Ever had the cursed sticky G# key on your sax? Just as you're playing a killer phrase in front of the whole wide world, the pad sticks leaving you playing a G natural doing your best Les Dawson impression - we've all been there and it's not very pretty! It's an age old sax problem and over the years various ideas have tried to solve it. Any pad that remains closed on your sax is going to have more moisture residue left on it, making them prone to sticking to the tonehole - palm keys, side keys, low Eb, low C# and the main culprit G#.
So, unless you're one of those lucky clean living people who's spit just doesn't seem to stick, what can you do? Well, obviously, cleaning out your sax every time you've played with a quality swab, drinking water before you play, not chewing gum, eating sweets or drinking copious pints of Guiness (guilty your Honour) while you're gigging helps - but doesn't always rectify the problem. Back in the day, players used to use cigarette papers to try and clean pads, lighter fluid, chalk, pencil lead, scraps of paper, fivers - a host of various paraphernalia that never really worked that well as none of them are preventative. Companies have tried addressing the problem as well - Keilwerth used a double springing mechanism which worked to some extent (others have copied it - B&S, Antigua and so on) but again it wasn't a preventative solution. Yamaha brought out magic "powder papers" to leave a residue of powder on your pads (jury's out on whether having a film of powder on your pads is any good) various companies copied that, BG brought out microfibre "pad dryers" - the list goes on!
Now some players place a piece of thin card or other device between the pad and tonehole letting the pad dry out somewhat away from the surface of the tonehole - that in theory works well BUT over time you absolutely run the risk of the pad not seating properly as it's had something wedged between it and the tonehole for all the time you're not playing,(under spring tension) very possibly causing leaks.
Fast forward to 2018 and all over the internet these weird little green rubber things appeared on all the sax forums, youtube channels etc. Key Leaves were here and they caused quite a stir in the sax community - two camps formed (naturally) and, no doubt, will continue to do so: "WHAT AN AMAZING PRODUCT" or "WHAT A COMPLETE RIP OFF, WASTE OF MONEY". Personally, I was more in the second camp - every month a new sax product comes out that is supposed to revolutionize our playing experience - my usual response is Bird, Dexter, Sonny didn't need them etc etc. Now don't get me wrong, the idea was sound - "props" to keep your low C# (and therefore your G# key on most horns (that are articulated)) and Low Eb keys open whilst not playing, therefore enabling those problem pads to dry out properly, not causing any adverse effect to spring tension etc. I just didn't want to spend money on little bits of rubber attached to an elastic band. So I started using pieces of cut cork to prop open said key arms and guess what it worked really well - my sticky pads were far less sticky! The problem was I kept losing those bits of cork out of my case on gigs, or completely forgetting to place them in after playing
Eventually I gave in, took the plunge, bought some real life Key Leaves and they're terrific - had them well over a year, my keys hardly stick and I haven't lost them - they're bright green! I use them on all my horns and after this amount of time, highly recommend them to everyone - they work! So.... massive, massive U-turn and I'm a convert - £16.99 well spent.
This is what they are/do:
- Stop sticky saxophone G#, Eb and C# key pads by leaving them open to dry
- Fits all Alto, Tenor, Bari, Bass and C Melody saxophones
- Leaf-shape props safely open the three stickiest pads to dry clean
- Save money by reducing repair
- Washable & easy to use
- Safe on all finishes
- Designed & Made in USA
£16.99 a set and, of course, FREE UK shipping as ever