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Discussion Starter #1
Hi, thanks for looking and thanks for any clue on this in advance:

Just purchased a used Cannonball Big Bell 107000 Tenor.
Wonderful instrument, only suffers from bad intonation caused by bad adjustment of key heights.
Particularily the left hand korks for key heights are almost gone.
G to middle-oktave key connection kork almost gone.
Right hand k.h. korks have been partly filed so that right hand is too open.
So here´s my question:
Is there a "general" kork thickness for the left and/or right hand openings, that anyone knows of ?
Or does anyone have an original instrument in good condition where he might be able to measure the original key hights ?
Any help on this is highly appreciated !
 

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Adjustment of key opening legitimately can be, and often are, made by bending the key 'stops'

So cork thickness as such is no indication of appropriate opening.

As a very rough guide, key opening for saxes is 1/3 the diameter of the tone hole. Then they may be adjusted from there, to modify tuning, modify stuffiness of notes, and for the 'feel' that is the player's whim.
 

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Once a key is opened past 1/3 of the diameter, there is not much change so if the croks have fallen off, then it should be fine, your best bet should be to take it to a tech.
 

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Discussion Starter #5
Thanks for your reply.
As this is a horn deriving from a current production line I was hoping to find some measures for the original key hights or/and for the korks. So hopefully someone has a horn like this around to give me some rough figures.
Going the long way of trying out intonation by trial and error makes more sense to me in working with vintage horns where the info I´m looking for is mostly lost.
Gordon: Bending keys is one of the worser things that can happen to a horn, as it will affect not only opening but also the angle between key cup and tonehole. I´m grateful that this horn just misses some kork and doesn´t suffer from bended keys.
Just to give you an example how a rough measuring for key hights could look like:
Emilio Lyons once did this by using a round pencil rubber as measuring tool for MK VIs. (fits tight between B and tonehole on left hand, loose on right hand).
 

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"Gordon: Bending keys is one of the worser things that can happen to a horn, as it will affect not only opening but also the angle between key cup and tonehole."

Are you coming for the perspective of an experienced technician? IF not, exactly what background are you coming from?

What you say is simply not true. A key consists of several parts. A technician adjusting things CHOOSES which part he bends in order to achieve what he wants to achieve, WITHOUT messing up other things. If other things are INEVITABLE messed up, then those are subsequently adjusted too.

BTW, on brand new instruments, there is zero evidence of any adjustments being made by adjusting cork thickness. So guess how they adjust things? And this is backed up by what we see in factory tour videos. (Stack keys do look a bit tacky with corks of different thickness.)

So get used to it, adjustment by bending is a standard and appropriate way to adjust many parts of a sax. Oboes? A different story.. the keys are extremely rigid, and have adjusting screws all over the place.

"As this is a horn deriving from a current production line I was hoping to find some measures for the original key heights or/and for the korks."

When I bought my SA80-SII Selmer tenor, I saw it and two others unpacked, in front of me, fresh from the Selmer factory. Between these instruments, there was variation of key heights (for same stack keys) ranging over about 3 mm. Go figure. Assume NOTHING!! By contrast, Yamaha has published specs of key openings, to 0.1 of a mm.
 

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Discussion Starter #7
Gordon: Sorry for hitting a wrong note. Basically you didn´t suggest bending of keys but only warned, that there might have been some bending and therefore
kork thickness might not be representative, right ? I´m on your side in this respect. Still bending keys is a dangerous territory, mostly done to correct top and bottom (left right) openings of keys, rarely to correct keyopening, as this can damage the angle between key cup and tonehole and the pad will sit on the back or leave the back open afterwards. This out of my personal experience of 20 years with saxes professionaly playing and repairing.
 

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habschi2 I think everyonrs trying to tell you the same thing, Bending keys is a common practice that is used in repair shops around the world, it is not dangerous and will in no way mess up your saxophone, unless of course, you let an inexperienced tech do it.(even those guys can bend a key) Most techs know how to level a pad cup when there is a leak, I've even shown my high school students how to do that. In all reality these is no such thing as corrrect keyopening, your horn may be completly different than the horn that was made right after yours, at least when it comes to key hieghts? MY big question is this, You say this is is a horn you jst bought, WHY DID YOU NOT TEST IT OUT BEFORE YOU BOUGHT IT? YOu always need to play on it and make sure that the horn is going to work for you. You may have just ended up with a lemon.

