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Discussion Starter #1
I'd like ask professional techs, backyard amateurs and everyone in between how they set-up a saxophone with regard to this regulation. There was a lengthy debate on this topic on the Delphi Band Instrument Repair Forum at one time which was fun to read and participate in.
 

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I'd like to see a 3rd finger F# mech that actually works on a sax.

Even with perfectly level tone holes and perfectly set pads, there's too much flex in the keywork by the time you get to the end of the Aux.F bar - where the D key foot is typically situated - so that with a light touch that's sufficient to close the F and E key pads (and the corresponding Aux.F pad, and the G# where required), the D key pad will be slightly held off.

The normal reaction would be to suspect free play in the lower Aux. key barrel, or even wear in the pillars - but even when these two conditions don't exist the holding off is still present.
...and it's because the long bar between the two aux. barrels is able to bend. In other words, it's a sprung mechanism...which is completely not what's wanted.

The best designed Aux. bar I've seen was a rectangular section - can't recall which make of horn it was on - but it allowed for the D key to be set as near perfect as makes no odds.

You could, of course, rely on the player's finger pressure to take up the spring in the bar - but that's not how I like to set horns up - so I always introduce a bit of 'bias'.
I do something similar for the Aux. F pad which, once set, is ever so slightly biased to the left. With both the G# and Bis Bb adjusters unscrewed the pad will test with slightly less grip on a feeler on the right side...but with the adjusters properly set it will test A1.

There's a Bond film in which James is trying out a hand-made rifle in the gunmaker's workshop. He fires at a target and finds that it misses the bull by a fraction. He says the sight off, and the gunmakers says it's set up for a client with a finger missing...

Regards,
 

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Discussion Starter #7
Interesting responses. I agree with everything Stephen wrote. Here is what I do that others may disagree with and that is ok. The purpose of this forum is to share different and diverse views. It is like a buffet, we can all take away what we like and leave the rest.

I set the adjustment light on pro saxes, and so light that the F# does not even close with the 3rd finger on student saxes. My reasoning is as follows:

- The 3rd finger F# is not a legitimate fingering on the saxophone like it is on the flute. As such there is no practical or technical advantage to playing F# with that fingering except perhaps on a D to F# tremolo, in which case a light closing sounds fine. Student parts rarely, if ever, require D to F# tremolos which can in fact be played using middle finger F# if necessary.

- Adjusting the 3rd finger D key to positively close the F# oftentimes interferes with the F, and E key regulation (as Stephen pointed out). The exact closing of the F# by the F and E keys should take priority over adjusting the D to firmly close the F# for a non traditional and rarely used fingering.*

- Because the D key is so large and its touchpiece sticks out it frequently gets caught on a student's neck strap or gets pushed up by some other means causing it to go out of regulation with the backbar of the F# and not close. When the D doesn't respond, the student then presses the key down harder to make the note play and bends the D key so that it leaks more. Adjusting the key to not close the F# provides a margin of error that can prevent bent keys on student saxes and keep them working longer before needing repair.

* to my flute playing friends - when you stop chastising sax players for playing F# with the middle finger on the flute, I will stop correcting you when you play F# with the 3rd finger when playing the saxophone. :bluewink:
 

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JBT, My knee jerk response is the same as Hornfixer, Simso and Griff. Make it easily play F#. If I were as good at explaning what I do as S. Howard I would have to say that I do similar adjustments as he. If I remember correctly from books I have read, Bohem even commented on this (similar) regulation on flute. His method was to make the F# key hit ever so slightly before the D key which helps with the flex S. Howard Mentioned. This would also mean that the D key would take a slight bit more pressure to close as you played down the scale. By todays flute standards, this may not be acceptable. On Sax's I repair F# plays either finger.
 

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Discussion Starter #10
JBT, My knee jerk response is the same as Hornfixer, Simso and Griff. Make it easily play F#. If I were as good at explaning what I do as S. Howard I would have to say that I do similar adjustments as he. If I remember correctly from books I have read, Bohem even commented on this (similar) regulation on flute. His method was to make the F# key hit ever so slightly before the D key which helps with the flex S. Howard Mentioned. This would also mean that the D key would take a slight bit more pressure to close as you played down the scale. By todays flute standards, this may not be acceptable. On Sax's I repair F# plays either finger.
My response to that is why? A pragmatist would say that if a fingering is not used then why set the sax up to use it? Just because it is there for me isn't a good enough reason. On several vintage saxes the back bar even stops before the D key so it is not an issue. IMO saxes today should be made according to that design since the mechanics of the lower stack would be improved.

I have just never come up for a satisfactory reason why that key needs to play an F#, except for the D to F# tremolo which is not a compelling argument in my book.
 

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I'm not sure why you are being pragmatic in this particular case, since you don't seem to be pragmatic about anything else you seem to do. The fingering is used, maybe infrequently, but it is used and should function as best as I can make it function IMO. Part of my method may be due to the fact that I am a flute player and not a sax player. I would not leave flute keys unregulated to play F# with either finger so, I don't do it to sax either. Again, If YOUR customers are happy with what you do, keep doing it! I doubt you will convert the people that replied make it play F#.

