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Discussion Starter #1
Forgive me if this has been explained elsewhere, but I have read a number of comments scattered around about the relationship between the key height when using the front F key and altissimo register playing.

My tech always sets this so that the key opening with the front key is 1) the same as with the palm key and 2) farly wide open (eg .5cm from leading edge of pad to tone hole on my King.

Secondly, although I can play a very robust altissimo F# (and have been working hard on overtones), I have never been able to get into the upper register at all.

I guess the altissimo thing is me, not the horn, but could these things be related? I just read a post where someone recommended this height be no more than a "crack" for good altissimo?

Thanks for any thoughts.

ps. if this is relevant, my tech specializes in clarinets and flutes, but he does good sax too!

Rory
 

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These things are absolutely related.

Sounds like you are over venting with the F key. Altissimo using that key is picky, and if it is too open, it will almost always crack. Try this: Take a business card, or index car. Stick the corner of it between the F key pad, and tonhole just enough to make a small opening. Now, try your altissimo G (using your index finger on the first pearl, not the front F key). It probably will respond a bit better, though perhaps not perfect at first.

I would ask your tech -why- he makes the F key open as much as with the palm key. To me, this seems very odd.

Steve P
 

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Definitely very heavily related, as is a solid 1+1 Bb seal on the Bis.

Steve's advice is good advice. I always mess with the height of the front F when doing repads and overhauls- every horn responds differently and will work best with a certain height. Even horns within the same serial range of the same model will respond a bit differently to the height of the front F, and only playtesting lets me know what each particular horn responds to well.
 

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I too am having this problem. The last guy that set my horn up made front F way too open. I can still play all of the front F altissimo, but it's much less stable than before. Any suggestions as to what i could do to fix it at home?
 

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Discussion Starter #5
I took some pics: does this look way too open to you?







The middle picture is me using the palm key, and the other two are with the front F.

Rory
 

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IMHO, hard to tell from pictures. I have had some horns that worked very well with very open front Fs, and some that did not. The horn will tell you what it likes. Try Steve's approach and I think you'll be able to tell fairly quickly whether your front F height is not right for you. FWIW, my usual starting place is about the width of two stacked quarters (on tenor) or one nickel (on alto) sliding between the pad and the tonehole, and I go from there.

Also, regarding altissimo in general, sometimes mouthpiece with higher baffles can help you punch up to altissimo a little easier. If high baffle pieces aren't your thing (they aren't mine) you can try one out for a while learning how altissimo feels in your throat etc. and then later go back to your regular mouthpiece, kind of like training wheels.

Is that an old King alto?
 

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Hi Rory:

For me, setting up the front F as a "vent" key instead of as a "regular" key was crucial to one (very useful) altissimo note: high G. In fact, I don't use the front F for any altissimo fingerings except for the G... (and this only on tenor...).

I first heard about the venting front F in Rousseau's *Saxophone High Tones*, where he writes "It is possible to adjust key F so that its opening is decreased, enhancing its function as a vent key without causing any adverse effect (see photos). Indeed, many of the author's pupils have made this adjustment themselves with highly favorable results (see photos)."

The photos cited show someone, some monster, in a scene that would give a vintage horn collector the vapours, taking a file to the front F key and filing a notch into it.

[And there does seem to be one "adverse" effect -- a thinner sounding high E and F when using the front fingering. But that happy G pops right out... And long tones on the E and F will fatten them up somewhat.]

On many modern horns, no file is needed. On my Mark VI, there's a little roller assembly dealie that allows for a huge amount of adjustment, and is easily adjusted even by a mechanically-disinclined nincompoop like myself. As soon as I made the change, I had the G (though, to be fair, I'd been working on overtones for quite a while before that...).

And yes, your photos show it opening too far to function as a vent. When Rousseau says "vent", the man means "vent", open about the thickness of a piece of paper -- "0.25mm thickness (ca. 1/100 inch)" he writes! (you don't need that level of precision, however -- you can just eyeball it, using the notion of "just a wee little bit") -- my repairman calls it a "controlled leak".
 

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abadcliche said:
Definitely very heavily related, as is a solid 1+1 Bb seal on the Bis.
This is quite interesting and something I have not heard before. I am assuming that you are referring to the 1 & 1 Bis closing in relation to certain altissimo fingerings. Can you give some specific examples of fingerings that are impacted when this key regulation is not perfect. Thanks.

John
 

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abadcliche said:
Definitely very heavily related, as is a solid 1+1 Bb seal on the Bis.
I also do not understand or may even disagree with this statement.

I purposely adjust to a slight 1 +1 Bb leak so as to prevent a g# leak. Of course you have to avoid playing 1+1 Bb. I feel this is a good idea due to timbre and intonation. I have no out of the ordinary issues with altissimo but I guess this would depend on what fingerings you are using.
 

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Well, Steve J, the issue is not with using the 1/1 fingering. When playing an altissimo G, using the 'usual' fingering of Front F, RH 1, and Side Bb, if the bis key being held down by RH 1 is leaking, the G will not speak well, if at all.