If you require serious help with this look up www.musicmedic.com or even find Steve Goodson, I'm sure that either of them will be happy to take your money for cork.
 

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I'm with Jerry, if you want to know the "original" key heights call the manufacturer. That said, who knows if they are actually aware of what the key heights should be.

I never understood the 1/3 rule that so many people use. I wonder how many folds have actually measured the tone holes and tried for 1/3. This would certainly not work on the most important keys, the stack keys. The tone holes under the stack keys vary too much in diameter. For example: If the top stack was set up to 1/3 the tiny C# tone hole the keys would barely move. If it was set up to be 1/3 the G tone hole (the tone hole under the G pad) the keys would be flopping around.

My long drawn-out answer to the key height question is:
Here
 

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habschi2 said:
So here´s my question:
Is there a "general" kork thickness for the left and/or right hand openings, that anyone knows of ?
I assume you mean "cork". As a general rule of thumb 1/16" cork is used for the key feet of the upper and lower stacks of saxophones as well as the palm and side keys. In my experience rarely does the foot cork need to exceed this thickness, however in some instances it is advantageous to add a felt pad on the body of the instrument under this foot cork for silencing or to reduce key bounce.

When the 1/16" cork doesn't allow enough key opening, it can easily be sanded to adjust. Adjustments for lost motion in the stack keys can also be made by sanding the feet cork.

John
 

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habschi2 said:
.... Basically you didn´t suggest bending of keys but only warned, that there might have been some bending and therefore
kork thickness might not be representative, right ? Still bending keys is a dangerous territory...
trahansax has it right.

Yes, there may have been some bending.

No. I acknowledge that bending of metal is a standard and perfectly legitimate way of making many adjustments, including key height. I, and I suspect most technicians, and probably all manufacturers, do it every day. Yes, I mean adjustment for key height( and the associated linkage.) For an experienced technician, it is not dangerous territory. The only reason I might sand away at cork under stack keys is for the lower stack keys, to get the F# linkage arm to sit evenly on the E/F/G stops.

Still bending keys is a dangerous territory, mostly done to correct top and bottom (left right) openings of keys, rarely to correct key opening, as this can damage the angle between key cup and tonehole and the pad will sit on the back or leave the back open afterwards.
If I want to alter that angle I bend to alter it. If I want to bend a key stop, I bend that. I don't get the two confused! Bending the key stop itself does not bend the key cup arm. They are separate pieces of metal. They can be bent separately. So can other parts of the key.
 

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MusicMedic said:
...I never understood the 1/3 rule that so many people use. I wonder how many folds have actually measured the tone holes and tried for 1/3. This would certainly not work on the most important keys, the stack keys. The tone holes under the stack keys vary too much in diameter... My long drawn-out answer to the key height question is: .....
And that is why it is only suggested as a very vague start. I don't actually go measuring things myself, nor do I keep this in mind.

I suspect that that 1/3 probably comes from fluid dynamics, where an opening (venting) more than 0.3 of the diameter of the orifice of a poppet valve, makes negligible increase to the flow of the fluid through that valve. i.e. at this opening there is no longer significant turbulent flow.(Part of my formal engineering study. Once again, a general rule.)

Your long drawn-out answer is good stuff, but IMO overkill for many situations, where the design of the sax is such that 'current' venting does not present significant intonation or note-stuffiness issues. IMO, for most modern saxes, plus or minus a mm or even two is really rather insignificant, because of good acoustic design. Most of the time we are not doing a balancing act between intonation and stuffy-sounding notes.
 

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Discussion Starter #13 (Edited)
Thanks for posting your experiences on this thread in a very kind effort to try to help with my problem. The whole key bending affair seemed to haven taken over the main topic, but still it was interesting to hear your opinions. Just one basic thought from my side to round this up: Wouldn´t it be wise to go back to the factory settings for a horn that has to be adjusted ? Most of the sax producers have invested a huge effort in finding the optimum setup for their horns, so why correct them, unless obvious miscalculations where done in the factory.
If a player wants a more open sound, no problem but he might loose the original and therefore best possible adjustment.
So it seems quite reasonable to me to try and find factory settings if they´re still present and not lost as with many vintage horns. Leaving small adjustments aside the basic key heights should be well known. As far as I know good techs know the heights of the common models (and I know them for the other models I have to deal with) , even have lists, because they just don´t have the time to fiddle around and check intonation for half a day.
To finally find the info I was looking for, I will open another thread in the "Cannonball" section.
 

