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G# Sticking - Tried Everything except changing the pad

#1
Following on from a post in another thread...

I have a sticky G# key on a Bauhaus Walstein alto sax, (Phosphor bronze with improved action). the sax is only 1 year old and the pad looks clean and intact. It's started sticking recently and is getting progressively worse.

I cleaned the pad, on Friday, with Nathpa (cigarette lighter fuel) and a Q tip (not for the first time - I have probably cleaned it 4 times in total). I also used very fine emery paper on the tone hole - as explained in Stephen Howard's book - and it worked perfectly for 24 hours. The response was probably faster than it has ever been.

Today, it was completely stuck down and wouldn't open even after a few depressions of the touch-piece, and this usually gets it going. Instead, I had to physically lift the key open with my finger and it's been working OK since.

My question(s):

1. Even though the pad looks clean and unbroken, would there sometimes be a case for having it changed, rather than persisting with the cleanings?

2. Do you recommend placing something between the key and the tone hole, when the sax is not in use? I have heard of using a business card for this purpose. I also have a BG pad cleaning cloth (very small piece, shaped like a teardrop), which I have considered leaving between the pad and the hole.
 

jbtsax

Distinguished Member
Distinguished Member
#2
At this point I would remove the G# key from the sax and look at the pad under magnification. I would also check the tonehole rim inside and out for burrs. Once the pad is off the sax you can clean it more thoroughly with naptha on a cloth over your index finger rubbing it briskly with the wet cloth and then a dry one. If there are burrs on the tonehole they can be carefully sanded off using a 240 grit flexible craft sanding stick being careful not to scratch the lacquer. If you can get a hold of some teflon powder, you can also rub some of this into the pores of the pad. If all this fails, then the only thing left to do is to replace the pad.

You might also check the strength of the G# spring. It should be just strong enough to open the key without it bouncing.
 
#3
I was hoping to hear from you John - thanks for the input.

I doubt I'd feel confident to remove the key, without a "walk-through" on video, made really slow and simple! It would make it easier to check the tone hole though, as you mentioned. As for the spring, I wouldn't know where to start.

The only powder I'm aware of is the type found on the Yamaha pad paper, but I would have to order some. Stephen Howard suggests not using it though, as it can lead to the pad getting grungy over time. But, any port in a storm!

It looks as though it's a job for the tech!

Thanks again for your invaluable, freely given, assistance to woodwind players in many forums. You deserve a medal.
 

tictactux

Distinguished Member
Distinguished Member
#4
as jbtsax suggested, I'd check the spring tension, maybe it's too soft. Also check the regulation screw, maybe the lower keys press it down with too much force (how deep is the tone hole impression?) - the deeper the impression, the more friction you have.

Then, for after-play drying I suggest a sheet of kitchen paper (bounty roll) between pad and tone hole for keys that are normally closed. Business cards are too stiff and might alter the outer shape of the pad (uneven pressure etc)

Third, stay away from powder. That stuff is getting everywhere, especially into moving parts where it merrily mixes with the lubricants there, creating an abrasive or gunky mixture.

Fourth - refrain from drinking sugared beverages prior to playing. (if you haven't already done so)
 
#5
Also check the regulation screw, maybe the lower keys press it down with too much force (how deep is the tone hole impression?) - the deeper the impression, the more friction you have.
In another post, I mentioned that I had mistakenly adjusted the screw on a post directly above the G# key. This, in turn, made the bell notes difficult to play (the low B and Bb became muffled squeaks and the low C and C# were very "choked". I put the screw back to where it was originally and the bell notes sound fine, but I'm not convinced I have adjusted that screw perfectly.

Is this the regulation screw you mentioned, or is that another one, and can you advise me on how to adjust it?

Thank you very much for the helpful and detailed reply. I will be following your suggestions about the Bounty paper and I was a bit dubious about the powder paper as it's not always recommended.

As for indentation on the pad; there is a definite "groove" on the pad as part of the design but there's no other obvious mark being made by the key as far as I can see. Although it's not easy to see it clearly without removing the key.
 

tictactux

Distinguished Member
Distinguished Member
#6
Is this the regulation screw you mentioned, or is that another one, and can you advise me on how to adjust it?
Whenever you close one of the right hand (lower stack) keys, it should also close the G# pad (if it's articulated). Play a G# with your left hand and operate your right hand - the G# should close. There's a small arm with an adjusting screw (presumably, sometimes it's just some felt or cork) depressing the G# key cup if you do this. It most often is soldered onto the key cup just below.

If you haven't got any problems with the lower notes even if you use only a very light touch with your right hand, then you can assume the G# is fine in this regard.
 
#7
Whenever you close one of the right hand (lower stack) keys, it should also close the G# pad (if it's articulated). Play a G# with your left hand and operate your right hand - the G# should close. There's a small arm with an adjusting screw (presumably, sometimes it's just some felt or cork) depressing the G# key cup if you do this. It most often is soldered onto the key cup just below.
Thanks again. I'm fairly sure that was the screw I adjusted, it's on the LH side of a short horizontal post that goes down when the RH keys are depressed. What looks like black rubber is protruding from it, and that is what pushes the G# key down.

If you haven't got any problems with the lower notes even if you use only a very light touch with your right hand, then you can assume the G# is fine in this regard.
I tried them all again and they play clearly with no squeaking or motor boating.
 
#9
Hi...I'm new here, and reading threads. I hated when I had the sticky pad problem with g# and low c#.
Now I just use a coffee filter as a insert between the pad and tone holes. I just cut the coffee filter so it slides in just wide enough to cover the size of the pads. I use one thin layer of the coffee filter and leave it after playing and cleaning the pads.
 
#10
There was a cautionary warning about using card above, but I have found no problems with card on the one sax (touch wood, as it is only this one) which tends to have a sticky G#.

My point, relating to post #9, is that if you put a card under low C# pad, as long as you have an articulated G# (any L little finger keys open G#) then that card will also hold slightly open the G# pad too.

I have no problem with C#, but that is where I put the card, as it is so much more accessible than putting something under the G# pad

Chris
 
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