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I ran into a number of problems on my recently overhauled VI tenor and I have yet to play a gig on it. I've been working on it and then taking it to practice to evaluate. I've solved everything so far but it just seemed to go back to having resistance and not responding to easy playing, but sort of in and out, causing a thin tone and reduced power. I was thinking about it after the practice and this morning, but I couldn't get to it until a few minutes ago. I actually had it figured out by the time I got back home this morning from something I had to do and as soon as I looked at the horn I knew I was right.
In his zeal to eliminate any free play, and along with his insistence on using Teflon at every interface, he had managed to set up the front F so when relaxed, the key arm was resting on the Teflon instead of the pad resting on the tone hole with all of the spring tension. The Teflon even had the tell-tale imprint of the key on it. I tried sanding it but it didn't really work so I just pried it off, to find the previous piece of cork still under it. Guess what? With just the cork, it seals properly and there still is really no amount of slack there. I put it together, stuck the first reed I got to on the mouthpiece and it plays great.
I guess if I live long enough I'll find out every stupid thing he did. And BTW, I hate Teflon in most any sax application. I do like the Teflon clear tubing though. :)
I had also noticed when I first got the horn back that he had weakened the palm key spring tension. While I had the F key off I re-arched it's spring and am going to do the other two before I put it away. I think this is probably going to get it into the green zone for my next gig on 12/7!
 

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The never ending saga ... next time ask the tech to give you a complete list of things he did so you can undo whatever doesn't work :)
 

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I ran into a number of problems on my recently overhauled VI tenor and I have yet to play a gig on it. I've been working on it and then taking it to practice to evaluate. I've solved everything so far but it just seemed to go back to having resistance and not responding to easy playing, but sort of in and out, causing a thin tone and reduced power. I was thinking about it after the practice and this morning, but I couldn't get to it until a few minutes ago. I actually had it figured out by the time I got back home this morning from something I had to do and as soon as I looked at the horn I knew I was right.
In his zeal to eliminate any free play, and along with his insistence on using Teflon at every interface, he had managed to set up the front F so when relaxed, the key arm was resting on the Teflon instead of the pad resting on the tone hole with all of the spring tension. The Teflon even had the tell-tale imprint of the key on it. I tried sanding it but it didn't really work so I just pried it off, to find the previous piece of cork still under it. Guess what? With just the cork, it seals properly and there still is really no amount of slack there. I put it together, stuck the first reed I got to on the mouthpiece and it plays great.
I guess if I live long enough I'll find out every stupid thing he did. And BTW, I hate Teflon in most any sax application. I do like the Teflon clear tubing though. :)
I had also noticed when I first got the horn back that he had weakened the palm key spring tension. While I had the F key off I re-arched it's spring and am going to do the other two before I put it away. I think this is probably going to get it into the green zone for my next gig on 12/7!
Who sent you to this guy? Or did you just pick a name out of the phone book? I never take my horn to anyone unless I get glowing reviews about them from someone I trust.
 

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Well, a lot of people have this idea that you must eliminate all lost motion always. Unfortunately, some mechanisms on some horns require some lost motion to work properly. The front F on most instruments is one of these - though the lost motion is usually up at the key touch, not the little arm that sticks under the key arm like you describe.

On my older instruments I also often come across one pad that really needs to be vented more or less, and there's basically no way to do that without either affecting the key heights of everything else in the train, or introducing lost motion. I always opt for a teeny amount of lost motion.

On large horns I've also found that having a big key bounce on multiple other keys when it rises can make some of those other keys bounce whereas if you stop it on one of the other keys, or you add a key foot, you eliminate those spurious bounces. Again, the price is a teeny bit of lost motion.

The Selmer Mark 6 has an overall excellent mechanical design, but sooner or later you have to deal with the details of the individual machine you've got in front of you rather than just relying on rules.
 

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And you really need to find better repair people. How, I don't know, but you do. From your description the local school horn guy in my town does a better job than what you've described coming from someone who ostensibly does "overhauls" for pros.
 

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Forum Contributor 2012, SOTW Saxophone Whisperer,
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A proper "set up" does not mean ALL lost motion removed as you have found out. Too many techs use an "overhaul" as an excuse to show off how much lost motion they can remove. The trick is where it important to remove it and where to leave a tiny bit.
 

