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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
Hi everyone! I've recently purchased an old Buescher True Tone Alto sax off eBay. For an old sax that I got for a low price, it plays great (the action is a bit slow but I think I'll be able to fix that by cleaning and roiling the rods). However, I have an extremely hard time getting out a low or high g, f, or f sharp. They'll usually just come out as a weird honk, and even when I do manage to get a good sound on those notes I'm unable to hold it for long. I've checked pads and a couple other things, but I just don't know what's causing those few notes to get messed up. If anyone here repairs saxophone or knows their way around one, I'd really appreciate some insight into what might be causing my problems. Thanks!

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Could be one thing, could be MANY things. I'm far-sighted but can't see that far! Pics would help,
or get it to a tech in your area.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
I'd be happy to send post some pics when I can get to the sax in the morning. There's not much to see, but maybe you'll pick up on something I didn't! A few keys seem a bit loose so that could be contributing to the issue. I think I'll ask my orchestra director to take a look at it sometime.
 

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1. Do those notes work if you get somebody to press the G# key cup firmly closed?

2. Anything jammed inside the sax?
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
I took the sax in to my band director a while ago and she pressed the G# key down firmly while I played a G, though it was to test an alternate fingering the true tones have. I do, however, remember the sound getting stifled greatly, like I had to blow more air into the instrument. I hope that makes sense.

Nothing is jammed inside the sax either.
 

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Do you have a fellow student with a similar Alto that could try it for you ? Where do you live.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
As far as I know I'm the only one with this kind of sax, though I believe we have a family friend that's been playing for a good 60 years so he may own a similar one. I live in a pretty rural area of New York
 

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If you're in specifically western NY, Dr Zumwalt and Dr Hunger are both great saxophonists (and great teachers!) and would have seen tons of TT altos at SUNY Fredonia! They would be able to tell you if something's wrong with an alto very fast, as would most of their students! A bit further east but still in the west side of NY state is Dr Lin, at Eastman, in Rochester! While I don't know any of his students he's had personally; I've heard great stuff about him!

If you're closer to the center of the state, I unfortunately don't know of anyone/anything there-the only person I know from there is from Newport, if that's close at all, I'll ask him who he knows there! (he's a saxophonist, ironically.)

The only other people I know of who are saxophonists or musicians who would know someone are from Long Island, so they're probably not in the part of the state you want to look in.
Pictures would help a lot!

A good saxophonist should be able to say what's wrong, however-not just someone else with a TT! Based on what you said about the G# key, its probably that it isn't sealing correctly when it's closed.
 

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I took the sax in to my band director a while ago and she pressed the G# key down firmly while I played a G, though it was to test an alternate fingering the true tones have. I do, however, remember the sound getting stifled greatly, like I had to blow more air into the instrument. I hope that makes sense.

Nothing is jammed inside the sax either.
An alternative fingering for G in the first octave???
BTW, for this test I mean press down the pad cup (that is on the G# key), not the G# "Lever" (which the finger normally operates.)
 

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Hi everyone! I've recently purchased an old Buescher True Tone Alto sax off eBay. For an old sax that I got for a low price, it plays great (the action is a bit slow but I think I'll be able to fix that by cleaning and roiling the rods). However, I have an extremely hard time getting out a low or high g, f, or f sharp. They'll usually just come out as a weird honk, and even when I do manage to get a good sound on those notes I'm unable to hold it for long. I've checked pads and a couple other things, but I just don't know what's causing those few notes to get messed up. If anyone here repairs saxophone or knows their way around one, I'd really appreciate some insight into what might be causing my problems. Thanks!
We cannot diagnose you online. See a horn doctor.
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
An alternative fingering for G#, a key pops up on the lower shelf when you press the G# key that I guess helps with trilling the note.

