them from sticking, provided you don't have honey smeared on the tone hole rim. You can get in at any hobby shop. The pads I make with deerskin covering (I know the leather has not been treated) are treated (after seating) with a water-based acrylic for fine leather, Eco-Flo Super Shene (Tandy Leather) mixed with PTFE powder. I rub the powder in while the leather is still damp. It leaves them imprinted, soft, waterproof, and stick-free. It looks very close to Emilio Lyons' treatment.

      Reply To Post AIM