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Discussion Starter #7
There won't be any 'next time' with this guy. As for who I might go to for future work I don't know right now.
 

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A proper "set up" does not mean ALL lost motion removed as you have found out. Too many techs use an "overhaul" as an excuse to show off how much lost motion they can remove. The trick is where it important to remove it and where to leave a tiny bit.
Amen. I don't know whether it is commonplace practice among most techs, so I explicitly request lost motion in my octave key setup. I don't want it to leak just because I am touching it.
 

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This saga isn't satisfying. First, that tech most likely thinks he's done an excellent job. For his own benefit and for the benefit of future customers, he should be aware of the issues you found. There should be a diplomatic way to do this. Otherwise, the tech will continue to botch other player's instruments and the misery will continue.

Until there is some cathartic resolution at the level of informing the tech, there's little point in telling us of his poor work and your correction of it.
 

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Discussion Starter #11
Who sent you to this guy? Or did you just pick a name out of the phone book? I never take my horn to anyone unless I get glowing reviews about them from someone I trust.
I had my back-up tenor overhauled at the local Music & Arts which has a history of having a fine shop and which I have patronized for many years. Unfortunately the guys who are there now are totally overwhelmed by the volume of work they have and my sax wasn't really finished when I got it. Same old story, I fixed it and it really is exceptional now. Anyway, they told me about a very experienced guy at another M&A in another city who has a good rep with the pros. I went down there and interviewed him and was satisfied with what I heard. I knew he was taking care of a guy's Selmer who is one of the foremost players in the world, or at least was in his heyday. So I felt pretty good about keeping it within driving distance and the price was pretty much the same as everybody else. Plus, the 'name-brand' techs I called about it both talked crazy as hell. One guy said how he would separate the body from the bow and 'correct' the upper body, which in this SN range was always 'pinched'. Nope, not on mine you won't. Another guy said the first thing he does is to pull out all the springs. Again, no, not happening.

So, I had to fix a few things. but, I got Roo pads that look like the originals, all keywork swedged, a guard foot soldered, tone holes dressed, 'ball-joint' side keys silenced (don't know how he did it but it worked) horn cleaned/lubed, total set-up revamped, etc. For some reason there were some things he just didn't totally finish. Maybe he's getting forgetful, IDK, and I do feel like I paid a couple hundred too much considering it really was not anywhere near 'playing'. He played it but he's not really a sax player - you know, he tooted, it made a noise, so it was 'okay'.

But now after today's work I really didn't want to put it down. It has regained the full sound I have been enjoying for over 20 years and like the Selmer USA I had done earlier this year, its really the best its been since I had it.

BTW, this horn came from Sax Alley in 1998, being advertised as 'near-mint' and 'run through our shop'. When I opened the case, I saw while it was very good, it was not 'near-mint' so I called Tim and got a couple hundred refunded. When I started going over it, I was astounded by the amateur/really bizarre work I was seeing. I ended up tearing it all down and re-doing the set-up. One little example; on the front F key, the felt was not attached under the pearl - it was glued to the pad cup. There was stuff like this all over the horn, but it played well and had a great sound.
 

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Discussion Starter #12
BTW, thanks for all the 'helpful advice' about what I 'should have done' and how I should let the tech know what he really did, but I'm not interested in your thoughts on those subjects. The posts I have made on the two overhauls I had this year were just meant to describe what in my experience usually happens at the sax shop, how over the years I have learned to tweak things to get the most out of a horn and how satisfying it is to do that. I really don't know what guys do who don't have the ability to do this.
 

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Personally I think if you play a saxophone, you should at least try to have a basic working knowledge of the instrument, of the 'why's and how's' I suppose. It gives you a base point from which to work when dealing with playing problems and dealing with repair techs - and also, to be honest, it's really quite interesting and fun. I'm currently overhauling a Haynes Commercial flute and I liken it to doing a 3 dimensional jigsaw puzzle. Very zen.
 

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Whenever there is a bit of "sliding" motion when one key closes another, teflon is the best choice IMO. I like to put teflon tube over the "barrel" that the arm touches on the G# and front F and use thin synthetic felt on the "lever". Teflon on teflon sounds like a good idea, but it's not. If you want to be really anal you can rub a bit of teflon powder into the felt. I like to use teflon tubing on the post that extends from the body and activates the neck ring. Some saxes really need a friction free connection at this location. If that is a bit too noisy, I have even glued a thin strip of synthetic felt to the back of the octave key ring where it won't be noticed unless you look for it. In the few cases where teflon sheet is used, I like to "laminate" it to a thin sheet of synthetic felt to reduce the noise.
 

