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A few words about sockets

Ben SaintP

Ben SaintP

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I’ve been doing experiments on sockets and I would like to share my experience because I found out that there is a big misconception about its operation.

Socket is a weak part on saxophone, most of them leak and the reason for that is just the way they operate. The general assumption is that one puts the crook into the socket and tighten it to get a seal. But the function of the clamp is not to seal the joint, only to prevent the crook to move. In fact the more you tighten the clamp the more it will leak. So we have got to the main point : the clamping function of a traditional socket operates against the sealing function.

To obtain a seal on socket the only important parameter is the precision of both female (socket) and male diameter (crook tenon). If the inside diameter of the socket is more than 0,05 mm bigger than the outside diameter of the tenon, it will leak. They is no way to correct that by tightening the clamp, it will only make things worse. The clamps makes the socket oval and the leak will happen at the bottom of the slot.

Let’s take the Super Action as an example because with them Selmer has introduced the worse ever socket on the pro market . On a new SA the crook will fit with a good seal before you tighten the clamp. During the first months if you tighten only very slightly you may also get away without leak. But as time goes the socket will become oval and the fit won’t be as good anymore, so what will you do ? You will tighten the clamp a bit more and it is already over, your socket will leak. After a few years you may even see a crack forming on the bottom part of the slot because there is far to much stress on this spot.

People will still buy and play saxophones with cracked socket as it were a triviality. Technicians spend hours to pad an instrument to prevent any leak but nobody worries about a leak which is happening before the vibration has reached even the first tone hole.

Not all sockets are as bad as the Selmer SA ones. Among all traditional sockets I’ve found the early MKVI with the nickel silver ring soldered on being the most effective. Yamaha took the idea on their custom line and there are very good too. But anyway it is the same clamping system which operates against the sealing function.

So the clamping system dwon't create the seal but we need a system which doesn’t work against it. So to say, a clamping system which doesn’t make the socket oval. You’ve already guessed probably. Such a clamping system was developed by SML with its four slots socket tighten by a ring. I came across it on a Youtube video by SaxWorks Denmark where he recreates the SML socket on a Conn New Wonder. That was a really good idea and I liked the design with the ring very much. The only question was why did SML four slots to clamp a cylindrical piece ? To clamp evenly a cylindrical piece one would better use a 3 jaws chuck, so 3 slots would have been more appropriate. That is what Selmer has done with the Supreme but I was not going to spent 7000 euros for a socket and I liked the idea to put a ring socket on already existing models and being maybe able to replace old cracked sockets with this system. So I decided to try it to see if it really does the job and everything that I have written in this article comes from this experiment.

So far I’ve done a few sockets for baritones and tenors and one for soprano is in process. I am really happy with the result, they really don’t leak once tightened :)

IMG 9026
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turf3

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If you're serious about this, you'll need to have two different diameters; a larger diameter at the top for the clamp, and a smaller more closely fitted diameter at the bottom to effect a seal.

To get even better results, why not use an elastomer seal such as an O-ring?
 
JayeNM

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Interesting design idea. So the outer tension ring actually 'squeezes' the inner receiver ring, the concept being it will do this equally around the entire curcumference thus maintain the 'roundness of the receiver.

...yes, like the old SML's. The drawback of the old SML receivers were...they were prone to damage over time...probably more from abuse and misuse than anything else....but I have refurbed a lotta SML's and it isn't atypical to find the condition of their receivers to be iffy.

Beautiful work, BTW !!!
 
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turf3

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That outer clamp ring's still going to crush in more at the screw slot location, so even after decoupling it from the inner ring you won't achieve completely even clamping all round. Theoretically the screw axis would have to be tangent to the ID of the clamp ring, otherwise there's a moment applied to each of the two screw bosses. Industrial clamps, as V-clamps and the like, mount each screw boss (one threaded, one not) so that it can rotate with respect to the actual clamp - thus not imparting that moment to the clamp. The Rovner ligature (ordinary version) does exactly this, and something similar could be done here, except of course the clamp would be metal not fabric. See below.
Vbandclamp7
 
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turf3

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Another point is that even with a better clamp design, you're asking a tube maybe 15 mm long (on a tenor) to seal well, while at the same time being easily removable. Anything that could be done to make that longer would help. One trick I've used is to crush an O-ring axially so that it compresses inward on a tube to make a mechanical joint. That would take the length of clamping part from the ~10 mm you're showing, down to ~5 mm, giving you that extra length for the well-fitted sealing part of the joint.
 
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turf3

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One more thing I'd do is to have a hole at the bottom of each slot to reduce the chance of cracking there.
 
DavidUK

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If there are three slots to the inner ring surely the outer tightening ring will squeeze the inner ring to a triangular shape rather than the original oval? Three places to leak?

An "O" ring would seal but not stop the neck from turning.

Hmmm... what's the solution to both...
Fine splines, like a car steering wheel, to locate the neck and stop it turning, an "O" ring to seal it, and a clamped ring to hold the neck down in the socket but NOT to compress the joint. There... solved.
 
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Dr G

Dr G

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The only question was why did SML four slots to clamp a cylindrical piece ? To clamp evenly a cylindrical piece one would better use a 3 jaws chuck, so 3 slots would have been more appropriate.
Four works fine - the 3- vs 4-jaw argument only applies to lathe chucks when using independent jaws and trying to find a center. If acting as a collet with an external tightening ring, four is not a problem, and can be easier to machine. Yes, please, to drilling the bottom of each slot to minimize localized stress and prevent a crack initiation site.
 
jbtsax

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I may be old fashioned, but I believe the simplest solution to the problem is to educate sax players to have the common sense to take their saxophone to a shop and have the tenon refit when the neck is loose or their instrument is playing "stuffy". My technique is to fit the lower half of the tenon to make an airtight seal with the tightening screw loose. Then I expand the top of the tenon so that a 1/4 turn of the screw keeps it from turning.
 
