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Discussion Starter #1
Hi everybody,
I have never previously needed any major sax key adjustment and am clueless on this. Have any of you ever had a tech good enough to successfully spread out your Left hand pearls to be more comfortable? If so, can you please give me a shop/tech recommendation?
I recently picked up a heck of a great modern tenor, but find the entire left hand to be very tightly grouped and too compact for my liking. Far less spacious than my vintage tenor. My palms and fingers are large, but not gigantic. I'm especially struggling with partially pressing the high F nearly every time I am simply using the B key. The L pinky table is nice, as are the Right hand pearls. But the L hand keys are a deal breaker for me.

Is it possible to get them spread or would that be a mechanical hassle and better to just pass the tenor on to somebody with slimmer/smaller hands? Thanks so much in advance.
 

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Hi everybody,
I have never previously needed any major sax key adjustment and am clueless on this. Have any of you ever had a tech good enough to successfully spread out your Left hand pearls to be more comfortable? If so, can you please give me a shop/tech recommendation?
I recently picked up a heck of a great modern tenor, but find the entire left hand to be very tightly grouped and too compact for my liking. Far less spacious than my vintage tenor. My palms and fingers are large, but not gigantic. I'm especially struggling with partially pressing the high F nearly every time I am simply using the B key. The L pinky table is nice, as are the Right hand pearls. But the L hand keys are a deal breaker for me.

Is it possible to get them spread or would that be a mechanical hassle and better to just pass the tenor on to somebody with slimmer/smaller hands? Thanks so much in advance.
What’s the horn?

Some touches can be moved around, but it will require disassembly, removing pads, and some solder work. There will be some scars.
 

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Discussion Starter #3
What’s the horn?

Some touches can be moved around, but it will require disassembly, removing pads, and some solder work. There will be some scars.
Thanks Dr. G, I appreciate your expertise. I don't know enough about physically changing the key configuration and just wanted to see if it had been done here, and who did it, and if it is a can of worms to try. It is a sweet player, but is not one of the big name manufacturers and I don't know if it's worth the expense just for my comfort. I believe that it was made in Taiwan, but am not certain. It has a sonic character that I really like a lot and I like that it's not yet another SA80 II clone. Super focused and did better than expected on my chromatic tuner. I'm not into it for a ton of $.
Shoot, maybe it would just be best to pass it to somebody that feels comfortable with it, as-is. At a certain price threshold for the mod, maybe I should just let it go :(
 

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How long have you had this horn, there is always a period of adaptation and getting used to the ergonomics. If you like the horn in general, just give it a little time to adjust to the different ergos before jumping the gun. I wouldn't be surprised if one morning you woke up and thought "and what was the problem again?"
 

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Discussion Starter #5
How long have you had this horn, there is always a period of adaptation and getting used to the ergonomics. If you like the horn in general, just give it a little time to adjust to the different ergos before jumping the gun. I wouldn't be surprised if one morning you woke up and thought "and what was the problem again?"
Agreed 100%. I've been playing it pretty heavily for a week. I was happy to have a new sound palette. I think personal preference varies widely with each of us and I have rarely struggled with L finger placement. This is getting worse for me these past two days. I'll gladly adapt to a lot of issues and persevere, but this feels mighty compact and I don't like it.
 

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Agreed 100%. I've been playing it pretty heavily for a week. I was happy to have a new sound palette. I think personal preference varies widely with each of us and I have rarely struggled with L finger placement. This is getting worse for me these past two days. I'll gladly adapt to a lot of issues and persevere, but this feels mighty compact and I don't like it.
Then take a break for a few days. Muscle memory takes a little time to develop and trying to force things won't help in this case. Hit the reset button by leaving it alone for 2-3 days and then come back and see if you still have the same issues. Maybe you'll be surprised, maybe not.
 

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To answer your original question, I know Scott Mandeville, owner of Tim's Music in Carmichael, a Sacramento suburb, does custom key work modifications. It's long way from Denver but I saw an alto he was modifying the right pinky keys for a young girl with tiny hands and the workmanship impressed me. I'm not sure if Scott actually does the mods or if it's one of his techs but he was really proud to show me after I mentioned a sax I tried out didn't seem to fit my hands. My fingers are on the stubby arthritic side.

I don't think telling someone to get used to it is what he wants to hear. The horn needs to be modified or sold for something that fits his body better. We're all different. Why be stubborn and end up with an overuse injury.
 

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Discussion Starter #10
To answer your original question, I know Scott Mandeville, owner of Tim's Music in Carmichael, a Sacramento suburb, does custom key work modifications. It's long way from Denver but I saw an alto he was modifying the right pinky keys for a young girl with tiny hands and the workmanship impressed me. I'm not sure if Scott actually does the mods or if it's one of his techs but he was really proud to show me after I mentioned a sax I tried out didn't seem to fit my hands. My fingers are on the stubby arthritic side.

I don't think telling someone to get used to it is what he wants to hear. The horn needs to be modified or sold for something that fits his body better. We're all different. Why be stubborn and end up with an overuse injury.
Excellent, Thanks man! I wouldn't mind at least getting a price quote. Very much appreciated!
 

