Tenor High G Adjustments

Hi guys, Rheuben again. Today I’d like to talk to you about the first altissimo G on the tenor saxophone – what can be done and what can’t be done to help that note come in. It’s a problem note on the tenor sax, so there are several things we can do and a lot of things we can’t do.

First, the most important thing we can do is check the adjustment to make sure that when you push the harmonic key, the front F, it holds down the B key and this little key [points]. Now this adjustment must be in place for the altissimo G to work.

Now if you play that G and the instrument doesn’t work and doesn’t respond as well as you like it to, on most modern saxophones, right here by the harmonic key there’s a screw [shows]. You can loosen the screw, slide it back and forth, and it will allow you to change the opening of the high F key. There’s quite a bit of distance that you can change here to make that note come in.

So now, when you get that when the note comes in, remember you’re sliding this back and forth and changing the high F, you’re also changing it so that it will effect your high F and high E when using the fork fingerings. When you make that adjustment, keep in mind that it will change these notes also.

Now if you’re playing a saxophone that has a high F# key, you can play the high F# key like this and open the F# key with a button [shows] and that works for some people depending on the mouthpiece and everything or you can play the B key and the high F# key [shows]. That tends to be a little flat but it has a great color. So if you’re going to do it quick, this is great. If you’re going from a B to a G, all you do is hit this key and you go from a high B to a high G and back.

So that’s pretty much all you can do to adjust the saxophone to help with the first altissimo G. And I think that’s it… Later!!

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Replacing Saxophone Neck Cork with Rheuben Allen

I’d like to talk a little bit about the neck cork. Now this is a Selmer Mark VI neck and as you can see over time, the neck cork has been lengthened quite a bit. It should stop right about here (shows where) but you have another half inch that was done on this.

So what happens is, whenever you go to put on a neck cork, you try not to lengthen it at all. So in the case of this though, you can see all the marks and things, so I put the cork just to here and there’s going to be a big ugly piece coming out of that neck. So what we have to do once the cork is cut, we must go that same length with the new neck cork.

Now I use contact cement when I’m putting on a neck cork. So what you want to do to prepare the neck cork is, I usually cut the cork sheet down the middle, then you cut a tapered angle on one end (demonstrates) so that it’s tapered underneath, then you apply the contact cement.

Okay, normally when I put the contact cement on, I use a pipe cleaner because it’s easier, but I’m out so today I’m using a q-tip. You simply go over your tapered area first. You don’t want it to be too thick at all, but you have to make sure that it covers everything (demonstrates applying contact cement to the tapered area and the back of the cork). Put the contact on.

Just want to make sure you cover all of the cork you’ll be applying and you want to make sure you far enough. It doesn’t matter if you go past where the wraps going to be. You just have to make sure you put enough on there for where the wraps going to be. So I go a little extra.

Put [the glue on], then that’s that part for the moment. Simply lay the cork on something to give the glue time to get tacky.

The next step, of course, is to put the contact glue on the neck. I’m doing this tenor neck. So I simply take the contact glue and place it around the neck. Now you want to make sure you get it on this seam right here (shows) and on the top because in this little seam [you need to make sure the cork sticks]. Again, you want to make sure you cover everything. If it doesn’t get covered, it won’t stick. And it’s very important to cover the end because that has to be cut a little thinner than the rest of the cork.

And as I’ve said before, this particular neck is a little long, so there’s a little extra room you have to do here. Make sure you don’t put it on too thick or with any clumpy spots or it will take a long time to dry. You want the glue to be fairly even.

It’s generally easier with a pipe cleaner, the q-tip is a little limited. Get it all around the neck cork area. Then put it somewhere for the glue to get tacky without it touching anything.

It will take a while for the tenor cork I just prepared to be ready to sand, so I have here an alto cork that I’ve already put on. It’s already been wrapped and everything, so I’ll show you how to sand it. It’s fairly simple to sand. Simply lay it down. I get these sanders (shows) at the 99 cent store. I get three of them for $1. And by hand, I sand the cork.

Now contrary to many things that I’ve heard, the saxophone neck is not a cylinder, it is tapered. So the back end of the cork must be thinner than the front of the cork in order to make the cork a cylinder to the mouthpiece to slide onto and seal properly. So you must take a little more off the backend. And the cork seam, of course, should always be placed on the bottom of the neck (shows) so that it’s not seen. When the mouthpiece is on, you don’t see the seam.

And you just start sanding. Turn the neck a little [as you go]. And hand sand it until it’s the right [thickness] for the mouthpiece you’re going to fit to this neck.

Okay, now I’m getting ready to put the neck cork on this tenor neck and one of the things you need to do, as I used contact cement, is that you need have a place to put it while the contact cement is drying. So at the end of my work bench, I drilled two holes. One is 1 1/8 inch for the tenor necks and one is 1 inch for the alto neck. So that’s where they can sit while you’re waiting for the glue to dry and there’s no chance of knocking it off the bench or any of the kind of stuff because it’s actually in a hole and setup.

[To put the cork on the neck, the side of the cork with glue goes against the neck. I start the tapered end at the bottom of the saxophone neck cork area so that when it’s all said and done, the seam isn’t visible. If I have extra cork after I wrap it around the neck cork area, I cut it so that it lines up seamlessly with the tapered edge. Be careful not to cut the actual saxophone neck. Press the cork down against the neck to get a nice seal and let the glue dry before you begin sanding.]

[Goes back to alto neck] So now I have sanded the neck cork so that it’s a complete cylinder and very smooth and now’s the time to put the mouthpiece on and make sure that it fits. So you want to put a lot of cork grease on the neck. And then the mouthpiece that I use to test putting it on is one that I manufacture that has a metal ring around it so that it’s less likely to crack. So then you simply put the mouthpiece on the neck and get it on as far as you can get it on and [as you can see] that’s a very nice fit, a very nice distance. The player can put it there or out here, he’s got a lot of room and the cork is very snug. So at this point, I look at the back of the cork here (shows) and if it’s thicker in the back here than where you put the mouthpiece on, then I just simply sand that piece down a little more until it gets to be completely a cylinder so you don’t have that big bump at the back end. Now you’re finished and the cork is ready to be used.

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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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Saxophone Repair Tips | An Article Roundup on Teen Jazz

Rheuben Allen, a saxophone and woodwind repairman based in California, has contributed a number of articles to Teen Jazz on instrument repair and music in general. Because he specializes in sax repair, the majority of his articles have been on that particular topic. Here is a collection of saxophone repair tips from Rheuben Allen.

Why it’s Important to Take You Instrument in for Regular Check-Ups – Preventative maintenance can help your saxophone maintain its working condition for far longer than if you wait until something is wrong.

Repair Etiquette – How to Talk to Your Repairman – Why it’s important to tell your repairman the problems you’re having when you take your horn in for repair.

Emergency Saxophone Repair – Just in case you need to do a couple of quick fixes yourself while on the road.

Basic Saxophone Repair – If your interested in doing instrument repair, here are a few ideas to help you get started.

How to Adjust the G-Sharp Spring Tension on a Saxophone – A problem many of us have.

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How to Adjust the G-Sharp Spring Tension on a Saxophone

This article is part of a series of repair articles written Rheuben Allen.


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.

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