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Distinguished SOTW Member, Forum Contributor 2014
Super Action 80 Tenor, Buescher 156 Tenor, Yamaha Vito YAS-21 , Kessler Soprano, Superba II Bari
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I suppose you're right, and that it boils down to supply and demand. Manufacturers can just pass the cost onto the consumer, but, as evident by this thread, the average saxophonist doesn't even know what the key does. Now even for those of us who know about this key, would we be willing to pay an extra couple hundred dollars for a new horn that offers the key? Eh, probably not. If it was marketed correctly, I'd imagine that it may attract the younger players who are looking for their first pro horns. None of us knew what a high G key was until about a decade ago, and I remember thinking in High School that I had to have one. :lol:

It is kind of funny though how us saxophonists are a more conservative bunch of consumers. Other instrument markets seem to be trying new things all the time while we still demand that manufacturers copy the Mark VI. Heck, even Selmer, Yamaha, and Yanagisawa do their best to copy the VI. Every successful manufacturer doesn't seem to stray too far away from this design. Those that do seem to fall into financial turmoil. So we're in an odd market that demands that companies be innovative, as they were in the "good ol days", BUT when innovation is actually presented to us...we run back to what's most familiar. Hmmmm....
 

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Distinguished SOTW Member/Bass Sax Boss
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Maybe I'm way off here, as I read more on saxophones than my simple mind can possibly digest, but didn't Selmer Paris have a few horns with the forked Eb? For some reason, I recall seeing this mechanism on alto saxes around the Balanced Action or Dorsey Model era. Maybe I'll have to do some Googling...
Yes, I've seen several Selmers with the forked Eb key, almost all of them saxes from the early 1930s.
 

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Distinguished SOTW Coffee Guru
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well, saxophonists (and other musicians) are, in a sense, very superstitious and often need to believe in the magic of old horns, the lack of lacquer or persistence of old lacquer, the benefits or malefices of any particular metal to their sound , the addition of various gizmos crutches to improve their sound, the perennial search for the ideal mouthpiece.

For some strange and arcane reason the only product of the industrial revolution (which the saxophone is) which didn’t benefit from technological innovation is the saxophone.

Everything else improved but the saxophone was born perfect (or perhaps improved only until the ’50 when the Mark VI was introduced :) ) and it only became worse and worse from then on:twisted:

No doubt this is the product of some sort of malicious design, an evil spell cast upon the evil ways of those who believe in progress and technological advance.
 

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Distinguished SOTW Member, Forum Contributor 2014
Super Action 80 Tenor, Buescher 156 Tenor, Yamaha Vito YAS-21 , Kessler Soprano, Superba II Bari
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Thanks for double confirming that saxtek. I haven't seen a picture of one for quite a few years, and I was second guessing myself.

Everything else improved but the saxophone was born perfect (or perhaps improved only until the '50 when the Mark VI was introduced :) ) and it only became worse and worse from then on.

No doubt this is the product of some sort of malicious design, an evil spell cast upon the evil ways of those who believe in progress and technological advance.
Personally, I think it's all in what one is used to. I've played a lot of VI tenors, but I wouldn't trade my SA80 for any of them. I've logged in enough hours with my horn, and I'm extremely comfortable with the modern design. Older horns blow differently, and lack certain keys that I use. As such, they hinder my ability to play music. Can I re-learn how to play certain passages on an older VI, or Balanced Action, or 10M? Sure. Do I really want to take the time? Not really. I have enough to work on with the equipment that I am already comfortable with. Conversely, someone who learned on an older horn is going to say the same thing about the modern horns.

Of course, then there are those gem saxophones that have the ability to pull one out of their comfort zone, and make them rethink how they approach the instrument. These are truly magical instruments. Or...perhaps it was just the right horn, of the right vintage, for the right player, who was in the right state of mind, during the right part of their playing career.
 

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Distinguished Technician & SOTW Columnist. RIP, Yo
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I understand why a player may disable this.

But IMO a tech who disables this is just putting up a flag to his incompetence or lack of thoroughness.

With precise pivots, and the modern, stable, low friction linkage materials and high quality pads we have had available for a long time now, I see no reason why this cannot operate as stably as any other part of the sax.

If a tech cannot get this right, then keep oboes and bass clarinets well away!
 

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Distinguished SOTW Technician
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The forked Eb mechanism also makes a low C#-D# or Db-Eb trill possible - play low C#/Db as normal and trill with RH2. Dead easy! Now go and try that on a sax without it fitted.
 

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Discussion Starter · #27 ·
The forked Eb mechanism also makes a low C#-D# or Db-Eb trill possible - play low C#/Db as normal and trill with RH2. Dead easy! Now go and try that on a sax without it fitted.
Wow, that really is amazing, and it's also a nearly impossible thing to do properly in modern horns.
 

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Distinguished SOTW Technician
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Another thing which is no longer fitted on saxes and was fitted to some older ones is a RH C-D trill key (as you'd have on flutes and oboes). So you can play C (oxo|ooo or the side key fingering) and trill to the D much easier than trilling with the high Eb key.

So sometimes it would be nice to see saxes being fitted with the forked Eb mechanism, the G-Ab trill and C-D trill - some old ones had all of these on them, but it would be nice to see a modern sax fitted out like this. A LH Eb key would also be great, but finding a suitable place for the touchpiece in the LH pinky keys will be a challenge.

