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Discussion Starter #1
Look at a saxophone. See the two screws in the middle of the sax above the G-sharp key and the B-flat key. DONT TOUCH THEM!!!!!

About three out of five horns that come in for repair have screws that have been tampered with.

These screws are easy to see and turn. If you turn them too much one way or the other the horn will not play. Sometimes that is the only thing wrong with the horn. Now I know there will be post from many people that say they have been adjusting their horn for years and they know what they are doing.

You have to know what you are doing and why you are doing it.

It is not a hard concept to understand but when I explain it to people I get a blank look like I am talking rocket science.

My advice is... don't touch them.
 

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once I spoke to a repairer who told me that a brand of flutes , at a certain point started including a screwdriver with their flutes. Immediately after that he started seeing lots of these flute players coming to the shop with flutes that had been " worked on" by their owners.
 

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It's any easy enough adjustment to make - if you know what you're doing, and why.
In fact I'd go so far as to say it's the sort of job that every horn player ought to know how to do.
If you can position a reed against the tip of the mouthpiece with accuracy and tighten up a ligature, you've already got more then half of the mechanical aptitude necessary for the job. The rest is simply knowing how to apply it.

Regards,
 

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Discussion Starter #7
You do need a leak light. Also be sure to hold down the B-flat key with your left hand otherwise the upward presure of that key will throw off the adjustment.
 

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A very cheap alternative for a leak light, that teachers who know what they're doing to keep in the school or studio, is a 3' cable light (or rope light). You should be able to find it at your local big box home improvement store probably under $10. It works like a charm, especially if you turn off some of the lights in the room. That way you can easily tell if those 2 screws have moved over time and you can save your student a trip to the shop.
 

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A very cheap alternative for a leak light, that teachers who know what they're doing to keep in the school or studio, is a 3' cable light (or rope light). You should be able to find it at your local big box home improvement store probably under $10. It works like a charm, especially if you turn off some of the lights in the room. That way you can easily tell if those 2 screws have moved over time and you can save your student a trip to the shop.
Isn't it easier to just play the thing?
Assuming nothing else is wrong with the horn, if a forked Bb is weak, and gets better when you press the Bis key down, you know the Bb screw is off.
If pressing the G# touchpiece while playing a low C results in a falloff in tone, you know the G# screw is off.
If a lightly-fingered mid F doesn't pop straight out, you know one or other (or both) screw is too far on.

Regards,
 

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Of course, unless the several related pads are all sealing well independently, then there is no hope of solving problems by turning screws.
And I'd say that when a sax has probelms in this area, poor independent sealing is the norm.
 

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I was asked by a player where to get a good set of screwdrivers from, so I told her I usually make or adapt mine to try and discourage her as she wouldn't know what to do in any case if anything wasn't right. She got a set of three small (and inadequate) screwdrivers from a Christmas cracker, so they'll either mash up the screw heads or more likely the blades will twist or break if they're used as screwdrivers. Considering she owns a Yanagisawa, there's very little point in keeping a set of screwdrivers as they only have the three adjusting screws. Maybe useful in the unlikely event a point or rod screw loosens, but not really necessary.

Howarth stopped supplying screwdrivers with their student model oboes - considering there are around twenty or so adjusting screws on an oboe, there are just as likely the same amount of problems to be caused by someone inexperienced having a go when there are only two or three adjusting screws any player should know about to help certain notes (LH1 and the one on the low C key touch arm for adjusting high C# and D and the one for the 3rd 8ve key venting if a 3rd 8ve key is fitted).
 

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Christmas cracker?
Yeah - the ones that come in a plastic wallet and the blades turn in the badly moulded and brittle plastic handles that are too small to get any purchase on. Probably a preventative measure so they don't get over-torqued and the blade tip twists.
 

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Christmas cracker?
from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Christmas_cracker
"Christmas crackers or bon-bons are an integral part of Christmas celebrations in the United Kingdom and Commonwealth countries such as Australia, Canada, New Zealand and South Africa. They are also popular in Ireland. A cracker consists of a cardboard tube wrapped in a brightly decorated twist of paper, making it resemble an oversized sweet-wrapper. The cracker is pulled by two people, and, much in the manner of a wishbone, the cracker splits unevenly. The split is accompanied by a small bang or snapping sound produced by the effect of friction on a chemically impregnated card strip (similar to that used in a cap gun).

"Crackers are typically pulled at the Christmas dinner table or at parties. In one version of the cracker tradition, the person with the larger portion of cracker empties the contents from the tube and keeps them. In another each person will have their own cracker and will keep its contents regardless of whose end they were in. Typically these contents are a coloured paper hat or crown; a small toy, small plastic model or other trinket and a motto, a joke or piece of trivia on a small strip of paper.[1]"

I think the idea here is that it's a cheap trinket along the line of party favors.
 