I agree though, playing Bb with 1/1 is never a good idea!! :)

Steve P
 

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Interesting. I am having no problems going up as far as G, but can't get an A to save myself, and I read that this is supposed to be an "easier" altissimo note. I usually get the C# below, and occasionally above.

Of course this where you change from the upper octave vent to the lower one - is there likely to be adjustment problem (to the sax rather than me) here?
 

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Discussion Starter #12
Hey folks,
Thanks for the info.

I got lost a bit on the alternate fingerings thing because...I can't play altissimo! I'm still really trying to get my brain around this thing--so most altissimo playing is done without the front F!?!

Everybody seems to agree, however, that having the front F key height more vent like and the palm one more open is pretty common. I'll have to ask Marius about it next week.

Hey Kelly! I had that little roller thingy on my SA80 alto, but with the King I'm not sure how you'd do it without a groove, or some other fairly robust intervention. I did try playing the front E, F, and F# with a nickel in there and it did sound a little more...overtoney? Like it could jump up into the stratosphere if the player weren't such a bottom dweller.

Hey Matt! That's my old Cleveland tenor--beauty, hey? I've thought about trying with a wedgy mouthpiece--in fact I even bought a Rico Metalite to try--but it absolutely was not my thing. Moreover, the King won't play in tune with anything other than a large chamber piece. I'm not in any hurry about the altissimo thing--I figure if guys like Cleanhead and Maxwell Davis can do without it, I can too.

Rory

ps. this belongs in another forum, but when you high flyers play that altissimo G, does it feel like you're playing an overtone? I.e. your regular high g only an octave higher, analogous to playing middle C, say, using low C fingering?
 

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Answer to Rory's PS: yes. Most altissimo notes are going to feel that way.

What Steve P. said is exactly right. The number one sufferer when the 1+1 isn't tight is the high G fingering of front F + Side Bb + RH 1. Although, any fingering where you aren't using LH 2 but you are using RH 1, 2, or 3 (meaning a situation where the bis is being activated by the right hand only) will give you different results depending on whether your adjustments are tight or not- because in those cases if the bis isn't tight, its a leak- or even at best, improperly venting. Getting that adjustment right is difficult but not impossible, and just requires very good key fit, the right materials and good pads with seats as close to perfect as you can get them.
 

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This should be a sticky! I have struggled with obtaining a G3 on my tenor for the past 3 years. Worked with Top Tones, could get altissimo on any of my alto horns, solid F#3 on tenor, etc. Simply could not get that G3. Although I've read plenty off this forum regarding altissimo, for some reason this thread alluded me! The front F was WIDE open. I barely cracked it (using the palm key) while holding octave, left hand B, and side Bb. G3 came out instantly. After my tech adjusts this, the Front F, octave, and side Bb will be just fine.

Again, thank you SOTW!
 

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I feel like I should provide a counterpoint on this thread because I have always had much improvement in my front-F altissimo notes when the the F key opens all the way. My tech, who has worked on my 82Z tenor, MkVII tenor, and MK VI tenors, for a while was setting the F key to open just a few millimeters. When I would experiment with the height of that key opening by manipulating the palm F key I always found the notes to play more clearly and more in tune with the key opened all the way. I asked my tech to adjust all of my front F keys that way and it made my altissimo sound a lot more like the rest of the horn. There may be some horns where it is necessary to keep the front F opening just a little bit, but I haven't played them.
 

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I usually set up the front F to open the F key to around half the venting of the F key when it's opened normally - so if the F key venting is 4mm, the front F will open it to around 2mm.

It's a personal thing, but start from this point and experiment by adjusting the front F to open the F key by more or less until things speak easily for you.

If your front F mechanism doesn't have an adjustment, you'll probably have to bend the end of linkage piece down to put more double action between the front F key and the linkage, or to alter the leverage by bending the linkage piece towards the front F key/LH main action key barrel will reduce the opening of the F key, or a combination of both until things are right.

Not so easy a DIY job on Yamaha tenors (post YTS-61) without the adjustable front F key, but it can still be done.
 

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Discussion Starter #17
Hey!

I did end up getting the front F key height lessened, but it hasn't really worked out. The altissimo register is slowly coming for me, but I don't think the adjustment did much to help. What it did do is make my front E and F play flat, so now I have to add the G# key to get those notes in tune without having to lip-up.

I'm planning to have it put back.

R.
 

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I'm with what chris said as far as the key hieghts are concerned & make sure the B key is closing properly with the the front F key.......
 

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The venting for the easiest G3 from the front F will vary from model to model, even horn to horn:

- G3 needs to be balanced against E3 from the front F (both of them fingered from the Front F)

- after that the question is: if there's play (a gap, aka "lost motion") when the front F touch is in action, is that too distracting to the player? Usually it isn't, and the G3 gain is worth it to the player.
 
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