How to Replace Saxophone Pads




 Step 1
Remove Saxophone Keys



Please Note: This guide is intended to show the basic steps to replace saxophone pads. This procedure will only work if there is no damage to your saxophone. If there are any bent keys or other issues with your saxophone, it will not play by replacing sax pads alone. Leaks to individual keys may be also be caused by bent keys, corroded tone holes, or other damage. Instrument Clinic makes no guarantee that you will be successful installing saxophone pads. Saxophone pad installation often requires a great deal of patience and practice. If you do not feel comfortable using any of the required tools saxophone pads replacement, do not attempt to replace saxophone pads. Instrument clinic will not be responsible for any damage caused to your saxophone or other property. Use all tools and information on how to replace saxophone pads at your own risk.Step 1 Remove Saxophone Keys Tools needed to remove saxophone keys: Screwdriver Flat Nose Pliers Parallel Pliers (optional) Spring Hook Tool (optional) Nylon Pad Pliers (optional) It is best for the novice to remove sections of keys at a time. Remove 2 or 3 keys at a time and continue through each step of sax pad replacement. If you immediately put each screw back where it belongs, you will reduce the risk of losing screws and save a great deal of time trying to figure our where screws belong later. Many beginners find It helpful to videotape the key removal for reference.





Step 2
Remove Saxophone Pads and Measure

Tools Needed for Pad Removal
* Heat Source (micro torch)
* Small Screwdriver or pad Prick
* Cotton Balls and Swabs * Goggles
* Fire Safety Equipment

Once a key is removed, the pads can be removed from the key cup and measured. Apply heat to the pad and gently remove the pad from the pad cup with a pad prick or small screwdriver. Remove all of the old adhesive with cotton balls and swabs. You may need to apply additional heat to soften the adhesive. Be extremely careful to avoid burning yourself. It is also nice to have a cookie sheet available to place hot keys on for cooling. Measure the original pad with digital calipers or a ruler. Measure the diameter of the pad and the thickness. You need the new pad to be as close to the original pad as possible. The pad should be “snug” in the cup, but you shouldn’t need to force it in. You can usually compensate for pads that are too thin by adding more adhesive to the key cup. If the pads are too thick, it is best to order thinner pads.










Step 3
Install New Pads In Key Cups

Tools Need for Installing New Pads
* Pad adhesive, or shellac
* Heat source * Pad leveling tool (optional)
* Key Height Gauge (optional)
* Heat Source
* Fire safety Equipment

After thoroughly cleaning the pad cups, apply pad adhesive or shellac to the pad cup and let dry over night. Shellac requires heat and is ready as soon as it has cooled. Re-install the keys on the saxophone and make the initial adjustments to the pad by applying heat to the pad cup and closing the key with very light pressure. Once the key has cooled, check for leaks using a feeler gauge or saxophone leak light. If there are any leaks, you must make adjustments to the pad. Heat the pad cup again and maneuver the pad in the appropriate spots. Check for leaks again. If you are consistently unable to fix a leak, look for a bent key. If the pad meets the tone hole near the key arm, but not anywhere else, you may need a thinner pad. A note on heating pad cups: be careful not to overheat the cup. This can damage the pad. You only need enough heat to soften the shellac.





Step 4
Check for Leaks



 
Tools Needed For Leak Check For Saxophone Pad Leaks:

  • Feeler Gauge or Leak Light
  • Heat Source
  • Pad Leveling Tool (optional)
  • Sax Key Height Gauge (optional)



Re-install the keys on the saxophone and make the initial adjustments to the pad by applying heat to the pad cup and closing the key with very light pressure.  Once the key has cooled, check for leaks using a feeler gauge or saxophone leak light.  If there are any leaks, you must make adjustments to the pad.  Heat the pad cup again and maneuver the pad in the appropriate spots.  Check for leaks again.  If you are consistently unable to fix a leak, look for a bent key.  If the pad meets the tone hole near the key arm, but not anywhere else, you may need a thinner pad. 

A note on heating pad cups:  be careful not to overheat the cup.  This can damage the pad.  You only need enough heat to soften the shellac.





Step 5
Clamp or Wedge Keys




Tools Needed:
Key Clamps or Wedges


Force shut any keys that are normally open with key clamps or wooden wedges.  The idea is to get a “ring” to form on the new saxophone pad where the pad meets the tone hole.  Leave the keys shut for at least 24 hours after sax pad replacement.  Then look at each pad and make sure the ring is uniform all the way around.  A small dental mirror can help inspect some pads after saxophone pad replacement.  If the “ring” is not uniform, you will need to make adjustments to the pad again.  Clamp or wedge open keys again and leave them clamped for as long as possible after replacing sax pads.





Step 6
Play Test


Play test the saxophone.  It should not require any “extra force” on keys to get them to seal after saxophone pad replacement.  If the saxophone is hard to play after replacing saxophone pads, but you have confirmed there are “rings” on all of the pads, you likely have a leak caused by a “timing” issue or bent key.  Determining where the problem is will take time and patience.  Use extreme caution when making adjustments to keys after sax pad replacement.  Even a slightly bent key can cause a leak. 


 
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