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Thread: Strange Smells Are Happening

  1. #1

    Default Strange Smells Are Happening

    Recently, I've decided to play alto sax in my school marching band next semester. There is a school saxophone that I can play so that I don't have to purchase one, but it has a strange odour, and I'm not sure if it is benign or not. It smells sort of like metal, but not exactly, and it is very powerful. I asked my director what to do about it, but he isn't an expert on it and didn't want to tell me something wrong.

    Help? I need to learn to play, and I don't want to play it if it is potentially harmful to me.

  2. #2
    Distinguished SOTW Coffee Guru milandro's Avatar
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    Default Re: Strange Smells Are Happening

    Brass does tend to have a powerful smell at times , especially when it has been exposed to all sorts of things and elements more so if it is an old instrument.

    You could do a visual inspection to make sure that there is nothing in there which needs being physically removed. If nothing seems to be the matter, then proceed to insert a wet pull-trough or otherwise called a swab, wetted with some soap and water ( don’t exaggerate with the water and the soap but don’t worry too much, saxophones are used to be moist inside!) , repeat several times the treatment.

    The last time you pass the swab trough I would put inside the body tube some essential lemon oil, of the type used for aromatherapy for example ( just a few drops) which is my favourite for all sorts of smelly wind instruments, then I would place the instrument on a stand to dry out and ventilate for a couple of days.
    Keep the horn as much as possible after that on a stand or in a new and not smelly case.

    Good luck

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    The most prolific Distinguished SOTW poster, Forum Contributor 2014 gary's Avatar
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    Default Re: Strange Smells Are Happening

    Does it have "pissoir" engraved around the bell opening?
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  4. #4
    Distinguished SOTW Coffee Guru milandro's Avatar
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    Default Re: Strange Smells Are Happening

    Quote Originally Posted by gary View Post
    Does it have "pissoir" engraved around the bell opening?
    go, on tell that old joke........

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    Forum Contributor 2014 Pete Thomas's Avatar
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    Default Re: Strange Smells Are Happening

    Could you try reposting, and this time attach the actual smell to the post so we can evaluate it please?

  6. #6

    Default Re: Strange Smells Are Happening

    Quote Originally Posted by gary View Post
    Does it have "pissoir" engraved around the bell opening?
    i actually laughed here

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    Distinguished SOTW Coffee Guru milandro's Avatar
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    Default Re: Strange Smells Are Happening

    Quote Originally Posted by gary View Post
    Does it have "pissoir" engraved around the bell opening?
    alright I’ll do that!



    The man came home drunk at four in the morning, and his wife was all over him, yelling at him, crying because she thought he was with another woman.

    “No, honey, I swear, I was at this bar, and it was so fancy that even the urinals were made of gold.”

    She said she didn’t believe him so she called the bar. “Hello,” she said, “I just want to ask one question. My husband claims to have spent the night at your bar and I have one question; are your urinals covered in gold?”

    To which she heard the bartender say, “Hey, Clarence, I think we found the guy who pissed in your saxophone.”

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    Distinguished SOTW Member B Flat's Avatar
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    Default Re: Strange Smells Are Happening

    Quote Originally Posted by Pete Thomas View Post
    Could you try reposting, and this time attach the actual smell to the post so we can evaluate it please?
    Sorry had trouble opening your smell attachment.
    Could you post it again and will try to open before I take my shoes off.

  9. #9
    Distinguished SOTW Member/Technician hornfixer's Avatar
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    Default Re: Strange Smells Are Happening

    I usualy go with... if it don't smell good don't eat it.
    I think I would do the same here, if it smells bad don't play it.
    ** NEW ** MK VI Alto Saxophone Repad on DVD ** NEW **

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    Distinguished SOTW Coffee Guru milandro's Avatar
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    Default Re: Strange Smells Are Happening

    if that were the case (and that is the “ case” more often than not) most trumpet players wouldn’t play !

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    The most prolific Distinguished SOTW poster, Forum Contributor 2014 gary's Avatar
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    Default Re: Strange Smells Are Happening

    New Marching Sax - I think we owe you an answer. ;-)

    Unfortunately, I can't give you a professional one. It would be nice if one of our professional techs could see this and respond. But since you have some time, I would at least take it out of the case and leave the sax out on a stand for as long (days/weeks) as possible to air out. Same for the case. I would also ask your band teacher to call whoever the band has a repair contract with and ask that person what to do. I suspect that the case might be as much of the culprit as the horn.
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    Default Re: Strange Smells Are Happening

    Old horns that have been in storage for prolonged periods do develop a metallic stink.
    I can't say if it's from the natural oxidization of the brass, old 'spit' in the neck and bore, or funky crud growing in the lining of the case. I do know that it can leave its 'aroma' on your hands!

    Running a soapy swab through the neck and body can get rid of the inside stinkies. Wiping down the keywork and easily reached parts of the horn body with a damp soapy cloth can get rid of some of the external stinkies.
    However, if the stench is really bad it more than likely needs a complete teardown, deodorizing soak, and new case.
    Even then depending on how bad the smell really is there could still be some residual odor.

    I've got antique clarinets that have been washed, polished, and sitting on a peg for almost 7 years that STILL have stinky keys...
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    Distinguished SOTW Member Dr G's Avatar
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    Default Re: Strange Smells Are Happening

    Quote Originally Posted by gary View Post
    New Marching Sax - I think we owe you an answer. ;-)

    Unfortunately, I can't give you a professional one. It would be nice if one of our professional techs could see this and respond. But since you have some time, I would at least take it out of the case and leave the sax out on a stand for as long (days/weeks) as possible to air out. Same for the case. I would also ask your band teacher to call whoever the band has a repair contract with and ask that person what to do. I suspect that the case might be as much of the culprit as the horn.
    Gary gives good advice here. Once you give the horn and case some time to air out, you may have a better chance to localize the source of the odor. The case will often pick up bad smells from the horn but a lil' airing out (or a light spray of Febreze) may help that. If you find that the smell is particularly strong from the neck, you might wash that out with good results. It may also be the bore of the horn - take a look down it to see if there is mung in there. I have had good results with (lightly) spraying a swab (or "ShoveIt") with Lemon Pledge and cleaning up the bore.

    Similarly, there may be funk in the mouthpiece. Be especially careful when cleaning that - warm (not hot) water for a gentle soak is a good start.

    G'luck.

    Enjoy the horn!
    Go for The Tone,

    g



    "When you are doing well, don't forget to do good." - Sichan Siv.

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    Default Re: Strange Smells Are Happening

    I,ve seen flutes that pick up an odor from a stinky case. My favorite solution is to treat the empty case by throwing in a fair amount of clay based cat litter (unused!) And close the case up for at least a few days. Then dump it out and vacuum out the case. Should eliminate any odor comming from there.

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    Default Re: Strange Smells Are Happening

    Contentment is not the fulfilment of what you want, but the realisation of how much you already have.

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    The most prolific Distinguished SOTW poster, Forum Contributor 2014 gary's Avatar
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    Default Re: Strange Smells Are Happening

    ____________________________________________________
    You can't blow it if you haven't lived it.

    TK Melody UL soprano
    Selmer S80 Serie II alto
    Julius Keilwerth SX90R tenor


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