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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hi all,

Just getting ready to completely re-spring my soprano. Bunch of questions first :)

For removing springs...what do you reccomend? For one's that have been clipped off clear at the post I have ordered the following item:

http://www.musicmedic.com/catalog/products/tool-pl104.html

But how about for springs that still have a centimeter left...or are full size, but I just would like to replace? How do I get those suckers out of there? I've been told a good way is to get a good grip of the spring with some needle nose pliers & then carefully hit the pliers with a hammer. Any other thoughts?

Second...blue springs, or stainless steel??? I've heard the blue "feel" better but the stainless are easier to put in. I'd rather have a horn that feels better - so if you'd all generally agree that blue's are better, I'd like to use them. However, if you have differing opinions - please let me know.

Third...

If I do opt for blues, I've heard there's quite a process involved with preparing them.

If I understand correctly...after determining the length the spring needed to be, I would heat the bluing until it is removed. Then snip them (can anyone reccomend a good inexpensive pair of nippers?)

and then...I would flatten out the end with a hammer on top of a very hard surface.

Then get that sucker in the hole in the post & tension it...only to have it break...scream :cussing: ...and start all over from scratch :)

And lastly...just curious about some trivia I heard. I was told modern blue springs are awful because the only providers of needle springs are the sewing machene companies which provide them to instrument manufacturers, so they don't care if they're over-hardened...and that's why they tend to break often when you are tensioning them.

Any truth to this???

Thanks in advance for all replies & advice!
 

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TMadness1013 said:
Hi all,

Just getting ready to completely re-spring my soprano. Bunch of questions first :)

For removing springs...what do you reccomend? For one's that have been clipped off clear at the post I have ordered the following item:

http://www.musicmedic.com/catalog/products/tool-pl104.html

But how about for springs that still have a centimeter left...or are full size, but I just would like to replace? How do I get those suckers out of there? I've been told a good way is to get a good grip of the spring with some needle nose pliers & then carefully hit the pliers with a hammer. Any other thoughts?

Second...blue springs, or stainless steel??? I've heard the blue "feel" better but the stainless are easier to put in. I'd rather have a horn that feels better - so if you'd all generally agree that blue's are better, I'd like to use them. However, if you have differing opinions - please let me know.

Third...

If I do opt for blues, I've heard there's quite a process involved with preparing them.

If I understand correctly...after determining the length the spring needed to be, I would heat the bluing until it is removed. Then snip them (can anyone reccomend a good inexpensive pair of nippers?)

and then...I would flatten out the end with a hammer on top of a very hard surface.

Then get that sucker in the hole in the post & tension it...only to have it break...scream :cussing: ...and start all over from scratch :)

And lastly...just curious about some trivia I heard. I was told modern blue springs are awful because the only providers of needle springs are the sewing machene companies which provide them to instrument manufacturers, so they don't care if they're over-hardened...and that's why they tend to break often when you are tensioning them.

Any truth to this???

Thanks in advance for all replies & advice!
Try these pliers for whole or partially broken springs http://www.votawtool.com/zcom.asp?pg=products&specific=jqepcng0

Most modern blue springs are awful. Don't bother trying to heat and re-temper them as you can also make them worse. New quality SS springs
are more consistent. Kraus and JL Smith Co. have some fine examples.

And get a pair of these! http://www.musicmedic.com/catalog/products/tool-pl103.html
 

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I think blues feel a LOT better. They have more snap to them and the keys feel lighter. Stainless have a much more buttery, fluid, heavy feel to them. Some players like this; I don't.
 

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I agree with blues being better...I have had no problems with the Ferrees blue-steel springs. I anneal the ends, flatten them on an anvil and press them in with the appropriate pliers. I use the PL103 spring bending pliers from MusicMedic (used to use the Kraus, but the MM are better) to bend and never break any. If someone made tapered stainless springs I would use them. I think that the heavy feel comes from techs not enlarging the spring pocket (smaller than the spring dia to hold the needle tip). The fatter end binds slightly. I agree that the straight springs are easier to install and less touchy re:breakage. Doesn't make them better.
 

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On the topic of springs, how often do they need to be replaced? Is there a typical time after which they loose their responsiveness, or start to rust etc?

Is there any difference in the lifespan of the different springs, ie blue vs "non-blue" stainless steel springs?

Thanks, cheers
 

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Blue springs were tradition because in the old days blue steel springs were the best and cheapest known material available at that time, as stainless had not been invented.

What many don't realize in regards to blue steel springs is there is no longer a company that provides manufacturers, repairmen, or our suppliers with quality blue springs that meet the standards of those older springs which we all became accustomed to.

As I have been told the original "Micro" needle corporation was the sole manufacturer of these types of springs used during the glorious days. The company who blued/tempered the needles for them was sold many years back, and the original tempering formulation was lost and never found. It was their mystical combination of the proper heat treatment and oil cooling methods. Every aspect from the temperature gradient/extremes, to how long each of these process' required individually, and then as a timed overall process.

