Saxophone Forum


by qwantron
(5 posts)
9 years ago

Is repading a sax really as hard as your local tech would like you to think.

I have an old sax in really good condition but it needs a couple new pads. I really don't see the point in paying so much to get it done because I bought the horn for $175 and its worth maybe 300. putting that much money in a horn like this seems silly. I have been a mechanic for many years and have lots of craft expeirence. I also know basic auto body and welding. The task of repading seems like it would be somthing I could do. I know some of you are going to tell me otherwise but I think thats because your the ones that own repair shops. After all, you learned how to do it, someone gave you a chance. why can't others learn to repad? it's an old italian "alexandre" stencil horn made for selmer in case anyones wondering.

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  1. by lemoinm
    (1 post)

    8 years ago

    Re: Is repading a sax really as hard as your local tech would like you to think.

    I would like to say I have repaired a couple and to change a couple of pads it may not be to bad depending on where they are .But be careful not to bend anything. It is pretty tedious when you tear one completely down. I have to agree with the other guy you can make a mess of it if your not careful . so you be the judge . Make sure you have the right ones and proper glue . Hey and if you take it in for repair and see if the guy will let you watch you know you can learn a lot from watching. give it a shot , your right the repair person had to learn.

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  2. by unclealfie
    (6 posts)

    8 years ago

    Re: Is repading a sax really as hard as your local tech would like you to think.

    Short answer, NO. I've now overhauled a dozen horns based on my reading, picking the brains of techs and just doing it. My advice; before you disassemble take numerous digital photos. You'll never get it back together the first few times without the pics as reference. IMHO, the hard part is regulating and adjusting it after its put back together.

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  3. by CajunSax
    (76 posts)

    9 years ago

    Re: Is repading a sax really as hard as your local tech would like you to think.

    in a case where you're into a horn for a couple hundred bucks and you're quite the handyman...i'd say go for it. Worse case: u have to pay the $$ to get it done right...which shouldnt be any more before or after u do it yourself. Only $$ u'd be out is the cost of the pads & glue etc themselves. Which a good repairman should be able to take off the new pads u put on wrong and reistall them right. only thing i know is u wanna hang on to the resonators. those are the little plastic or metal discs in the center of each pad. but i'm not a repairman...so there's my $.02

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    1. by qwantron
      (5 posts)

      9 years ago

      Re: Is repading a sax really as hard as your local tech would like you to think.

      thanks for the advice man. I didn't know that I should keep the resonators.

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      1. by connsaxman_jim
        (2336 posts)

        9 years ago

        Re: Is repading a sax really as hard as your local tech would like you to think.

        Replacing the pads is not as easy as you might think and requires a fair amount of skill. It's not something that the average person should try to do at home. I am speaking from experience here! "Worse case: u have to pay the $$ to get it done right...which shouldnt be any more before or after u do it yourself." WRONG!!! Sometimes the rod screws can be a pain to get out! If you strip one out or break one, you're in for a serious repair! Sometimes the tech can drill our the screw and replace it. Sometimes they need to unsolder a post! It just depends on where the screw is located. "Only $$ u'd be out is the cost of the pads & glue etc themselves. Which a good repairman should be able to take off the new pads u put on wrong and reistall them right" IWRONG AGAIN! If you bring a basket case into most shops, they're not going to be too happy at all. First, they're going to check to see what you might have messed up and make sure that you did everything right, and then they're going to have to sort through your disaster, fix your mistakes and etc. It can cost you MUCH MORE than if you just took the horn to a tech in the first place! AND, the pads may or may not be able to be salvaged! So lets say your lucky and you get the sax apart without stripping, breaking or losing any of the rod screws. Are your pads the right type and size for your horn? You start taking the pads off your old Buescher and notice that they SNAP IN! You're set of Selmer style plastic resonator pads that you ordered for a Buescher sax are not going to fit! Ok, so you double checked to make sure you have the right pads. All the pads fit into their cups perfectly. You fitted the pads first, and then glued them in place. You're now ready to reinstall the keys. Now, lets up that you can remember what keys go where, that you put them back on in the right order, and for God sakes, don't bend anything trying to put them back on! Make sure you hook up the springs where they are supposed to go, and don't break or lose any springs! And the corks.....did you replace the cork stops on some of the keys? What about the felts? So you've got the horn together. You managed to get the action to light up and the springs are all hooked up right and the keys seem to open and close like they're supposed to. Pat yourself on the back, because most people would have given up long before this step! Now, grab your mouthpiece and lets see how you did. It squeaks like hell doesn't it? That's because the action is all out of adjustment and your keys aren't closing like they should. Now you need to get a leak light, and start checking to see which pads aren't closing all the way. This is a nightmare! I overhauled a Conn C Melody a few months ago that really gave me fits! I finally took it in after I got it about as good as I could get it myself, but still wasn't happy with it.

