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Discussion Starter #1
I love this horn, but low C# is stuffy. The C key opens significantly lower than C# and D (like, half as high) so I’d like to raise it. At its current full open position, looking at the sliding linkage on the key I see that
• there’s a couple of mm clearance between the stop on the B key that keeps C closed when B is closed.
• there’s a couple of mm clearance between the body of the horn and the cork on the arm that comes off of the rod that comes down from the touchpiece.
• the planes of the adjustment surface of the sliding pin and of the mating surface on the arm coming down from the pinky cluster are parallel.
This tells me that I certainly have room to raise C.

If I move the pin to increase the amount the key opens for a given amount of touchpiece motion, the touchpiece will get lower when it’s closed (because of the angle between the arms), which will affect G# to some degree. The cushion between the C# and G# touches looks a bit thick, a full millimeter, so I could thin that out some but I don’t think that’ll be enough to get the necessary adjustment without moving G#.

So if I do this, G# will probably be hanging open some. There’s a sliding adjustment pin on G#, but it’s all the way to the end so it looks like the only way to get the key closed would be to add diameter to the pin or thickness to the cork on the arm it slides against. Then I’ll have to thin out the cork at the bottom of the touchpiece stop that bears on the body, to get back enough travel for G# to open all the way.

But after all this, in the free position the C# touch will be sitting a fair bit lower than the B touch, and off-plane. B is a solid rod, so the only way to lower the B touch to feel nice with C# is to lower the key itself, and it’s already at the minimum height to not be stuffy.

About the only other way I can think of to do it is to just put a couple of degrees of twist in the long C# rod, and I don’t want to do that, unless maybe I can find one from a parts horn.

The last twist is that as it is now, the C# touch pin engagement to the Bb tilting touch is at its limit when C# is fully open. In fact, the other day it completely disengaged from the touch as I was playing– so if I do all of this to get C# to open more it’ll make that issue worse unless I lower Bb, and like B it’s already on the edge of being stuffy.

I can see 1 to 2 mm of pad thickness sitting proud of the B and Bb key cups – maybe the pads are too thick or not bedded deeply enough in the cups? If they were set more deeply that would allow the touches to be lowered some.

Is my thought process okay? What am I missing? Any suggestions?
 

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Chilehed, I own a transitional SDA alto (with S1 keywork) which doesn't have the problem you mention. I'm now in vacation and will only be able to access my sax monday. I'll compare with your description. If I remember well, you have a sliding link which doesn't modify the height but changes the leverage
(see
https://musicmedic.com/left-hand-table-part-2
or
http://www.shwoodwind.co.uk/Testing/g_sharp.htm. --for G# but the same sliding link can be found on C#
for more information)
and a same amount of travel on the C# touchpiece will result in more or less travel for the keycup.
 

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TENOR, soprano, alto, baritone
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On any sax, if the B is not holding down the C#, the C# will leak when B or Bb is played. You also have to be careful that the lever does not prevent the C# from opening sufficiently. I know this is not the gist of your question but you did mention it. All you have to do to check this is finger the B and using the other hand, finger the C#. If the C# moves at all, it needs attention.
 

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On any sax, if the B is not holding down the C#, the C# will leak when B or Bb is played. You also have to be careful that the lever does not prevent the C# from opening sufficiently. I know this is not the gist of your question but you did mention it. All you have to do to check this is finger the B and using the other hand, finger the C#. If the C# moves at all, it needs attention.
Actuallyk, that only applies when the keys are all linked together like the Selmer Mark 6 and later design (which is basically a very poor execution of a dubious theory). Other left hand table designs like Conn, Buescher, King; even Selmer Balanced Action, don't have that problem. I don't know whether the extremely unusual Buffet S1 design is prone to this, though I suspect it is prone to bumping the C# open when playing B or Bb.
 

