Controlling the Bounce of the Right-Hand Keys on the Saxophone

Need help controlling bouncing keys in the right hand of your saxophone?

No need to worry. Right hand bounce is actually a very common problem. One of the ways to help stop the bounce is to have a cork on the back of the key itself and a felt glued to the body of the saxophone. When the cork hits the felt on the up stroke of the key, it will not bounce as much as when the cork itself touches the body of the instrument.

So, if the bounce is hard to get rid of, you can experiment by using more cork on the key and less felt on the body or less cork on the key and more felt on the body to get the proper pad height and control bounce. Over the many years of repairing saxophones I have found that almost every saxophone requires a slightly different way to fix the same problem.

You may also find that the spring tension and spring placement can sometimes cause bouncing. For example, some Selmer Mark VI tenors have a very short D spring in the right hand. This very short spring makes it difficult to both stop the bounce and get good spring tension on the D key.

The type of spring will also make a difference when making the adjustment. A Stainless Steel Spring (sometimes referred to as a piano wire spring) does not seem to bounce as much as a Blue Steel spring. The reason behind this is that contrary to a blue steel string, it does not need to be heated before it is put in the saxophone, and in result, it maintains a better hardness allowing less bounce.

If your saxophone has Blue Steel springs, they must be tempered correctly prevent the keys from bouncing. In extreme cases you can drill a small hole in the back arm of the key and have the spring go through the hole to operate the key (but I recommend having a repairman do this procedure if you find it necessary). By changing the spring placement you can control or eliminate the bounce. After doing this, however, it is necessary to remove the entire lower stack to adjust the spring tension on every one of the stack keys. But I would only do this as a last resort…..

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Published on: September 4, 2014

Filled Under: Repair Tips

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