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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Do they make such a beast? Or can it be adjusted up? I feel tennis elbow coming on and I feel it may be the octave key at least partially causing this.
 

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Are you wanting to raise the thumb pad or the key itself?

What's your technique like? Do you do a little roll of the top side of your thumb as it rests horizontally? Or do you try to keep your thumb vertical and reach up? The former shouldn't stress your muscles at all.

I find that when I get tennis elbow like symptoms, the cause is a combination of overuse (bad technique in the case of the octave key) and elevation (arm raised too high, limiting blood flow).
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Id like the thumb pad to be a cm or two higher so I don't need to depress it as much. My thumb is always resting on the key. I depress the key when I need the octave by slightly moving my thumb forward. As far as a "little roll" I will have to be more observant. I do practice 2 to 3 hours at a time. But I try and be conscious of shaking out my hands, wrists and arms every 10 to 15 minutes at the very least. More like every 10 or so last hour or more of practice.
Are you wanting to raise the thumb pad or the key itself?

What's your technique like? Do you do a little roll of the top side of your thumb as it rests horizontally? Or do you try to keep your thumb vertical and reach up? The former shouldn't stress your muscles at all.

I find that when I get tennis elbow like symptoms, the cause is a combination of overuse (bad technique in the case of the octave key) and elevation (arm raised too high, limiting blood flow).
Id like the thumb pad to be a cm or two higher so I don't need to depress it as much. My thumb is always resting on the key. I depress the key when I need the octave by slightly moving my thumb forward. As far as a "little roll" I will have to be more observant. I do practice 2 to 3 hours at a time, 6 to 7 days per week, but I try and be conscious of shaking out my hands, wrists and arms every 10 to 15 minutes at the very least. More like every 10 or so last hour or more of practice.
 

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You can bend the key up and thicken the cork under it to keep the same travel, or you can glue some cork on top of the key. The second approach also allows you to contour the surface your thumb touches.

Or you could buy a Martin Handcraft Committee 1 or 2 with its enormously comfortable ergonomic thumb rest/octave key design.

Personally I find the thumb-vertical and flexing the end joint to be awkward as all get-out and straining. I hold my hand just as if I were holding a softball in my palm, thumb roughly parallel to index finger, and I roll the thumb along its axis upward to activate the octave key. The Selmer design with the little tail on the right (as you look at it from behind the horn) should allow the "flex the end joint" motion without requiring you to hold the thumb vertical.
 

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My thumb is always resting on the key. I depress the key when I need the octave by slightly moving my thumb forward. As far as a "little roll" I will have to be more observant. I do practice 2 to 3 hours at a time. But I try and be conscious of shaking out my hands, wrists and arms every 10 to 15 minutes at the very least. More like every 10 or so last hour or more of practice.
That sounds like the source of your problem. You're always having to keep your thumb from pressing the key. So your muscles are engaged constantly instead of just during the moment you need to actually press it. Your thumb should rest on the pad below the key all the time, not on the key all the time. Not only that, you need your thumb on the pad (not key) for leverage so your other fingers can work more efficiently. So the fingers are probably overusing their muscles as well for support in addition to pushing keys.

Also, that's a lot of practice time. I'd try to keep it to 1 hour blocks with more rest in between. That will also help you remember what you practice. Shorter durations with rest in between is best for your muscles and for your memory. I've never had to shake out my hands/arms/wrists.
 

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runyon used to make a oct key riser. too bad runyon stuff is no more . great products
 

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Do they make such a beast? Or can it be adjusted up? I feel tennis elbow coming on and I feel it may be the octave key at least partially causing this.
I question whether your perceived pain is from your thumb. Flex your thumb and then your fingers to see whether the pain relates to either. I often get pain near my elbow, but it is from my fingers.
 

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I'm surprised nobody's mentioned it yet, but you could use Sugru to build up the area needed. It's a putty like substance that hardens overnight to the consistency of a car tire, and can be trimmed with a razor or knife if needed. I've used it to make key risers for the palm keys on all my horns. You can find it in hardware or department stores where they keep glue and putty.
Food Ingredient Cuisine Debrecener Font
 

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Something like this?
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A small girl visited my shop a few years ago, she had such small hands that she couldn't press the octave key and the LH stack keys at the same time without pressing down the palm keys as well. This was the solution.
Easy to build with cork, epoxy, contact cement and elbow grease!
 

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I hope you meant a millimeter or two, not cm. Sugru is a great solution. make sure it wraps around the edges of the key though so it grabs it and stays in place over time.
 

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The two saxes I've played forever -- a Buescher TT soprano & a Couf Superba 2 alto -- both have octave keytouches above the thumb rest. In recent years, flexing my mid-thumb joint in that direction has become painful.

Seeking a solution on the soprano, I had a technician slightly flatten the teardrop-shaped octave keytouch -- giving it a broader area with less elevation. This helped, but not enough. I then expanded & raised the thumb rest with a blob of Sugru, approximating the super-comfy blobby thumb rests on those old Martin Committees. This is a big improvement, although the octave keytouch could still benefit from a flange extension rightward.

To solve a similar issue on alto, I purchased (& am using) a pre-owned Keilwerth SX90 -- pretty much the same horn as my Couf but with more efficiently engineered action, including the Mark VI-style saber-shaped octave keytouch most folks today take for granted. Problem is, thanks to four decades of muscle memory I still tend to flex my thumb upward instead of rightward to depress the octave keytouch -- which is not only painful but tends to make some notes speak late as the octave keypad fails to open fully. [Ed. note: shouldn't the word "fully" have three Ls?]

Currently my plan is to hollow out the mushroom head of a champagne cork, mount it over the SX90's flat thumb rest (for comfort, a la the Martin Committee blob), & see whether the resulting thumb perch facilitates painless, efficient octave keytouch pressure.

If that doesn't do the trick, I may want to find a way to increase octave keypad travel with a minimum of octave keytouch pressure. Whether via spring tension, by altering the elevation or angle of the keytouch, or by some other means, I haven't a clue.

Anybody here with workable (or even merely plausible) ideas is welcome to chime in. Thanks!
 

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