Instrument water works

KenIrvin

Member
We were discussing the problems of clearing water from instruments during a concert. Some instruments are nororiously difficult to clear discretely - the drainage noise can be quite loud at times. I personally use a small towel to dampen the noise. Does anyone else have this problem? Any ideas on a quiet solution?
 

pbirch

Active Member
some players don't realise that gravity is a big help, open the water key and the water drain out, you don't need to blow it out. conductors can help by giving players sufficient time between pieces, or movements within pieces to clear water, especially for instruments that don't have water keys on all the slides.
 

Andrew Stringer

New Member
Most of the water accumulates in the 3rd valve slide of my Elkhart baritone, which only has a water key on the main tuning slide. The only way to clear it is either to turn the instrument over and over till the water has drained into the tuning slide, which is OK in the bandroom but not in public, or discreetly pull the slide off (pressing the 3rd valve so that the slide doesn't make a loud pop!) and empty it into a cloth. Any other ideas or suggestions would be very welcome.
 

Tom-King

Well-Known Member
Most of the water accumulates in the 3rd valve slide of my Elkhart baritone, which only has a water key on the main tuning slide. The only way to clear it is either to turn the instrument over and over till the water has drained into the tuning slide, which is OK in the bandroom but not in public, or discreetly pull the slide off (pressing the 3rd valve so that the slide doesn't make a loud pop!) and empty it into a cloth. Any other ideas or suggestions would be very welcome.
Personally, I'd just have a waterkey fitted.

This type is quicker and easier to fit (only needs the hole drilling and the key soldered over the top) and you shouldn't be charged all that much do it.

I guess it depends if you're willing to pay a few quid to save the hassle of dumping the slide... And whether you're intending to keep this instrument long.
 

Andrew Stringer

New Member
Personally, I'd just have a waterkey fitted.

This type is quicker and easier to fit (only needs the hole drilling and the key soldered over the top) and you shouldn't be charged all that much do it.

I guess it depends if you're willing to pay a few quid to save the hassle of dumping the slide... And whether you're intending to keep this instrument long.
Thank you, I didn't know it was possible to do that. As a relatively inexperienced player - I first picked up a brass instrument 3 years ago - I like my Elkhart, in fact I prefer it to the expensive Yamaha belonging to the band which I first learned to play on. So fitting a water key on the 3rd valve slide is probably a better option for me than upgrading to an expensive instrument.
 

Tom-King

Well-Known Member
Thank you, I didn't know it was possible to do that. As a relatively inexperienced player - I first picked up a brass instrument 3 years ago - I like my Elkhart, in fact I prefer it to the expensive Yamaha belonging to the band which I first learned to play on. So fitting a water key on the 3rd valve slide is probably a better option for me than upgrading to an expensive instrument.
No worries, any decent repair person should be able to do it for you.

It'll be noticeably a modification (moreso if lacquered - you'll get a small amount of finish burned off around the joint), but it'll do the job you want :)
 

2nd tenor

Well-Known Member
Personally, I'd just have a waterkey fitted.

This type is quicker and easier to fit (only needs the hole drilling and the key soldered over the top) and you shouldn't be charged all that much do it.

I guess it depends if you're willing to pay a few quid to save the hassle of dumping the slide... And whether you're intending to keep this instrument long.
Slides shouldn’t be that hard to pull and clear of water, I do it several times per rehearsal and it’s just not an issue. My slides are free and sufficiently greased; I lay the instrument across my lap (with slide still pointing slightly downwards) and depressing its valve eases its travel and prevents noise.

The Amado type water keys can work and some people do like them. [Edit. From what I read elsewhere they aren’t suited to the larger tubed instruments like Tubas and Bass Trombones. The curvature of the valve body seating doesn’t match large diameter tubes and these valves don’t clear large volumes of water well. YMMV] One of my (Tenor) Trombones was fitted with an Amado valve, it did the job but in my own comparisons (with my other Trombones) I found that the traditional type worked a bit better. Perhaps the traditional type work better because there is a larger hole for water to flow out of and because the gutter part (on which the cork sits) also provides a funnel / reservoir for water to drain into. So whilst the Amado type are the potentially cheaper option (Dawkes sell parts for several options and the installations would need to be priced) I found that Amado’s are a 2nd best solution - for a Trombone Slide they’re way better than nothing and can be effective enough. A second best solution might still be a useful move forward for Andrew though ....... you pays your money and makes your choices.
Dawkes, water keys: Instrument & Accessory Search and Waterkey Parts

I was surprised that the Third Valve Slide was where water accumulates in Andrew’s instrument. With the lead pipe going directly into the first valve (as per the pictures I find on-line of the Elkhart) I’d have expected water to accumulate there before any other valve.
 
