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Discussion Starter #1
I noticed that my A was quite sharp on my TH&C tenor all of a sudden. I looked over all the mechanism, and decided that probably the G key was opening too far. Since it is a simple mechanism, it seems that adding some thin cork under the top arm that rests on the body octave vent makes the most sense. Is this the proper fix to lower the G key height? Or should I be looking for another solution? Obviously I'm not a repair person, but I am mechanically inclined, and am comfortable with making minor adjustments. Any input would be appreciated. Thanks!
 

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You might have a leak. You'd be better off taking your horn to a tech than trying to fix it yourself. Often if you mess with one key it affects other keys so you might be making things worse or creating a whole new set of problems.
 

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Is A sharp in both octaves?
Yes, that will reduce the venting for "A" (in both octaves). If you reduce this venting to lower the pitch you will likely make the note slightly more stuffy at the same time.

However the travel of the G key needs to be enough to fully switch from the neck octave vent to the body octave vent for the second octave when the G key is pressed down.
So if you reduce the travel of the G key you may have to make adjustments/modifications to the octave mechanism so that it still functions appropriately. That may involve adjusting the thickness of other corks, slightly bending parts, reducing play in the various linkages and shaping the G key's cork appropriately. Quite a complicated area for an amateur to tackle.
 

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You might have a leak. You'd be better off taking your horn to a tech than trying to fix it yourself. Often if you mess with one key it affects other keys so you might be making things worse or creating a whole new set of problems.
+1 Best to let a qualified repairman do what they do best!
 

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Discussion Starter #5
Thanks for the comments. Yes, both octaves were sharp, and this seemed to happen all of a sudden. So far, the addition of a little bit of cork seems to have fixed the issue. There was plenty of travel, so the operation of the octave vent wasn't impacted by adding the cork.

Generally I rely on a professional, but my tech has retired and I'm searching for a new one. Thanks again.
 

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On tenors it is not uncommon for the long arm with the G touch to become bent down over time---especially if the player uses a lot of finger pressure to close the keys. This results in the arm that extends from the G to close the body octave getting bent up in relation to the G key cup making the G too open. Some "twisting" of the hinge rod probably takes place as well. The solution is to place a craft stick under the G pad, hold the key cup closed and carefully bend the arm back up to where the G key cup when in open position is in line with the rest of the upper stack key cups. This restores the key geometry back to where it was to begin with and is more stable and reliable than building up the cork under the arm that closes the body octave key.

Sometimes in saxophone repair and adjustment it is more effective to analyze what created the problem in the first place so it can be reversed instead of just focusing on the symptom. Sometimes a band aid on the symptom is the best short term fix you can do until you can see your tech.
 

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Its not rocket science. I'm amazed at people that won't try to fix their own horn.
I've put all new pads, corks, and springs on a couple of horns and they turned out okay, but it sure gave me a healthy respect for techs that really excel at repair. It's not something you can learn to do well in a few weeks, that's for sure. To be really good at it you have to have a lot of experience. So I don't mind doing simple repairs but when it comes to messing with the key cups I prefer to take my horns to a good pro. Some things may seem obvious but it can get real complicated real fast. But whatever.
 

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It sounds like you solved the problem. You may never need to go deeper (for example, if you replaced a cork that fell off) or you may want to investigate further as saxoclese mentioned.

I am not a fan of running to the "professional" for everything; if I had done that over the last 50 years I wouldn't have learned much. However, I am VERY careful and hesitate a great deal before I will contemplate bending, soldering, unsoldering, or cutting metal. Corks and felts are cheap and easily/quickly reversible. If you try something and it doesn't work it's easy to put it back the way it was.

I suggest you continue to figure out the real root cause WHY the "A" key suddenly had a much higher height than it had before.
 

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Yes, you guessed right - its really intuitive for those who are mechanically-inclined. In fact I have to do the exact same thing on a new soprano where the G key is simply out of line with the others in the top stack with the pearl higher than the others. I don't like these little oddities but in this case I haven't really played the thing enough to notice any glaring problems.
Generally, you always manipulate the cork and felt rather than bending things.
 

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Its not rocket science. I'm amazed at people that won't try to fix their own horn.
For some people, not others. Most mechanically minded people have no idea how far away the other end of the spectrum is.

I once lent a spade bit to a telecom technician who wanted to drill a hole through the floor of his house to replace a cable.
He brought it back broken. I asked how that happened.
It turned out that because it was called a spade bit, he put it in his battery drill, did not turn it on, but used the battery drill as a handle for the spade bit and used the spade to dig a hole as one would dig in the garden.

Should he "fix" his own horn?
 

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For some people, not others. Most mechanically minded people have no idea how far away the other end of the spectrum is.

I once lent a spade bit to a telecom technician who wanted to drill a hole through the floor of his house to replace a cable.
He brought it back broken. I asked how that happened.
It turned out that because it was called a spade bit, he put it in his battery drill, did not turn it on, but used the battery drill as a handle for the spade bit and used the spade to dig a hole as one would dig in the garden.

Should he "fix" his own horn?
1) Well, I think you always have to discount idiots, who seem to occur in all walks of life with a fairly constant concentration.

