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Discussion Starter #1
I play tenor and don't get to pick up many altos, but this MkVI alto, (63xxx) came into my posession recently. It plays sort of OK, though it could do with a complete overhaul, but it just looks and feels out of kilter mechanically. It was difficult to photograph what I mean but look at the offset between the bell and the neck when the neck is in line with the thumb rest, and look at the position of the octave lift on the octave ring with the neck in line with the thumb rest. It seems as though a pair of giant hands has got hold of the top of it and the bottom of it and twisted them in opposite directions, yet there's no sign of any damage on the horn, in fact there's not so much as a ding on it anywhere. Is this mechanical alignment normal for MkVI altos and if not what's happened to it?
 

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FWIW...that is not how I line up the neck on my VI Alto...I line up the 'green' padding on the octave key (as shown in your photo) with the center of the octave key mechanism.

If you rotate the neck as I have described I think that you will see that it will be in good alignment...
 

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No, bent beyond repair. I'll give you £250 for it for parts....................... or do as Tharruff suggests! :bluewink:
 

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Discussion Starter #4
I line up the 'green' padding on the octave key (as shown in your photo) with the center of the octave key mechanism.
If you rotate the neck as I have described I think that you will see that it will be in good alignment...
Yes that's exactly what I did when I first picked it up, but if I do that and hold the sax directly in front of my body in a natural and comfortable position, (rather than to the side), then as you can see the mouthpiece is 3 inches to the right of my mouth and I have to rotate the sax clockwise with both hands to get the mouthpiece in my mouth. I couldn't play it for long having to hold it rotated like that. To get the mouthpiece to my mouth with the sax held in this natural position I have to rotate the neck to the position shown in the first picture. I can't believe it was built like this.
 

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Discussion Starter #6
That's a kind offer Griff but I'm not too bothered about it to be honest, I was just curious about the mechanics of it that's all. I'm not going to be using it much, I'll probably play it at home from time to time to keep it from siezing up and if my teenage granddaughter who's currently learning clarinet stays with it, it it'll make a nice 18th birthday present for her.
 

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Peter,

From the photo of you holding the sax it actually looks quite normal - although I see what you mean. If you can, suspend the sax on from the neck strap and then adjust the crook (sax neck) so that it's vertical and then take another picture for us. I always set my saxes up to this or very close to this position for the crook, because otherwise you ore doing some work with your hands to twist the sax against where it wants to hang due to gravity. Most players do this to some extent, but if you're holding the sax in front and away from you, as you normally do, then I think it should be kept to a minimum. If you do this you should see that the bell is still somewhat offset, but the crook should come comfortably to your mouth (unless your used to twisting it a lot).

edit: you should also hold the alto so that your RH is slightly to the right of you LH - at an angle in other words - not dead straight like it is in your photo.
 

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Discussion Starter #8
suspend the sax on from the neck strap and then adjust the crook (sax neck) so that it's vertical
That's how it's set in the first post middle picture. If I attach the neck strap to it on the stand in that position and just lift it off the stand by the neck strap it stays in exactly the same position as it is on the stand.

As I mentioned I don't play alto, I'm used to holding a tenor to my side, so my hand positions on the alto may well be incorrect.
 

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So on the picture of you holding the sax, is the crook is in the same position (vertical if hung from the sling)? If so, try holding the sax out in front of you supported by the sling and two thumbs (one on each thumb rest) the crook should then be pointing directly at you and the bell somewhat offset. Does that feel very uncomfortable to your hands if you adjust the angle of the sax as I previously suggested?
 

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Discussion Starter #10
So on the picture of you holding the sax, is the crook is in the same position (vertical if hung from the sling)
No it isn't. In the picture of me holding it, the octave lifting peg is positioned in the centre of the octave ring. In this position, and with the sax hung from the sling, the crook is at around 20 to 30 degrees to the left of vertical.

Anyway, it's all getting a bit technical here. To be honest I expected a MkVI expert to come in and tell me this sax needed realigning. If it doesn't, and if this geometry is right then I think it must be me simply not used to holding an alto. I have a suspicion it's 50/50 though, a bit me and a bit the sax.