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GJG

Well-Known Member
I'm not a fan of the Amado keys. My picc trumpet has them fitted on both 3rd and fourth valve slides, and they really don't work well for me. I regularly end up with water trapped in the 4th valve slide that I can't clear without rotating the instrument several times with the valves depressed and draining it out of the leadpipe.
I'm intrigued by the JoyKey design I referred to earlier. I've never used one, and I don't know anyone who has one, but the theory seems sound. The only thing is, I understand, the positioning is critical, because if they're not fitted exactly at the lowest point of the tube (in playing position) then they basically don't work.
 

KenIrvin

Member
Many thanks for the suggestions so far, I think each has its own merits depending on the instrument and we will have to investigate further.
 

GJG

Well-Known Member
I wonder whether the Amados also don't work well if they're not sited exactly at the lowest point?
 

2nd tenor

Well-Known Member
I've had these before - they work brilliantly.

Fwiw, I disagree strongly on Amados, but that's why multiple options are available.
I suspect that the Saturns’ work better because of the reservoir space between the exit hole in the instrument’s slide and the seal in the Saturn’s Valve.

One person’s experience with Amado’s might well be different than another’s. Different people, different instrument make, different instrument model, different instrument size, different installation (variation in positions, detail and quality), etc. With so many variables I think it likely that experiences of use will differ.

I wonder whether the Amados also don't work well if they're not sited exactly at the lowest point?
Perhaps I’ve misunderstood something here? Isn’t it up to the user to tilt or rotate the instrument to the appropriate angle such that the water key is at the lowest point (hence with any pool of water, ready to be expelled, directly above it) when depressed?
 

GJG

Well-Known Member
Perhaps I’ve misunderstood something here? Isn’t it up to the user to tilt or rotate the instrument to the appropriate angle such that the water key is at the lowest point (hence with any pool of water, ready to be expelled, directly above it) when depressed?
My understanding of the way Amados are supposed to work (As well as the JoyKey, but in a slightly different way) is that the water does not pool in the slide, but in a reservoir inside the devise itself. When the piston on the Amado is depressed, the cylinder moves to empty the water from the device and at the same time seals the hole in the tube. This is one of their selling points, because it allows you to empty the water without stopping playing, something which isn't possible with a lever device. If my understanding is correct, then the device will only work properly if it is sited at the lowest point of the tube whilst in normal playing position. I could be wrong of course, but it would explain why the Amado key doesn't work well on my picc trumpet.
 

Tom-King

Well-Known Member
Hang on guys...

Neither the Amado or Saturn have the little reservoir that a lever key does.

It's a deliberate design choice in both cases - they're intended to make less of a disturbance in the bore.

With Saturn's the push-ring shifts the ball bearing out of its seat, which lets the water out. Otherwise, the ball fills the hole up into the instrument (as close to no disturbance as you're realistically likely to get).
With Amados, pushing the button lines up a narrower band in the piston with the hole in the instrument and let's water out, otherwise the piston seals the hole.

I'll get some pictures and show you what I mean...

Joykeys are different, they're deliberately slightly porous so the moisture can drip out slowly and should never accumulate - messy, though.



No design is without issues...
Saturn's are bulky (won't fit some instruments), look odd and are expensive, but they work superbly and are basically immune to compression problems.
Amados can eventually wear and start to lose compression (like any piston), they can stick if not oiled occasionally and many designs are a pain to disassemble if a spring goes.
Levers have the reservoir which disturbs the bore, become completely useless if a spring breaks, are messiest in operation at the best of times... But they're cheap and spares are easy to get hold of.
 

Tom-King

Well-Known Member
Should also be noted that Amados in particular don't respond well to hard blowing - position the key low (gravity), push the button in and blow gently!

Could be that the difficulty pulling them apart has allowed the port to get mucky on yours @GJG ?
(If possible, get a small stiff-ish brush down the slide to the port and see if cleaning it up helps - a mouthpiece brush would do it?)

You'll see it on lever keys that the insides of the reservoir get caked up a bit, but the Amados (most designs anyway) often have a smaller hole to begin with, so dirt will restrict it more quickly.
 
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Most of the water accumulates in the 3rd valve slide of my Elkhart baritone, which only has a water key on the main tuning slide. The only way to clear it is either to turn the instrument over and over till the water has drained into the tuning slide, which is OK in the bandroom but not in public, or discreetly pull the slide off (pressing the 3rd valve so that the slide doesn't make a loud pop!) and empty it into a cloth. Any other ideas or suggestions would be very welcome.
That's every Baritone I've ever played ! Remove the 3rd valve slide and spin the thing to get the rest of it out, why can't that be done in public ?
 
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