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        1. by Slausonm
          (51 posts)

          9 years ago

          Re: Is repading a sax really as hard as your local tech would like you to think.

          The horror stores I could tell! I agree with most of what connsaxman says. I take exception to the post that implies that it "costs the same" whether or not you've tried to fix it or not. Repairing someone else's botched repair is a PITA. For example in replacing one of the two pads you throw off the regulation or bend the other pad cups in an attempt to seal the leaks, you are just creating more problems. With that said, if you are mechanically minded, have some tools and patience, have at it! Its just a piece of brass with a lot of holes and some leather gaskets :) Besides, one of the repairman on this site might get to make a buck in the long run.

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        2. by CajunSax
          (76 posts)

          9 years ago

          Re: Is repading a sax really as hard as your local tech would like you to think.

          i knew conn-man jim would disagree with my post....but i was just leveling with the guy that said had only a pad or two to replace and might be able to do it himself since he's handy wioth tools and such. I figured the guy didnt have the $$ to shell out to a repair shop and wanted to give it a shot on a horn that he only paid $150 buck for....it's not like i'm telling him to take apart a 10M and hope u get lucky putting it back together. Struggling artist that's short on cash...gee i can relate to that!!! They guy wants to give it a shot ---let him...but we'll all be waiting for that post of his later asking for a good repairshop....and we'll all be saying "I TOLD YOU SO"

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        3. by connsaxman_jim
          (2336 posts)

          9 years ago

          Re: Is repading a sax really as hard as your local tech would like you to think.

          Replacing one or two pads is one thing, but completely repadding an instrument is another. If we're only talking about one or 2 pads, then chances are you should be able to repair them yourself without too much trouble. You may not even need to remove the key depending on what pad it is. I can certainly relate to being short on cash; especially since I was recently laid off due to budget cuts. It seems like techs do charge too much for some repairs, but a lot of these repairs require skill and precision. Repairing instruments is very much an art. I'm still learning. There are still repairs I wouldn't try to do myself, but I have learned how to do a few repairs, and I have made my share of mistakes too! For the most part, I believe a good technition earns his pay!

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        4. by saxtech
          (12 posts)

          9 years ago

          Re: Is repading a sax really as hard as your local tech would like you to think.

