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Discussion Starter #1
Phew, been a while since I've been about here. I've got a methodology question. I have an intermediate Martin I'm fixing up (one of the infamous ebay projects :bluewink:), a tenor, by the way, and I've noticed that the neck is slightly squished, as it were...it just seems like it's not quite a nice round tube, just a wee bit oval, as if the tube was evenly sat on before it was shaped into a neck. I haven't worked on many Martins (this is an Imperial), so it's possible that it isn't even abnormal. I'll post a pic if I can find the camera shortly... If it is deformed, it's only slight, but I want to get it right seeing how far up the horn this is.

My question is what methods to use to amend this? The best thing I could think of was the Ferree's driver tool...the one with the series of dent balls designed to go in a tenor neck. I was just a little concerned about bulging the metal. Thoughts?
 

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Forum Contributor 2007-2012, Distinguished SOTW Te
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Usually an oval tube is the result of a bend upwards or downwards. Compare the angle to photos on saxpics and see if yours has been the victim of a pulldown (or pullup) first. If so, correct the angle, THEN take steps if necessary to correct the cross-section shape.

If you haven't worked on a neck before, I suggest either working on junker necks first or taking it to a tech or (best) having a tech teach you how to do it on junker necks. Changing a pad isn't super hard to do, mediocre results for DIY are acceptable and easily redone until its right- with fixing a misshapen a neck the difficulty is far greater, extremely limited 2nd chances and the looming spectre of permanent damage if done wrong.

Only thing harder than doing good dentwork is fixing bad dentwork.
 

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Discussion Starter #4
I'm not a wizard yet, but I'm not a dent virgin, I do understand the issues involved. I've been looking and the neck's angle looks alright, it's just that in the larger, curved portion of it, I can actually feel that it is not "round" to speak loosely... There is a sharper bend on both sides indicating a sort of "squeeze" there, but it is nice and symmetrical, and it goes virtually all the way from the octave pip to the socket...so it seems like it was that way to begin with, I just wanted to be more sure.

Anyhoo, the academic question I had here, was what methods would one use to correct the cross-sectional shape? I have the notion that it is not really necessary on this neck, but I would still like to know what some typical methods would be...if any other than the neck dent ball driver such as Ferree's has.
 

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Rub / burnish the inside of the neck with a ball and extension rod in the non circular area with the largest dent ball you can get in there. Through pressure and friction you will make this area circular,

The other option for really really bad squishes, you can use a draw tube on the outside at specific locations to rough shape it up. this in conjunction with interior burnishing should get it pretty close.

For badly damaged areas, I fit the biggest rod and ball inside and rawhide hammer the outside back to shape, at the ball locations

However I am surprised the problem does not lie with the fact that the neck is not squished down or stretched upwards
 

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Discussion Starter #6
Interesting... To be clear, I'm not entirely positive the neck has the "problem." I am sure that the area I described above is not round. I'm not certain if all sax necks were made such that the neck is as close to circular as possible throughout. I know the neck matters plenty for acoustics... Is it always best acoustically for the entire neck to be as round throughout as possible? I uploaded a few pics to photobucket here:

http://i33.photobucket.com/albums/d66/Holonet/DSC03436.jpg
http://i33.photobucket.com/albums/d66/Holonet/DSC03437.jpg

In the first pic right in the middle of the tube toward the socket end you can see a line where it catches the light. That's where it seems a little squished. You can feel that slight ridge if you run your finger over that area. That's what concerned me a bit, but again, I'm not positive that it's damage, or if it's entirely damage and some design, or neither....or what's best acoustically.
 

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A tip I learned from a JL Smith clinic for necks that are just slightly oval in the bend area is to put a tight fitting dowel (or tenon expander) inside the tenon of the neck and secure in a vice. Then while you are pulling the end of the neck in the opposite direction as the "pull down" squeeze with your finders and thumb the side of the oval area. For thicker necks you can use glancing blows from a small dent hammer covered with teflon as you are putting pressure on the neck tube to "unbend" where it was bent down.

One must be careful forcing dent balls into a neck, because it is easy to go overboard and make a "bulge" in the tubing. This creates an additional problem to fix, as it can adversely affect the intonation on certain notes.

One way to check the roundness of the neck is to take N - S, E - W measurements at the same location with calipers. Each measurement should be close to the other
 

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To be clear, I'm not entirely positive the neck has the "problem." I am sure that the area I described above is not round. I'm not certain if all sax necks were made such that the neck is as close to circular as possible throughout.
Saxophone body and neck tubes are made by forming metal sheet around mandrels, which are cut on a lathe, and are thus symmetrical in cross-section. Nowadays necks are also made from hydroforming, but retain their round cross-sections. Dent tools have round cross-sections. I have never seen an oval tube on a sax that was not the result of damage. I do not know of any reason why an oval cross-section would be desirable, and it would be much harder to make, so reason tells me nobody makes an oval neck on purpose.

Your neck has a pretty clear and stereotypical case of the post-pulldown blues, to me. Although your shots are a little tough for me to see everything, the part of the neck right around the octave key posts looks clearly oval. It also looks like some resoldering has gone down at some point on the octave key posts and possibly on the tenon as well.
 

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Luke,
It appears from your pictures that the neck has been pushed down. Since it looks like the solder seam is fairly obvious at the neck tenon, someone may have "adjusted" the tenon and neck angle to compensate for the neck angle relative to the body and re-soldered the joint. My proceedure would be to pull the neck back into shape without using any dent tools. I would then use my sax neck rod...shaped like an "S" (Ferrees makes one)to round the neck further and to remove the dents that appear to have been made by the ocave key. If the neck were bad enough (this one doesn't appear to be) I would then burnish the outside with a ring burnisher (home-made) . In severe cases I will take off any soft soldered mountings before doing this. Next I would adjust the neck and tenon angle if needed. Lastly, if this were a school/rental instrumentthat had the distinct possibility of a return for the same problem, I would make a brace to support the neck, so it was less likely to get bent again.

As far as the ferree ball tool for removing dents that you suggested in your post, I would consider this tool after I had purchsed or made the S shaped neck tool.
Matt
 

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Hmmmmmm. Now I really have to check my Amati Tenor neck (Keilwerth heritage?). It has the reinforcement brace underneath so I don't think it's easily squished, yet it *appears* (from the outside) to have that slightly oval or shark-like triangular cross section. Maybe it's just the brace that's misleading.

(And once I do find out - what would I do? [rolleyes])
 

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You can still bend them down with a brace installed, it just requires more effert on the part of the person damaging the horn. Fix: Unsolder one side of brace pull the neck back up, re-bend the brace to fit. Re-solder. On the other hand, if you don't know for sure, and it hasn't bothered you until this thread, just leave it alone!
 

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In the photos, the oval in the bend area looks like the usual result of "pull down". I've seen this happen even from playing sometimes, usually someone who moves more enthusiastically and not only from inserting the mouthpiece, etc.
 
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