So, did you want to know what we pro repair people and back yard amateurs actually do to help you improve your repair skills or did you want positive reinforcement for what it is that you do? It would be nice to have a post from you that states: This is what I do...do you do something similar or better? I read these post to learn something and to contribute my knowledge to the good of the cause. I can honestly say that I have learned quite a few things from the techs on this site when I analyze and absorb their words.
 

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Discussion Starter #12
Interesting observations and questions Matt. It usually is the flute players who argue to set up that key to play a clear F# in my experience. In my 50+ years of playing saxophone I can't recall one time that I ever needed or used that fingering to play an F#. I suppose each of us form opinions based upon our own experience.

I post about how I do repair to generate discussion and to compare my methods and techniques with others. Obviously I think the methods I use the the best way I have found so far or I wouldn't be using them. When ideas are tossed around and debated on the forum, there have been times when other tech's have convinced me that they have found a better method or technique. Believe it or not I was surprised at the responses to the Repad vs Overhaul thread and learned a lot about other's work ethics and approaches to instruments in different price ranges. Like you I have learned a great deal here, and even when I disagree with someone the discussion makes me go back and analyze why I do things the way I do.
 

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As long as you are learning It is all good. What I don't quite understand is the reasoning behind not regulating it to play F# when it certainly does not take a considerable amount of time to make the regulation. Especially during your mechanical overhaul that warrants a higher price tag.
 

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If I can work with a "fresh" lower stack (D to G# keys) i.e. each pad is sealing as good as it can and there is no play in hinges, then generally I adjust D to close F#. I don't purposely leave it under-adjusted unless there's a good reason (e.g. on a budget and can't afford to improve lower stacks mechanic condition). I consider the flex in the back bar and other key parts and the importance of some adjustments in comparison with others.
 

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On every sax I have ever worked on, I have adjusted ring finger F# to work just fine, with no discernible resistance in getting the D key to fully seal when playing lower notes, i.e. light pressure on the D key can ensure no light leaks under the F# key.

I disagree with what has been said about the flex that cannot be accommodated. Sure, there is flex, but it is not that huge, unless we are talking about say a bass sax. Squishy, thick cork in the linkage would certainly present a problem though.

As with fork Bb, (and any other note actually) the last closed pad in an air column never needs quite as much of a "pressure" seal as pads further up the air column. So I rely on the A key (not the F) to provide a really good seal under the Bb key's pad, and am thankful that the F, E and D keys provide a progressively better seal under the F# (and also G# in some situations) key's pad as we play lower, and that F# pad becomes located higher up the air column. Even though F would provide sufficient F# seal on its own. i,e, The E and D provide a slight backstop pressure for hardened pads that don't seal so readily, or for when adjustments slip slightly out with use and slight compression of linkage materials.

If the D key did not reliably produce an F#, I would expect at least some of my customers to disappointedly come back and say I had not completed the adjustment.

But granted, that compromise between the mutually exclusive ideals of simultaneous pad closure, and equal closing pressure (of linked keys) need to be considered, for his linkage, as for all others, on any instrument where flex is not negligible.
 

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This thread caused me to look closer at my Super 20 I recently had "overhauled". I had not consciously noticed the D key being springy but checked anyway. The D key does indeed close the little F# pad tightly while itself closing tightly but just as light as the rest of the lower stack with no "springiness".
 

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I disagree with what has been said about the flex that cannot be accommodated. Sure, there is flex, but it is not that huge, unless we are talking about say a bass sax. Squishy, thick cork in the linkage would certainly present a problem though.
There's often enough flex that it's visible - especially on the remainder of the aux. bar to the D key foot - easily and considerably more than the standard to which a pad might be set (thin cigarette paper). Not much point in heading for that kind of accuracy on a pad seat and then chucking it away on poor regulation, I feel.


If the D key did not reliably produce an F#, I would expect at least some of my customers to disappointedly come back and say I had not completed the adjustment.
I'd be very surprised - and in fact it would be a first.
This is probably because even with a poorly set up D key you'll get an F# - but I consider it a false fingering and prefer my horns to really slap that low D out without requiring the player to press a bit harder on the keys.

Regards,
 

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I set the D-F# up to leak. I always ask the player if they use that fingering for F#, Bb, or any altissimo and they say no.

For a classical player, it gives me the ability to set the F# up to leak enough that a G1/4# can be played with 123,003 and the G# key. This is the only reliable G1/4 sharp that I know of.
 

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Discussion Starter #19
As long as you are learning It is all good. What I don't quite understand is the reasoning behind not regulating it to play F# when it certainly does not take a considerable amount of time to make the regulation. Especially during your mechanical overhaul that warrants a higher price tag.
The reasoning is simple:

- The F key alone needs to positively close the F# to play F
- The E key alone needs to positively close the F# to play F#
- The D key alone does not need to positively close the F# to play any note using regular saxophone fingering.

The D key can easily get bent up changing the regulation so that the D doesn't close because of early contact with the back bar. Forcing the D to close can bend the D key and/or bend the back bar up causing the F and F# to not work.

Adjusting the D to not close the F# has nothing to do with the time it takes to do so. It has everything to do with the fact that F# fingering is never used and that adjusting it this way can stave off future adjustment and regulation problems for the player in between servicing.
 
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