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Actuallyk, that only applies when the keys are all linked together like the Selmer Mark 6 and later design (which is basically a very poor execution of a dubious theory). Other left hand table designs like Conn, Buescher, King; even Selmer Balanced Action, don't have that problem. I don't know whether the extremely unusual Buffet S1 design is prone to this, though I suspect it is prone to bumping the C# open when playing B or Bb.
In fact, when the modern pinky table is well regulated, it doesn't apply. With a well regulated table, it's only when the pinky presses a wrong place of the table that the problem appears.
 

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Actuallyk, that only applies when the keys are all linked together like the Selmer Mark 6 and later design (which is basically a very poor execution of a dubious theory). Other left hand table designs like Conn, Buescher, King; even Selmer Balanced Action, don't have that problem. I don't know whether the extremely unusual Buffet S1 design is prone to this, though I suspect it is prone to bumping the C# open when playing B or Bb.
You mean like most of the saxophones made since 1936? Yes, that's correct. LOL
 

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Discussion Starter #7
...If I remember well, you have a sliding link which doesn't modify the height but changes the leverage...
Yes - I can increase the gain on the C key by adjusting the linkage. I don't think that that alone will result in an increase in its height, because the arms in the linkage are parallel when the touchpiece reaches the end of its travel. I look forward to any insight you might have after you look at your horn.

On any sax, if the B is not holding down the C#, the C# will leak when B or Bb is played...
Yes, if I'm on the C# touch at all when playing B or B# then C opens a bit. I figure that, after everything else is sorted out, I can tweak the adjustment screw on B that holds down C when B is closed, so I didn't mention it. But thanks for noticing.
 

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In fact, when the modern pinky table is well regulated, it doesn't apply. With a well regulated table, it's only when the pinky presses a wrong place of the table that the problem appears.
Not so. If you play a B or Bb and the hold-down lever from the B key is not holding down the C#, it will tend to vibrate and blow open. The hold-down lever also prevents accidents like you mention. This was clear to the designers of 75 years ago - that the articulated action of the table key would lead to accidental opening of the C#, so they fixed it with a very elegant solution. Its also a very overlooked adjustment as I found out on my last two overhauls.
 

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Not so. If you play a B or Bb and the hold-down lever from the B key is not holding down the C#, it will tend to vibrate and blow open. The hold-down lever also prevents accidents like you mention. This was clear to the designers of 75 years ago - that the articulated action of the table key would lead to accidental opening of the C#, so they fixed it with a very elegant solution. Its also a very overlooked adjustment as I found out on my last two overhauls.
Actually I am pretty sure the Balanced Action introduced in 1936 (the one with two separate low key guards on B and Bb on tenor) had no linkage between low Bb and the other keys and the low Bb didn't tilt. I know the Mark 6 had the tilting key from the start. I don't know whether the tilting key was introduced on the Super Balanced Action before the Mark 6.

You are 100% correct, though, that pressing the low Bb key smartly is by itself sufficient to bump the low C# open. That's because the C# key has that little pin that serves as the fulcrum for the tilting lever. Pushing the low Bb down causes force to be applied to the C# key's pin and that's what causes the C# to crack open. You couldn't make the C# key spring strong enought to prevent this, unless you made it impossible to play. Thus, they use a spring of normal strength, and the little hold-down off the B key.

I couldn't comment in detail on the Buffet mechanism unless I were looking at it and it's been years since I saw one; but I wouldn't be surprised if it has the same issue in a slightly different form.
 

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Actually I am pretty sure the Balanced Action introduced in 1936 (the one with two separate low key guards on B and Bb on tenor) had no linkage between low Bb and the other keys and the low Bb didn't tilt. I know the Mark 6 had the tilting key from the start. I don't know whether the tilting key was introduced on the Super Balanced Action before the Mark 6.

You are 100% correct, though, that pressing the low Bb key smartly is by itself sufficient to bump the low C# open. That's because the C# key has that little pin that serves as the fulcrum for the tilting lever. Pushing the low Bb down causes force to be applied to the C# key's pin and that's what causes the C# to crack open. You couldn't make the C# key spring strong enought to prevent this, unless you made it impossible to play. Thus, they use a spring of normal strength, and the little hold-down off the B key.