A RH low C# key has been specially made and fitted to some saxes (see Paul Harvey's book "Saxophone") and it also means you can play low C# without having to hold the low C key closed which frees up your right pinky to do a decent C#/Db-D#/Eb trill.
 

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Distinguished SOTW Technician.
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I'd like to see an extra low B lever for the right pinky, similar to the clarinet. Put it right below the low C touchpiece and have it press both the low C and low B together. You'd be able to execute A#-B and B-C# trills without doing it all with the left pinky.
 

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Distinguished SOTW Member, Forum Contributor 2015-
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What, no love for the thumbs? Why have the pinkies to all the work?

Sheesh, seems like too few bassoonists are here to reinvent the saxophone...

OTOH, I'm still trying to recollect just when, in the last 40+ years, I've wanted to trill A#-B or B-C#.
 

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What, no love for the thumbs? Why have the pinkies to all the work?

Sheesh, seems like too few bassoonists are here to reinvent the saxophone...

OTOH, I'm still trying to recollect just when, in the last 40+ years, I've wanted to trill A#-B or B-C#.
Apparently you don't play tenor in a concert band that plays "new" music.

Personally, I actively try to forget such nonsense.
 

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Distinguished SOTW Technician.
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What, no love for the thumbs? Why have the pinkies to all the work?

Sheesh, seems like too few bassoonists are here to reinvent the saxophone...
I'm saving the thumbs for the extended bell to low G...:bluewink:

OTOH, I'm still trying to recollect just when, in the last 40+ years, I've wanted to trill A#-B or B-C#.
This certainly explains why nobody's taking to the streets demanding this option. I just dislike incomplete keywork on principle.

I think in some cases (bari sax parts?) having more options in the bottom end would be a plus. Which goes back to my high regard for the forked Eb...
 

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Distinguished SOTW Member, Forum Contributor 2015-
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Apparently you don't play tenor in a concert band that plays "new" music.

Personally, I actively try to forget such nonsense.
"Avoiding it" works for me. I cannot stand to consider playing tenor in concert band.
 

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Distinguished SOTW Member, Forum Contributor 2014
Super Action 80 Tenor, Buescher 156 Tenor, Yamaha Vito YAS-21 , Kessler Soprano, Superba II Bari
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I understand why a player may disable this.

But IMO a tech who disables this is just putting up a flag to his incompetence or lack of thoroughness.

With precise pivots, and the modern, stable, low friction linkage materials and high quality pads we have had available for a long time now, I see no reason why this cannot operate as stably as any other part of the sax.

If a tech cannot get this right, then keep oboes and bass clarinets well away!
Exactly! Though to be fair, I can understand why this mechanism is despised by techs. It is a rather complicated mechanism for just a single note. It seems, to my uneducated eyes, that this key requires as much attention as the entire lower stack. That's a lot of extra setup work, and I get that. However, I'm very much willing to pay for the extra time to set it up correctly as opposed to denying that the key exists. Heck, I'm willing to bet that most of us don't use the Side C fingering that often. Should we just ignore that key too?

What I don't understand are the rumors that suggest that this key wears out any differently than any other mechanism on the saxophone. It's not as if the posts for this mechanism have sandpaper on the ends, or that the rod screws are made of an alloy that contains trace amounts of sulfuric acid that would wear the action down any quicker than anywhere else. Actually, it looks as if this mechanism takes considerably less stress than other places in the keywork. With, a usual, two other horns, electronic equipment, and typically a tight schedule, I can't claim to be the most careful saxophonist in the world when it comes to maintaining my equipment. That said, I use my Conn New Wonder alto quite often, and have not seen anything that would lead me to believe that this key would wear out any quicker than any other mechanism of the horn. Maybe the keywork on my horn is just extra durable, but I somehow doubt it.
 

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Distinguished Technician & SOTW Columnist. RIP, Yo
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IMO it's just a single extra linkage and pad to close accurately. On a normal sax, there are 5 linkages associated with the lower stack, and a couple of them are the fussiest on the sax.

The linkages are 10 times more demanding (and inter-related) on a pro oboe.

But if a tech tries to incorporate traditional, thick, squishy, natural cork in the linkage of this sax "extra" (or on an oboe) he will definitely establish unreliability.

"..Heck, I'm willing to bet that most of us don't use the Side C fingering that often. Should we just ignore that key too? "
I was quite astonished to hear that many techs routinely make the D key to F# key link disfunctional. That makes a D to F# tremolo a lot more clumsy to play. (And it can be disastrous for a flute player doubling.) Such techs seem to claim that they cannot adjust that to work without making D semi-disfunctional. Not a problem in my experience.
 

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With all saxes there's a certain amount of flexing and torsion in the keywork. So to make them function well, this has to be taken into account. You can regulate things so they appear to be in perfect regulation, but once you introduce another factor (eg. operating the low C# key or similar), then you'll start to have leaks even if the pads are all seating well and your regulation is strictly text book.

So to make things work properly (especially when setting up the RH main action so all the fingerplates close the uppermost pad), then you have to over regulate things just enough (but not too much) to be sure the pads all close. The amount of torsion in the bridge key will ensure both the fingerplate pad and the vent pad will close, then when the G# pad cup is released, that too will be held closed.

The forked Eb mechanism has some short levers to work with, so it can often feel sluggish if soft silencing materials or tubing which exhibits plenty of friction are used. So firm low friction materials are best used in the linkage. As it's an open standing vent, you won't have any noise from it as the linkages are in full contact with each other - but you do still need a good sound deadening material between the linkage foot and the body of the sax.
 
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