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Should a sax neck slide smoothly and easily into the tenon, or is it ok if it takes some twists to get it in (even with an untightened screw)?

If it takes twists to get the neck in the tenon, will that eventually cause damage? Is there any way a tech or player can always ensure the neck fits smoothly?
 

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neck should fit snuggly with no play, but also with no need to force it in. yes, a good tech should be able to adjust it for you.
stohrer has a great video on this topic:
 

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If your neck is really closely fitted, you won't be able to insert it without lubrication, because the surface tension (friction) will be too great. If you think your neck is closely fitted, clean it and apply a smear of cork grease before reinserting. You'll discover it's a lot looser than you thought.
 

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The danger here is damaging the neck by using force, particularly in removing. In this case I would use a lubricant like Vaseline, just a very fine film, which will make assembly and disassembly easy. Over time, use of the lube will no longer be necessary. Eventually you will be at the shop getting it sized up again so you may as well enjoy the snug fit as long as it lasts.
 

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I place a drop of key oil on mine - fabulous - but it does sometimes contaminate my swab which I ain't concerned about coz' its minimal.

Recently I got a new (2nd hand hardly used) horn with lacquer still on the tenon - tightness had me VERY concerned so with super fine steel wool I "carefully" sanded the lacquer away, applied a drop of oil and hey-presto :)
 

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Don't use cork grease - it definitely will gum up. Synthetic key oil is okay, but just a thin film. Anyone who leaves their sax set up on a stand or otherwise between practices had better oil/lube that joint because the neck will get stuck in the horn.
 

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Many techs do not advise using grease on a sax neck tenon or flute head joint because small particles can attach to it and the parts can become scratched. I advise my customers and students to keep the tenon and receiver clean by using a soft cloth and rubbing alcohol or Windex. I fit necks as snugly as possible, and advise rubbing the finger alongside the outside of the nose to lubricate the tenon with facial oil whenever necessary It works quite well.
 

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Thanks for the responses! So cork grease is actually good to use in the tenon? It won't gunk it up and cause any long term problems?
There has been some misinformation on this forum over the past couple of years about cork grease and using it or not using it.

Here are the primary considerations (which are only necessary if your sleeve & receiver are very closely fitted, and are advisable if they are):

- if you're poor with upkeep, and hate to swab your horn out, etc., don't get it fitted very closely. You are like a child, and cannot be trusted with anything requiring care and mindfulness. I wouldn't fit a neck closely for a child, or for any one who isn't diligent about upkeep. There are kids that can care for horns well, just not many. Even among adults, many -- especially pro's who would benefit the most from fine fitting -- can't be trusted with diligent upkeep. Any tech can confirm to you the gulfs that separate players that care for their horns very well and those that care for them poorly. What I'm saying here is only for players that don't mind caring for their horns regularly and diligently.

OK. That said, and continuing with it as a list, let's assume I've just fitted your neck for you, with the requisite prior warnings and disclaimers. Here is exactly what I'd communicate next:

1) to insert or remove the neck, from now on, never just shove it in or pull it out. You will have to gently rotate your neck in one direction -- I don't care which one, just so that you preferably always rotate it that direction when inserting or removing, when possible -- and NEVER, NEVER EVER force it past any point of resistance. IF you do, you get into the hazardous area Saxoclese warned about above, where you will force the neck sleeve out of round, and that is VERY UNDESIRABLE, possibly catastrophic as far as that neck sleeve's future. Instead, if you encounter resistance, completely remove the neck, then,

2) wipe out and clean the socket with a clean cloth or paper towels. If you wish, you can follow with Naptha, soap and water, a rag with Simple Green on it, whatever you like that will not harm the finish, and then dry. You will not need, ever, to use any solvents if you don't drink and eat and then play and deposit nutrients for bacteria to grow in there. You could also, equally, run your chapstick-style cork grease over a clean paper towel, and do the same. Repeat this process on your neck sleeve, i.e. clean both with a paper towel. Again, if you're not a pigpen (there are a lot of pigpens), all you will ever need to do is wipe with a clean, dry, paper towel, then

3) apply a smear of cork grease to your (clean) finger and rub it over the sleeve. Lubricate the entire sleeve this way.

