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Dear Masters, I have searched for this information of SOTW and have not located any detailed discussion/description of the proper method to go about adjusting this keywork. I am currently working on getting a Buescher from the 1970s rebuilt and I am struggling with getting the linked keys in perfect coordination. Would you please described your process? Or share a link that I have not come across with a detailed description. I REALLY appreciate this! : )
 

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OK, this is a good question and would definitely be a challenge for a DIY'er.

I do it in THIS sequence (other folks may have other sequences):

1) Start by working on the regulation of the F# lower stack armature to the Bis key.
This means, after pads have been installed/seated/tested and are leak free, put on just the Bis and the F# keys (or perhaps the F# plus the F key below it to keep the F# from moving north-south). (You may also need to install another key in upper stack to keep the Bis key from sliding N-S as well, so do so if needed).
Then just install the cork on that part of armature which touches the Bis armature.

2) Once that is done, I move to the G# key - and regulate the F# armature to the G# key in same way. You'll have to put on the pinky table G# touch at some point. What you wanna do here is make sure not only does the F# pad close completely, but when F# key is closed completely the G# key does not 'jump' when the pinky table touch is depressed.

3) Once THAT is done, I proceed with regulating the rest of the Lower Stack. So at the end of this Stage, I now have a regulated lower stack, and F# to Bis and G#.

4) I then move to upper stack and regulate the C to the B and A keys.

5) The LAST stack key I do is the A felt to the Bis.

6) Then go check that the keyheights of the A and B upper stack coincide with how the lower stack adjustment has set the Bis key arm. (i.e., sometimes you have set keyheights to upper stack which results in significant space between the bis arm and the F# arm down there...& sometimes you end up the opposite: the lower stack regulation has set the Bis keycup too low for the felt of the upper stack A touch to contact the Bis keycup).

The final keys I regulate are any of the connections on the table (C# and B to G#, Bb to B). I first do the C# to G# tab, then move onto the B to G# tab.
This is the point where you wanna see if you are gonna end up with a B bellkey keyheight which is sane. (For example, on old horns it's not uncommon that some terrible table regulation was done by some hack, so you may end up with the C# working well with the G#, but the B key touch - with a nice, 'normal' key opening at the B cup - ends up being way out of plane with the other two touches. Or just as often the B and G# touches are in a nice plane and the C# touch is way out of plane...etc). This may result in you needing to tweak some cork on the tabs, some cork on the G# touch bumper foot or lever to the G# keycup, bend some tabs, or in the worst-case scenario bend some key armatures.

I have found this to be a good sequence for me. Early on I'd make the mistake of regulating the entire lower stack with the Bis and G# removed, then move to adding those keys. That wasn't the greatest sequence for me at THAT time (sorta novice moving to novice-intermediate) b/c what would happen is the addition of those two regulations would then cause small leaks in my F, E, D fingerings, oftentimes at the F# cup/pad.
IMHO you wanna nail down that F# to G#/Bis regulation right off the bat.

I HOPE this is what you were referring to....
 

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Its pretty much the heart of regulating the sax action. The trick is to have no vertical play between keys in the stacks without using thick felt and to have the opening heights aligned. To me the whole thing starts with replacing all the cork silencers on the stack keys with cork of the same thickness (all thin on the actuators and all thick on the feet, to be adjusted later). As a rule, the smaller the tone hole, the closer the opening height, so in general, the opening heights increase as you go down the sax. Wide or close openings in general depend on what the artist wants and how he plays. The safe thing is to put them back like they were or to factory spec. unless something is obviously out of whack. Talking about the stack keys here.
Then you have what Jaye said concerning the critical center of the universe - the bridge between the lower and upper stacks, the G# and the table keys. Now in reality you get a lot of help from the horn. IOW, if you simply take it apart, clean, oil and reassemble, it should be no worse in adjustment than it was. In this case, with a playing horn, you can observe all these relationships we're talking about and probably find plenty of little problems you didn't know were there. When it comes to starting from scratch with no corks or felts and all new pads, you have to do as I said with the thick and thin corks. The trick for thinning a thick cork on a key foot is to use one-sided sand paper (most is) and cut a narrow strip. with the rough side to the cork, let the foot down on it and slowly pull the strip out - you can press on the foot for faster results. The smooth side does not scratch the horn and you are also shaping the cork to the round body. You use this trick all over the sax to adjust key heights.
You know, you could write pages on this subject but I think we have given you 'a look under the hood'. It is a great feeling to put pads in a sax and actually be able to play it. :) Good luck!

