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Discussion Starter #1
I mentioned to a friend, an older tenor player of many years, that one of my tenor saxes was giving me problems sounding low C, B and Bb. It's a common problem I hear mentioned here all the time, but I do not recall reading what he suggested.

Charlie said I should try opening the B and Bb keys some. So I did. I opened each one a half turn at a time and tested the horn. With each adjustment, those notes got easier. I kept track of how many turns I did on each key in case anything else would be compromised. When I was done, the horn plays those notes as reliably as my other tenors.

So, the questions are:
  1. What else might I have affected that I have not yet realized by opening those two keys? In other words, did I break anything?
  2. Is this a common correction for the common low note problem (after you've checked for leaks, tried throwing a cork in the bell, and all that)?
  3. Did I just miss it whenever someone suggested it in the past?
 

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Hi Al,

OK, I might be really dense today, but what do you mean, "opened them a half turn at a time"? What are you turning?

Pete
 

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...presumably the bumper screws.
 

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Al Stevens said:
So, the questions are:
  1. What else might I have affected that I have not yet realized by opening those two keys? In other words, did I break anything?
  2. Is this a common correction for the common low note problem (after you've checked for leaks, tried throwing a cork in the bell, and all that)?
  3. Did I just miss it whenever someone suggested it in the past?
Increasing the opening of the B and Bb bell keys can help to vent the low C and C# to make the notes more clear and open sounding. It has a smaller effect upon the B, and no effect of course on the Bb. A great saying to remember in sax repair and adjustment is "everything affects everything". Some of the secondary effects to watch for when you raise the felt bumpers of the bell keys are:

1. Rattles or buzzes created by loosening the felt bumper adjusting screws
2. Low C and/or C# playing slightly sharper
3. Changes in the alignment of the pinky table because the B and Bb levers are higher
4. There is a greater distance to move the keys to close the low B and Bb pads
5. The will be more lost motion where the B or Bb key engages the G# key

Oftentimes the most satisfactory adjustment on a saxophone ends up being the best compromise between two or more factors affected.

John
 

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Discussion Starter #5 (Edited)
SactoPete said:
Hi Al,

OK, I might be really dense today, but what do you mean, "opened them a half turn at a time"? What are you turning?

Pete
Each key has above it a padded stop. The distance between the stop and the key affects how far open the key is (when it is open, of course). This distance can be adjusted by turning a screw in the stop's mount. The screw is positioned above the key at the outer edge of the rim. Opening the screw (turning it counterclockwise) increases the key's distance between its open and closed positions. That screw is what I am turning.

I apologize for not saying it better and for not knowing the correct names of everything. I still can't get used to calling those round padded caps, "keys." I always want "key" to mean a button you press. As in keyboard.

If there is a saxophone diagram somewhere online that identifies the proper names of all the components, I would appreciate a link to it.
 

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Discussion Starter #7
Thanks for the link. Interestingly, those screws I turned are on the key guard but are not themselves identified on the chart. Also, what do we call the buttons that we push when we play?
 

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Al Stevens said:
Thanks for the link. Interestingly, those screws I turned are on the key guard but are not themselves identified on the chart. Also, what do we call the buttons that we push when we play?
I know what I call 'em...

especially when they're not cooperating!
 

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Al Stevens said:
Thanks for the link. Interestingly, those screws I turned are on the key guard but are not themselves identified on the chart. Also, what do we call the buttons that we push when we play?
"touches"
"spatulas"
"touch pieces"
"Pearls", if they are shell or imitation.
Probably a whole lot more that I have overlooked.

BTW, if it does not have a pad on it, but operates another part that does have a pad, then it is a "lever".
 

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Are you a disantiestablishmentarian :)
 

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This happened to me once before... I was having alot of problems with low B and Bb. I took my horn to a shop and my guy checked it over, turned out the whole bell was twisted very slightly, but this offset the pads, and didn't allow them to seal. Once he readjusted the bell, these notes played fine.
 

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Al Stevens said:
Also, what do we call the buttons that we push when we play?
They are just called "Keys". Palm keys, side keys, low C key, B,Bis,A,G,F,E,D keys etc. The majority of them on the sax are not "buttons" (except maybe on the Martin "Typewriter" model). :)
 

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Discussion Starter #15
jbtsax said:
They are just called "Keys". Palm keys, side keys, low C key, B,Bis,A,G,F,E,D keys etc. The majority of them on the sax are not "buttons" (except maybe on the Martin "Typewriter" model). :)
So they are keys and the thingies with brass caps and pads inside them are keys, too. As are the signatures of tunes. Just goes to add more confusion to this wonderful saxophonia culture.
 
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