This post is partly about beginning in saxophone repair work, but will mostly address all the services rendered on this horn.
The serial number dates this horn to the late 1920’s, a fact I thought would make for a valuable and good instrument at the time but has been the cause of a lot of difficulties as well. The horn’s right hand stack was completely locked up, I was told the thread size was uncommon (it is not as far as sax repair goes), and the ergonomics are pretty terrible.
I spent a lot of time carefully taking this instrument apart, and documenting what each piece was. The upper mechanics and the lower auxiliary stuff (Low Bb, C#, etc.) came off without too much fuss, but the only way to free the right hand stack was to destroy the rod. This was a major issue for me as I was so used to treating these instruments as fragile things, willfully breaking any thing on it felt like a crime. I was sure it would cause problems, you can’t just find saxophone parts in a hardware store. Surely no one sells rods for depression era saxophones. I even called the instrument repair store in town and they confirmed my worry that I would not be able to find another one of these.
I don’t really remember what got me over this, but it had to go. Hours and days of attempting to oil and clean the hinge tubes and remove the grime did not make the stack budge.
Having finally ripped this right hand stack apart, I was able to do some scrubbing and removing the old pads. Probably with a screwdriver, not knowing that shellac was supposed to be heated and melted away. I scrubbed a lot of the saxophone with a rough green pad and brasso, which I probably shouldn’t have used because it did scratched the surface a fair amount.
Post cleaning and rod cleaning stuff coming soon
I like to use stick shellac for my pads. The alternative is high temperature hot glue, which I have tried, and it works, but I find shellac easier to work with because: it becomes truly liquid when heated, it is far less messy and stringy. The argument against using shellac is usually that it can crack and potentially let go of the pad, and I agree that hot glue is stronger in this regard, if you use shellac well it shouldn’t be an issue.
I usually choose RooPads from Music Medic because I have heard good things about them. I have experienced first hand that the kangaroo skin is much tougher, but it still occasionally sticks. This could be an indication of problems on my sax rather than the pad, but I intend to venture beyond these pads some day.
Because of learning proper pad seating using the right amount of adhesive, whether it’s shellac or hot glue, my repair work has improved like crazy. The image above shows a pad facing down with a nice, smooth backing of this brown shellac on it. This is way more adhesive than I ever dreamed of using when I first started – I used to just drip on enough so that the pad would merely grab the keycup – but I have recently (2015) discovered that the amount of adhesive is important to making the pad meet the tone hole on all sides at the exact same time.
Key fit and swedging
Important stuff coming here