Sax on the Web Forum banner

1 - 19 of 19 Posts

·
Über Geek, Forum Contributor 2010 Distinguished SO
Joined
·
3,841 Posts
Discussion Starter #1
So I have a new A clarinet, and when I had my tech take a look at it the other day I forgot to mention that the spring tension on the register key needed to be adjusted. It's stiff as a board (bad enough that I'm pulling my thumb from the F hole to activate the key) and I really need to get some woodshed time in on that axe because I start rehearsing, of all things, the Firebird Suite tomorrow night. Do you folks in the know think this is a do-able tweak at home? And if so, could someone let me know the best way to do it without trashing the spring? Believe me, I would prefer not to tackle repairs on my own, but this is really driving me up a wall.

Thanks in advance!
 

·
Distinguished SOTW Member, Forum Contributor 2014
Joined
·
4,315 Posts
It might need that spring replaced with s weaker one. Thats really strange to me that it's that stiff..especially since those springs are usually weaker than most because of how long they are.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,675 Posts
It's a flat spring. Take off the register key. The spring is attached to the underside of the key with a small screw. Take off the spring and bend it slightly so it's not as curved as it now is. Use can adjust the tension as much as you like this way. I like a lot of tension on that key because I touch it by sometimes and I don't want it to open. It's hard to break that spring so it's an easy fix.
 

·
Distinguished SOTW Technician
Joined
·
2,547 Posts
You can adjust the tension.
You'll need to remove the key - this is easy enough, just unscrew the rod screw and pull it out (place your thumb over the centre of the key as you withdraw the screw, to counter the force of the spring pushing the key up...also stops the key flying off).

Once the key is off you'll see that there's a long flat spring fitted to the underside which will be curved upwards (as you hold the key upside down). What you need to do is bend this spring so that its tip rests at a lower height than it is now.
Take a pair of small pliers - smooth jawed for preference - and carefully grip the spring about a third of the way along its length from the mounting screw.
Grip the key over the mounting screw so that your thumb is pressing the first quarter of the spring down against the key - this helps to relieve the stress on the screw when you bend the spring.

Twist the pliers gently to bend the end of the spring down slightly, release the jaws and move them up the spring towards the tip a little and repeat. This is reduce the curvature of the spring over most of its length and make it weaker.
Test it by refitting it to the instrument - no need to screw the screw right in, just poke it in until the thread catches on the pillar...it will be enough to hold it in place while you check the feel of the spring tension.
Repeat the process as necessary.

If it doesn't back the tension off enough, grip the spring about a third of the way from the tip and give it a more forceful turn down.
Once you've got it how you want it, check that the spring screw is still secure - then refit the key. Don't forget to oil the rod screw - and a tiny, tiny drop of oil on the tip of the spring will help too.

If you don't have any pliers to hand you can bend the spring by hand. With the key held upside down, push the spring away from you. It should move quite easily, and in so doing will loosen the spring retaining screw. You will now be able to grip the spring along its entire length with your fingers. Again, keep your thumb over the mounting screw to support it, then gently bend the spring with your fingers in the same fashion as with the pliers. Check the tension with the key on the instrument, and once satisfied give the spring retaining screw a turn to retighten it.

Regards,
 

·
Über Geek, Forum Contributor 2010 Distinguished SO
Joined
·
3,841 Posts
Discussion Starter #6
Worked perfectly. Thanks so much for the detailed instructions!
 

·
Distinguished SOTW Technician
Joined
·
2,547 Posts
...and if you overdo it and make the spring too weak, making it stronger means you have to bend it back up.
As it's a new instrument the spring should be in good condition and will tolerate a bit of bending - but not too much...

Regards,
 

·
Über Geek, Forum Contributor 2010 Distinguished SO
Joined
·
3,841 Posts
Discussion Starter #8
I only needed a quick bend to get it matched up with the same key on my Bb. I guess it's one of those little things that wouldn't be a problem, except that clarinet technique needs to be so precise, and that one spring was starting to force me into death-grip mode. Thanks again. :)
 

·
Über Geek, Forum Contributor 2010 Distinguished SO
Joined
·
3,841 Posts
Discussion Starter #9
By the way (maybe I should start a new thread for this), what are you guys recommending for bore oil these days? It's pretty dry here, and my bass, especially, is looking like it's about due.
 

·
Distinguished SOTW Technician
Joined
·
2,547 Posts
You have two choices, essentially. Use a decent branded product - such as http://www.doctorsprod.com/store/comersus_listItems.asp?idCategory=15 - or just use a natural oil.

I favour walnut oil - makes a nice salad dressing too, but groundnut oil does just as well, as does sweet almond oil Avoid lemon oil, and steer clear of synthetic/mineral oils or any branded oil that doesn't tell you exactly what's in it.

Regards,
 

·
Distinguished SOTW member/, Official SOTW Sister
Joined
·
19,203 Posts
I use Almond oil, but many of the guys/techs here recommend the Dr's Products bore oils.
 

·
Über Geek, Forum Contributor 2010 Distinguished SO
Joined
·
3,841 Posts
Discussion Starter #12
Great--I'll get going on that. Thanks!
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
4,431 Posts
All natural oils go rancid and smell bad. Maybe putting new oil over old will wash out the old, I don't know. I just don't like the smell of rancid oil. Does anyone use mineral oil?
 

·
Distinguished SOTW Technician
Joined
·
2,547 Posts
All natural oils go rancid and smell bad. Maybe putting new oil over old will wash out the old, I don't know. I just don't like the smell of rancid oil. Does anyone use mineral oil?
Oh dear - what d'you think your clarinet wood is full of?

I see hundreds and hundreds of clarinets each year, and have done for over three decades now - and in all that time I've never come across a clarinet that niffed due to bore oil going bad.

Stinky bores clogged with mouth gunge, yes; musty clarinets in mouldy, damp cases, yes - but never rancid oil.

Regards,
 

·
Distinguished SOTW Technician
Joined
·
3,112 Posts
Have to say Yamaha bore oil hasn't got a particularly pleasant smell about it - and that's the smell straight from the bottle. I've no idea what kind of oil it is they use and don't use it myself.

Selmer supplied bottles of bore oil which is mineral oil, but that's been said to be more harmful to wooden instruments.

I still use raw linseed oil, but will probably try Grenadoil or one of the other Doctor's Products bore oils as they get good reviews.
 

·
Distinguished Technician & SOTW Columnist. RIP, Yo
Joined
·
17,204 Posts
Something to add about over-strong flat-springs:

The force that the spring exerts depends not only on its "pre-tension" (adjusted by bending), but also very heavily on its effective length.

It is very common for a flat spring to make contact with the key itself for around 1/3 of the length of the spring, and sometimes up to 2/3 for some longer springs, especially register key springs.

To weaken the spring, and also get a better "feel" - i.e. the spring force increasing minimally during its travel - adjust its shape so that while it is operating, only a very short length near the retaining screw is in contact with the key.

Even if a spring has a suitable tension, the "feel" can be improved by doing this along with retaining the strength by at the same time increasing the "pre-tension". This commonly a good procedure to carry out on a clarinet throat A spring. Even less than a mm reduced contact with the key can make quite a difference for the feel of operation for this key.
 

·
Distinguished Technician & SOTW Columnist. RIP, Yo
Joined
·
17,204 Posts
I still use raw linseed oil, but will probably try Grenadoil....
I've used that since it was made available. Expensive, but I reckon it is probably the best available, all things considered. Just a few $ per oiling, and one doesn't do it toooo often.
 
1 - 19 of 19 Posts
Top