2) We don't know for sure the mechanical ability of the OP other than his self-reported "I am mechanically inclined". Obviously (discounting idiots) it would be reasonable to expect that a gunsmith with 40 years experience could analyze and repair a saxophone mechanism with a lot less risk than say a kindergarten teacher who isn't exactly sure which of those tools is the pliers. So I guess a refined version would go something like "it ought to be possible for a reasonably attentive person of normal physical and mental capabilities, who has had a modicum of exposure to the use of hand tools, and who is not a hamfisted gorilla that immediately twists off every screw they attempt to tighten, and who is able to do things without slamming stuff around, and who is not a bleeding idiot, to examine carefully a saxophone mechanism, figure out how it works, and try simple reversible things to fix it."
 

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Seriously I don't think there are that many of what you describe.
But I don't call them idiots. They just have a different focus in life, and that is quite possibly because their brain works rather differently from yours or mine.
Some people think of me as an idiot on account of the poor memory I've had since childhood - possibly from being hit on the head with the back of an axe when I was 5.
Those people are equally wrong to think of me as an idiot.
 

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Its not rocket science. I'm amazed at people that won't try to fix their own horn.
Fixing a watch is not rocket science either, do you fix your watch. I am amazed people don’t fix their watches.

Some people are mechanically minded some are not, some people can look at something and understand how it works before even removing the first screw, others need to be shown first and then have the confidence to do it.

I always encourage others to give it a go, but I also understand not everyone is of the mechanical make up.

Some people think they are mechanically minded and are far from it, I recently remember someone showing us YouTube vids of them fitting wine corks to sax necks and using a belt sander to shape them up, and using multi grips to grab hinge rods and pull them out, again not everyone is mechanically minded, and one does not know what one does not know.

Steve
 

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Sometimes I would like a like button. Like to Steve.
 

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I've been doing my own re-pads, repairs and adjustments. Not because I want to, mind you. I just never have $800 give or take to spend on a horn. I'd much rather play than fix. It's nice to be able to take care of it though.
 

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I've been doing my own re-pads, repairs and adjustments. Not because I want to, mind you. I just never have $800 give or take to spend on a horn. I'd much rather play than fix. It's nice to be able to take care of it though.
A cork replacement, a re-regulation of a key or two, or even a pad replacement is orders of magnitude from the quick diagnosis and repair for optimal results of a pesky problem, avoiding creating other problems, let alone whats required for a full quality rebuild. There are a lot of tricks and techniques, and if you don't know how to anticipate some of the final adjustments, you can end up chasing some real issues in a circle, that require backing up and re-working some of the initial work, etc. In otherwords, you really have to have some quality experience to do these things effectively and quickly. I wonder how many good horns are floating around in bad repair, and being judged incorrectly because of improper adjustment? And I wonder how many horns have good looking pads, that still need a rebuild? [pretty common]. Some folks still don't know what all goes into a real rebuild, thinking its just a repad, corks and regulation - which can all be wasted parts and labor if the right things aren't done first.

But, if you enjoy learning and DIY, I'm all for it - I think it would be wise to do your homework and don't commit any irreversible "repairs" on valuable stuff, and consider your DIY learning on your backup or disposable student models.
 

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I finally did that little job on my soprano, sizing the thickness of cork required under the foot of the G key which of course is at the top of the sax, resting on the body octave vent. The plan was to increase the cork there so the G key and pad would be in line with the other upper stack keys and still allow sufficient room for the body octave to open. Naturally once I did this I started seeing other things, like the low B was not closing properly when playing low Bb. This was interesting because the only thing I didn't like about this new horn was the Bb is a little sharp. Obviously there's no fix for that, or that's what I thought before seeing the B leak. Just had to put a piece of the thinnest cork on the bottom of the low Bb key that pushes down the petal for the low B which has a thin felt on it. On a Selmer I would have just bent the petal a little but on these Chinese horns you do not bend when you can adjust it with cork or felt. Not saying it would break but these actions are not robust. The outcome was the B and Bb are much more robust in tone and volume and the Bb is more livable in intonation.

 

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I finally did that little job on my soprano, sizing the thickness of cork required under the foot of the G key which of course is at the top of the sax, resting on the body octave vent. The plan was to increase the cork there so the G key and pad would be in line with the other upper stack keys and still allow sufficient room for the body octave to open. Naturally once I did this I started seeing other things, like the low B was not closing properly when playing low Bb. This was interesting because the only thing I didn't like about this new horn was the Bb is a little sharp. Obviously there's no fix for that, or that's what I thought before seeing the B leak. Just had to put a piece of the thinnest cork on the bottom of the low Bb key that pushes down the petal for the low B which has a thin felt on it. On a Selmer I would have just bent the petal a little but on these Chinese horns you do not bend when you can adjust it with cork or felt. Not saying it would break but these actions are not robust. The outcome was the B and Bb are much more robust in tone and volume and the Bb is more livable in intonation.

Maybe without realizing it you were pushing a little harder to get the low Bb out, causing it to drift up in pitch; and now that the B pad closes properly the low Bb pops out more easily, so the pitch goes back to where it ought to be.

I have had horns with an inherently sharp low Bb. Even discounting the effects of mouthpiece choice and possible leaks, my C soprano is quite sharp down there. I installed a little ring of 1/4" thick leather all round and it brought the low Bb perfectly into tune without affecting low B enough to notice. Of course the C soprano is so extremely sensitive; I always say that an embouchure voicing that would create a mild timbre change on baritone (my primary saxophone) will bend the note two half-steps on soprano (which I hardly ever play).
 
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