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Distinguished SOTW Member, Forum Contributor 2009
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Discussion Starter #1
I have tech question. I struggle for a while already with the response of the lower end of my tenor. I've head some toneholes levelled, some adjustments made and my tech said it was leakfree now. Still, I keep on having the trouble with respons, whereas I don't have that on my other tenors with the same mouthpiece and reed.

I suspect my high F from leaking, although my tech says "there is enough pressure on the spring, it can't be". Recently I noticed only on the edge of the tonehole of the high F a spot of corrosion on the upside. Very specific there, and no corrosion on the rest. This also doesn't occur on the other toneholes.

I thought this would indicate clearly that there is water coming through a leak at the upper part of the hole, which would mean my tech didn't look close enough. To speak in his advantage, it's a rather new sax, so one wouldn't expect all those leaks.

My question : is it worth taking another look at that tonehole, or am I seeing ghosts now?

sorry I can't put pics on the web, I don't have a cam.
 

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Distinguished Technician & SOTW Columnist. RIP, Yo
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"I suspect my high F from leaking, although my tech says "there is enough pressure on the spring, it can't be".

Especially on a high F key, leaks have little to do with spring pressure, and a whole lot to do with the condition of the tone hole, the condition of the pad, and the way the pad is installed.

To make a comment like that makes me wonder if you 'technician' is even using a leak light, which is the most basic of equipment for diagnosis on a sax. Perhaps you had better set yourself up with one, at least for diagnosis, and checking on the technician's work, even if you are unable to do the work yourself.
 

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Discussion Starter #6
I'm 100% sure he doesn't use a leak light, as he said he didn't like these things. He uses the "sigarette paper" trick : he takes a piece of very thin paper, and checks around the tone hole if the resistance on the paper is the same everywhere. So I think I'll buy me one...

Still, it's one of the better technicians in the area.
 

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Distinguished Technician & SOTW Columnist. RIP, Yo
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'Feelers' are good to use for flutes and clarinets. that's partly because the light does not work well with long black tone holes, or translucent pads.

With such large diameter tone holes, it would be very easy indeed to miss leaks on a sax by using only feelers. The light shows up leaks extremely well. I cannot imagine any technician not using a light for saxes. Hence I doubt this is a sax technician.

However there is a technical difference between using a light and using a feeler, particularly for adjusting linkages:

A light checks for simultaneous contact (of two or more pads) with tone holes.
A feeler checks for equal closing pressure (of two or more pads).

For an instrument with such a flimsy, flexible mechanism, and squishy silencing materials in linkages, these two states of adjustment are actually mutually exclusive. A good technician makes compromises depending on the keys involved.

So if you use a leak light, be aware it does not quite tell the whole story.
 

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Good answer Gordon (as usual).

If a tech is using a "feeler guage" for the high F key on a sax, the spring tension alone will force a seat on any pad which is even remotely seated. Also that tension will render the feeler guage useless.

Perhaps a good time to point out that using a leak light (while controllably allowing the key to close) will show where any pad closes on the tonehole first, and last. Unless the light disappears equally all the way around, the pad is generally not properly seated. :shock:
 

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Distinguished Technician & SOTW Columnist. RIP, Yo
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"learned graybeards ":shock:
Who, me?: !:
[Checks in mirror] :)
No beard at all. ;)
Phew: !:
Not me. :D
Don't look too close now. ;)
 

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Distinguished SOTW Member, Forum Contributor 2009
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Discussion Starter #11 (Edited)
thanks again you all. Very funny that you guys could make up so fast that his main job is indeed flute technician, although he's a saxplayer himself.

I tried the trick of haduran, and afterwards checked the closing. It's pretty obvious it closes first at the bottom and then at the top. Same thing happens with my G-key. So that's back to the technician.

I'll defenitely take your comments with me though, and I hope he's not going to shoot me for it.

Thank you all again for your valuable insights.
 

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Distinguished Technician & SOTW Columnist. RIP, Yo
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It sounds as if you may be better off getting a leak light and doing your own work.
 

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Discussion Starter #14
I've been at my technician with all the comments. He's going to take another look at these toneholes, although he didn't like to use the leak lights. He used them in the past and to his experience, using only a leaklight was a less sensitive technique than the feelers.