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Discussion Starter #15
Heck, I forgot to mention probably the main motivation for posting all this crap, and that, of course, is to possibly help others who may experience these very odd problems. When you start out with a new sax or one that has been properly maintained, you just do not run into the kind of problems I've been having lately. Both tenors had questionable overhauls that resulted in crazy situations that you don't see right away - it takes thinking and testing to find these very strange things. Other things jump out at you like when you first get the horn back and get out the screwdrivers just to check it all over - you find loose pivot screws, tighten them and the key stops working and/or you realize you're pushing the two posts apart. That should stop the tightening instantly! Now you have to fix it or take it back. I fixed it because I wanted it done now, plus the shop (for the MK VI) is two hours away.
In 60 years of playing I have never run into these particular problems - like the G# that couldn't completely close and the front F lever stopping the F-key arm before the spring tension was fully on the pad. Either one of these will ruin your day but the front F one messes up the tone and power over the whole sax although it actually does play! That's what tipped me that it had to be one of the top pads because even open C# was affected!
 

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BTW, thanks for all the 'helpful advice' about what I 'should have done' and how I should let the tech know what he really did, but I'm not interested in your thoughts on those subjects. The posts I have made on the two overhauls I had this year were just meant to describe what in my experience usually happens at the sax shop, how over the years I have learned to tweak things to get the most out of a horn and how satisfying it is to do that. I really don't know what guys do who don't have the ability to do this.
But now after today's work I really didn't want to put it down. It has regained the full sound I have been enjoying for over 20 years and like the Selmer USA I had done earlier this year, its really the best its been since I had it.
So what you are saying is that you got the horn back, you were deeply frustrated and annoyed with the way it played but you were finally able to trace it to a few minor "overdone" fixes that could be reversed easily and now you are beginning to realize that the overall job done wasn't quite as bad as you originally thought, in fact, the horn is better than ever. Then maybe just stick with the guy but explain where your personal taste clashed with his desire to do a 150% job?

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DDybg9CNXcM
 

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BTW, thanks for all the 'helpful advice' about what I 'should have done' and how I should let the tech know what he really did, but I'm not interested in your thoughts on those subjects. The posts I have made on the two overhauls I had this year were just meant to describe what in my experience usually happens at the sax shop, how over the years I have learned to tweak things to get the most out of a horn and how satisfying it is to do that. I really don't know what guys do who don't have the ability to do this.
They are probably like me and don't realize what they're missing. Or they just suck it up and do the best they can with it. You're fortunate to have the skills and knowledge to get your horns into the kind of playability you demand. I'd make a mess of things and end up, hat in hand, paying a different tech to fix what the first guy messed up. Like you I wouldn't want to take it back to a guy who's already shown me he either doesn't have the skills or he just doesn't care enough to get it right the first time.
 

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Whenever there is a bit of "sliding" motion when one key closes another, teflon is the best choice IMO. I like to put teflon tube over the "barrel" that the arm touches on the G# and front F and use thin synthetic felt on the "lever". Teflon on teflon sounds like a good idea, but it's not. If you want to be really anal you can rub a bit of teflon powder into the felt. I like to use teflon tubing on the post that extends from the body and activates the neck ring. Some saxes really need a friction free connection at this location. If that is a bit too noisy, I have even glued a thin strip of synthetic felt to the back of the octave key ring where it won't be noticed unless you look for it. In the few cases where teflon sheet is used, I like to "laminate" it to a thin sheet of synthetic felt to reduce the noise.
I use teflon powder on piano actions all the time, much better than graphite.
 

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Again, reading the latest posts, I fully admit, there have been times when I have regulated things to a point where I felt it was good, only to have the owner have a problem (like in his hand position) inadvertently hitting a key causing a leak, thus after having them test play with me sitting there, I can see what needs to be done and taylor it their needs. I think that there are individual needs and what one person likes another person might not at the highest standards.
 

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Anyone can make a mistake. That said, checking that the palm F key is closing before it is stopped by the front F linkage arm is the most basic thing to check when adjusting the front F key.
 
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