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Discussion Starter #1
I gather that horns which come out of the factory often do so with uneven tone holes. However, is it possible for a player to make a tone hole uneven through finger pressure?

I assume that if a the sax fall to the ground the the low c or low e flat tone hole would probably be squished.

And conceivably rendered uneven.
 

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I don't know of finger pressure causing damage to toneholes, seems like the pad would serve the purpose of a cushion in that case and make that difficult, unless you have gorilla fingers. I did have a horn fall over once when it was on stage in a stand, and it hit hard on the low c key guard, so hard that when the foot of the key guard pushed in to the body, it took the tonehole down with it. peace- mike
 

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When I used "firm pads for fast action players" my action got too fast and melted to tops of the tone holes. But seriously bumps and bends of the body are the player caused tone hole damages that can occur. The others are usually commited by professionals (or those attempting what they saw a professional do) using metal tools between pad and tone hole or aggressive key bending to make the pad touch somewhere else. Filing with an uneven tehnique or file is another "pro" cause.

Don't get too hung up on this flat tone hole thing. The C/G tone hole on a clarinet is not flat and neither is the pad (the left hand ring finger) and they seal airtight and fast with very light pressure. And then there is the open holed flute and the "pads" that close these open holes, neither being anywhere near flat. No clarinetist or flutist is rushing out to make their finger pads firmer and flatter for "fast action" and a better seal. Perhaps they would if it were really that important to an instrument sealing. It isn't.

David
 

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Many saxes probably leave the factory with parts of the body, especially around tone holes, in a stressed state. When metal is in a highly stressed state, it takes very little pressure to move the metal to a slightly less stressed state. Even vibration can do it.

I would not discount this phenomenon in saxes. I suspect it may explain why even brands such as Selmer can have a degree of non-levelness in new saxes, even though they were levelled in the factory.
 

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Discussion Starter #5
In other words metal can undergo tension and then fall into a relaxed state more easily than one might think...
 

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True. Try it with a strip of metal, or length of wire, of an alloy not meant to be springy.
 

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wilsaxo said:
Don't get too hung up on this flat tone hole thing. The C/G tone hole on a clarinet is not flat and neither is the pad (the left hand ring finger) and they seal airtight and fast with very light pressure. And then there is the open holed flute and the "pads" that close these open holes, neither being anywhere near flat. No clarinetist or flutist is rushing out to make their finger pads firmer and flatter for "fast action" and a better seal. Perhaps they would if it were really that important to an instrument sealing. It isn't.
I think that the "holes" of a clarinet that are "sealed" with the pads of the fingers and the raised narrow brass toneholes of a sax that are sealed by a (flat) leather pad are remarkably different. Anyone who has ever tried to get a perfect seal of a sax pad on a wavy (potato chip) tonehole will understand why it is ok to get "hung up" on the flat tonehole thing. If the tonehole isn't made perfectly flat in this instance---there are four choices for the technician (all of them bad):

-Heat the glue in the cup and make the pad "wavy" to match the rim of the tonehole
-Bend and distort the key cup to match the uneven surface of the tonehole
-Use lots of pressure to put an incredibly deep seat into the pad to compensate for the imperfections
-Put partial cardboard shims under the pad in the low spots.

In most cases leveling the tonehole is much faster and easier than any of the above and produces much better results.

John
 

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Player Caused?

I have leveled sax tone holes and years later looked at them again. Still level after all these years, on horns that were "rode hard and put away wet".

If player bumps a key guard against something, you can bet the respective hole got changed. But otherwise, ordinary playing does not seem to change the chimneys.

Selmer draws and levels their tone holes in one process on the raw body tube. You can see that in their video. That is the only time those holes are level. Then they use torches and start adding ribs and posts, and they mount hardware and connect bow joints and everything else. How can a flimsy body tube survive all that heating and building? If the builder waited until he got the ribs, posts, et. al. on and then leveled the holes, things would be better.

I once made the mistake of leveling a low Eb hole with the bow ring disconnected on a Selmer SA80II alto. When I replaced the bow ring, it squeezed the body tube just enough to cause that hole to become unlevel again.

During overhaul, techs know to make sure the key guards fit easily into their mounting brackets, because forcing on a mis-aligned key guard can bend the tone hole.

Clarinets and saxophone pad/tone holes are different beasts. Clarinet pads are softer, tolerate greater departures, and are small diameter. When we are dealing with tone holes requiring a 52 mm pad, operated by a compound lever a foot long with all sorts of torque issues, techs are indeed concerned about level rims.
 

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GaryL said:
Selmer draws and levels their tone holes in one process on the raw body tube. You can see that in their video. That is the only time those holes are level.
Hi

Just curious how do you know that? I mean, do you know or just guessing because they don't show it on their video? I know that some makers re-level tone holes later on their professional models (first after drawing by machine, then later again by hand). I'm wondering if you know for a fact that Selmer don't do this?

GaryL said:
Clarinets and saxophone pad/tone holes are different beasts. Clarinet pads are softer
I think the saxophone pads I use are a little softer than the clarinet pads. Is that unusual? I use (mainly) the same maker and model of clarinet and saxophone pads.
 

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Thanks jtbsax, or John, I thought for sure Gordon would be the first to jump on this one.

In my work I spend loads of time on the tone holes to maximize their flatness for the ease of installing pads that it facilitates. But none of the pads we use are as flat as we can get our tone holes so a tech should have the skill to make a pad work on a potato chip, without doing damage, in order to to get a pad to cover the full tone hole rim with the same pressure to effect a fast seal. He shouldn't be charging money for this kind of work unless the customer insisted on the tone holes being left untouched (didn't Ernest Ferron call filing tone holes "first degree murder" to the instrument"?)

When working with Straubinger flute pads (and JS flute pads) the final shimming I do involves partial shims of .0005" to achieve the lightest touch seal and these are the flattest pads we can get to work with. These kinds of tiny adjustments are rarely not required on a sax pad, especially one that has been in use. When we can get pads as flat as we can get our tone holes things will be even easier.

David
 

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clarnibass said:
I think the saxophone pads I use are a little softer than the clarinet pads. Is that unusual?
Likewise, the clarinet pads I use are definitely firmer than my sax pads, even though my sax pads are regarded as fairly firm.
 

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I've seen both firm and soft felt, be it woven or 'pressed'.
 
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