Sax on the Web Forum banner

1 - 20 of 52 Posts

·
Registered
Joined
·
242 Posts
Discussion Starter #1
Can anyone recommend an imaginative and effective sax tech?

I need to have the octave keys on an alto and tenor (Mark VI's) modified so it sits above and to the LEFT of the thumb rest. I lost the last joint of my left thumb a while ago, and I'm trying to get back to using my horns, but the decreased distance between my fingers and the end of the thumb is now so short it's hard to hit the 8va key without also nudging the hi D and making awful noises.


If anyone out there has any ideas on how to overcome this, I'd appreciate all constructive comments.

Thanks.
 

·
Administrator
Joined
·
13,993 Posts
I'm not a professional tech, and there are many on this board who are and will likely chime in. however, given your description, I would think some sort of prostheses boot (or docking station.;)) attached to the thumb rest or just left of it, that you could fit your remaining thumb into and would extend and allow you to secure the upper leverage and weight of the body, would be in order.

It would need to have a firm but padded foot inside that your thumb would rest on, rather like the toe of a ballet dancer's shoe to extend the thumb's length, but the outer area of the boot would need a "cuff" (with an ergonomic cutout for the palm area) with enough freedom and room to allow you to move your hand to activate the palm keys easily etc.,

I would think one could be molded to custom fit, from a high density plastic like those used on prosthetic devices, and screwed into place on the thumb button itself with some sort of adjustable coupler.

The whole affair could be hinged in a manner that facilitated lifting the boot upward to activate a modified octave key mechanism not unlike what a normal thumb does, but assisted by a bit of modification that allows for the boot.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
597 Posts
Any good repair tech can make a key or extend a key. Should not be a problem Silver soldering another key part to your key and shape it to end up where ever you want it to. I have done it many times.
 

·
Distinguished Technician & SOTW Columnist. RIP, Yo
Joined
·
17,204 Posts
Ken is correct.

Or with that key, an extension could be made that is attached from underneath with some very small screws. If it were later removed, then nobody would notice.

Be aware that if the key is extended further from its hinge, then there will be more travel. If you need that travel reduced, then it would probably be a significantly bigger job, with quite a few options for doing this, depending on the exact layout of the mechanism.
 

·
Administrator
Joined
·
13,993 Posts
What the two of you have missed, is that an extension of sorts, that his thumb stub can utilize, is needed to keep the normal hand position intact beyond the activation of the modified octave key.

To keep the balance and feel the same, which would prevent simply moving the thumb rest further left and extending the octave key, an attached prosthetic boot to slip his thumb into and make up for his lost joint, would seem to be the most practicable and comfortable solution to that compound problem.
 

·
Distinguished SOTW Member
Joined
·
3,358 Posts
SAXISMYAXE said:
What the two of you have missed, is that an extension of sorts, that his thumb stub can utilize, is needed to keep the normal hand position intact beyond the activation of the modified octave key.

To keep the balance and feel the same, which would prevent simply moving the thumb rest further left and extending the octave key, an attached prosthetic boot to slip his thumb into and make up for his lost joint, would seem to be the most practicable and comfortable solution to that compound problem.
Maybe yes and maybe no, as any prosthesis would have to be quite firmly attached to the bottom joint of his thumb for starters, as he would need a certain amount of force to press a key without it slipping off.

I once did a TV story on a clinic that replaces lost tips of fingers for reformed Japanese yakuza gangsters, and they are not that easy a thing to make, as they need to be snug enough not to slip off, but not so tight as to impair circulation--and this is just for cosmetic purposes: they are not meant to be utilized to actually do anything.

Consider also that there would be no articulation in the joint--it would just be a stiff extension, and without sensation.

My Super 20 tenor has a hole in the right hand index finger pearl where an extension used to be--the former owner also lost a fingertip--and apparently this worked quite well.

It seems to me what is called for is quite simple: move the thumb rest to the left for starters so that it is in a comfortable place. Then a decision has to be made for the optimal position of the touch. It could either be to the right of the thumbrest, where he can press it with the end of this thumb, or possibly it would be more comfortable to the left, so that he can place the end of his thumb on the rest and push the key with the bottom portion of his thumb near the palm.

Of course the key should be curved to lay near the body. I seriously doubt that extra key travel would be a problem with such a short extension, and the key posts for the octave key (at least on the saxes I know) are on the right anyway, so there is no problem with leverage.

It seems most important that widetrack put some thought into what would be most comfortable for him: what is the optimal position, height and size for the thumbrest, and does he wish to push the key with the tip of his thumb, in which case the touch should be located to the right (and perhaps a bit above) the new thumbrest, or would it be easier to have the key under his thumb to the left?

Toby
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,317 Posts
IMO the easiest and most direct alteration would be to solder a thin diameter extension, of the proper length, to the top plane of the current thumb spatula, that will function even while positioned over the top of the thumb rest. Having license to customize these types of gizmos are always fun and challenging to us. :D
 

·
Banned
Joined
·
5,336 Posts
Here is another suggestion. Since the upper thumb joint is missing, rocking the thumb to press the octave key the way the key is traditionally played is not an option. That leaves an up and down motion requiring the thumb to be in constant contact with the octave lever or a rolling motion similar to the way a clarinet A key is pressed.

A rounded brass extension could easily be attached to the thumb lever, and the appropriate size plastic extension could be glued to the thumb rest. I think that this is going to be as close as possible to the balance and feel of the natural way to press the octave key within the limitations of the missing joint of the thumb.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,317 Posts
I'd think that if he has 1/2 of his thumb, if the key (sans roller) addition in your picture were positioned 1/2 over the top of the thumb rest would be more ergonomical. Kinda like a clarinet register key., sorta, if you get my drift..
 

