A variety of resonators are available, in differing materials, size of choice, and in some cases in mounting styles that make them reusable. The advantage of a reusable resonator is, of course, that if properly removed when changing pads, one is never forced to install a resonator that does not match the horn’s installation.
For any given horn, the best choice of resonator will depend on the inherencies of the instrument itself, along with the tastes and intentions of the player.
Selmer Style” Brown Plastic
|Reusable, snap-in backing
In my experience, this type of resonator tends to encourage a relatively flat frequency response, and to bring out the core of a horn’s sound.
I like this resonator style particularly well on Martin, Selmer Mark VI, and Keilwerth (as well as some other German makes), size varying according to make, model, pitching, and intended use.
The resonators I use are a custom Italian make. Most of the brown plastic you see in other pads is “heat-staked” — not reusable and normally a sign that a stock pad of inferior quality was used. These are constructed with a brass pin and a locking plastic stem, so that they are reusable and individually sized every time one is used.
Price: included in price of repair or overhaul.
One Piece Nickel-Plated Brass, Mildly domed
|Available both in stock variety, with rivet (single use) or customize to install with (reusable) screw-in backing.
In my experience, this type of resonator will tend to bring forward the extremes of a horn’s frequency response, enhancing, or even exaggerating, resonance and top end projection. A very nice resonator for almost any tenor or baritone. The curvature of the dome is a bit more subtle than it appears (to my eye) in the photo.
The curvature of these and their general construction is very similar to the resonators installed as original equipment on early Mark VI’s, for example.
Price with stock, rear-mounted rivet (single-use): included in price of repair or overhaul. Price with custom screw-in backing (reusable): $95 / set
Flat Metal With Center Rivet
|(Pictured with Ferree’s “Conn Reso-Pad”)
-Single use Very nice, trustworthy, middle of the road resonator. Original equipment style for Conn, SML, Buffet, King, and many other vintage horns.
Price: included in price of repair or overhaul.
Also available (not pictured): one piece flat metal resonators – i.e. one continuous, undisturbed flat metal resonator, no center rivet or screw – nickel plated brass. These are a new item on the market, specifically produced in response to an inquiry from Just Saxes to the manufacturer’s US distributor — thanks, EK, for taking the inquiry seriously!
Price: included in price of overhaul
|(photos of Kangaroo pads to be updated soon)
Prestini Kangaroo pads are newly available by request as well — I will have to experiment with them a bit before recommending them for specific uses.
Most of the players I repect greatly who have had Kangaroo pads installed relate that they tend to produce a very dark result. I was first introduced to them in Australia by Richard Booth, whose gracious repairman welcomed me to his home shop where he made all of his own pads from Kangaroo skeins.
Please email if you would like details — sets run $35-$65 extra, depending on pitching of saxophone, for overhauls with Kangaroo pads.
Handmade, Custom Brass Resonators
(smallest sized resonator in photo is 9.6mm, largest is 50.9mm)
Just Saxes custom, screw-in brass resonators have a few distinct advantages over stock resonators: They are reusable — as long as you remember to tell your tech that the resonators are reusable, and that you want them installed on any new pads, you never have to worry about whether your tech has the correct resonators for your set-up in stock, or whether he or she will have the right size.
They are brass, just like the interior of your saxophone (unless the interior is plated, or your saxophone is an alloy, which can also be matched — these resonators can be plated as well as made in sterling silver to order). There is a school of saxophone repair craft that holds that the ideal saxophone is one continuous brass surface, uninterupted by leather or toneholes. Completely maxed out, custom brass resonators make it possible to come as close to an all brass bore as the centering of your saxophone’s keycups and your technician’s expertise will allow.
They come in, literally, every possible sizing. Stock resonators generally come only in sizes from 9mm-32mm, and only in 4mm increments — that is actually quite a large gap, between sizes, and a small limit on the largest size. Even the toneholes on an alto’s bell are too large for a 32mm resonator to cover the maximum area on the pad. Stock resonators also are normally distributed in 4mm increments, so that total regularilty in the resonator installation is not really possible. I can make brass resonators large enough to cover any tonehole on even a bass saxophone completely; to my knowledge there is no stock resonator available at market of which the same can be said.
Domed or Flat?
Most vintage saxophones, with the exception of Selmer, which often featured domed metal or plastic resonators, were released with a flat metal resonator. For most saxophones — Conn, Martin, King, SML — flat resonators will emulate original equipment most accurately. While there are people who don’t believe that the resonator style, or size, makes a difference, consider for a moment how finite the volume of a saxophone actually is, and then consider how small the diameter of any given cross section of the saxophone is, where nodes, antinodes, resonances and overtones interact, live, and die. Results can be either subtly or profoundly different, based on resonator style. If you don’t believe this, on the horn you know best, try sticking buttons that are just a bit smaller than your side B and side D toneholes onto the side key pads with chewing gum (so that you can remove them and the gum easily) some time, or better yet have your tech do it, and then play the horn. I promise you will be amazed at the change, and will probably find that the character of the entire horn greets you differently. It may only be a few notes that are truly affected but, perhaps partially because of the way the resonanances of those notes interact with other notes’ resonances, and perhaps even more because changes to a few notes affect relationships between those note and all the other notes on the saxophone, the change you experience will likely be profound. Resonators that are out of sync with the rest of the set-up can turn a horn that is playing great, openly, freely and evenly, into a slippery, uneven, squirrely nightmare.
To make matters simple, to me, basically the difference between a flat and domed resonator seems usually to be that with a very large, flat resonator response will be sensitive, even, with more even and locked-in intonation. A very large, mildly domed resonator seems to provide a response that has a bit more sustain, and that is a bit more resonant, with perhaps a somewhat wider kind of sound, and with perhaps a subtly more flexible pitch center. People will argue about this on the internet for years to come, these are just my opinions having played many examples of my own work on similar models (and sometimes the exact same saxophone) with different resonator set-ups.
In general, I would recommend mildly domed metal resonators for the vast majority of Jazz set-ups which are not totally maxed out (i.e. most resonators about 2mm away from the tonehole lip when the key is closed), and flat metal for set-ups that are truly max-sized (1mm or less of clearance between resonator and tonehole). For vintage set-ups that intentionally incorporate more leather, I would recommend domed (similar to a Buescher snap-in concept, in terms of the balance between leather and resonator).
Stock resonators are easier for me to work with, but custom resonators are more aesthetically rewarding to do, once the job is done.
I have seen some custom resonators that are less expensive than mine — I don’t know how they do it. I make every resonator individually, by hand, so the labor is quite intensive.
Soprano: $125 set Alto: $145 set Tenor: $165 set Baritone $195 set
For two identical sets (i.e. 1 set plus backup set), multiply by two and subtract $25 to arrive at total price.
All sets include 6 extra screws, 6 extra washers, and 6 replacement solder-on threaded collars.
Sterling silver can be done (in either flat or domed), but it is much more expensive due to the high cost of the silver itself. A silver set for alto, for example, would be $345. No one has ever had sterling silver done, but it is available by request and by special order.