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Thanks, fella's. I picked up on the fact that they were junk.......I just didn't know what a Christmas Cracker was. Sorry, guys......I don't get out much!
 

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And the really good Christmas crackers have a hat inside of them, usually like a crepe paper crown or dunce cap. Makes for a festive dinner even during a recession. Hadn't thought of those for years. I think I'll get some this year.

I've started repairing/refacing the screw slots on my rebuilds as a matter of course. It's common for prior techs/owners to have messed up the slots just enough to give them sharp, catching edges. Snags my good silk shirts (or pajamas). Now if I just had a fix for needle springs.

Mark
 

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Steve I agree that anyone can adjust the lever for G# and Bb but I dis-agree they can do it without using a leak light, Like ken I find lots of instruments needing repair becuase they customer has done there own adjustments via your description here. The problem I always find is that there are micro leaks and geometry issues with the keys that can only be found using a leak light, simply playing and adjsuting was exasperating there problem, becuase suddenly F was leaking and they were still adjusting for G#.

I swear that if anyone wants to do a repair on there sax the first tool they need is a leak light, not having one is plain stupidity, its like saying I want to change the tire on my car but Im not going to buy a car jack.
 

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The only time I get near one of my horns with a screwdriver is when a rod backs itself out and needs tightening. Otherwise, it's just far easier to leave the job to someone who knows what he's doing.
 

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Discussion Starter #19
Another thing is spring tension . You are dealing with four springs. Players bend springs to keep pads from sticking. If someone has tampered with the springs you will not be able to adjust these keys.

I think what happens here is a sax is not playing right for some reason and the player sees these two screws right on top of the horn ...and then you get..."Maby if I tighten these two screws...."
 

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Another thing is spring tension . You are dealing with four springs. Players bend springs to keep pads from sticking. If someone has tampered with the springs you will not be able to adjust these keys.

I think what happens here is a sax is not playing right for some reason and the player sees these two screws right on top of the horn ...and then you get..."Maby if I tighten these two screws...."
If the horn isn't working anyway, how much worse would fiddling with the adjusters make it?.

There are many reasons why these screws can go out - and not all of them are 'doom and gloom'. Pads settle, buffers settle, screws come loose - and they might not even have been set right in the first place.
That means you have to jump in your car, take an hour's round-trip drive to see a repairer who will probably spend two minutes tweaking a screw and then not charge you. It's cost you and it's cost the repairer.

Steve I agree that anyone can adjust the lever for G# and Bb but I dis-agree they can do it without using a leak light, Like ken I find lots of instruments needing repair becuase they customer has done there own adjustments via your description here. The problem I always find is that there are micro leaks and geometry issues with the keys that can only be found using a leak light, simply playing and adjsuting was exasperating there problem, becuase suddenly F was leaking and they were still adjusting for G#.

I swear that if anyone wants to do a repair on there sax the first tool they need is a leak light, not having one is plain stupidity, its like saying I want to change the tire on my car but Im not going to buy a car jack.
Blimey! There must have been some right shonky repair work around before the leak light arrived.
The leak light is a diagnostic tool, an aid. You still have to know how and when to use it, and that in itself is a skill.
If, as a novice tweaker, you jump straight from picking up a screwdriver to shoving a leak light down a horn, you're going to miss out on learning the basic and fundamental skills. Sure, a light lets you see what's happening - but a cigarette paper lets you feel what's happening.
When someone starts doing their own tweaks what they most need is an understanding of how the mechanism works - what does what, and why. Once that's in place, sure, a leak light can save time. But necessary? Oh please.

It's one reason why it's so hard to find repairers who know how to handle a Grafton...

And lastly - when I first picked up my tools over 30 years ago now I used to find that the majority of horns that came in had little toolkits stashed in their cases. A screwdriver, a blade, some cork and glue, even a few springs. They almost always belonged to the older players, who thought nothing about doing their own minor tweaks. As the years went by I saw fewer and fewer such players - the toolkits were replaced with tuners, fancy ligatures and gadgets.
It's not that the skills have been lost, it's more to do with the 'Oh God, don't do that' mentality that seems to prevail these days.
I'm sure there are any number of players who might not even know which end of a screwdriver goes where, but I reckon that most people - given the right information and some encouragement - can handle these very basic tweaks.

Like Ken said from the off "You have to know what you're doing and why you're doing it". So tell them - and remember...if someone get an adjustment wrong, it's not the end of life as we know it. It's just a horn.

Regards,
 
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