Next week I'll get the opportunity to compare its geometry with a friend's new Yani alto - that should be interesting.

Thanks for your thoughts on it.
 

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I never thought about it much - I just put my VI alto together and the alignment matches your's. HOWEVER, I don't line up my neck with the octave key - but more in line with the neck strap ring (possible even slightly on the left of the ring). I don't think there's anything wrong with the horn.
 

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To be honest I expected a MkVI expert to come in...............
Well, I'm not sure what one of those is, but here's a quick picture of one of mine. This one's 82xxx so it shouldn't be physically any different from yours. Shortly after, the bow was lengthened on the altos but the geometry of the instrument was the same. At least this one's the same as my 106xxx. This is with the crook in the vertical position when hung from the sling (which is how I play it) and the octave key lifting peg is just ever so slightly to to right of center on the octave key ring. Hope this helps!
 

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Peter, your Mark VI alto looks just like mine. Yours is fine.

Maybe this information might help you: the round black piece of plastic where you rest your left thumb is not supposed to have its flat surface face directly at you (from a left-right point of view) when you are playing the sax. Instead, its flat surface should be angled about 30 degrees to the left.
 

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There's got to be a Mark VI expert around here somewhere! :protest:
 

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It appears normal. The thumb rests and the neck strap hook do not line up with the mouthpiece. If you put the instrument to your right side, everything lines up properly, including the slight twist in the bell. I'm guessing this was meant to facilitate better ergonomics for playing by the side of your leg or body. When played front/centre position, if you don't study the "look" of it, it still feels right.
 

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Peter, your Mark VI alto looks just like mine. Yours is fine.

Maybe this information might help you: the round black piece of plastic where you rest your left thumb is not supposed to have its flat surface face directly at you (from a left-right point of view) when you are playing the sax. Instead, its flat surface should be angled about 30 degrees to the left.
It looks just like mine, too. How does yours play?
 

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Nothing wrong with it..........apart from the fact that you have positioned the neck to far to the left in a vain attempt to line it up with the bell, which as we all know doesn't line up with the body an a 6 like a lot of altos, but curves more towards the right, if you aren't used to a 6 this can look quite weird at first.

Just line the neck up with the strap ring and everything will be fine.
 

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Nothing wrong with the horn.
Alignment of the crook depends largely on the player's preference.
For example, if you're sitting down and like to have the horn to the right (with the bottom bow touching your right leg) you will probably set the crook so that the octave key pin (the sticky up bit that extends above the crook socket) position is slightly to the left of the brace that runs underneath the crook - taking the pointy end of the brace, just above the tenon sleeve, as 'dead centre'.

If you're standing and like to have the horn slightly to the right (with the centre of the bottom bow pointing straight down your right leg) you'll have the pin more or less dead centre to the brace.

The crook octave key ring is designed to accommodate all these positions, and should work equally well in all of them. Once you get to about a centimetre of offset (which few, if any players, would require), the octave mechanism will throw a leak.

If you're standing and want the body of the horn to run dead straight down the centre of your body you'll have the pin positioned to the right of the brace.

If you find the position uncomfortable you can have the sling ring moved - though very few MkVI owners have ever asked me to do such a job.
I suspect it's likely to be a case of getting used to it, particularly if you're coming from a tenor.

Regards,
 

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Discussion Starter #20
If you're standing and want the body of the horn to run dead straight down the centre of your body you'll have the pin positioned to the right of the brace.
The expert at last........thanks Stephen, (note the definite article).

That's exactly the way it is. With the horn dead centre in front of me and the crook rotated to position the mouthpiece at my mouth the octave pin is 7mm to the right of the crook brace. This is not a feature of any of the several tenors I have owned so I now accept that it's me just not being used to holding an alto especially one, it seems, which has a rather exaggerated geometry.

Your manual remains an invaluable source of information and instruction which I couldn't be without and I'm tempted to use it to refurbish this MkVI, but I think my skills might let me down despite your excellent instructions, so it'll be off to the tech I think.
 
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