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Soprano: 1983 Keilwerth Toneking Schenklaars stencil
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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
My circumstances are a great opportunity to expand my comfort zone, and a current focus is palm keys. This is not an issue on my alto, just my soprano.

I am finding it difficult to keep my hands quiet while I press the palm keys. Before I run out and buy or make risers with Sugru, or something, are there any tips out there for techniques to play soprano palm keys without risers?

All those Mark VIs, Conns and others, how do you get to those low-lying palm keys.
 

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If you use the kind of hand position where the thumb is almost aligned with the main axis of the tube rather than crossing it at nearly a right angle, that brings the palm of your hand closer to the horn.

But if you can't re-engineer your hand position to this, you add risers.
 

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For some players, it can be as simple as being aware of the position of your elbows. The angle of your arms has a profound impact on how our hands rest on the instrument.
 
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There is no downside as far as I can see to using palm key risers. Every time I pick up one of my horns, but in particular my soprano I am thankful for my Oleg key risers. They both look and work great and are easy to remove.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 · (Edited)
Thanks, elbows are already down. I was trying to push straight in toward the body of the horn. I needed to drag my hand toward the bell to catch and depress the palm keys. I couldn’t figure out what was going on. Comments here really helped.

I don’t have an objection to risers. I am going to give it a few days, but Side E is probably getting a riser, maybe Palm F too. It’s just that Sax designers had some kind of ergonomics in mind when they designed the horn. I just wasn’t seeing it. It’s pretty easy once you get the hang of it. It’s way different than my alto though.
 

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If your soprano is curved you also have the possibility of rotating the mouthpiece on the neck cork, causing the horn to angle a bit away from the vertical position. That alters the relative position of your left hand palm to the keys. On my vintage Conn for example I find myself hitting the D# palm key when the sax is vertical. The best position for me is to play with it lifted from ground on the right hand (about 20deg from vertical) so the palm key moves away from my left hand.

If it's a straight body then raisers are really the best solution. I'm very happy with the one I installed on my tenor.
 

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If the rest of your grip is comfortable and your hands are nice and relaxed then there’s really no point trying to change the way you hold the horn just to hit the palm keys. Make the horn fit you, not the other way around. I would just put some risers on and see if that helps, many types are inexpensive and easily removable so it really doesn’t hurt to try.
 

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Bb saxes
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I don’t have any problem at all with palm keys on soprano, I play both vintage (mark vi) and modern. To me it’s mostly getting used to the feel of the instrument for a few days. I made a small sugru build up on the high F of my particular mark vi. Soprano is my primary instrument though. If alto is your primary instrument, I would just build up the palm keys with sugru to the point it feels natural and still fits the case.
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
If your soprano is curved you also have the possibility of rotating the mouthpiece on the neck cork, causing the horn to angle a bit away from the vertical position.
I am play a straight soprano, but this is a great tip for anyone with a curvie who looks up this topic.

Make the horn fit you, not the other way around.
That's good advice. I had just never been taught correct technique on soprano, and since I am a hobbyist and play primarily for myself, I just limited my playing to up to high C# as some others here do. But, it's time, and I have the opportunity to shatter that ceiling. My sopranos in the past also were not up to the task, but my current horn has no problem if I can get the tone holes open.

I don't have any problem at all with palm keys on soprano, I play both vintage (mark vi) and modern. To me it's mostly getting used to the feel of the instrument for a few days. I made a small sugru build up on the high F of my particular mark vi. Soprano is my primary instrument though. If alto is your primary instrument, I would just build up the palm keys with sugru to the point it feels natural and still fits the case.
Thanks, soprano is also my primary instrument. What I had learned for my alto ages ago was not working. I hope I have a correct method now.

My fingers do not have leave the pearls, so I must be close. High F may need some Sugru. Next is making it as natural as pressing the pearls. I guess I get to take my scales. etc. up a few more notes.
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
I’ve noticed that a lot of Couf Superba 1s and Tonekings, which are the same design as mine, have key risers on the palm and side keys. The high-F palm key is definitely getting some Sugru and so is side E. I just have to move too much to find these keys.

Apparently, Sugru, BTW, is no longer selling through stores, only online through their web site and Amazon.
 
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