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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
Hi,

My girlfriend plays a Ref 54 Tenor and the Octave key has stopped working when the 'G' key is pressed (please excuse me I am completely non musical, but fairly technical!) Now I have had a look to see how this mechanism works and it looks like a joint is rotating when it should be in a fixed position.
What we want to know is this....is this something that could be put down to fair wear and tear, or is it something that should not fail in the first 11 months of use (she is an advanced beginner and plays approx 10 hours per week). She has rung the suppliers and they have said 'oh it's something that happens to beginners! We feel we may have a fight on our hands regarding a warranty case.

Now please bear in mind that I know nothing about the mechanics of the tenor sax or any sax for that matter, but having looked at the mech I believe it works in this way (looking at the picture...)

The octave key when pressed, causes lever 'A' to move towards the body of the sax, this in turn causes lever 'B' to move away from the body due to the pivot point being fixed. This works fine, now when the 'G' key is pressed in conjunction with the octave key, lever 'A' moves towards the body of the sax, but lever 'B' stays in place because the pivot point is now rotating with lever 'A' because the 'G' lever has moved away from the key by it.
I believe the fault to be in the pivot point rotating on the rod adjacent to it rather than staying still? Is this correct. Or is it that the 'G' key's cork has worn away and is also out of adjustment and causing the pad 'C' to open too far?

The ultimate reason for asking this question is.

1. My GF thinks it's a warranty case and want's to go to the supplying shop to get it fixed for free. Trouble is they are a 1.5 hour drive away and will cost about £20 in petrol and I feel they are gonna say it's wear and tear anyways and charge us for the fix. So I think she should take it to the local tech who is reputable and pay anyways and save the petrol!!!! So is it a faulty part, or is this something to be expected given the use of the sax?

Thanks in advance and sorry for droning on and on!!!

Here is the picture of the mech.....

 

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The pad at "C" could be sticking (especially if your girlfriend is really sweet), or the octave key rod that extends above the body is not touching the octave key on the sax neck. You could test the latter by holding that rod down, press the G key and the octave key and see if "c" (in your diagram) opens. If "c" opens, then the problem is the space between the octave key on neck and the rod that activates it. Use key oil on the pivot points, because this mechanism really just uses the spring on the neck to activate it
 

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I'm surprised I'm the first to reply to this...
Your pad labeled 'c' is also an octave key which is the one that is used from 4th line D on the staff until the A above it, which is where the octave vent on the neck opens. If the 'C' pad is not opening on notes below A, then you have a problem, if it is opening, it's working correctly, however, if this pad AND the octave vent on the neck (crook, since you're apparently not an American) is opening, then you have a problem. However, these horns are under warranty by SELMER for the first year, and it should be fixed by your repair guy/supplier for nothing anyway if it is a problem. Let some of your fellow across the pond know where you live and they might be able to point you towards a better repair shop/supplier.
selmerfan
 

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Put the neck on the horn in playing position. Look at the pivot from the arrow end. If it has a slot (like a screw) in the end, turn it counter clock 1/4 to 1/2 turn. Activate octave key several times. Did that remove the bind? If not, try turning clockwise. If it still binds, then the 3" long rod that the three-section hinge tubing is mounted on is likely bent inside the tubes, therefore binding. A technician will need to remove that bind.

Octave mechanisms are elegantly complex, and the slightest thing upsets them.
 

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Edit, May 10 2007. The photo in Post 1 that the following refers to has vanished, so I have taken the liberty of reproducing the photo here in this post.


Sorry, Nitram, but there is a lot in your opening post where I do not understand you...

In particular, you write, "I believe the fault to be in the pivot point rotating on the rod adjacent to it rather than staying still?"

The item you marked "pivot", consists of a hinge for a seesaw-like arm that has a ball shape at each end, engaging with "A" and "B". The short stump of a rod inside this hinge should be silver-soldered integral with both "C", and integral with a length of hinge tube that rotates on the long steel shaft. I think it is most unlikely that you have a faulty (like broken) part, but there may well be a binding pivot, or too much friction in one of the several linkages.
For diagnosis:

  1. The neck key should move freely, under the action of its spring. The spring should fully close the pad, leak-free.
  2. With the neck removed, press down both the thumb key and the G key. Then with the other hand, try moving the lever that would normally link to the neck key. This lever should operate, over its FULL range of movement, with ZERO discernible resistance. If there is any resistance, then identify the cause - where the binding is taking place. This may well involve removing the long steel pivot rod and checking each part , and then the operation of each linkage on it, independently. I recommend that if you do this, you remove the G key and the thumb key first, to facilitate re-assembly to the instrument. I also recommend identifying which way around that see-saw goes so that it can be returned the same way.
  3. With the instrument assembled, and no keys pressed, there should be a tiny gap between the neck key and the arm that operates it. It could be say from 0.1 mm to 1 mm, as long as it is there. (Note that through poor shape of the neck key, it may well vanish when the neck is swivelled to a different position, so a larger rather than smaller gap may be appropriate, unless you correct the shape of the arm.) Methods to increase or decrease that gap include bending the neck key.
  4. Now press just the thumb lever. The neck vent should open, say 2 - 4 mm. The body vent should remain securely closed.
  5. (i.e. in the photo, "C" is held secure by the G key. "A" is pressed down, so that the sea-saw pivots about its secure centre, lifting "B", hence operating the neck key.
  6. Now press the G key as well. This releases "C", so that the neck key spring can now close the neck vent, while also lowering B against no resistance (as per "2" above). Because the position of "A" is fixed, the lowering of "B" also lowers what you named "pivot", which in turn makes "C" lift.
  7. Important: For this last operation to fully occur, "G" must lift sufficiently high to leave a gap (no matter how small) between "G" and "C". If not, then there are several adjustment options which include:
    • bend neck key or the linkage to it, or alter cork thickness under the thumb key, to allow the neck vent to open less in test 4.
    • bend to alter the geometry between "C" and "pivot", (or the sea-saw itself - less recommended), which would have the same effect in reducing the opening of the neck key.
    • reduce the thickness of the CENTRE of the length of cork on the G key, so that the cork clears "C", without affecting how far the G key opens, which typically involves the end of the strip of cork.
    • Reduce the thickness of the cork on the G key, so that it clears "C", and ALSO allows the G key to open further.
    • Bend the lever of the G key (or twist the G key over its whole length), to allow the G key to open further.
The choice remains with the technician, considering the various repercussions.
 