4) insert as (your new) normally: rotate one direction til you can't any more, then back and forth, and tighten the neck screw. If your tenon isn't bulged (if it's healthy) and your sleeve is snug, it will likely take you less than a single 180 degree turn to get your neck stationary. The more perfect the sleeve is, the less damage it has taken over time, and the less damage the tenon has taken over time, and the better it was fitted, the less you will need to turn the neck screw.

A lot of this is just going to cause me headaches for sharing.

You all are aware of the crucialness of the tenon in the first place because I obsessed over it for months with a client 18 years ago, and shared what I discovered here. I'm not sharing the rest of what I've learned since because I AM STILL BITTER ABOUT getting **** off people for sharing new knowledge that complicates what they don't know they originally got from me in the first place.

(I'm kidding, but not lying.)

Those are the upkeep requirements, as far as using or not using cork grease. As far as details about fitting tenons that I leave unshared, if you are a talented tech you can kind of get to where I've gotten to via reverse engineering off the details I've given here.
 

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There has been some misinformation on this forum over the past couple of years about cork grease and using it or not using it.

Here are the primary considerations (which are only necessary if your sleeve & receiver are very closely fitted, and are advisable if they are):

- if you're poor with upkeep, and hate to swab your horn out, etc., don't get it fitted very closely. You are like a child, and cannot be trusted with anything requiring care and mindfulness. I wouldn't fit a neck closely for a child, or for any one who isn't diligent about upkeep. There are kids that can care for horns well, just not many. Even among adults, many -- especially pro's who would benefit the most from fine fitting -- can't be trusted with diligent upkeep. Any tech can confirm to you the gulfs that separate players that care for their horns very well and those that care for them poorly. What I'm saying here is only for players that don't mind caring for their horns regularly and diligently.

OK. That said, and continuing with it as a list, let's assume I've just fitted your neck for you, with the requisite prior warnings and disclaimers. Here is exactly what I'd communicate next:

1) to insert or remove the neck, from now on, never just shove it in or pull it out. You will have to gently rotate your neck in one direction -- I don't care which one, just so that you preferably always rotate it that direction when inserting or removing, when possible -- and NEVER, NEVER EVER force it past any point of resistance. IF you do, you get into the hazardous area Saxoclese warned about above, where you will force the neck sleeve out of round, and that is VERY UNDESIRABLE, possibly catastrophic as far as that neck sleeve's future. Instead, if you encounter resistance, completely remove the neck, then,

2) wipe out and clean the socket with a clean cloth or paper towels. If you wish, you can follow with Naptha, soap and water, a rag with Simple Green on it, whatever you like that will not harm the finish, and then dry. You will not need, ever, to use any solvents if you don't drink and eat and then play and deposit nutrients for bacteria to grow in there. You could also, equally, run your chapstick-style cork grease over a clean paper towel, and do the same. Repeat this process on your neck sleeve, i.e. clean both with a paper towel. Again, if you're not a pigpen (there are a lot of pigpens), all you will ever need to do is wipe with a clean, dry, paper towel, then

3) apply a smear of cork grease to your (clean) finger and rub it over the sleeve. Lubricate the entire sleeve this way.

4) insert as (your new) normally: rotate one direction til you can't any more, then back and forth, and tighten the neck screw. If your tenon isn't bulged (if it's healthy) and your sleeve is snug, it will likely take you less than a single 180 degree turn to get your neck stationary. The more perfect the sleeve is, the less damage it has taken over time, and the less damage the tenon has taken over time, and the better it was fitted, the less you will need to turn the neck screw.

A lot of this is just going to cause me headaches for sharing.

