Repair Rates Instruments for
& Piccolos Mouthpieces
I clean the body of my horn with a pad saver (without
leaving it inside) and I also brush my teeths before
playing. I still have some pads that are sticking a little bit.
Sticky Pad Remedies
This is just a list of remedies I have heard.
Try leaving a piece of paper between the keys after playing?
Worked great for my %$#$@ G# (you'd have to use some kind of clamp for other
keys of course). I think the paper absorbs all fuid
and what's in it or so :?
Some of the remedies here seem pretty counter-productive to me and I do not recommend them.
Apologies for repetitions.
I use 1200 or 1800 grit, and not frequently. I use it on the
pad only as a last resort to remove obstinate deposits.
I clean my pads after I play…every time
I clean the body of my horn with a pad saver (without
leaving it inside)
I also brush my teeth before playing.
I clean my pads with lighter fuel and a Q-tips
once in a while ... but after a gig it's back.
When I use lighter fluid, I soak a piece of paper towel in it, then use the
paper towel like I'd use a dollar bill - just stick it in there, close the pad,
and pull. I can't get a q-tip onto most pads.
As I understand it, brushing your teeth before playing
doesn't do anything. Neither does using mouthwash. The problem isn't food on
your teeth - it's the sugars (from sugar, fat, or carbohydrates) which are in
your saliva after a meal or drink. Since you're constantly excreting new
saliva, the only way to limit how much sugar gets into your horn is to adjust
your diet before (or during) playing.
Some brands of sax simply use pads with a VERY sticky
If the treatment is soluble in lighter fluid, then such treatment will just
restore the stickiness.
Using Yamaha pad papers, paper with talc rubbed in may help, but some pads have
a surface (silicone?) that is very poor at retaining this type of band-aid.
Another possibility is to apply 3M Company's Scotchguard
Fabric Protector. (The version for leather has an oil
added, and 3M told me that the fabric one would be better.)
After cleaning, apply some Old English liquid furniture
polish with a Q-tip or pipe cleaner to offending pad(s). Place a piece of paper
between the pad and tonehole, depress the key lightly, and pull paper through
to remove excess Old English. Stickiness should be gone. This has been working
well for me and it seems to last longer than anything else I've tried. Painted
or otherwise coated pads may react negatively to lighter fluid. In these
instances, Windex may be used effectively.
Buy some of the Teflon powder and apply to both sides of a
newish dollar bill...shake off excess
vigorously...pull through every tone hole/pad interface...repeat as
needed...after about 2-3 times your pads will be, and remain,
This will NOT hurt your pads or the metal in your sax...the material is
completely inert & safe to use(will not react chemically with ANYTHING),
the polymer is completely cross-linked and fine enough of a
particle size that some of it will actually impregnate itself into the leather
of the pad(a good thing). I know of NO ONE that I've suggested this to for
sticky pads, that it has not worked for. Hey, but what
do I know, I'm only a chemist!
When you have tried all of the above, cut up a coffee filter
and leave it under the sticky pads between sessions. In a week or so they will
Also, try cleaning the tone holes.
Take a pipe cleaner and put some neats
foot oil on it and brush it over the pad. This is an
oil that is used on leather goods like baseball gloves etc. Be careful though,
wipe off the excess oil on the pipe cleaner before
you wipe it on the pad. You only need the pipe cleaner to have a little oil on
it. The pad also has to be clean and dry. Oil and water do not mix.
Do not play your horn immediately. Let it sit overnight. You will have to do
this from time to time if you play or practice a lot. I'm usually good for a
few months after a treatment. I have also had decent results with baby oil but
the neats foot oil works the best.
I have used the Teflon powder for some time. On SOME pads it
works well, but on others, it simply does not remain on the surface. I doubt
that Teflon remains on any 'glossy'-type polymer surface. Some pads are not
even leather on the surface... They have a polymer laminate like the 'fake'
Whether Teflon (or anything else for that matter) works or not, depends on
EXACTLY what the surface is on the pad AND on the tone hole
Several sellers make statements similar to "Like all leather care
products, Lexol Neatsfoot
Leather Dressing is not recommended for suede or super soft
leather. Is sax pad leather "super soft"
Why the caution?
