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 "Condensation"
Author: Curious 
Date:   2001-04-13 02:50

Those of us who sit next or in front of the brass players know what it's like when you have a puddle of water forming near you. Of course, they have always claimed that it's "condensation"... , does this excuse have any truth in it? I know my sax. has more water in it than my clarinet after playing, but does anyone know if it's really condensation or saliva?

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 RE: "Condensation"
Author: jbutler 
Date:   2001-04-13 02:58

Yes, it is condensation. Moisture from air being blown into the instrument gets "trapped" inside the tubing. It is much like moisture forming on the inside of a window pane during the winter. I know because of my teaching experience. I have to play a little trombone and trumpet once in awhile to model for my students. I got an old "beater" trumpet at a garage sale for $55 and an old trombone for absolutley nothing. I will say I did send the trombone off for an overhaul and it is very nice now. At any rate, I usually have the trombone on an instrument stand. After I pick it up and play a note or two for the students I can open up the water key and make quite a puddle. Now, I know I don't drool and spit inside it that much...so it has to be mostly water.

John

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 RE: "Condensation"
Author: Jo 
Date:   2001-04-13 03:23

Honestly, I think its a bit of a mix... I mean, you ARE putting your mouth on the instrument, it's inevitable that a little bit of spit is going to get in there. I would say that 95% of it is just moisture though. Doens't mean I am going to be drinking it... :)

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 RE: "Condensation"
Author: Anji 
Date:   2001-04-13 13:12

They do call them 'Spit' valves.

The volume condensed from breath is directly proportional to the temperature differential across the air column and the bore.

If your horn is cold, there should be more.
anji

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 RE: "Condensation"
Author: Don Poulsen 
Date:   2001-04-13 13:37

Your breath contains a lot of moisture, a lot of which condenses on the cooler inside surface of your instrument.

Take my bass clarinet, for instance. After playing it a while, there is moisture lining much of the upper joint. It could not be saliva because if any droplets left my mouth, they would not be able to fly up over the arch of the gooseneck - the air doesn't have that great of a velocity. Besides, most of us don't sputter into our instruments, we just blow air. So, even the moisture that collects in the gooseneck is almost entirely condensation.

And just because something is called a "spit valve" doesn't necessarily mean that what comes out of it is spit. Whoever first named it was making an assumption. And hey, the section of my instrument I call a gooseneck did not come from a goose and it really isn't a neck.

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 RE: "Condensation"
Author: Gordon (NZ) 
Date:   2001-04-13 14:24

Don't read this if you are squeemish. I know from servicing saxes that some guys blow heaps of saliva and even quantities of off-white mouth lining down their saxes. I have worked on one with soft solid material perhaps 1/2 mm thick all through the inside, and far thicker in the neck. Some also blow saliva out the sides of their mouth to corrode the mechanism outside the sax, and some even balst from their noses while they play. All these deposits show up more on a sax surface, and sax players do tend often to be less refined about their playing than clarinetists.

However I frequently scrape hard whitish lime-type deposits out of clarinet tone holes, which of course don't get swabbed with regular cleaning. This is similar to what deposits on a mouthpiece, and can only have come from saliva.

Personally I don't think I ever blow any saliva down my clarinet. I collect it in the chamber I keep open just behind my lower teeth and swallow it during rests. Perhaps the players of different musical idioms seldom get a chance to swallow.

If I play in a warm environment the bore hardly gets wet. The amount of condensation depends on the temperature difference between one's hot breath and the inside surface of the clarinet, and the surface area of the effective length of the inside. On brass instruments this is always the entire tube so they get the most condensation.

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 RE: "Condensation"
Author: jbutler 
Date:   2001-04-13 15:53

Anji,
Can't find any "spit" corks or "spit" valves listed in any of my repair supplies and manufacturer parts books, but I can find "water key corks" and "water key assemblies".

John

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 RE: "Condensation"
Author: Shelly 
Date:   2001-04-13 19:59

Gordon,
I hope you tell these sax players to take better care of their instruments after you give them back to them. Gee whizz that's nasty! If you are having that kind of crud build up then they are not cleaning their instruments.

Shelly <--------------- seriously grossed out

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 RE: "Condensation"
Author: Jim 
Date:   2001-04-14 04:46

Does it matter? Spit is water! (As well as containing enzymes and all other sorts of stuff.) The breath, siliva, mouth of the cleanest and healthiest person will contain all sorts of organic matter including food particles, bacteria, viruses, gases from digestion etc. Some is bound to get trapped in a wind instrument.

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 RE: "Condensation"
Author: Don Poulsen 
Date:   2001-04-16 13:44

Your breath shouldn't contain anything that isn't in gaseous form, unless you are really trying to blast the horn, in which case you may be sputtering who knows what. But a decent player doesn't do that.

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