          Come On You Guys - I am a saxophonist for 30 years and a repair-man. I learned woodwind repair by "trial-and-error" reading books and asking lots of questions. This is not rocket science. For the hobbiest - you just buy an old ragedy sax and you tear it apart (buy something CHEAP and something you don't care about and something you wouldn't mind throwing away) -. Take a bunch of close-up digital pictures in case you get lost later. Take it apart gently. Throw all of the parts in a pile and see if you can put it back together like a puzzle. . Do this a few times before you take any pads out of the cups. Just take your time and have fun as you would doing a puzzle on a rainy day. Don't force anything. When you are ready to re-pad it, then buy extra pads. If you break a spring, you can get a tool to fix it. Their is LOTS of help here on the internet. Make your own leak light. Its a LOT of fun to make stuff like this. Use your moms crochet hooks for spring hooks. Get a good set of small mini pliers, and good small screwdrives. Go to Ferrees catalog if you need a specialty tool, a post, pads, spring assortments, ect. I love reading Ferees catalog while relaxing. JUST HAVE FUN and approach it as a fun learning experience. I learned a bunch also just reading parts catalogs from ferrees and Allied and seeing different tools and tips. PLEASE don't do your first horn on something expensive. you may not be able to put it back together and then you may have to pay a premium to a repairman to do your basket case. This can be fun if you don't stress out on loosing a bunch of money on a good horn. I used to run a wanted ad in the classified ads and I would buy old saxes for under a hundred dollars. I got good at it this way and when my friends found out about this in the college big bands, I was soon re-padding MK-6's . I made business cards and before long, I had re-padded dozens of different types horns. The sax's that I bought for a $100 I would re-sell as a re-padded horn and withthe profits I would buy tools, or build my supply of springs, pads, posts, ect. I ended up NOT using any of my own money to do all of this and that made it even more fun especially when I can fix my own problems in a matter of minutes before a gig or rehersal when all shops are closed. JUST HAVE FUN WITH A NEW HOBBY - Good luck

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        5. by jhy2a
          (2 posts)

          9 years ago

          Re: Is repading a sax really as hard as your local tech would like you to think.

          Okay, I will put my 2 cents worth in as well. Usually repadding is not that big a deal. The only time that I would say be cautious is when dealing with an older sax or one that is not in great shape. For instance, my King C melody that i bought off of eBay for $15.00. It needed a complete overhaul. Everything went fine until I tried to remove the low B key. Because of the corrosion on it the rod simply broke off. Rods are your biggest concern here. when I sax has been taken care of such as my Lafayette alto or my Italian Grassi Majestic Bari, removing the rods and replacing the pads is fairly simple. Don't wiggle the rods or try to force them back in and your fine. The main thing to remember is be gentle. Hey it is kind of fun figuring out which key goes where and in what order you have to put them back on. I hope that you are smart enough not to make the mistake of just ordering a set of any pads and thinking they will fit your horn. Make sure that when you order pads you are specific as to which horn you have (range, mfg., and model).

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        6. by saxtech
          (12 posts)

          9 years ago

          Re: Is repading a sax really as hard as your local tech would like you to think.

          Yes .. sometimes we do run into these unusual problems and again, thats how we learn. Sometimes letting the stuck rod soak with Rust Penetrant on it for a few days or applying heat to the post helps and sometimes it is easier to just unsolder the post and then work the rod loose in a vice. Don't forget, if you are buying stuff from Ferrees, they are really kind to give advice if you need it. Don't be afraid to ask them or any of these forums on the internet for help (I think the Ferrees catalog or Allied catalog even has repair tips amoungst the parts stuff). The internet was not around when I learned. I am glad to hear that you also learned on a cheap horn ($15.00 on ebay is great) and who cares if it just becomes a "parts horn" or a junk horn for that price. You got a cheap education this way and you will always be able to do minor fixes within minutes of a gig or rehersal when the repair stores are closed, should you need to. Oh ... as for pads... order extra's if you can afford to. You will surely burn a few pads or you might even need some extras of the same size that may not be available in sets. Get a few sheets of "REAL" cork in different thicknesses with the necessary adhesive (ask ferrees). You can make a cheap alchohol lamp with a baby food jar and and old tee shirt (just braid 3 little strips of the shirt to make a wick and put it through a small hole in the steel lid of the baby food jar). Buy a small Butane Micro torch from Harbor Freight Tools to seat the pades when the horn is assembled with the new pads. That should be a good start. Good Luck

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        7. by Mlenox
          (36 posts)

          9 years ago

          Re: Is repading a sax really as hard as your local tech would like you to think.

          What type of glue should you use? Is there a good online site for purchasing glue and pads and such? Can anyone recomend a good book for sax repairs or instrument repairs in general? Thanks

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        8. by saxtech
          (12 posts)

          9 years ago

          Re: Is repading a sax really as hard as your local tech would like you to think.