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I gave my Selmer anecdote above, to demonstrate that it is posible that at least some manufacturers, even top ones, possibly do not have "standard" settings.
 

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Just to pipe in....I sold this horn to habschi2. The key feet have individual adjusters for the stack keys, much like a Conn 30M. Easy to adjust. ***correction: the adjustors are lost motion adjusters so you can set the key height independently...I mis-spoke***I opened the key heights for personal preference as it matched the large bore older Link STM that I was using. The closer spacing worked with the included JK mouthpiece, which I seem to have misplaced or (likely) loaned to some student. It might be helpful (this to habschi2) if you provided more detail of your experience (mouthpiece type...high baffle, lg. chamber) and the problem (upper stack/register sharp or flat compared to lower), and relation to palm and bell keys.
 

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Discussion Starter #16
Ok, just to finish this up from my side:

1) I never suggested to do any key bending to open or close key heights on this or any other horn. I know from years of experience what it can do and what it does not. As I´ve seen lots of horns that were damaged by unprofessional bending of keys, particularily to open up, I felt like warning from this procedure. I do not regard this as beeing necessary on most of the horns around, as the thickness of the keybumpers is responsible for regulation.
2) Keybending was not done to the Cannonball horn in question neither by shmuelyosef (who did an excellent job in fixing the horn in any other respect) nor by myself.
3) The Cannonball has adjusment screws to adjust the F# to F-E-D connection but not to adjust the keyheights.
4) My credo in general is to go back to the factory setup, regarding keyopening, pad thickness and others. Because I think instrument builders like Selmer, Martin, King and finally Cannonball have all found different solutions for the above problem and I don´t feel like correcting them, rather like researching to come as close as possible to the original idea. (Choosing mpces that fit this adjustment often seems a necessity too).
5) As Cannonball horns are fortunately still manufactured, I still think it´s a good idea to get the measures in question a) from Cannon owners with original setup or b) from Cannon directly. For this reason I opened another thread in the Cannonball section of this forum, please contribute !
6) Finally it might be interesting to hear, that the Cannonball producers themselves chose as one of their main goals in production, to find materials that try to prevent or minimize keybending, to preserve the "optimum adjustment". http://cannonballmusic.com/saxpowerforged.php
 

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I'm glad you have so much faith in the integrity of the manufacturers.
I could write a large book on what manufacturers do (or have done) poorly.
 

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Gordon (NZ) said:
And that is why it is only suggested as a very vague start. I don't actually go measuring things myself, nor do I keep this in mind.

I suspect that that 1/3 probably comes from fluid dynamics, where an opening (venting) more than 0.3 of the diameter of the orifice of a poppet valve, makes negligible increase to the flow of the fluid through that valve. i.e. at this opening there is no longer significant turbulent flow.(Part of my formal engineering study. Once again, a general rule.)
Gordon, I agree with much of what you say here but this time I'm having a hard time. I think your saying that the 1/3 rule is based on an irrelivent science and that you personally never use or even consider this when making adjustments. However, you are suggesting it as a possible 'starting point'. I prefer to let the horn dictate the key heights to me and not the other way around.


Gordon (NZ) said:
...the design of the sax is such that 'current' venting does not present significant intonation or note-stuffiness issues. IMO, for most modern saxes, plus or minus a mm or even two is really rather insignificant, because of good acoustic design. Most of the time we are not doing a balancing act between intonation and stuffy-sounding notes.
I agree that this method is overkill for many situations. However, in our shop we only do pro-overhauls and usually for pro players. 1 or 2mm's makes a difference. It makes all the difference. A properly set up saxophone is a thing of beauty. That last bit, the tuning and toning part of the job, after the key work is quiet and everything is right, is what makes the work special.

Modern saxophones play stuffy on some notes and out of tune on some. They need work to get them playing well with a clear tone and in tune. This is something that is first addressed with key heights.