I didn't have much time to discuss it with him, since we both were in a rush to another place (he off to practice and me off to cook). I'll see what the result is next week.

Although the techniques he's using might be discussable, I still believe in his competence, given the fact that he did a great job on my soprano. Can it be that one particular instrument is a lot more difficult to get regulated than another?
 

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Consider replacing the pad. If you've green crud on the tonehole, that is telling me that the usual accumulation of wet stuff is being left there when you put the horn away - good for making corrosion, bad for the pad.
 

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Have it checked with a Magnehelic already. There are far too many places that can leak and cause bad low register performance. Cigarette paper is too thick to do really sensitive feeler testing. .0005" mylar is the stuff to use. Leak lights can reveal a lot when used in a dark environment, but they can't find every leak. The horn is not a lamp, it's plumbing.

Creative isolation of areas of the sax bore and checking under pressure with a Magnehelic can find any leak (pad, solder, neck fit, corrosion, timing, neck cork). Then it can be repaired. The leaks don't care if we can't find them with our favorite diagnostic technique. If your tech doesn't know how they can contact me and I'd be happy to explain the process.

I especially expect to find a great number of leaks in a new horn. They don't assemble them like a hand made flute because sax players would not spend the money that the instrument would cost if they did. That is where the truly good technician can be counted upon to coax the true potential out of your instrument.

David
 

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Discussion Starter #17
Thx for the hint david, I'll hand him the idea, he might contact you. I believe your contact details are in the introduction thread.

Now that you mention it : this sax has never been fully adjusted, and has fallen once already. The action sometimes feels awkward, as if pushing one key makes another "click". But then again, that's not always the case. Might it be there is more than just a leak?

I'll talk it through with my repair man too. He's a bit frustrated over that sax, but defenitely want to make it work. I'm not a top player, so I always have to ask if it is'nt just me, but in this case, I'm quite positive about that.
 

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I don't want to go too far off of the subject here. But how exactly do you use a Magnehelic to check for leaks? I have boxes of unused Magnehelic gauges from past projects. I can use them to determine changes in pressure and vacuum. But how does that help me find the leak? This could be very helpful if I knew how to do it. :oops:
 

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Discussion Starter #19
Update : I ended up being right. Toneholes for the high D# and high F weren't even at all, it was clear when he tried to even it (after me asking). I get the low D and C fairly well now. The low B can honk, but when subtoning it makes the dreaded gorgling sound.

Can be me though, but I don't have that problem on my other horn, with the same mouthpiece and the same reed.

The horn plays wonderful now, although it's very unforgiving for mistakes in embouchure or slow fingers.

My repair man is staying with his feeler method though, and agrees that I'm a bloody difficult customer. But he doesn't complain, I stay polite, in fact I was right when I pointed out those small leaks, and he earns his money :D

some more questions :
- sometimes it feels as if I have to put quite some pressure on my left hand to not blow the keys open again. The springs feel quite strong. Can this have any effect? If yes, would it make the sax more forgiving if I reduse the spring pressure?

- my tech changed some pads. The original paths are quite thin, although they're of good quality. Does it pay off to repad the thing completely with thikker pads that fall more over the rim of the tonehole, or would you guys say "just wait with that until it's time for the overhaul, and check every tonehole before putting the pads on."
 

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Curious as to if that tech even owns a leaklight?? My thought/point is that the light shows any leaks 360 degrees at any given moment, in any state of closure, under a given amount of downward force, where using a feeler guage requires constant up/down shift the feeler material over 1/16" and try it again, and on and on until the full 360 degrees has been covered. That would drive me cRazZy.. Another concern is that each time the key is pressed down, and after moving the feeler each time, is the same amount of pressure being used? All that he is finding out is that there is/is not a leak at that given moment, in that very minute area. As been said thisis different for clarinets, flutes, etc.. For this reason IMO a feeler on larger leather pads is not a wise choice as there is not a very controlled measuring guage for this while using finger pressure on the key and and using a feeler. I wonder how big his eyes would lite up if he put a magnahelic on any of the instruments he works on, whether flute, clar, sax, etc.. :shock:

Show him the light! (Yes, pun intended.) :cool:
 
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