They didn't press the pad cup itself down, so I'll definitely ask someone to do that for me. Thanks for the tip!
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
Wow! Thanks for all that information. Most of them are pretty far away but I'm not too far from Rochester, so I may look into Dr Lin. I finally uploaded some pictures of the sax, so hopefully that can help!
 

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The test I gave was for initial diagnosis only. There could be many and varied problems, especially on an old instrument.

From the information given, IMKO the most likely problem is that the "cork" in the linkage between the G# lever (that you press to play G#), and the G# key (which holds the pad), has come off or has been compressed sufficiently that the G# pad is not quite being closed by the lever.
It needs a new cork here, or the cork thickened, or the lever bent to accommodate the thickness of the cork. Note that the surface of this "cork" should have quite low friction. Many technicians use a laminate of Teflon sheet. (The surface of the cork should also be reasonably flat.)

Furthermore, even if this fault existed, the F or F# should re-close the slightly-open G# pad. It seems that these adjustments are also faulty, so the G# is relying on the D Key to re-close it for the low notes.

Of course the problems could be something quite different. Diagnosis by forum is unreliable.
 

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A good saxophonist should be able to say what's wrong...
Well, a good saxophonist can certainly tell if something is wrong, but a good tech is who you want to see to find out exactly what is wrong!

Almost certainly that old horn needs some work, maybe a lot of work. Those TT altos are great horns and play very well when in good playing condition. Take it to a tech.
 

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I totally agree with getting a horn checked out and in the best playing condition. Give the horn a full chance in pleasing you. This way hopefully something else won't interrupt your playing experience with that horn in the near future.
 

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Excellent diagnosis Gordon. Very clever to conclude there may be more than one "key closing" problem at play. The only part that still stumps me is that if neither the F nor the E key is closing the F# key cup, then why would the note E not work as well as the G, F#, and F? Perhaps we are not getting a complete description?
 

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Excellent diagnosis Gordon. Very clever to conclude there may be more than one "key closing" problem at play. The only part that still stumps me is that if neither the F nor the E key is closing the F# key cup, then why would the note E not work as well as the G, F#, and F? Perhaps we are not getting a complete description?
Thanks Saxoclese. Re your "stumpiment", I did wonder if the writer is a beginner and has not attempted to play E yet. :)
 

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Discussion Starter · #18 ·
I understand why you'd be stumped. I've played down to low D on it and up to high F, so I can confirm that it's just G, F# and F. It is rather difficult to play any of the notes on the lower register, so that could be a problem with the instrument or just a problem with me. I'm currently in the process of finding someone to take a look at it and possibly repair it. Thanks for all the tips!
 

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Excellent diagnosis Gordon. Very clever to conclude there may be more than one "key closing" problem at play. The only part that still stumps me is that if neither the F nor the E key is closing the F# key cup, then why would the note E not work as well as the G, F#, and F? Perhaps we are not getting a complete description?
A hand waving argument is that a gross leak has a more significant influence when terminating the air column to define a note. If in the middle of the column, it has less impact, and acts only to make the note sound stuffy. This horn may have several leaks throughout, but the leaks near G and F are especially bad.
 

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A hand waving argument is that a gross leak has a more significant influence when terminating the air column to define a note. If in the middle of the column, it has less impact, and acts only to make the note sound stuffy. This horn may have several leaks throughout, but the leaks near G and F are especially bad.
That is an interesting comment. I'm going to have to get back to you with a more detailed response. Reading Benade I have learned that a leak anywhere in the air column that defines the standing wave of a given note "saps" energy from that soundwave. The effect is more pronounced when the leak is located at or near a "pressure" antinode of the fundamental where the pressure is the greatest. It has less effect when located at a "displacement" antinode where the pressure is the least. When we look at what happens when the octave mechanism is slightly out of adjustment and the neck octave pad is held slightly open, virtually nothing below A2 will respond. That is an instance where a "gross leak" is nowhere near the area of the tonehole that vents the note if that's what is meant by the "air column to define a note", although I may have misunderstood the meaning of that statement.
 
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