None of the current blued springs available today hold a candle in comparison to those older originals. THis is why the springs available today are much shorter in length, and much thicker diameter than those of the past. They don't have near the tensile strength to function as those older springs did, if length and diameter were/are compared. They are not even close.

Now, there are a LOT of various grades of the newer "stainless" steel springs available from many resources. While they might look the same, there are far from that. I suggest you talk and shop around. In our shop we prefer these hands down: www.krausmusic.com/comparts/springs.htm

Here is some other information from Ed Kraus in regards to the comparison and tradition of springs:

Why no Blued Steel springs?

Some traditions need to be done away with. For years the music industry has been obsessed with blued steel springs. Why do you think we have this tradition? A couple of hundred years ago, when instrument makers were first putting keys on woodwind instruments, they needed a hard wire for their springs. The easiest thing to do was to get sewing needles, something they could easily get in small quantity from local shops. But the needles would rust, so the only available rust preventative was to heat them to get a blue colored oxide layer (hence blued steel). This was far from perfect, but the only anti-rust treatment available then. For the flat springs, I can only assume they used the same material that was going into clocks, and the state of the art at that time was flat clock spring material, also made of blued steel.

We at KMP are not going to make blued steel springs. Why should we? Blued steel is an out of date, inferior material that is prone to rust, and gives inconsistent results in heat treat (either brittle, or too soft). Why be limited to the metallurgy of the 1800's, when superior materials are available today?

Just some thoughts to ponder upon.. ;)
 

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JerryJamz2 said:
Why be limited to the metallurgy of the 1800's, when superior materials are available today?
Because of how much better they feel from the player's standpoint? I'm not alone in this. Most players I know prefer the feel of the blues. If there is a grade of stainless available that feels as good (quick snap, light key weight, and more reactive response), then we'll talk. The link you provided makes this claim. Can any players here attest to it?
 

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" Why be limited to the metallurgy of the 1800's, when superior materials are available today?"

I totally agree!

A better feel is all to do with design factors, such as diameter-to-length ratio, whether the spring is operating close to its elastic limit, the particular grade of metal (I agree, current blued steel springs are awful - too brittle - annealing should not be necessary before hammering the flat on the spring) and of course, the design of the cradle itself and its effective distance from the axis of the hinge.

Poor design results in high friction at the cradle, &/or a tension which increases substantially during the travel of the key.

DESIGN! DESIGN! DESIGN!

Mark VI design was great.
Some modern student instruments with stainless springs are great!
Currently Selmer Paris design, IMHO, is pretty awful, and they are blued steel.

Yes, there is a big difference in the way different stainless steel alloys behave. What Kraus sells is great. I cannot have been less impressed with Ferrees. (Kraus does not sell to the public.)

BTW, avoid using hammering tools to remove spring stumps on saxes. The risk of knocking the post out of alignment, and possibly breaking it off is just too high. To do safe, cosmetically-good, functionally-good spring replacement work in the many different situations, then quite a few specialised tools are really necessary. Quite a big investment. You also need to get the right diameter of spring, and there are many. Really best to leave it to a well equipped technician, who can do it so easily.
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
Thanks for your input, everyone.

Keep it comin'!

I was planning on ordering an assorted set of 100 assorted springs from Ferree's (I obviously have no idea what sizes I need) but If I get springs, I'd really like to buy the best I can.

Where can I get good quality springs besides Kraus (since they don't sell to the public) ??
 

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TMaddness, I just wrote an article for my website about removing springs. I think you may find it helpful. The article is not on my site yet, it will be up in about a week. You can Email me if you want to read it sooner and I'll send you an under-edited version as an attachment.

I think an important question in this discussion is what type of soprano do you have? I have sprung entire horns with stainless steel springs, then removed them to replace them with blued steel. The difference in feel is obvious. The stainless springs on the market (all of them, even those discussed in this thread) don't feel as good. I really don't think anyone has made a stainless spring that feels anywhere as good as a blued steel spring. The action is more sluggish even if the stainless springs are the smallest diameter possible, they are pointed and properly tensioned. That said, with a lot of work and adjusting, some modern instruments such as Selmers and Yamahas feel just fine with Stainless.

Because sopranos are so small and the spring cradles are often too close to the posts, Blued steel springs work much better. This is especially true on vintage sopranos. A Buescher curved soprano with Blued Springs can feel clean and fast. The same horn with Stainless springs will feel much more sluggish. The same is true of Conn sopranos.

All that said, the blued steel springs have a way of rusting and breaking.
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
Thanks for the thoughts, Curt. & that's great about the article you're putting up on the site. I know that we all appreciate you being so quick to share your knowledge.

The horn in question is a 1917 curved Buffet Evette-Schaeffer, silver plate. She's gonna be a real beauty once I get her going.
 
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