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Distance between keys and holes affects intonation?

1949 Views 21 Replies 10 Participants Last post by  Gordon (NZ)
I changed yesterday the cork pads at the back of the keys so they do not make noise when they hit the body of the sax.
It was a succes and the knocking redused drasticaly.
When I blow the horn though ihear it different.
The distance between key pads and holes has closed a little bit(not dramaticaly).Could this affect intonation?
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Most likely. Depends on how much it was closed, in relation to the diameter of the tone hole involved. The smaller the tone hole the reduced venting will affect the note.
If your action is optimal, and you only lower it a little bit (but really, NOT much) it will get affected...
panosgr said:
I changed yesterday the cork pads at the back of the keys so they do not make noise when they hit the body of the sax.
It was a success and the knocking reduced drastically./quote]

Do you mean you changed from what WAS there to something different?
There are modern materials that actually silence better than cork.

"When I blow the horn though I hear it different.
The distance between key pads and holes has closed a little bit(not dramatically).Could this affect intonation"

You must have changed the thickness of that material. It is possible on most instruments, with appropriate bending of key stops and making necessary adjustments, to change the thickness of the thickness of silencing materials and keep the same key openings. It is a common part of routine work on a sax.

However I suggest that you may be a bit out of your depth to attempt this. Leave it to a good technician.

Most adjustments affect other adjustments, so they must be carried out as a coordinated package.
Gordon, yes I changed the old corks with synthetic material wich was a little thicker, and that caused the lowering of pads.
I liked it so much I thought of putting thicker cushions to reduse the key traveling. From what I read this (and repading it myself) is out of the question.
I also take off the rods that hold G# and C# and cleaned the pads (just water, stickness gone) but they came on at their exact previus position.

I like to deal with this things myself even if I take it to the technician afterwards.
most definitely it can and will change the intonation. The corks have to be just the right thickness. Have a good tech set your sax up you wont be disappointed.
"The corks have to be just the right thickness..."

Well, not quite. The cork thickness, along with the geometry of the key, can bot be altered and finish up with thicker or thinner corks, and still the same tone hole venting. i.e, cork thickness is not the ONLY way to alter venting.

I choose "cork" thickness to optimise its damping purpose, mindful if also has a role of accurately transferring motion, but I don't choose cork thickness particularly for degree of venting. THEN I adjust key openings to what what I think is suitable for tone and tuning. And I seldom use natural cork anywhere on keys now., There many better materials for most locations..
Gordon, what materials do you use for this location(cushioning the backplate of the key so it doesn't knock when it hits the body of the sax)?

IIRC, once the clearance of the pad above the tone hole reaches 30% of the diameter of the hole itself, further opening has almost no effect. Below that it will very definitely affect the intonation and sound of the note, progressively more as the clearance decreases (it is an exponential function).

panosgr said:
Gordon, what materials do you use for this location(cushioning the backplate of the key so it doesn't knock when it hits the body of the sax)?

Depending on the situation, e.g the surface area, the distance from the hinge fulcrum, the travel, the strength of of the spring, etc:
neoprene-based agglomerated cork
Dense, high quality felt
Synthetic felt (from Kraus or Music Center).
Sometimes synthetic cork (from Kraus)
Occasionally natural cork.
Often a combination of two of the above, especially for lower stack keys.
panosgr said:
what materials do you use for this location(cushioning the backplate of the key so it doesn't knock when it hits the body of the sax)?
I rather like the old tried and true method of combining felt and cork.

Felt on the body and cork on the key. Felt silences nicely and the cork is more easy to adjust for key height issues..

Joe B
I agree, for lower stack keys and possibly G# lever. But I don't use natural cork where there is other provision for thickness adjustment. I also prefer agglomerated cork where there is sufficient access that I can adjust thickness with a diamond wheel in my dental handpiece. Diamond wheels trim this stuff VERY easily. So that does not leave a lot of occasions for ("squishy") natural cork.

But I regard the gooey felt that some (reputable even) manufacturers use as obsolete. Have you tried Kraus's synthetic felt? (I don't mean their synthetic cork)
please describe the felt Gordon, I should be ordering some things from Kraus in the next week or 2.
I have gradually increased my use of it over two or three years. Compared with wool felt, I regard it as less fluffy, more dense, easier to cut cleanly, less compressible, less absorbent (of contact glue), hence easier to glue.

It has a higher friction coefficient than wool felt, but that does not matter for key stops, where there is no rubbing. The friction coefficient is less than that for natural or composite cork.

For other applications, such as between G# lever & key, it is really easy to laminate with Teflon sheet. For a linkage such as this, its resistance to denting is great. I have found it excellent on clarinet for silencing low ring key, E/B, and also for the crowsfoot. Give a couple more years, and I doubt that I will be using high grade wool felt anymore.

I wonder if it is being used in any pads? A possible advantage that wool has over synthetics is that it tends to permanently accept new shapes in a non-springy manner, which is what is needed, for accommodating minute irregularities when sealing on tone holes without resorting to more finger pressure. I have met some uncooperative Chinese sax pads where the felt behaves "springy" like a foam rubber.
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I guess I should try a sheet, thanks. I just didn't want some soft syn felt. There was this really loose synthetic felt on the market about 10 years ago that I got by mistake one time, and the stuff was useless. Now I use sheet and bumper felts that are very firm, from J.L. Smith, and Kraus, also Ultrasuede, and hycotex(only from Yamaha as far as I know). How are the newer cork products from kraus, I tried that tech cork stuff, been so long I can't even remember where I ordered it from, but it wasn't very good compared to the hycotex, except in 2 of the thicknesses.
If you like firm felt, you will like this Kraus synthetic. It's a bit firmer than the Kraus wool felt.

From the little I have bought, I think the filling of the holes in Kraus's sheet natural cork is now as good as it gets. It is probably similar to that currently from other suppliers (excluding old stock!), because apparently there are only 2 manufacturers of the sheet cork we use. A few years ago they seem to have gone through a much-needed, and long-overdue competition to fill the holes best.

Although Yamaha's Hycotex has a nice, fine composition, I am reasonably happy with the composite cork from Kraus and others (but NOT Ferrees!). I like the large range of thicknesses now readily available, which to my knowledge, Yamaha does not offer. For thicknesses 3 to 6 mm, I have a range of types as off-cuts from a local specialist gasket manufacturer (for oil-filled transformers, etc), which gives me a range of firmness for different applications.

I've been using a variety of top grade composite corks for perhaps 20 years. The long-term reliability of the current offerings from our suppliers will depend on the extent &/or speed that the plasticiser leeches to the surface. When this happens the cork hardens and the plasticiser separates the cork from the glue. (You know when this starts happening with your stock cork by tasting the surface! Gross, acrid taste! I understand it is pretty toxic too. ) I have not had this happen with Hycotex.
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You may like to try using it instead of Ultrasuede too, where there is a rubbing action. Ultrasuede is peculiar stuff... Although it has a lovely soft feel, the friction coefficient is actually quite high. Similar to natural cork and agglomerated cork, which is quite a bit higher than Kraus synthetic felt, which is higher than wool felt. To compare friction of 2 materials, I put a sample of each on opposite sides of a smooth, clean metal shim. Then grip the assembly between thumb and finger, and slide finger relative to thumb. See which material moves against the shim. To double check, turn the shim over and repeat.
Is the Kraus syntetic felt the same as what Music Center sell? I have syntetic felt from Music Center and it sounds like what you are describing and I think it is very good! I would recommend using it for some things.
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