You all are aware of the crucialness of the tenon in the first place because I obsessed over it for months with a client 18 years ago, and shared what I discovered here. I'm not sharing the rest of what I've learned since because I AM STILL BITTER ABOUT getting **** off people for sharing new knowledge that complicates what they don't know they originally got from me in the first place.

But those are the upkeep secrets, and if you are a talented tech you can kind of get to where I've gotten to via reverse engineering off the details I've given here.
The care standard above is in place on every horn I've owned for over 15 years, now, and most of my customers. I think some have regretted getting the fitting done that closely, because they didn't actually follow the steps. I don't know that because no one has ever actually come to me with a problem about it, but I think it may have happened with someone being embarrassed or hesitant to tell me about it. All I can tell you is there have been no mishaps that I know of, but that doesn't mean there haven't been any. Again, I follow the standard of care above on all my own horns. And some of mine are very, very tightly fitted.
 

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I'm with 1saxman in recommending you don't use cork grease on the tenon, for reasons he said. Skin oil as suggested by saxoclese sounds reasonable. I've seen some lick it just before assembly. I never used anything myself, just made sure it's properly setup by my tech.
 

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Many techs do not advise using grease on a sax neck tenon or flute head joint because small particles can attach to it and the parts can become scratched. I advise my customers and students to keep the tenon and receiver clean by using a soft cloth and rubbing alcohol or Windex. I fit necks as snugly as possible, and advise rubbing the finger alongside the outside of the nose to lubricate the tenon with facial oil whenever necessary It works quite well.
I agree with this. Grease or oil OK in a pinch, but I would not make a habit of it.

Is it significantly 'harmful' ? No, probably not. But as noted already, when that stuff is put ON, it stays on...somewhere on tenon or in receiver...and do you really want that ?

To the OP's question - NO, nothing wrong if the neck takes a bit of quarter-turning back forth to insert into the receiver. Oftentimes when I have refit a neck tenon to a receiver on a refurbed horn, I'll let the owner know that initially there will be a bit of resistance of this nature when inserting the neck into horn. Nothing which the quarter-turning back-forth does not relatively easily 'overcome'.

But as a short time passes, maybe a few weeks, maybe a month or two, the 2 parts will 'acclimate' and insertion will become smoother.

Never in my 17+ years of refurbing has a client come back and said "that didn't happen", "it needed more refitting", or "so and so says you are wrong", etc....
 

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I agree with this. Grease or oil OK in a pinch, but I would not make a habit of it.

Is it significantly 'harmful' ? No, probably not. But as noted already, when that stuff is put ON, it stays on...somewhere on tenon or in receiver...and do you really want that ?


After teaching for 32 years I am probably "programmed" to share good playing and instrument care habits with others. This carries over to what I have learned repairing and restoring saxophones. It is frustrating when sharing what I know from experience to be "best practices" with others to have them ignore the suggestions and just keep doing what they're doing. It makes me feel like "why bother"?
 

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Maybe interesting to mention, I've seen a part (as part of a demo of an extremely accurate lathe) that had 1 micron gap between a rod and the bore it goes into (if I remember about 10mm diameter). It's pretty difficult to insert it, even though there is actually a gap between them. In that case they make a small relief a short length after the beginning of the part. That's how a close fit works.
 

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I'd like to try a tenon lubricant, as two of my tenors have such tight fits that, after a bit of playing, the neck often becomes suction-sealed and nearly impossible to remove.

A naive question: What kind of facial oil exactly would work? Or if using Vaseline, would something like Aquaphor work? I guess I'm asking if there are specific additives or ingredients (such as camphor or glycerin or peppermint oil) to be avoided applying to the tenon. If cork grease can be problematic, I'm assuming some of these chemicals also might be.
 

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Where鈥檚 MartySax when you need him
I鈥檓 bored enough I went through the posts substituting a different word for 鈥渘eck鈥 and entertained my self for a minute.
You鈥檒l be happy if it鈥檚 tight now because in a few years you may miss that as it loosens up.
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