·
Banned
Joined
·
5,336 Posts
Jerry I think I see what you are saying. I tried to move just the lower joint of my thumb up and down and found it to be quite awkward compared to a slight forward rotation type of movement. That's how I came up with the clarinet A key idea. This is an interesting question.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,317 Posts
Another option John would be to create a key extension with a pointed "V" tip, and make a custom thumb rest which has a "V" notch in it, where the key can be centered within it and the key height can be set up according to the players comfort.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,317 Posts
I'm wondering if the ergonomics of the situation would lead towards below the thumb rest, similar to a low A lever on a bari, or even perhaps a mechanism which could be mounted to the LEFT of the RIGHT hand thumb rest, and operated by the good thumb on that hand??? :?
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
654 Posts
Unfortunately, adding extensions to the existing touchpiece severely reduces leverage. If the extension passes the pivot point, the opposite key action will occur (it will attempt to raise the key rather than depress the mechanism).

I would solder a tab on the opposite side from the current touchpiece, but higher up. A rocker mechanism (perhaps a modified soprano side C key) with a touchpiece on the south end would lift the opposite end, lifting the tab when the touchpiece is depressed. The rest of the key is still intact if someone with a complete thumb wishes to use the instrument.
Email me at the shop [email protected] if this interests you.
 

·
Distinguished SOTW Member
Joined
·
4,147 Posts
Why don't you just learn to play without the octave key? Use your throat to get the notes out. Just don't bite down. Do lots of overtone practice, etc. Who knows, your sound could be better for it...
 

·
Distinguished SOTW Member
Joined
·
3,358 Posts
Well, widetrack is just lucky he is not a bassoonist ;-)

I played with my tenor, trying to use just the lower phalange of my thumb. One obvious problem is that that using just that lower joint, it dramatically decreases the clearance of the palm to the D palm key, which is what widetrack was complaining about. So in addition to whatever mod is done on the thumbrest (it clearly needs to be moved to the left somewhat) it might also be wise to modify that palm key, as tensopbass suggests.

I think it is important to consider just what widetrack has left, and the shape, plus any special sensitivities in the truncated end of the thumb. There is no need, for instance, to have a large, round thumbrest: it could be shaped like a crescent moon, with the octave touch fitted inside the crescent. Much depends on what would be comfortable for widetrack, and this only he can answer.

I just saw hornimprovement's post and I completely agree with what he says. But if widetrack's sax is like my Martin (with the octave key axle to the right of the thumbrest and the touch pushing down to the left) it would be a simple matter to simply extend the touchpiece further to the left. Otherwise as hornimprovement says, you need to add a key to make the leverages work out correctly.

Toby
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
654 Posts
kymarto said:
But if widetrack's sax is like my Martin (with the octave key axle to the right of the thumbrest and the touch pushing down to the left) it would be a simple matter to simply extend the touchpiece further to the left. Otherwise as hornimprovement says, you need to add a key to make the leverages work out correctly.
Toby
Very true, Toby. This one apparently is a Mark VI. The axle is to the left of both the touchpiece and the mechanism. Nice idea about the crescent shape.
 

·
Distinguished Technician & SOTW Columnist. RIP, Yo
Joined
·
17,204 Posts
JBT, in your diagram, if the lever's extension were to be pressed to the left of the post, as you presumably intend, then it rotate the lever in the wrong direction, lifting the original touch instead of pressing it down! Because you are pressing on the other side of the fulcrum.

And if you pressed it right under the post, then it would not move at all.
 

·
Distinguished SOTW member, musician, technician &
Joined
·
5,019 Posts
Hello Widetrack

Have you lost part of the thumb above the last joint, or have you lost all of it plus the joint itself? If you don't have the joint at all, I think you must have a key you can use by rolling your thumb up. A key to the left of the thumbrest would make an awkward movement of the thumb imo, requiering to move the entire hand a lot. Rolling the thumb would use the first joint of the thumb instead of the rest of your hand. If you still have the joint but only a small part above it then you might still be able to press the key if it was just closer. This depends on exactly the shape of your thumb, what movements you can do with it, and the octave key of the of Mark VI (which I don't remember atm). I really think you need to meet whoever it is that is going to do it so they can see how you can move your thumb, to decide the best position for the key, etc.

If the octave key area is similar to what JBT's picture is showing, here are a couple of suggestions. They are not very detailed, just show the basic ideas (sorry about the ugly looking keys, I drew them free-mouse :)). Exactly what can/should be done have to do with specifically what is the most comfortable for you and the space on the saxophone (the thumbrest, palm D key and post, etc.).

View attachment 2618
 

·
Distinguished SOTW Member
Joined
·
3,358 Posts
Clarinbass, it seems that the octave key is normally pushed to the right, not to the left, so as hornimprovement points out, you need a second, independent key on the left that, when you push it down to the left, engages a little clutch on the opposite side of the existing key to push it down to the right. On your second drawing the key is obviously getting pushed down to the left, and even in your first drawing that's what would be happening, since the key is still attached to the pivot from the right, unless I am misunderstanding what you drew.


Another option might be to go ahead and simply mount the touch on the opposite side of the rod and reverse the linkages further up the octave mechanism, but I am not familiar enough with the Mk VI keywork to know if or how that might work.

Toby
 
1 - 20 of 52 Posts
Top