Even after hours or days of tuning and toning work, there is still room for improvement on every saxophone I work on. The quick dismissal of the importance of proper key set-up on a saxophone makes me uneasy. Similar to when a guy says, "This is the first horn I have changed pads, but I'm sure I got out ALL the leaks." Then I look at a horn on my bench and consider that I will never have all the leaks out.
 

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MusicMedic said:
Gordon, I agree with much of what you say here but this time I'm having a hard time. I think your saying that the 1/3 rule is based on an irrelivent science and that you personally never use or even consider this when making adjustments. However, you are suggesting it as a possible 'starting point'. I prefer to let the horn dictate the key heights to me and not the other way around.

In concept, the poppet valve stuff is highly relevant, in that both concern friction and turbulence in a fluid going through a constricted region; the fact that one is for a liquid and one is for air makes the proportion possibly irrelevant. However I personally have not done the calculations to demonstrate the degree, if any, of irrelevance. Have you? I only mentioned this because it is a POSSIBLE source the figure.

I don't know why you are getting so upset about this. The approx 1/3 has been suggested many times in this forum, and not by me. 1/2 is too large in almost any circumstance. 1/5 is too small in almost every circumstance, so what on earth is wrong with saying that 1/3 is a rough guide? The fact is that it is!

I agree that this method is overkill for many situations.

I’m glad we agree then

… However, in our shop we only do pro-overhauls and usually for pro players… Even after hours or days of tuning and toning work, there is still room for improvement on every saxophone I work on….”

Well, aren’t you lucky! Most technicians have to do several cheap and nasty, or good student horns for every pro horn they work on. And ther is no way they could say in business spending many hours on tuning of these horns which are their bread and butter!!!

“…1 or 2mm's makes a difference. It makes all the difference….”

Sometimes yes, and sometimes no. First, there is no way that the bulk of my customers want double action in the way a stack key links to another key. So openings of stack keys are governed by the openings of each other. If the horn is well designed, then the compromises are such that there are no significanlty dead or out of tune notes.

As a consequence of this, then some keys will have an opening that is fussy, while others will be opening past the point where a mm more or less makes any difference to clarity or tuning.

Yes, of course there are some keys such as low C, where careful compromise is vital, but on most saxes there are also keys where fussiness is simply not an issue. The key opens a comfortable distance, and the clarity and tuning do not change with a mm more or less of opening.

“… A properly set up saxophone is a thing of beauty. That last bit, the tuning and toning part of the job, after the key work is quiet and everything is right, is what makes the work special…”

No dispute with that at all, and I admire attention to detail (both yours and mine!)

However if you spend hours getting a horn perfectly (no such thing actually) in tune for your embouchure, or anay player's embouchure, then the next pedantic player, with slightly different embouchure habits, will more than likely find it out of tune, if we are looking at those last few centimes.

The reality is that for the vast bulk of sax players, paying for all this “hours or days” of pedanticity, which to a degree is tilting at windmills, is out of the question. Yes, there are the exceptions.

And in case you were wondering, It is very, very rare for a sax customer of mine to test play and comment on the tuning of a note here and there, and some of my customers are very fine players.

We have to keep in touch with reality here!

“The quick dismissal of the importance of proper key set-up on a saxophone makes me uneasy.”

I think you misunderstand me. Of course I correct glaring errors of venting, and also many that the customer has not even noticed, and any that the customer wants attended to, but we have to keep in touch with reality here… it is crazy to spend “hours or days” correcting something that for the customer is not a problem. I am wary of altering something from what a customer is used to and likes, to something I think is more ideal but which he actually dislikes, or dislikes paying a lot for the time involved.

“…. Similar to when a guy says, "This is the first horn I have changed pads, but I'm sure I got out ALL the leaks." Then I look at a horn on my bench and consider that I will never have all the leaks out."

Sorry, I don’t follow you. I would never say that an instrument was perfectly leak free. We are using materials with at least some degree of porosity.
 

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Hey Gordon,
Thank you for the well thought out post. I'm not getting upset. Although, I read my earlier post I see why you think that I am. Sorry about that, I need to improve my writing skills.

I see where you are coming from now, thank you for the clarification.
 
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