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Discussion Starter #6
Thanks for all the replies guy's, most informative, I've got it in my head how the mech works now. When I first looked at a sax from the mechanics point of view it looked like the work of the devil :shock:
The sax hasn't been looked at for the 11 months that she has owned it, so it's most probably due a service/looking at anyways. How often should a sax be serviced? Yearly, six monthly, I suppose it all depends upon the amount they are played.
I got it out of her that one of the real reasons she want's to go back to the shop is to try out other instruments/crooks and that getting the sax looked at was almost a secondary consideration!!!! Women and shopping huh ;)
 

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Discussion Starter #7
O.K I've got home now and just watched the mechanisms whilst my GF is playing (I am also temporarily deaf, them 54's are flippin' loud!! ). The mechanisms look like they are working correctly.......to a point.
When she plays a note and has the thumb octave key pressed the note changes correctly, then when she presses the 'G' key, the octave pad on the neck/crook closes correctly and the body octave pad opens and the note changes, then when she let's go of the thumb key, the neck pad closes but the note doesn't change. This to me would indicate a leak? Would this be because the spring on the thumb key is out of adjustment?

Thanks again for any and all assistance given :)
 

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Even if both octave vents are fully closed, the sustained octave note may still hold when releasing the key. The vent's role is to break the fundamental standing wave. Once that harmonic has been established, it's possible that she is simply holding onto the overtone.
 

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The neck octave is open from A up. Left thumb pressed. Then play G, neck octave closes, body octave opens. Then release left thumb, body octave closes. Now if the played G does not come down one octave and the body octave key did close (Check if it really closes well), start kissing your GF a lot and tender because there is to much pressure with her embouchure and she's actually playing one octave up without using octave keys.
If that is it, man you can do the tech work yourselve, not sure Gordon had this kind of repairs yet :D
 

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ez_sax said:
Even if both octave vents are fully closed, the sustained octave note may still hold when releasing the key. The vent's role is to break the fundamental standing wave. Once that harmonic has been established, it's possible that she is simply holding onto the overtone.
Yup,
A player with good eboucher will be able to octave up and down without using the octave vents - its just easier and more reliable to use the vents (ie the thumb octave mechanism). Once the fundamental standing wave has been broken and the player is now playing the up octave, even with the vent closed the wave will not back down to the lower frequency until the player "releases" the emboucher.

Ask you GF to try going from low to high A and G with and without the octave key pressed - see what happens.

In the old days (pre 1920's) many saxophones still used a split octave mechanism and the player had to manually switch from the low (G and below) key to the upper (A and above key) - someone finally invented the automatic octave mechanism which works well but is often the cause of problems.
 

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nitram_tpr said:
O.K I've got home now and just watched the mechanisms whilst my GF is playing (I am also temporarily deaf, them 54's are flippin' loud!! ). The mechanisms look like they are working correctly.......to a point.
When she plays a note and has the thumb octave key pressed the note changes correctly, then when she presses the 'G' key, the octave pad on the neck/crook closes correctly and the body octave pad opens and the note changes, then when she let's go of the thumb key, the neck pad closes but the note doesn't change. This to me would indicate a leak? Would this be because the spring on the thumb key is out of adjustment?

Thanks again for any and all assistance given :)
Her embouchure is likely too tight.
 

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The problem can be that there is too much friction between the neck key and the arm that operates it. A tiny trace of cork grease (or nose grease :)can solve it. This is more likely if htere is a plastic tube sleeve over the lever.

Otherwise it is likely to be too much friction in another part of the mechanism, or a spring insufficiently tensioned to overcome the strength of another spring.
 

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Sorry to re-open an old thread, but I found it through a forum link.

Excellent thread, lot's of good info that's not easy to find.

Is there a specification of the 'timing' of the pip openings? At times both octave pips are open, going in both directions from G to A and from A to G. Is it OK, does it matter?

What's the timing between the octave pips opening and the (for example) G and A keys opening? Should the octave key pips open with the normal key, before or after?

Am looking at this as a possible souce of squeaks in this area when playing legato.
 

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IMO most problems in this area are to do with insufficient breath support.

The octave vents are only an aid. Those second octave notes need breath support, whereas for the 1st octave, one can get away with rather little. (Flute players are particularly aware of this, because they do not have the luxury of assistance from an octave vent, apart from for two notes, D & Eb)

If you can play the second octave without the octave key pressed, then you are using just slightly more than the required breath support with the octave key pressed.

The octave vent switch occurs during the travel of the G key, and yes, there has to be a time when both vents are open.
 

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Thanks for such a speedy reply. Can play second octave (mostly) without the key. Tried what you said, mae a huge difference, thanks. Nice to eliminate parts of the problem. And even better to get good advice on sorting the rest of it! Thanks!
 
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