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I don't think telling someone to get used to it is what he wants to hear. The horn needs to be modified or sold for something that fits his body better. We're all different. Why be stubborn and end up with an overuse injury.
That was not what I said, sometimes all it takes is a change in wrist position and the different ergos fall into place but you can't force it by pushing it.
 

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That makes sense. Twisting the wrist into a new position can cause overuse injury. You have to be careful with those kinds of changes as you surely know. That would be my concern.
 

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Absolutely, but especially coming from guitar and bass, I see often some really bad postures that facilitate some of the fingering short term or on different width fret boards and can really cause over-use and injury. Sometimes it takes some repositioning of the entire instrument to line things up correctly and reading the OP's first post, I couldn't help thinking that maybe the vintage key spread led to bad "posture" for lack of a better word that won't work with the narrower key spacing on the newer horns. Hence my suggestion of taking a step back and then trying again (while finding an overall better posture) and attack the source instead of the symptom.

My cello teacher was a genius in pointing out these issues, I am double jointed and never had a problem spreading my fingers but he warned me of long term damage and following his advice made things so much easier but there were some rather dramatic changes in posture, instrument positioning involved. Jay at BetterSax hints at some of this in one of his latest videos (not holding the horn straight but slanted and adjusting the MPC etc.)

That's really all I wanted to convey and I have been guilty myself on the sax, twisting my fingers instead of adjusting the posture. And then when you get there, it is like this OMG *** was I doing before...
 

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Absolutely, but especially coming from guitar and bass, I see often some really bad postures that facilitate some of the fingering short term or on different width fret boards and can really cause over-use and injury. Sometimes it takes some repositioning of the entire instrument to line things up correctly and reading the OP's first post, I couldn't help thinking that maybe the vintage key spread led to bad "posture" for lack of a better word that won't work with the narrower key spacing on the newer horns. Hence my suggestion of taking a step back and then trying again (while finding an overall better posture) and attack the source instead of the symptom.

My cello teacher was a genius in pointing out these issues, I am double jointed and never had a problem spreading my fingers but he warned me of long term damage and following his advice made things so much easier but there were some rather dramatic changes in posture, instrument positioning involved. Jay at BetterSax hints at some of this in one of his latest videos (not holding the horn straight but slanted and adjusting the MPC etc.)

That's really all I wanted to convey and I have been guilty myself on the sax, twisting my fingers instead of adjusting the posture. And then when you get there, it is like this OMG *** was I doing before...
Right around 18:40 Branford talks about how to hold a saxophone. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=z3sFBk3ZU_o
 

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Right around 18:40 Branford talks about how to hold a saxophone. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=z3sFBk3ZU_o
Yes, that's one part I figured out by myself way too hard. But that is also one of the reason why I like watching Kenny G, with all his vanity, you can learn so much just watching his posture and his finger works and just monkey see monkey do'ing, some of my cramps and pains went away. If the modern keywork facilitates a more anatomically correct way of playing, then it might be a good thing to check all the bad things you are doing. And we all tend to drift back into bad habits, so keep checking and improving.
 

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If the modern keywork facilitates a more anatomically correct way of playing, then it might be a good thing to check all the bad things you are doing. And we all tend to drift back into bad habits, so keep checking and improving.
Not all modern keywork is equally “correct”. Some manufacturers have an obvious difference in what hands they are trying to fit - or maybe they aren’t even paying attention to true ergonomics (adapting fit to human anatomy). There are some modern horns that are too far from my comfort zone, so I just don’t play them.

OP - Check with your local shop regarding mods. Given the price of shipping a horn, it is not reasonable to get this work done long distance - especially if you truly want the pieces moved to fit YOUR hands.
 

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For the price of the modification you can get a decent used alto....play that for a while....

When you switch back to your tenor, it will feel great.
 

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It may be possible to create the desired spacing by simply bending the arm with the A pearl and the arm with the G pearl down slightly. The B pearl would need to remain in its location to allow the use of the Bis. If accidentally touching the front F key is a problem, that touch could possibly be moved upward as well. A photo would help to determine if this would be an easy solution. Moving the A touch may require adjusting the regulation a bit.
 

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It may also be solved by moving the pearl laterally, versus increasing the spread.

It’s not just about the horn, but the hand that fits it.
 

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Discussion Starter #20
Not all modern keywork is equally “correct”. Some manufacturers have an obvious difference in what hands they are trying to fit - or maybe they aren’t even paying attention to true ergonomics (adapting fit to human anatomy). There are some modern horns that are too far from my comfort zone, so I just don’t play them.

OP - Check with your local shop regarding mods. Given the price of shipping a horn, it is not reasonable to get this work done long distance - especially if you truly want the pieces moved to fit YOUR hands.
I agree with this 120%. The most consistently comfortable (for my anatomy) tenors I've ever held were made by Martin over 60 years ago and even the Conn 10M is much nicer to hold in my hands than many modern tenors. I was not trying to stir up an argument about proper posture, but think that each player should use what feels like a great fit for them individually. There are also individual preferences to consider (Like I much prefer to play standing vs sitting)
I appreciate all of the help with this post guys :)
 
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