Saxophone/Selmer Bundy Alto Saxophone
I have decided to personally refurbish an old Selmer Bundy I that was given to me about 10 years ago i need to replace the pads and i have come up to a problem, where do i find the right pads for this saxophone im very unsure of what type of pads to use any advice would be greatly appreciated
This is a question I get asked more often than I wish. The difficulty is in the fact manufactures were never 100% consistent during their product run regarding the exact size of the pads they used. So the pad sizes specified at the beginning of a production model may not be exactly the same as the pad sizes used at the end of the production. This is due to subtle variations and adjustments made to allow the horns play better. I would say if you have never re-padded a saxophone and you do not have access to a professional repair shop this is an endeavor you do not want to get into. Re-padding a saxophone is much more complex a procedure than you can imagine and I've had to correct many "do it yourself" re-pads due to the person getting way over their head in a hurry.
I spent 3 years as an apprentice before I ventured out on my own. During that time I had the benefit of having all the tools available and a trained and watchful eye looking over my shoulder. When I made a mistake I understood why and how to correct it and what not to do again. After 3 years I got fairly good at it but not great. That took even more time. I have been repairing for the past 20+ years and I highly recommend anyone attempting to re-pad their own saxophone to stop what they are doing and take it to a professional tech ASAP.
As a professional sax repair tech I stock sax pads in sizes from 7mm to 60mm in .5mm increments. That is about 106 different sizes I have to keep in stock to insure I can repair just about any sax that walks into the shop. Obviously you will not need that many, but you will need to know the exact sizes to order. The only way I can recommend you do this is to buy a set of digital calipers at about $45 a set and measure every pad cup. You could then order the pads from www.musicmedic.com but there is no guarantee you would get the exact sizes right the first time as there are often discrepancies between different pad manufactures. So you may find some of the pads you order are going to be to large or to small and you will have to reorder a few sizes.
Also you can not just replace the pads with new ones. Everything that is not metal on that horn will have to be replaced at the same time. All corks, felts, pads, etc will have to come of as the new pads effect the regulation of all the other keys. It's like replacing the tires on your car. Yes you can just take a tire off and throw another one on, but unless the tire is balanced properly to match the other 3, the car will not drive properly. This is what you run into if you just want to change the pads as saxophones have multiple regulations and changing just one pad can often effect many other pads resulting in leaks.
In addition to the pads, you will need the proper shellac, pad slicks, contact cement, alcohol lamp, heat gun, leak light, feeler gauge, felts, various thickness of cork, various sheets of 300 to 600 grit sand paper, pipe cleaners, razor blades, nail files, small screwdrivers of various lengths and tip sizes, spring removal and installing pliers, key straightening pliers, a tone hole leveling set, spring hooks, hand drill, key oil and grease, plus a large assortment of other tools. So just re-padding a single saxophone on your own will cost you between $400 to $1000 for the tools to do it correctly. Then add to that time. For a professional saxophone I will spend anywhere from 8 to 12 hours on the bench cleaning, tweaking and putting everything back together. For a Bundy saxophone I spend about 6 to 8 hours. For a novice that time will easily be doubled. My basic fee for an alto sax re-pad is $450. Considering all the tools necessary plus the training I've had, thats not a bad price.
About 2 years ago I had a discussion with a parent of a saxophone player at one of the local schools. I commented that his daughters saxophone needed multiple pads replaced as they were torn and highly discolored. A week or so later I ran into him again and he made a comment to me that replacing pads didn't seem to difficult so I gave him the same warning I'm giving you and told him it's much harder than he thought. About 2 or 3 weeks later, he showed up at my store with his daughters saxophone. He had ordered a set of pads off Ebay and most were the wrong sizes. Tried to use a pocket knife to remove and scrape out the old pads, bent several keys trying to get the pads out as he didn't know he had to take the horn apart. Used a glue gun to apply the glue to the pads and made a huge mess. When he showed up he told me to just fix it and he would pay me what ever it took to get it right. So I don't want to see you in the same situation.
As I stated at the beginning, I get this question more often than I would like, and I always recommend the person asking to bring the saxophone to a local and repair tech. While the cost for having someone else repair the sax may seem high at the beginning, the cost for the 1st timer is actually much higher. Yes there are people on line willing to sell you a set of pads and they seem like a really good deal. Yes there are videos on youtube with people showing you how to seat pads and regulate keys, etc. So you can learn a great deal. However getting it all together and doing it right the first time is not as easy as they make it look. Do yourself a favor and contact a local repair tech in your area and get a quote. Ask them how long it's going to take and then ask if you can see there shop. Most techs will allow you to take a quick tour of their work location. In fact most techs are eager to show off the shop. If you need to find a tech in your area go to www.napbirt.org and do a tech search for someone in your area. If you find a shop and they tell you they need to send the horn to a different place, find a different store. You should be able to meet the person who will be doing the work on your horn and speak to them directly with your concerns. After all how would you feel if you needed surgery and you never met the doctor who would be doing it.
I'm sorry if I come across as being a bit egocentric or have you thinking this is something you are not capable of doing. I've known some people who enter the trade just the way you describe by fixing their own horns. However just about everyone gets in trouble their first time. Unless you have a desire to become a repair tech and make the investment in the tools and supplies you will need, consider giving the horn to someone who can do it cheaper and faster.
If I can help you in any way, feel free to ask.