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Gig Surprise

1204 Views 7 Replies 4 Participants Last post by  1saxman
Got out my old Selmer USA alto last night at the gig only to find the little cork on the bottom of one of the adjusting screws on the 'dog bone' had fallen off and the bis key wasn't closing with the lower stack. At first I thought I could turn the screw down enough to make it work but the screw bottomed-out well before that point. I only play alto on a few songs and no solos so I just adapted to it and got through the night. I had the sax out a few days ago practicing/evaluating a new neck and there was no problem. I open the case last night and 'boom', there it is. Whatever.

The ape who 'overhauled' this horn a few years ago was responsible. He apparently did not know what the cork is supposed to look like - it was like a piece of straw that didn't even fill the hole left for it judging by what was left and what the other adjuster looked like. This is one of the peskiest pieces of cork to work on. You have to remove the screw and sometimes they have been glued in because of looseness, or they could be corroded stuck. Then you have to carefully clean out all cork and glue residue from the recess in the tip of the screw. Next you take a tiny square of cork of the appropriate thickness and proceed to cut off the corners until you get it about right, then finish sizing/rounding it with a small fingernail emery board. Then you can glue the recess and set the cork into place, pressing it in.

Then you're ready to reinstall the screw and adjust that system, which involves the bis key, the G# and the whole lower stack. I would get the bis right first, then check for opening of the G# with any lower stack key lightly depressed - adjust the G# adjuster as needed. Finally make sure the lower stack can fully close. Now check all those again and play test.
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Ideally they are tapered but its not really necessary. Cork rod in that diameter used to be available and might still be but I haven't seen anything referring to it in a long time. On my horn the recess is not exactly like the Selmer Paris - it has the normal recess but in the center of that is a small bore. The tech had apparently made a pointed cone of cork and glued it into that smaller bore instead of ignoring the bore and just gluing a round of cork into the recess.
Here's something you might find at the home center/hardware store - a little package of tapered cork 'stoppers'. The smallest size can be modified for use at various places on the horn, and short sections of the narrow end can make these little corks, which gives you that taper. The leftover pieces can be used on the G# foot and other similar 'cups', usually with a layer of felt on the bottom for silencing.
Oh, I used the alto in every spot I used it before, including tenor/alto duals. That was actually easier because I have to play the bis key then because each sax only gets one hand, and with the alto on the right, its also the 'wrong' hand. But you get used to it. Otherwise I just used the bis or side Bb. I'm just lazy and grew up playing mostly the '1 and 1' Bb and never really tried to change my ways. That's the only 'surprise' problem I've ever had on a gig that I couldn't overcome right there. One thing I could have done was build up the bis key lever under the adjuster with Scotch tape but I would have had to use many pieces to get it thick enough to work, and I just didn't have the time, plus it wasn't the kind of thing that really stops the show - you just have to take a few detours. :)
Nice! - In heat of the moment, we make adjustments and make it work ---
Adapt, Improvise, Overcome!

You can't be a working sax player if you can't do a few simple things like this for yourself.
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