This article is part of a series of repair articles written Rheuben Allen.
ADJUSTING THE G# SPRING TENSION AND BALANCE
There are 2 parts to the G# mechanism on the saxophone:
1. The Key Lever: the part the finger pushes to make the key work
2. The Pad Cup: the part that hold the pad.
In order for the G# key to function properly, the G# lever spring must be stronger then the G# pad cup spring. If it isn’t, then the key won’t close quickly enough for it to work.
So, having said that, it is necessary to make sure the spring tension on saxophones with an articulated G# mechanism is balanced.
As a side note, when you tighten the G# lever spring it will also make the Low B, Low B-Flat and Low C-Sharp key heavier to operate. So make sure you take this into consideration when adjusting the G# lever tension.
The options on how to balance the G# are determined by the design of the G# Mechanism. Here are a few things you need to consider before adjusting the springs:
How long is the spring?
Where is the spring located? Is it located near the Rod or does it have an extension from the rod?
How old is the spring?
What type of spring is used: Blue Steel – Stainless – Gold Wire?
If you tighten the G# pad cup key and the result is that it is too strong for the G# lever key to operate well, then your second choice would be to change the placement of the G# pad cup spring. Sometimes when the spring hook is too close to the key rod it is difficult to adjust the tension without making it too hard to play. It also makes it so that the left pinky keys are difficult to play (for the lower register). Instead, by moving the spring out to the bar of the G# pad cup key, you can get a lighter balance and the key will not bounce (which is why we need to tighten the springs most of the time).
In my experience, I have found during the many years I’ve adjusted G# tension, that it almost never works the same on every saxophone. It is a matter of experimenting to find the perfect balance.