I couldn't comment in detail on the Buffet mechanism unless I were looking at it and it's been years since I saw one; but I wouldn't be surprised if it has the same issue in a slightly different form.
I (respectfully) disagree. On my two horns with a modern pinky table (the Buffet transitional SDA already mentioned and a Selmer SA 80) the pinky table is well regulated and when you press B or Bb, the C# pad does not open (and, of course, would not open even if I unscrewed the screw linking B to C#).

Now, I'd like to answer 1saxman who doesn't claim that "pressing the low Bb key smartly is by itself sufficient to bump the low C# open", but, as I understand it, says that without this connection between B and C#, C# would blow open. The argument would also apply to the old style (hinged to the left) pinky table -it would even be worse because C# has a weaker spring (the poor leverage wouldn't allow a stronger spring) and C# is not cantilevered (again, the modern cantilevered C# allows a stronger spring).
 

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Yes - I can increase the gain on the C key by adjusting the linkage. I don't think that that alone will result in an increase in its height, because the arms in the linkage are parallel when the touchpiece reaches the end of its travel. I look forward to any insight you might have after you look at your horn. (...)
Re-reading your OP, I see that adjusting the linkage would lower the C# touchpiece because at rest the arms of the sliding link are nor parallel. On my Buffet, I don't remember if they are parallel at rest. I'll tell you on monday.
Also: is the adjustment material on this sliding link already as thin as it can be (without being noisy)? On my Buffet, I used a quite thin tech cork (0.3 mm) covered with teflon.
 

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Discussion Starter #12
Re-reading your OP, I see that adjusting the linkage would lower the C# touchpiece because at rest the arms of the sliding link are nor parallel. On my Buffet, I don't remember if they are parallel at rest. I'll tell you on monday.
Also: is the adjustment material on this sliding link already as thin as it can be (without being noisy)? On my Buffet, I used a quite thin tech cork (0.3 mm) covered with teflon.
Yep, you got it. And the material on that link is thin, no more than 0.5 mm.

To recap what I think the solution might be:
  • Increase the gain on the C key
  • Compensate for the resulting lowered G# touch by using a thicker sliding material on the G key arm and increasing the gain at that linkage as well.
  • Use thinner B and Bb pads set more deeply in the cups, so that I can lower the B and Bb touchpieces to match the C and G# touchpieces without reducing the actual opening of the B and Bb keys.
  • Adjust the limiter screw on the B key to keep C closed when B is closed.
 

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Now, I'd like to answer 1saxman who doesn't claim that "pressing the low Bb key smartly is by itself sufficient to bump the low C# open", but, as I understand it, says that without this connection between B and C#, C# would blow open. The argument would also apply to the old style (hinged to the left) pinky table -it would even be worse because C# has a weaker spring (the poor leverage wouldn't allow a stronger spring) and C# is not cantilevered (again, the modern cantilevered C# allows a stronger spring).
I've tested whether there is enough pressure to "blow open" a bell key. Next time you pass a candle, see if you can get it to flicker with your low notes. Try the bell directly, too.
 

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Yep, you got it. And the material on that link is thin, no more than 0.5 mm.

To recap what I think the solution might be:
  • Increase the gain on the C key
  • Compensate for the resulting lowered G# touch by using a thicker sliding material on the G key arm and increasing the gain at that linkage as well.
  • Use thinner B and Bb pads set more deeply in the cups, so that I can lower the B and Bb touchpieces to match the C and G# touchpieces without reducing the actual opening of the B and Bb keys.
  • Adjust the limiter screw on the B key to keep C closed when B is closed.
I've been able to examine my Buffet.
-The gain is at its maximum (the fulcrum is as close as possible to the axis of the keycup: on the alto this fulcrum is screwed into a fork and it is at the deepest position in the fork). The arms are not parallel at rest, they become parallel when the keycup opens and at the maximum opening of C# they are not anymore parallel. Though the arms are not parallel at rest, the angle is small and changing the position of the fulcrum shouldn't have an important influence on the height of the C# keytouch.
-The pinky table is balanced: at rest, the C#, B and Bb touchpieces are all in a same plane (as they should be!). The cushion between the C# and G# touchpiece (as well as between the G# and the B touchpiece) is a thin felt.
-When pressing Bb, the C# touch pin doesn't disengage -maybe in its present state your C# touchpiece is a bit too high?
-The silencing material on the stop of the G# touchpiece is rather thin (with a thin cork covered by felt). If you thin this silencing material, you'll be able to press further the C# touchpiece -a conservative solution ?
 

