At the 2019 NAMM Show, I had the chance to meet with Rulon Brown, President of Key Leaves, and test the Key Leaves Sax Key Props as well as the Vent Vine. Most recently, Rulon sent me two new products to review – the GapCap & Spit Sponge.
The end cap/end plug that comes with your saxophone is designed to protect the octave mechanism as you take your saxophone from gig to gig. The issue is many sax end caps/end plugs do not fit your saxophone neck tenon securely. In addition, your saxophone case might not be the perfect fit for your particular horn, so the end cap might not take up the necessary space needed to make sure your saxophone is secure during transport.
The good news is Rulon Brown at Key Leaves has released the GapCap to solve these issues. According to Key Leaves, the GapCap, “flexes to fit your sax perfectly, screw adjusts to fit your case, shock absorbs impact, and vents air through the top and side for a cleaner saxophone resulting in longer pad life.”
- The spring wall design can be easily adjusted to fit the neck socket of your tenor or alto saxophone (GapCap available for tenor and alto saxophone)
- The flex spring will absorb shock to decrease any impact that could damage your saxophone. (Greg Fishman Review/Demonstration)
- If you have a loose-fitting saxophone case, the GapCap screw can be expanded to fill that gap resulting in a lower chance of bent keys or bent body.
- The GapCap vents to allow airflow into the saxophone to keep the saxophone cleaner and extend the life of your pads.
Before receiving the GapCap, I had been using a Wooden Cap made out of Zebrawood by SaxPlugs (saxophonist Matt Vashlishan’s company). This cap did fit my saxophone well in comparison to the plastic end cap it came with, and made my saxophone fit more securely in my Bam Softpack tenor case.
When I received the GapCap, I was really impressed how it could be easily adjusted to fit many different saxophone brands from Yanagisawa to Selmer to Lupifaro to Yamaha (which is one drawback with the wooden end plugs). The GapCap adjustment screw was great when trying to make sure my saxophone was secure in my Bam case. What is great about the adjustment screw is if you are switching between cases or having difficulty finding a perfect fit for your saxophone, the GapCap can assist with filling that gap. The benefits I saw were reducing the chances of my saxophone being damaged due to movement or something or someone accidentally hitting my case.
In addition, if I ever had a sax case that was not the best fit, I do not necessarily have to go out and search for a new case (as much as I enjoy looking for new gear…).
Finally, since the GapCap has open slots, air is allowed to travel throughout my saxophone, which will result in longer-lasting cleaner pads (especially in the palm keys).
I would like to thank Rulon for sending me the GapCap to review. Although I like my wooden end plug, the GapCap provides my saxophone a more secure fit in my case as well as any case in the future should I decide to change (which knowing me, I probably will).
With that being said, there are vendors producing wooden end plugs (like the wooden one I own) as well as custom end plugs made out of various materials which will further solve some of the issues the standard end plug misses, so if for some reason the GapCap is not the right fit for you, you can also consider these other options.
Website: KeyLeaves: GapCap
Amazon: Key Leaves GAPCAP
Key Leaves: Spit Sponge
Sticky pads have always been a problem for pretty much all saxophonists. That is why Rulon came up with the Spit Sponge. As you know, sticky saxophone pads can become a noisy and sticky mess. With the Spit Sponge, you will be able to remove moisture left on the pads and tone holes that a saxophone swab just can’t reach, resulting in extended pad life and a cleaner horn all-around. According to Key Leaves, the Spit Sponge featured “a dual texture pad cleaner with an ultra absorbent top to clean delicate pad leather, and a micro-textured bottom to scrub tone holes clean.”
- Easy-fit shape for cramped G# keys or big bell keys
- Replaces wasteful pad paper & powders
- Never Fray laser-fused edge
- Washable for years of use
- Fight tone hole corrosion
- Reduce pad rot & repair
Before testing the Spit Sponge, I had been using either powdered paper or my trusty dollar bill to address any pads that were sticky (typically my G# and low C# key). Both methods did solve my sticky pad issue but had their drawbacks. The dollar bill was great as a quick fix but would only temporarily remove stickiness until the next time. In comparison, the powdered paper would remove the stickiness from my pads for quite some time but would leave powder all over the pad and resonator.
The Spit Sponge is a great alternative to both these options because the top layer of the spit sponge does absorb any spit or dampness after playing to keep the pad dry, and the bottom layers allow you to clean the tone-hole so no build up will occur. What’s great about the Spit Sponge is you can easily clean it with soap and water so it can be used over and over for years. The Spit Sponge, although a simple tool, is a nice addition to the current line of Key Leaves products.
Will the dollar bill or powder paper still work as a remedy for sticky pads? Yes, but after further testing, I do believe that the Spit Sponge is the better solution.
Website: KeyLeaves: Spit Sponge
Amazon: Key Leaves SPIT SPONGE
Final Thoughts on Both the GapCap and Spit Sponge
Again, I would like to thank Rulon for sending me the GapCap and Spit Sponge to review.
The GapCap is a great solution for those players who like their current saxophone case but have realized that their saxophone or case is not a perfect fit. The GapCap will prevent your saxophone from moving around in the case, which many times is where damage will occur. In addition, if you ever switch horns or purchase another saxophone, the GapCap will assist with making your new saxophone a more secure fit. One alternative to the GapCap would be to buy a custom-made case like a Mike Manning, but as many of you know, this would be a more expensive option.
As for the Spit Sponge, it’s a great product for keeping your pads dry as well as tone-holes clean to further prevent your pads from sticking. I would be interested to compare the Spit Sponge to BG’s Pad Dryers and see how they compare. With that being said, the dollar bill or pad paper will still work as I mentioned above, but they both have those considerable drawbacks that I mentioned earlier.
So that’s my take on these two new products, but please do share your thoughts and feedback if you have used Key Leaves GapCap or Spit Sponge!