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Forum Contributor 2016, Distinguished SOTW Member
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Is this a hard thing to do that only techs should try or is this something I can do myself. I have a sax that has a few keys that are way to heavy. How do you go about lightening the spring tension or making it heavier? Or should I just bring it to my repair guy?
 

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I did this recently on my BA alto, the right hand D was too weak. I just unhooked the spring, bent it away a bit and then set it back. Worked for me.
 

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You can do it. Bend a tiny hook onto the end of a straightened paper clip with some needle nose pliers and use that to push and pull the spring until you are happy with the tension. Be warned that there is always a chance the spring will break so don't do it 1 hour before an important gig, in case you have to take it in to be replaced.
 

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Springs are easy to adjust. I have pushed the spring very far before, with a spring tool from musicmedic, w/o it breaking. I have often worried that I would break one but I haven't yet. These springs are about 1 year old, though. Of course a flathead screwdriver works in a pinch, I actually used one the other day when I couldn't find my spring tool.
 

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Make or buy a spring hook with a notched end. For springs that are held open such as the stack keys, carefully push the spring away from the cradle with the spring hook touching the spring just below where it attaches to the cradle. Do this in small steps, letting the spring return to the cradle each time and checking the feel of the key. Go just a bit farther each time until you get the feel you want.

Please realize that each of the the RH stack keys also close the F# key so you are dealing with the combined feel of 2 springs instead of one. As a general rule the spring holding the F# open should be lighter than the spring on the F, E, or D keys.

Adjusting springs is always a balancing act. If the spring is set too light, the key can bounce. If the spring is set too stiff the action can feel sluggish and tire the fingers.
 

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In Steve Howards sax manual there is a whole chapter on this topic with lots of really helpful photo's.. i just got mine a wek ago and am finding it very helpful. Cheap at amazon
 

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Some springs work against each other, one stronger-one weaker. Get this out of wack and you will have problems.
 

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The low C# on some Vito altos appears to have a lower gauge spring than what might have been used... Wait! I was able to adjust the tension action with just two fingers, spring plenty strong inna first place... The difference between a Porsche 356 and a VW of the same vintage is you 'had' to adjust everything on the Porsche... BUT, you 'could' adjust everything...
 

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Thanks Nefertiti for bringing this topic to light. Fact is, there is no work on your horn that you could not do yourself except for those which require special tools, and that's just a matter of money.

However, don't underestimate the fear factor. Like hook said, don't do anything right before the gig or you may get caught out. I'll look in my book shelf and post a short bibliography here tomorrow covering the books nd publications that provide almost all the guidance you need. Some tasks, like dent work, are pretty much artistic in nature so be prepared for bad results if you botch it up. If you really want to do-it-yourself, go for it. But may I suggest that you purchase a $100 sax on eBay and overhaul it. Yep, overhaul that sucker and then sell it. You don't know, it might turn out better than you imagine.

SG
 

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It's not a difficult thing to do, but like most mechanical tweaks there's a knack to it - and there are some issues you must be aware of in order to avoid (or at least not be surprised by) problems.
Breakage is the most common problem. Spring are pretty resilient, but they can sometimes be brittle - either through extended use or just poor quality. They might well last a good few years if left well alone but will break as soon as you try to adjust them.
As has been said - don't try adjusting them before a gig...or at least have a ready supply of elastic bands handy.

While you can get by using all manner of object to prod and pull springs, you really can't beat a proper springhook.
It's not difficult to make one:

http://www.shwoodwind.co.uk/HandyHints/Springhook.htm

- it's even easier to buy one...they're not expensive.

And then you have to deal with the business of deciding what's the most suitable tension for the spring. As JBT said, it's a balancing act - and one that has to take into account the physical properties of the action itself as well as more than a passing nod to how it will affect other keys that may be connected to the one you're adjusting.
Trial and error can be very useful, but the more you push and pull a spring the more likely it is to fail...so it's much better if you go in with a definite goal and an aim to acheive it as quickly as possible.

As Jazzaferri very kindly mentioned, my sax manual devotes an entire chapter to the business - so that should give you some idea of how many 'gotchas' you might come up against.
It's one of those tweaks that hours to write about, minutes to explain in person and mere seconds to carry out.

Regards,
 

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The end is better when making small adjustments since there is less chance of breaking the spring, unless of course you get really carried away. To strengthen springs often involves adding more curve and sometimes requires removal of the key and the use of special pliers.
 

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Adjusting Springs falls into the category of "Judicious use of Excessive Force"

It's not difficult until something goes wrong.

Charlie
 

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wise words Charlie
 

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I always keep rubber bands in my case, incase a spring breaks. I've been adjusting springs since I was 14. It's really pretty easy, minus the risk of breakage.
It is probably better to just buy a spring hook. The push end is just as useful as the hooking end IMO.
 
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