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Discussion Starter #15
I've been able to examine my Buffet.
-The gain is at its maximum (the fulcrum is as close as possible to the axis of the keycup: on the alto this fulcrum is screwed into a fork and it is at the deepest position in the fork). The arms are not parallel at rest, they become parallel when the keycup opens and at the maximum opening of C# they are not anymore parallel. Though the arms are not parallel at rest, the angle is small and changing the position of the fulcrum shouldn't have an important influence on the height of the C# keytouch.
-The pinky table is balanced: at rest, the C#, B and Bb touchpieces are all in a same plane (as they should be!). The cushion between the C# and G# touchpiece (as well as between the G# and the B touchpiece) is a thin felt.
-When pressing Bb, the C# touch pin doesn't disengage -maybe in its present state your C# touchpiece is a bit too high?
-The silencing material on the stop of the G# touchpiece is rather thin (with a thin cork covered by felt). If you thin this silencing material, you'll be able to press further the C# touchpiece -a conservative solution ?
Thank you VERY much, that's quite helpful. Your horn is set up quite nearly fully opposite of the way mine is.
The C# gain on mine is about 0.5, much lower than yours (the pin is about 20 mm from the axis, nearly as far out as it can get). I took a bunch of measurements yesterday, and am guessing that the gain on yours is close to 2. It sounds like my plan heads in the right direction.

If you don't mind looking again - how far open are your B and Bb cups, and how far do the pads stick out above the cup rims? I'm now quite certain that I'll have to lower mine.
 

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Thank you VERY much, that's quite helpful. Your horn is set up quite nearly fully opposite of the way mine is.
The C# gain on mine is about 0.5, much lower than yours (the pin is about 20 mm from the axis, nearly as far out as it can get). I took a bunch of measurements yesterday, and am guessing that the gain on yours is close to 2. It sounds like my plan heads in the right direction.

If you don't mind looking again - how far open are your B and Bb cups, and how far do the pads stick out above the cup rims? I'm now quite certain that I'll have to lower mine.
At the front of the pad, the opening for Bb and B (as well as C#) is 1cm (±0.5mm, or maybe a bit more). On B and Bb, the pad is 1.5mm higher than the cup rim; taking into account the indentation in the pad, the cup rim is probably 1mm higher than the tone hole when the tone hole is closed.
However
1. It is not that easy to obtain precise measurements (I've guesstimated the thickness of the pad and used a broken match and a pen to measure the pad opening at the front)
2. I remind you that my Buffet is an alto...
 

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Also, in your OP you say that the C key opens significantly lower than C# or D. To a lesser degree (i.e. not half as much) it is true on a lot of saxophones.
For some perpective, see
http://sax.mpostma.nl
and choose
measurements>holes, keys
on the left of the window.
Be careful: M. Postma's measurements are indeed an average of the opening at the front and the opening at the back and can not be compared directly to my measurements.
 

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Discussion Starter #18
At the front of the pad, the opening for Bb and B (as well as C#) is 1cm (±0.5mm, or maybe a bit more). On B and Bb, the pad is 1.5mm higher than the cup rim; taking into account the indentation in the pad, the cup rim is probably 1mm higher than the tone hole when the tone hole is closed.
However
1. It is not that easy to obtain precise measurements (I've guesstimated the thickness of the pad and used a broken match and a pen to measure the pad opening at the front)
2. I remind you that my Buffet is an alto...
Excellent, thanks for your help.
 
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