P.S. this is coming from just a player, not a tech at all. You'll find many players who can do most anything on a sax, and we are the ones the techs do not like to see because we simply know what the right way is and that's what we want. Also, on most modern saxes, the F#/Bis/G#area has multiple adjustments that allow you to correct situations like 'the bis sets lower than the other keys'. That 'dog-bone' with the two screw-adjusters also can slide up and down a ramped slot in it's lever arm. There are several of these on a sax and they can really save the bacon particularly when correcting damage to keys. On a properly designed, built and maintained sax, you should never have to 'max-out' these adjusters but there certainly are exceptions.
 

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The first rule to remember is "isolate then regulate". This means to isolate each key and seat the pad perfectly before trying to regulate one key to operate with another.

The assumption here is that a 1970's Buescher (Aristocrat?) has no adjusting screws, that you that a good leak light, and some key adjusting tools. My approach is as follows:

- With the G# and Bis removed, seat the lower stack F# (the key above the F)
- Bend the "back bar" of the F# up slightly to isolate the F, E, and D and put a cork under the back bar to keep the F# closed
- Seat the F, E, and D pads perfectly
- Uncork the F# and bend the back bar back down slightly to engage with the F, E, and D keys.
- Beginning with the F, bend the foot up or down to have the F# and F close perfectly together.
- Next do the same with the E, and then the D. I like to keep the D to F# closing very light.

The lower stack is now regulated. Next comes the regulation of the G# and Bis

- Attach the G# key. There should be a 1/32" cork glued to the underside of the adjusting arm extending from the F#
- At this point the G# key should prevent the F# key from closing due to the thickness of the cork.
- Cut a long strip of 400 grit wet-or-dry sandpaper, place it face up under the cork on the adjusting arm
- Using light pressure close the F key and pull the sandpaper to remove material from the cork, reinsert and repeat till the F# closes.
- install the Bis key and check the closure when the F key is pressed
- If the F# key does not close, either sand above where the arm of the bis contacts the adjustment arm, or put a popsicle stick under the bis pad and press down on the arm
- If you bend the arm of the Bis down too far, and the F# doesn't close the Bis, then hold the Bis closed and carefully raise the arm.

Below is a photo of the sax foot key bending tool that I use to regulate the upper and lower stacks when there are no adjusting screws.

View attachment 161857
 

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Discussion Starter #5
This is information is so helpful and I am very grateful. I am currently putting this advice to use. I was also really hoping to learn of the methods used by simso, Gordon (NZ), clarnibass, southfloridahorns, Chris Peryagh, and others, but, hopefully, they are somewhere enjoying a great holiday.
 

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No, no, please don't take my stupid statement the wrong way!!!!! After reading Jaye's method I was able to get it done, slowly, following his method, then the tip from 1saxman about maintain cork sizing, and finally with saxoclese describing the methods he would use on an Aristocrat with the key-foot bending tool and 'isolate then regulate'. Simply, for the record and for the history, to study everyone's method is really interesting... to see the differences and the similarities. I find it so interesting to read everyone's '2-cents'. For example, I was learning about something simple, like changing the neck cork, and watching all the different methods being used was fascinating. So, Jaye, please don't take it the wrong way, I am so grateful for you sharing your amazing knowledge! With your information alone, I was able to resolve my key work crisis, but the rest is just icing on the cake. I find myself reading posts from 15 years ago on SOTW frequently. These instructions are helping thousands of people. It is really a historical record of great importance. When I final can blow test this sax, I'll send you a thank you video! have a great night!
 

