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Properly Cleaning Mixing Console Faders
Cleaning a fader is not brain surgery, but it takes practice and a lot of care. Here's how to go about it - successfully.
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A total fader rebuild should take only about 5 to 10 minutes, after going to the trouble of taking apart the console to get to the fader.

If I take a module out for repair, I go ahead and clean its fader at the same time. Otherwise, I do fader rebuilding as part of a larger console-cleaning project.

There are several different types of fader construction. Higher-cost faders are literally a “snap” to take apart; that is, they have a “snap together” design.

A much more pleasant use of a dental pick than usual.

The main parts of a typical fader include the element that carries audio on conductive tracks, the carriage that holds wipers against the tracks, and the rails that guide the carriage.

Be extremely careful with the wipers - they’re easy to damage, and once bent, the fader is toast.

After opening the fader, first blow away the loose dust. There might be dirt wedged in at the point where the carriage and rails meet, so use a dental pick to loosen this up, and then blow it out.

Again, blow the loose dirt out.

Use a strip of clean cloth dipped in isopropyl alcohol to clean the rails, pass the strip under and around each rail. 

Gently wipe the surface of the conductive element with a clean cloth dipped in alcohol or contact cleaner. Be gentle, and do NOT go under the carriage with the cloth. This can damage the wipers!

Top it off with just a dab of lubricant. Caution: a little goes a long way!

Apply just a few drops of lubrication to the rails and exercise the fader. Blow away any excess lubrication with and reassemble the fader

And that’s it. With a little practice and patience, anyone can make old faders feel like new again!

Editors Note: For more information on console maintenance, check out Zen & The Art Of Mixing Console Cleaning & Maintenance.

Alex Welti is vice president of research for Creation Audio Labs, a service facility in the southeastern U.S. He served for a decade as service manager of Soundcraft, and prior to that, worked as a technical supervisor for Westlake Audio.

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