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Calling all techs: So I have a Buescher 400 TH&C tenor that I love that I've been playing forever. Haven't had it completely overhauled all at once in a really long time, but have had tons of work gradually done on it over the years, some by myself (an amateur tech) and some by pro techs around Los Angeles. Currently all the pads are in good shape, left hand stack pads are new, tone holes / key cups have been levelled, keys have been swedged/fitted, etc. The only thing I have not yet had done that I may soon is to have some significant front-to-back motion taken out of the bis and G key rods by solder-filling and re-drilling the screw threads for the pivot screws.

Now the one issue I have remaining, that I've gotten used to and lived with over the years, is needing to squeeze much harder than seems necessary with my left hand, especially as I play lower down the horn. One thing I can easily do to illustrate the effect is if I jump from middle C# to low G, closing left hand stack keys with what feels like normal pressure, the G seems to play fine, but if I then close my entire right hand at once to drop to low D, the note is very airy and resistant until I extra-strength-clamp my left hand, at which point the D pops perfectly. Aside from clamping my left hand, I CAN adjust my voicing to make the note speak more easily, but the fact that it speaks perfectly without the voicing adjustment just by clamping my left suggests to me that I shouldn't have to. I can feel the left hand keys vibrating / pushing back against my fingers as I drop to the lower note. It's been difficult even with someone else's help to pin down exactly which key requires the extra pressure, it almost seems like it's a slight combination of them all, but possibly with the Bis being the biggest culprit.

It's worth noting that no tech I've taken my horn to has been able to recreate this issue on their own, either because they're not really players or because (more often) they play a much more closed/classical setup than I. I currently play an 8* NY STM with 3.5 rigottis, which isn't crazy but I do believe I'm putting a lot more air through the horn than they ever do, so it plays perfectly for them and the issue only occurs when I play test it. So my question boils down to: is this something that will be solved by having the remaining left-hand key fitting done? Or is it just something that's as good as it's going to get and I just go on with my life dealing with it? I would love to play-test a horn that's in *PERFECT* condition, fresh off an overhaul, but that opportunity is exceedingly rare; even at a shop with great new/vintage horns for sale, they usually will have been sitting for a while or getting played by potential customers, and I have felt a similar resistance issue when I've play tested some other for-sale horns that are in at least very good condition. Is it me?? Is it my setup? Is this just the acoustical nature of saxophones?

Ok bye and thanks. :soapbox:
 

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Take it to Bruce Belo, he'll sort it out.
I had persistent issues with certain horns until he got his hands on them, fixed them all while I watched including a flute foot joint that was at an angle.
 

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Or is it just something that's as good as it's going to get and I just go on with my life dealing with it? I would love to play-test a horn that's in *PERFECT* condition, fresh off an overhaul, but that opportunity is exceedingly rare; even at a shop with great new/vintage horns for sale, they usually will have been sitting for a while or getting played by potential customers, and I have felt a similar resistance issue when I've play tested some other for-sale horns that are in at least very good condition. Is it me?? Is it my setup? Is this just the acoustical nature of saxophones?
I can say that I had no such issues with my TH&C, so don't be too quick to blame it on the design of the horn.

It is hard to diagnose key play without playing and examining the horn. You may indeed have too much motion in the left stack - exacerbated by new pads that may not have a deep seat that previously covered up the motion. There may be wear in other places that you have not yet noticed.

It is odd that you notice similar issues in other horns. I wonder if you are pushing the keys laterally. Playing with an awareness to your touch may help diagnose part of the problem.

Yes, a trip to a good tech is in order.
 

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Run a leak light down it and close the keys one at a time with a LIGHT touch while carefully checking all round each pad seat. You will need to check all the different combinations.

If I had to guess I would guess that you have one cork that's a little too tall. Many times in order to figure out just what's keeping one particular pad from closing fully with a LIGHT touch, I have to take one of the potential culprit pads and close it with a HEAVY touch. If the one that's not closing, now does close, then I know that's the one that's keeping it from doing so.

If there's a lot of wear in the machinery you can have a situation where it's set too low when one key closes it and set too high when a different key closes it. In that case you just have to adjust it for the best compromise till the machinery can be overhauled and the slop removed (my old Conn baritone has a case of this in the lower stack related to the F#/F/G tone holes).
 

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If your techs have no problem, and you have the same problem with other horns, I suspect it could be an embouchure/breath pressure issue.i.e. a combo that works well for you and your mouthpiece for the second octave but not the first.

But if you have front-to-back motion in any keys then the sax is not in a good state to evaluate any other issues. It's like evaluating how a car drives while it has flat tyres.
Without seeing/handling the sax, the techs in this forum really have no idea what state it is in.
 

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Run a leak light down it and close the keys one at a time with a LIGHT touch while carefully checking all round each pad seat.
IMO, every woodwind player should invest in a decent leak light. Simple enough to use for detecting many/most leaks. Use it regularly so you don't have to deal with that nagging thought of "I think there's maybe something wrong with my horn, but I'm not sure."
 

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IMO, every woodwind player should invest in a decent leak light. Simple enough to use for detecting many/most leaks. Use it regularly so you don't have to deal with that nagging thought of "I think there's maybe something wrong with my horn, but I'm not sure."
Couldn't agree more. I literally used mine 15 minutes ago. Low B and Bb were troublesome. Put the leak light down the bore and come to find out my G# was opening a little. A simple 1/4 turn of the adjustment screw and the universe is back in order.
 

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I suspect that if he's talking about filling and reaming key ends, he's far past having a leak light.

Have you thought about having someone else audit what your hands are doing when you play?
 

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Clearly if it has been happening with all your horns, it is your issue.
What size tip openings your techs play should have no effect on the outcome.
Either all of your horns have had the same very rare issue or the issue is not with your horns.
 
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