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Both my tenors are set up so the altissimo f key opens the tone hole slightly Vs using the palm key.

Is this the optimum set up?
If so, what is reasoning behind it.
Does this set up effect ease of altissimo?
 

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Depends on the instrument.

The ideal vent would be like the other two register vents, i.e., a small hole on a tube extending into the bore. Because, instead, you're using a regular tone hole, the whole thing becomes a compromise. Right off the bat, it plays a half step high on high F (the 3rd order of the A being fingered is E, not F) and a whole step high on high E (The 3rd order of the G being fingered is D, not E).

If it raises up too much, it MAY be more difficult to access certain altissimo notes that use that key; and they MAY run sharp. IF it doesn't raise up enough, some of those notes MAY run flat.

I have saxophones that like the pad opened about the same as with the palm key, and I have other saxophones that like it just cracked open. It's an easy thing to adjust and try, and the adjustements are easily and fully reversible. For that matter, for trial purposes you can stick a piece of heavy card under the foot of the F key and open it with your LH ring finger while fingering the different other keys, and see if you can discern any difference in response. Typically this is one of the very last things I adjust when I'm getting a horn ready to play (because I am the only one playing them, I simply set them up to my preferences).
 

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Like almost anything this has been dealt with (with many different opinions) before and in many threads from different angles (these are extracts from one of the best threads, in my opinion)


These things are absolutely related.

Sounds like you are over venting with the F key. Altissimo using that key is picky, and if it is too open, it will almost always crack. Try this: Take a business card, or index car. Stick the corner of it between the F key pad, and tonhole just enough to make a small opening. Now, try your altissimo G (using your index finger on the first pearl, not the front F key). It probably will respond a bit better, though perhaps not perfect at first.

I would ask your tech -why- he makes the F key open as much as with the palm key. To me, this seems very odd.

Steve P


Steve's advice is good advice. I always mess with the height of the front F when doing repads and overhauls- every horn responds differently and will work best with a certain height. Even horns within the same serial range of the same model will respond a bit differently to the height of the front F, and only playtesting lets me know what each particular horn responds to well.

I usually set up the front F to open the F key to around half the venting of the F key when it's opened normally - so if the F key venting is 4mm, the front F will open it to around 2mm.

It's a personal thing, but start from this point and experiment by adjusting the front F to open the F key by more or less until things speak easily for you.

If your front F mechanism doesn't have an adjustment, you'll probably have to bend the end of linkage piece down to put more double action between the front F key and the linkage, or to alter the leverage by bending the linkage piece towards the front F key/LH main action key barrel will reduce the opening of the F key, or a combination of both until things are right.

Not so easy a DIY job on Yamaha tenors (post YTS-61) without the adjustable front F key, but it can still be done.
 

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Simple answer: If altissimo is hard, open less until it becomes easier. If you play front F for alternate E a lot, then open enough to make it in tune. Personally I play altissimo a lot more than alternate E, so mine's optimized for altissimo. The opening is different on every horn. On one of my horns, it opens just a crack. On others, a couple of mm's. You'll know it's too wide if altissimo is nearly impossible.
 

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And this is the reason the front F is adjustable. A rule of thumb would be smaller opening is typically better than large opening. sounds like your horns have a typical factory set-up that should work okay for you.
 

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Altissimo G natural is notoriously difficult on King tenors, and for years I disliked that note on my King. I knew about he practice of opening the front high F just a crack to better enable altissimo G, but I avoided that adjustment because I didn't like the severe lost motion it introduced to the mechanism. After reading this thread, I tried the suggestion to play altissimo G with a business card under the high F key, plus the left hand B key. I got a great altissimo G. I feel a little foolish that I had not tried this trick before, but I immediately lowered the alternate high F key height to about 1 mm. Thanks, Steve P.
 

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Altissimo G natural is notoriously difficult on King tenors, and for years I disliked that note on my King. I knew about he practice of opening the front high F just a crack to better enable altissimo G, but I avoided that adjustment because I didn't like the severe lost motion it introduced to the mechanism. After reading this thread, I tried the suggestion to play altissimo G with a business card under the high F key, plus the left hand B key. I got a great altissimo G. I feel a little foolish that I had not tried this trick before, but I immediately lowered the alternate high F key height to about 1 mm. Thanks, Steve P.
I once had a tenor (Dolnet) where the mechanical advantage of this linkage was adjustable, so you could have the pad crack open just a bit with the front key; open fully with the palm touch; and no/minimal lost motion. Selmers also have this; it might be possible to modify a King.
 

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Altissimo G natural is notoriously difficult on King tenors, and for years I disliked that note on my King. I knew about he practice of opening the front high F just a crack to better enable altissimo G, but I avoided that adjustment because I didn't like the severe lost motion it introduced to the mechanism. After reading this thread, I tried the suggestion to play altissimo G with a business card under the high F key, plus the left hand B key. I got a great altissimo G. I feel a little foolish that I had not tried this trick before, but I immediately lowered the alternate high F key height to about 1 mm. Thanks, Steve P.
The small opening of the front F key to facilitate the altissimo G played with the front F key was used by Rousseau with his students and he mentions it in his book "Saxophone High Tones". The idea is to learn to play the high G with this "aid" and then when one learns the proper "voicing" to make that note speak the front F can be returned to a full opening position. Since I do a lot of these adjustments for local university students who study with a former student of Rousseau's I came up with a simple modification that allows the front F to be adjusted from one setting to the other without creating lost motion.

Front F mod 1.jpg
 

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And this is the reason the front F is adjustable. A rule of thumb would be smaller opening is typically better than large opening. sounds like your horns have a typical factory set-up that should work okay for you.
I think in most cases any adjustment is there for show! It typically adjusts from rather open to far too far open, such that the b key is not closed properly.
However imaginative manipulations to the geometry of the area can get it where one wants.
 

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I adjust mine to where the high G speaks clearly. It’s probably in the 2 mm range.
Just open it slowly with your ring finger while playing a high B and you’ll find the sweet spot.
 
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