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First I, like others make sure pads are closing impeccably individually. I will write only of the mentioned keys, without going into the rest of stack key adjustment. Assuming I already have F# venting how I want it...

If there are no regulating screws on the F#-to-Bb/G# arm, which I assume is the case for you:

- I do not use natural cork - it compresses too much with use, hence is unreliable. I typically use firm, synthetic felt, but sometimes use "techcork" if there is a thicker gap, or a smaller contact area when the keys are closed. I select a thickness that is as suitable as possible, then do not mess with the thickness. In other words, I select the thickness and type of this material to do the job of transferring motion as accurately as possible, while at the same time providing sufficient damping against noise. IMO to select for adjustability of thickness adds another parameter that compromises the two already mentioned. The thickness of these two ideal linkage materials does not adjust easily! So I don't. (Neither do I see any evidence of manufacturers doing so, no matter what the material is.)
- For checking the operation of the linkages I use a leak light, and always operate the F# key by pressing up on its F/E/D linkage bar, just as the F/E/D keys would operate it. Any other way does not allow for flex in the metal parts.
- I first adjust the F#-to-G# link, by minute bending of the linkage arm.
- Then I adjust the F#-to-Bb by slightly bending the linkage arm of Bb relative to the rest of the key.
- Then I adjust the A Key geometry so that its motion synchronises with the Bb key, and the pads close simultaneously.
- Then adjust the linkage to small C key, while keeping the small key's linkage arm resting on both the A and B key feet, again without messing with pre-chosen linkage materials.
- Then I adjust the geometry of the B key so that B and small C key close together, again without messing with pre-chosen linkage materials.

Important: Adjustments made by tweaking the geometry of keys is not for the inexperienced. For each adjustment, he metal must be bent too far, and then back, to a stable state. How far each bend is taken and how far back comes from a heap of intuitive knowledge of how the metal behaves, gained from one heck of a lot of experience. Also, it is pretty much impossible without a range of specialist tools... and strong thumbs! Occasionally tweaking the geometry may make a pivot bind. One needs to be set up for dealing with that.

If there are adjusting screws from F# to Bb/G# then the process is a heck of a lot easier. Hoever for reliability the silencing material at the end of the adjusting screws must not be squishy - some are rubber! - and quite firm and incompressible, so a high grade of "techcork' is ideal. Damping must be considered when choosing thickness. For reliability - and that's another story - the tip needs to be domed. That would be quite a challenge without suitable-sized cup burs and a micromotor, or equivalent.

Sometimes I find it more appropriate and cost/time effective to install adjustors, especially if I am likely to ever have to adjust the sax again, and there is enough metal to do so.
 

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- Then adjust the linkage to small C key, while keeping the small key's linkage arm resting on both the A and B key feet, again without messing with pre-chosen linkage materials.
- Then I adjust the geometry of the B key so that B and small C key close together, again without messing with pre-chosen linkage materials.
I followed everything perfectly until I got to these two items. Perhaps it is just a difference in terminology. In the U.S. it is common to call the part on what you call the "small C" that contacts the B and A key feet, "the back bar". It is similar to the "backbar" of the F# on the lower stack. So using this terminology, do you hold the "backbar" of the C down against the tops of the B and A key feet and then either lower or raise the small C key cup? Also is adjusting the "geometry" of the B key the same as bending the foot of that key? Thanks for your most detailed response.
 

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I followed everything perfectly until I got to these two items. Perhaps it is just a difference in terminology. In the U.S. it is common to call the part on what you call the "small C" that contacts the B and A key feet, "the back bar". It is similar to the "backbar" of the F# on the lower stack. So using this terminology, do you hold the "backbar" of the C down against the tops of the B and A key feet and then either lower or raise the small C key cup?
That's the idea, but I don't want to risk over-crushing the corks under the backbar, so I actually hold the small C key's pad closed and lever the back bar up or down relative to the cup.

Also is adjusting the "geometry" of the B key the same as bending the foot of that key? Thanks for your most detailed response.
Yes.
 
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