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A few thoughts about key heights: Increasing a key's opening both raises the pitch and increases the "venting" to make the note more clear. This is true up to approximately 1/3 of the diameter of the tonehole and is based upon a note's "end correction". Raising the key beyond this opening has no further effect either on tone or pitch. What I typically do as a repair tech would be to start with Yamaha's recommended key opening for F on a tenor which is 8.4 mm, play test and go from there to "fine tune" the key heights. All of the key heights on a saxophone are determined by setting the height of one of the lower stack keys. This is usually the F or F# and by regulating and removing lost motion the other key heights are established automatically.
 

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Do you guys have thoughts about the key heights for Conn NW II tenor?
Have the horn instruct the tech (and owner) where it wants its heights to be set. A good tech who knows key regulation will be able to dial in the particular horn nicely.

There isn't much point in asking a bunch of folks on the internet 'where' the heights should be set, or what is 'correct' or 'normal'.

Obviously, as stated by others already, too closed will muffle the tone and kill its liveliness. Likely also make the horn play flat so require a dramatic mouthpiece push-in. Too high and horn will likely play very sharp and high often gets to the point where it is no longer contributing anything to the tone or response (as well as feeling strange under the fingers).

Unlike saxoclese, I do not use a prescribed chart as my starting point...I actually just take my 'best guess' on keyheights when I am initially regulating the horn. When all initial regulation is complete and she blows well up and down, I then concentrate on adjusting the keyheights to dial in intonation and confirm that the tone is nice and clean. Techs have their different methods.

And quite a few techs actually really do not know (or care to know) how to properly dial in an older horn. So hopefully you have someone there who does.
 

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Jerry Bergonzi likes his key heights on the high side and its pretty amazing what come out of them. For us mortals I think the horns speak best on the higher but not too high side.
 

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A while back I measured the tonehole diameters of a YAS-23, multiplied that distance by .30, and then compared those figures with Yamha's recommended key heights. Highlighted are the tonehole openings that vent what Curt Altarac calls "undervented" notes in his article "Setting Key Heights With the Balanced Venting Method". As you can see, Yamaha's recommended heights are very close to meeting or exceeding the .3 times the tonehole diameter threshold for those "under vented " notes with the exception of the D tonehole that vents the note E.

View attachment 237108
 

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A Mathematician reading the chart wants to see ...
One more column ... "difference" isn't very interesting. But the ratio (Yamaha recommended) / (Diameter) is.
Specifically, if Yamaha doesn't like 0.3D (or D/3), what *do* they like?

C .48
B .30 *
bis .35
A .31
G .32
G# .35 *
F# .32
F .30
E .29
D .26

General trend is for the ratio to be high at the top, lower as you move down the sax.

Exceptions are the B, and the G#. C to B is a funny one anyway, with C closing the A pad and all.
Hard to draw any conclusions here, as F# to F should be similar to C to B. Not seen in the recommended heights.
Probably the very high C key, rather low B key are related.

G# is a funny one, too. Being the only "normally closed" pad in the bunch may explain it.


dsm
 

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I’ve been on the old vintage Conns for a long time, and I can tell you they like to have those key heights nice and open!!!

I have had them way open and never have any intonation issues whatsoever.

*** On the 10M’s——> I like to be able to stick my right index finger in between the F tonehole and pad, to the first knuckle. That’s always been my judge of key heights and then they are opened accordingly by my tech. ***
 

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Discussion Starter #11
Thanks for all the comments! I just had my NW II overhauled and the keys are set to be pretty high now. Intonation is just fine, but the feel with the mechanism is pretty much different from before when they were more close. I am not sure yet if I like this new "open" feel...but I will give it some more time.
 

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For many players, "intonation just fine" refers to the intonation that they are used to.
As a technician, mess with that at your peril. :)

Just one omitted point:
...All of the key heights on a saxophone are determined by setting the height of one of the lower stack keys. This is usually the F or F# and by regulating and removing lost motion the other key heights are established automatically.
Not quite, because the the relativity of the upper stack and lower stack can be adjusted by the sliding adjustment that some saxes have between the F# and Bis Keys.
And for all saxes, can be adjusted by changing the angle of the arm on the Bis key (that is operated by the F# linkage), relative to the axis of the F# arm that contacts it, i.e. increasing or decreasing the sliding action involved in this linkage.
These are not good things to mess with unless one knows the effects of doing so, and it is done with a purpose.

Also, specific key heights for one sax may not work for another, because different saxes have different venting from different sized tone holes, and that is related to the actual location of the tone holes, which is all part of the many compromises of acoustic design.

BTW another buyer and I both bought Selmer SA80 II saxes at the same time. We saw them unpacked from the Selmer shipping cartons. The difference in stack key venting was immediately visible - several mm. So it is clear that even Selmer does not care too much about venting issues.
 

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Just one omitted point:

Not quite, because the the relativity of the upper stack and lower stack can be adjusted by the sliding adjustment that some saxes have between the F# and Bis Keys.
And for all saxes, can be adjusted by changing the angle of the arm on the Bis key (that is operated by the F# linkage), relative to the axis of the F# arm that contacts it, i.e. increasing or decreasing the sliding action involved in this linkage.
These are not good things to mess with unless one knows the effects of doing so, and it is done with a purpose.
Agreed. My mentor taught me how to change the curvature of the arm from the Bis to take advantage of the sliding action. I have only had to do this a few times in nearly 20 years of repairing saxophones.

Also, specific key heights for one sax may not work for another, because different saxes have different venting from different sized tone holes, and that is related to the actual location of the tone holes, which is all part of the many compromises of acoustic design.

BTW another buyer and I both bought Selmer SA80 II saxes at the same time. We saw them unpacked from the Selmer shipping cartons. The difference in stack key venting was immediately visible - several mm. So it is clear that even Selmer does not care too much about venting issues.
Good point. In my study of acoustics I have learned that the diameter of the bore at any given point largely determines the diameter of the tonehole at that location. Of course there are exceptions such as the C and Bis toneholes. Marten Postma has posted some interesting data and measurements of saxophone attributes from the earliest models to the present time. Those who are interested can go to this link: http://sax.mpostma.nl/ and click "Measurements" then "Holes, Key".

It is interesting that from the Adolphe Sax Jr. Model forward, the tonehole diameters are quite consistent with the exception of the Buffet models. I would have liked to study his key height measurements, but unfortunately the practice today is to measure the largest opening, and for some reason he measured the opening at the back of the key and the front of the key and took the average.
 

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... for some reason he measured the opening at the back of the key and the front of the key and took the average.
It makes sense, but tedious! (The result would depend on the length of the key cup arm.)
 
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