          Some repairmen use Stick or Flake Shelac. Some others use hot glue. There is a whole other argument about which is better. But both will do the job. Tools, shelac, and ALL of the parts you will need are here: www.ferreestools.com With all the info on the internet, I am tempted to say don't waste your money on a book. But give Ferrees a call and ask them. They also hold weekend repair clinics and I think they are free. Schedule a vacation around that time and give them a visit or ask them for a good book. I think they do carry a small handbook for repairs. - Gary

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        9. by saxtech
          (12 posts)

          9 years ago

          Re: Is repading a sax really as hard as your local tech would like you to think.

          HERE: Below, this was copied and pasted in here from Ferrees Web Sight. Clinics on WOODWIND Repair are Oct. 8, Oct. 15, 22 and 29 this year. This has worked out so well, there is no reason to change it. The clinics will be held at the Ferree's compound, as in the past. The clinics are scheduled from 9AM to 5PM. We have been known to go a little over (like 7, 8, or 9, for certain folks to "get it") when necessary, depending on the situation. As before and you are welcomed to bring some things with you, but no complete repair jobs will be finished on premise. We encourage you to write down your questions before coming so that you go home knowing everything you came to find out. There will only be 12 persons per clinic, and we had no trouble in the past keeping everyone on the same page, as it were. There will be a break for lunch about 1 or 2 depending on how we're doing. There is NO CHARGE for these clinics, but you MUST have a reservation. We have never had to keep someone over to Sunday, but we wouldn't rule that out, to be sure they received what they needed to be certified. Call 1 (800) 253-2261 and talk to Dawn or Kate They can also assist you in finding a close-by motel, etc. Call NOW, so you don't get left out.

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        10. by Sax Mom
          (964 posts)

          9 years ago

          Re: Is repading a sax really as hard as your local tech would like you to think.

          Took me quite a while to figure out that company is in Battle Creek, Michigan.

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        11. by KCHORNS_REPAIR
          (11 posts)

          8 years ago

          Re: Is repading a sax really as hard as your local tech would like you to think.

          OK, Off the top of my head this should help you out. 1)first thing to do is inspect your sax for major dents,damaged tone holes, binding keys, bent bodys, pushed in posts. Also how are the pad cups. Are they level? just to name a few things take care of this before step 2 2)now you want to disassemble the sax, are any rods hard to take out they might be rusty or bent. now is a good time to take care of this. at this time I go though and check and level all of the tone holes. I have never seen a sax where all the tone holes are level and without level tone holes you will never get the pad to seat correctly with light finger pressure. level tone holes. also check pad thickness. I use a thinner pad and then use the glue to level the pad and save bending pad cups 3)next I clean the sax with Dawn soap and then give it a chem bath. 4) now the hard part. Time to install pads and corks and felts. If the key height was good then replace the corks with the same size thickness or a little thicker to allow for some fine tuning. I will usually install the new pads one section at a time just to make sure my thickness is correct. start with the lower stack. Seat the F# pad first. then once that is seated it should help align the f e and d pads. Well that is a start. Hope this helps. Scott

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        12. by KCHORNS_REPAIR
          (11 posts)

          8 years ago

          Re: Is repading a sax really as hard as your local tech would like you to think.

          OK, Off the top of my head this should help you out. 1)first thing to do is inspect your sax for major dents,damaged tone holes, binding keys, bent bodys, pushed in posts. Also how are the pad cups. Are they level? just to name a few things take care of this before step 2 2)now you want to disassemble the sax, are any rods hard to take out they might be rusty or bent. now is a good time to take care of this. at this time I go though and check and level all of the tone holes. I have never seen a sax where all the tone holes are level and without level tone holes you will never get the pad to seat correctly with light finger pressure. level tone holes. also check pad thickness. I use a thinner pad and then use the glue to level the pad and save bending pad cups 3)next I clean the sax with Dawn soap and then give it a chem bath. 4) now the hard part. Time to install pads and corks and felts. If the key height was good then replace the corks with the same size thickness or a little thicker to allow for some fine tuning. I will usually install the new pads one section at a time just to make sure my thickness is correct. start with the lower stack. Seat the F# pad first. then once that is seated it should help align the f e and d pads. Well that is a start. Hope this helps. Scott

