I’d like to talk a little bit about the neck cork. Now this is a Selmer Mark VI neck and as you can see over time, the neck cork has been lengthened quite a bit. It should stop right about here (shows where) but you have another half inch that was done on this.

So what happens is, whenever you go to put on a neck cork, you try not to lengthen it at all. So in the case of this though, you can see all the marks and things, so I put the cork just to here and there’s going to be a big ugly piece coming out of that neck. So what we have to do once the cork is cut, we must go that same length with the new neck cork.

Now I use contact cement when I’m putting on a neck cork. So what you want to do to prepare the neck cork is, I usually cut the cork sheet down the middle, then you cut a tapered angle on one end (demonstrates) so that it’s tapered underneath, then you apply the contact cement.

Okay, normally when I put the contact cement on, I use a pipe cleaner because it’s easier, but I’m out so today I’m using a q-tip. You simply go over your tapered area first. You don’t want it to be too thick at all, but you have to make sure that it covers everything (demonstrates applying contact cement to the tapered area and the back of the cork). Put the contact on.

Just want to make sure you cover all of the cork you’ll be applying and you want to make sure you far enough. It doesn’t matter if you go past where the wraps going to be. You just have to make sure you put enough on there for where the wraps going to be. So I go a little extra.

Put [the glue on], then that’s that part for the moment. Simply lay the cork on something to give the glue time to get tacky.

The next step, of course, is to put the contact glue on the neck. I’m doing this tenor neck. So I simply take the contact glue and place it around the neck. Now you want to make sure you get it on this seam right here (shows) and on the top because in this little seam [you need to make sure the cork sticks]. Again, you want to make sure you cover everything. If it doesn’t get covered, it won’t stick. And it’s very important to cover the end because that has to be cut a little thinner than the rest of the cork.

And as I’ve said before, this particular neck is a little long, so there’s a little extra room you have to do here. Make sure you don’t put it on too thick or with any clumpy spots or it will take a long time to dry. You want the glue to be fairly even.

It’s generally easier with a pipe cleaner, the q-tip is a little limited. Get it all around the neck cork area. Then put it somewhere for the glue to get tacky without it touching anything.

It will take a while for the tenor cork I just prepared to be ready to sand, so I have here an alto cork that I’ve already put on. It’s already been wrapped and everything, so I’ll show you how to sand it. It’s fairly simple to sand. Simply lay it down. I get these sanders (shows) at the 99 cent store. I get three of them for $1. And by hand, I sand the cork.

Now contrary to many things that I’ve heard, the saxophone neck is not a cylinder, it is tapered. So the back end of the cork must be thinner than the front of the cork in order to make the cork a cylinder to the mouthpiece to slide onto and seal properly. So you must take a little more off the backend. And the cork seam, of course, should always be placed on the bottom of the neck (shows) so that it’s not seen. When the mouthpiece is on, you don’t see the seam.

And you just start sanding. Turn the neck a little [as you go]. And hand sand it until it’s the right [thickness] for the mouthpiece you’re going to fit to this neck.

Okay, now I’m getting ready to put the neck cork on this tenor neck and one of the things you need to do, as I used contact cement, is that you need have a place to put it while the contact cement is drying. So at the end of my work bench, I drilled two holes. One is 1 1/8 inch for the tenor necks and one is 1 inch for the alto neck. So that’s where they can sit while you’re waiting for the glue to dry and there’s no chance of knocking it off the bench or any of the kind of stuff because it’s actually in a hole and setup.

[To put the cork on the neck, the side of the cork with glue goes against the neck. I start the tapered end at the bottom of the saxophone neck cork area so that when it’s all said and done, the seam isn’t visible. If I have extra cork after I wrap it around the neck cork area, I cut it so that it lines up seamlessly with the tapered edge. Be careful not to cut the actual saxophone neck. Press the cork down against the neck to get a nice seal and let the glue dry before you begin sanding.]

[Goes back to alto neck] So now I have sanded the neck cork so that it’s a complete cylinder and very smooth and now’s the time to put the mouthpiece on and make sure that it fits. So you want to put a lot of cork grease on the neck. And then the mouthpiece that I use to test putting it on is one that I manufacture that has a metal ring around it so that it’s less likely to crack. So then you simply put the mouthpiece on the neck and get it on as far as you can get it on and [as you can see] that’s a very nice fit, a very nice distance. The player can put it there or out here, he’s got a lot of room and the cork is very snug. So at this point, I look at the back of the cork here (shows) and if it’s thicker in the back here than where you put the mouthpiece on, then I just simply sand that piece down a little more until it gets to be completely a cylinder so you don’t have that big bump at the back end. Now you’re finished and the cork is ready to be used.

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Published by Rheuben Allen

Rheuben has been recognized worldwide as one of the premier saxophone and clarinet repairmen for many years. With over 40 years as a repairman Rheuben has turned his talents to the manufacturing of quality woodwinds and brass instruments. Rheuben's current project is the Rheuben Allen Education Foundation, Inc., set up to provide musical instruments to young students that cannot afford instruments and would otherwise not be able to play an instrument.