Also, any liquid product applied to pad leather is presumably also being
applied to the felt. Hardening of the felt is the prime reason pads need
Disclaimer: I have never used neatsfootoil and know
little about it, so you are welcome to take the above musings with a grain of
My tech says don't put anything on your tone holes or pads.
I used to use neatsfoot (or corn oil when neatsfoot wasn't convenient). It seems to work, however, I
was advised to stop using it. My tech says it can make the pad too soft and
He recommends 600 grit sand paper against the tone
hole and pad -- the same way you'd use the dollar bill. He doesn't like the
dollar bill because it's inconsistent in what kind of ink, dirt, grime that you
might be putting on your pad or tone hole. Your enemy here is oxidation that
builds up on the unlacquered tone hole
Sandpaper abrades the leather and makes the smooth, tanned
surface fuzzy and more porous.
Consequently the leather provides less of an airtight seal and it also
becomes more absorbent, soaking up more of the moisture and whatever else is in
I like the neatsfoot oil idea.
Used sparingly I can't imagine it causing a problem.
The sandpaper idea is interesting - I can see where it would work - but I would
be concerned about eroding the tone hole unevenly over time if used too often.
It is only brass after all..
As has been said, it is only really to remove grime and oxidation, by gripping
it and pulling it off. I think the attack on the brass itself, or indeed the
pad, is miniscule.
I had a sticking pad problem many years ago - and I, too,
followed much the same routine as you for cleaning the horn after playing, etc.
What I determined was that my low Eb key was sticking
from the residual moisture left in the horn after swabbing because the tonehole
drained onto the pad when I stowed my horn in its case. I've seen many others
with similar problems - chronic sticky low Eb pad.
The fix is to change the way you lay the case after putting the horn away -
either stand it on end or lay it on its side.
One guy who played a YAS-475 always unhooked the spring of
the low D# so that the key would be open in the case. When he took it out to play, he hooked it back
in place. On some horns the spring might
be harder to hook and unhook.
This was more to prevent corrosion of the D# tonehole than to prevent sticking.
If using a pipe cleaner, bend it in half, forming a loop,
and twist the excess around the long part. The curved outer edge will not
impale or otherwise damage the pad.
Also, some types of pipe cleaner have a hard, scratchy fibre twisted in with the soft cotton fluffy material. Best to avoid that type. Easy to identify,
both visually and by feel.
May I repeat my first observation, that solvent may well be
CAUSING the sticking.
Eye Shadow (women’s makeup)
1000 grit wet or dry sandpaper
Old English Oil
Runyon's pad dope
Ferree's silicone treatment
Saddle soap, Murphy’s oil soap
Don't drink or eat before playing
Gun cleaning patch
Increase key spring strength
Leave paper or something (coffee filter, dollar bill,
etc.) under the key
Place a business card under the C# bell key after playing,
which will hold the G# key open so it can dry.
B&G pad driers
Cleaning your tone hole rims with
Kangaroo hide pads are more resistant to sticking. White ‘roo pads seem
marginally better than the black. The
white feel more ‘velvety’ to the touch.
Just don’t seem to stick as much.
For a chronically sticking G#, your tech can add a helper
spring…usually a flat spring that is added to the G# finger touch part of the key. If the G# pad sticks and doesn’t open when
the G# finger touch is depressed, the helper spring comes into play and
provides extra force to open the G# pad.
The old dollar bill cure was devised by musicians on a gig
who needed a quick way to clean the pad. A dollar bill was usually handy. A
dollar bill is a relatively dirty thing, having passed through many (unwashed)
hands, and in the long run you're depositing that dirt on your pad and
perpetuating the problem.
It goes without saying that a hundred dollar works better
than a one dollar bill.
Magic powders (usually baking soda) do about the same
thing. they offer a quick fix but the next time your
pads get wet they make a paste that will cause more sticking.
Charlie A's gig dust
Neem Oil (aka Lynch Seed Oil)