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        13. by sirlamda
          (6 posts)

          8 years ago

          Re: Is repading a sax really as hard as your local tech would like you to think.

          hello everybody ! I would like to say something about this thread : 1- yes you need some experience to change a pad, but if you have the right tools and if you've seen your repairman doing it several time before, it's not so hard 2- bending a key, if it's not the goal, is not so dangerous : sometimes you may bend it to adjust it, and it's more flexible than it seems... sometimes you may also adjust the cup or the tone hole....it's not so hard if they aren't rolled.. of course you have to know what you do ! 3- replacing a pad, or two, need the same experience and knowledge that replacing all the pads...sorry connsaxman (!) but only the high key pads are more simple to change. 4- If you have a good repairman, you may pay the due and let him do his job.... but if it's not the case, try to find another or do it yourself... 5- since I've sawn some repairmen just 'distroy' a horn, I prefer to do the job myself, especially if it's a vintage horn... but it's just my opinion.... and excuse my english if it no so good...because I'm just a frenchsaxman !

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        14. by chiamac
          (586 posts)

          8 years ago

          Re: Is repading a sax really as hard as your local tech would like you to think.

          "2- bending a key, if it's not the goal, is not so dangerous : sometimes you may bend it to adjust it, and it's more flexible than it seems... sometimes you may also adjust the cup or the tone hole....it's not so hard if they aren't rolled.. of course you have to know what you do !" meh, I've cracked brass before, and accidentally cracked one of the palm keys on my 10m. A person really has to work to do that, but it can happen. as far as taking a horn apart and putting it together... I did this a few times in high school, mostly for shitts and giggles. It's not as hard as some people make it sound. IF AND ONLY IF everything wants to be taken apart. If a screw is stuck, take the time to unstick it before it gets too late and something breaks. granted I didn't know enough about how to adjust anything back then, but that sounds like it would just take time rather than be anything really hard to do.

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      2. by paulypaulypauly
        (2 posts)

        5 years ago

        Re: Is repading a sax really as hard as your local tech would like you to think.

        if anybody listened to all you negative people out there,we would not have anybody in the whole world who could strip a sax down,like the guy says ,how did the repair men learn to do it,not by listening to negative feedback from numbtys

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        1. by cuber
          (653 posts)

          5 years ago

          Re: Is repading a sax really as hard as your local tech would like you to think.

          fyi, this was from three years ago. chances are theyve moved on

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          1. by paulypaulypauly
            (2 posts)

            5 years ago

            Re: Is repading a sax really as hard as your local tech would like you to think.

            fyi, that maybe so,so why dont you ask sax quest to delete all old forums,then you wont have to waste your time reminding grown up people who can read dates that something is 3 years old

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            1. by cuber
              (653 posts)

              5 years ago

              Re: Is repading a sax really as hard as your local tech would like you to think.

              ok, ill get right on that .... jeez, welcome to the site.....

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            2. by saxandbassplayer
              (42 posts)

              5 years ago

              Re: Is repading a sax really as hard as your local tech would like you to think.

              It's silly when people retaliate so harshly. It's just frustrating to see really old posts resurfacing. But alas it's a lesson we all must learn. I used to be "that guy", but then I just learned to sit back and chime in when it seemed valid (within a reasonable time frame). And really repadding a horn just takes a little bit of trial and error, and a little bit of know-how. I don't claim to be an artisan, but as I've been studying the saxophone in college, I've had to shellac my fair share of pads in right before a big performance. Taking a horn apart is a bit scary (and getting it back together just right can be an artform). But that's why there's all sorts of things like diagrams (you can get a really nice one from Yamaha, which I framed and have on my wall for reference). It's not considerate to just flame people who have probably forgotten about this post just because you want to get your two-cents. I mean really... who beats a dead horse these days?

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