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Mmm doesnt play properly and back from a tech

1397 Views 12 Replies 9 Participants Last post by  Gordon (NZ)
Hi folks, I have a boosey and hawkes tenor and it needed pads cork springs everything so I wasnt willing to tackle this myself, Ive repadded one of my saxophones myself, but it only needed new pads, and as such a complete overhaul was in my opinion out of my limited capacity at this stage in the game. I paid for a complete overhaul and it just doesnt play right, Ive had it back 4 times now, a round trip to the tech is 120kms, and now Im just gonna give up taking it back because Im getting peeved. The problem is as follows it plays nicley except for D5 that is thumb octave key and "111 111", it just sounds muffled, If I do scales all notes around it sound perfect e5 and c5 but d5 is just wrong, d4 isnt too bad it was muffled a bit to start with but after 4 return trips and the c4 key opened up as much as it will go, Ive given up. c4 isnt the best sounding either. The tech has turned around and said now that its a problem with the intonation of the horn and not anything else because all pads are sealing fine.
Recommendations, ideas
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adjustment? Mouthpiece?

Just some thoughts.
First of all, I think you've described the note incorrectly - it is D2 (the second D from the bottom of the horn) as you described the fingering.

A stuffy D2 is often caused by the octave mechanism (at least in my experience). Try playing it WITHOUT the octave lever depressed (both D1, then jump the octave with your embouchure to D2).

Look closely at the octave mechanism and see if you can detect even the slightest movement of the upper (neck) octave arm. That should not move at all when you depress the octave touch and play a note below A2. I'm guessing that arm is moving ever so slightly.

Also, make sure the lower octave vent is opening when you finger D2 - sometimes it may stick shut.

THEN, seek a second opinion. DAVE
Easy to check octave mechanism faults (for D):

1. Make sure that the body octave vent is not partly blocked.
2. Make sure the pad lifts 2 or 3 mm.
3. Get another person, or a rubber band, to forcibly close the pad closed on the neck vent, while you are playing the D.

Did this D EVER sound as good as its neighbours?
If not, then it is possibly simply poor design... C tone hole diameter and location parameters poor. (Were B&H ever 'great' instruments?)
Thanks folks, the octave mechanism works really nice chnges over on a to g good 2-3mm lift on pads. I taped the upper neck octave closed and tried again c-d-e and its still a very stuffy note. Probably is the sax itself which is disappointing. Lower d plays fairly nice now, I even removed lower c key and it made no difference to the sound. So such is life, bummer
I quoted piano key reference as I do not know how to refernece the sax notes properly
Have you tried playing D2 without the octave key, blowing D1 and forcing the first overtone? How does this compare to the D2 with the octave key? If the note is less stuffy as the overtone, there is a possibility that modifying the octave pip opening could have a positive effect.

One more thought. You mentioned opening the low C key as far as you could. How open are the bell keys? Their opening can effect the D but not as significantly as the opening of the low C.

Before SOTW (pre-1999) on two occasions, I've had famous NYC techs "burn out" on my King horns and not complete the job. I brought the horns back, but they just didn't want to deal with them. The only solution for me was to bring the sax to a fresh tech (in another city) to finish the job...this was expensive as I never got any sort of refund from the NYC guys who didn't finish the job, but necessary. I say, stop going back to your guy, and find someone else to finish the job, in this instance.
Coarse sandpaper

I had some success putting a circle of very coarse sandpaper (25) on the inside of the c tonehole to make d sound less stuffy. This gives somewhat the same effect as "rifling" the tonehole. The palm D trick is the usual fix. D on a tenor usually is stuffy but some $5000 horns work fine.

Thanks for all the replys folks, I appreciate the help. Not many techs unforunatley around where I am, the frustrating thing is Ive repadded one of my own saxes and it works fantastic, and this one from the tech plays like a pig on the d note. That being said I cant figure out a fix for it either. Gonna slide it under the bed and come back to it at a later date, when Im a bit more knowledgeable
Just one last quick question, aimed at gordon, but help yourself anyone else who wants to answer. I noticed when I got my sax back from the tech all the key pads were indeneted with the tone hole impressions. Now when I changed the pads on my other sax, I set it and adjusted for leaks but didnt try to imprint the tone hole into the pad, I know how they do it, that is imprint the tone hole, but is this an essential thing to do, I ask becuase my other sax plays nice and theres barely any marks on the pads
It is not necessary to have a deep seat. Indeed, IMO a deep seat represents crushed felt, i.e, compressed felt, i.e. hardened felt, which is less able to do its job of accommodating tiny irregularities to achieve a good and reliable seal.

It is possibly an indication that the technician resorted to using clamping (plus heat?) to get pads to seal better, rather than by using level tone holes, high quality pads, tight mechanism, and good adjustment.

For the normally-open keys, this method of achieving a seal is unlikely to last long, because the felt gradually reverts a little towards the state it was in before the heat treatment, with the poor adjustment showing up again. Unfortunately manufacturers (even seemingly Selmer) use it far too much. Bouquets to Yanagisawa.
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