Stephen Howard

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I may be old fashioned, but I believe the simplest solution to the problem is to educate sax players to have the common sense to take their saxophone to a shop and have the tenon refit when the neck is loose or their instrument is playing "stuffy". My technique is to fit the lower half of the tenon to make an airtight seal with the tightening screw loose. Then I expand the top of the tenon so that a 1/4 turn of the screw keeps it from turning.
Have to agree with this. The big feature of the SML design was that you could move the position of the screw to wherever suited you. Beyond that the joint suffered with much the same limitations as a standard one.

And the problem isn't about being able to tighten the joint - it's about the inability of the joint to maintain a seal when the tolerances are too great.

Repairers have been telling players for years that the clamp screw is really just a locking screw, and that the joint should be airtight before they tighten it up. Also that tightening the screw against an end cap is the quickest way to knacker a tenon socket.

I tightened the joint on my old YTS23 some 30 years ago - never touched it since, and it's still good. Did the same to the RAW when I got it (it wasn't bad, but a properly lapped joint is the gold standard). I'll be amazed if I ever get the chance to do it again. More often than not I forget to do the screw up...and halfway through the first set it vibrates loose and hits the floor.

One of the major causes of problems with vintage horns (Selmers in particular) is that selective galvanic corrosion eats the solder underneath the clamp away. This then requires the player to tighten up the screw ever harder in a bid to stop the crook from moving...and that stretches the clamp....and so on.
 
Ben SaintP

Ben SaintP

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Thank you all for your comments!

The problem is to tighten the joint without loosing the seal. The three slots shape give you a far better approximation of a circle than an oval that’s what make it a technically better clamping system with more contact surface. You won’t have to tighten it as much to hold the crook. Each third of the outer diameter have to move less to reach a clamping effect, which prevent from permanent deformation when reaching the elasticity limit of the brass. There will be less stress on each slot than on a single one, so less chance to crack. Also to prevent cracks I think that choosing the proper brass with the appropriate thermal treatment is a key too. I went with a 3 slots instead of a 4 because as Turf said the outer ring still gives more pressure at its own slot location. On a 4 slots socket it could result with only two side touching the tenon. I did drill the bottom of each slots but you’re right I’ll do a bigger hole.

I may be old fashioned, but I believe the simplest solution to the problem is to educate sax players to have the common sense to take their saxophone to a shop and have the tenon refit when the neck is loose or their instrument is playing "stuffy". My technique is to fit the lower half of the tenon to make an airtight seal with the tightening screw loose. Then I expand the top of the tenon so that a 1/4 turn of the screw keeps it from turning.
Educate saxophone players doesn’t sound so easy to me :happydance:
I am joking of course, you are absolutely right but my point is why should we always choose the simplest way. If a socket is broken, why not to try to replace it with something better, create something different?
Look at the soprano one, isn’t it cute?:rolleyes:
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griff136

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my point is why should we always choose the simplest way. If a socket is broken, why not to try to replace it with something better, create something different?

Mainly because players just want the damn thing fixed in the shortest time and the least expense.
re rounding an out of shape tenon and honing it to fit the socket so it does not leak is bread and butter work for a tech.
Whilst I like the SML design, I'm with @jbtsax and @Stephen Howard on this one, both on educating players and the tightening of the neck screw on the end cap is the quickest route to knackering your socket.
 
JayeNM

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True - for the most part 90% of owners are gonna just go for the cheapest fix, but if the receiver is already a bit compromised then the cheapest fix will be ephemeral. In the sense that one may correct the leakage but the eventuality of the neck screw needing more tightening over time is a common thing.
Just like other 'traditional' specs/mechanisms of the sax which eventually were improved over the decades, designing a detail which improves the overall quality, and outfitting a horn with a receiver which simply performs better....is laudable in my book.
 
griff136

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True - for the most part 90% of owners are gonna just go for the cheapest fix, but if the receiver is already a bit compromised then the cheapest fix will be ephemeral. In the sense that one may correct the leakage but the eventuality of the neck screw needing more tightening over time is a common thing.
Just like other 'traditional' specs/mechanisms of the sax which eventually were improved over the decades, designing a detail which improves the overall quality, and outfitting a horn with a receiver which simply performs better....is laudable in my book.
I hear what you're saying. Surely the educating of sax players not to over tighten their socket screw, to undo the screw prior to removing the crook etc is far better than to let them remain unaware and then fit a new socket when it finally fails.
Prevention of damage is a far better option than having to replace the complete socket IMO.
like I said I like the SML socket design and Mike Barnes (a member here- makes them)
Should my socket on my Selmer completely fail - I'would get him to make me one.
 
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turf3

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I hear what you're saying. Surely the educating of sax players not to over tighten their socket screw, to undo the screw prior to removing the crook etc is far better than to let them remain unaware and then fit a new socket when it finally fails.
Prevention of damage is a far better option than having to replace the complete socket IMO.
like I said I like the SML socket design and Mike Barnes (a member here- makes them)
Should my socket on my Selmer completely fail - I'would get him to make me one.
Well, the solution is to design a joint that isn't fragile, that lasts indefinitely, and provides a good seal; firm mechanical connection; angular adjustability; and fast and easy attachment/detachment.
 
Clivey

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Well, the solution is to design a joint that isn't fragile, that lasts indefinitely, and provides a good seal; firm mechanical connection; angular adjustability; and fast and easy attachment/detachment.
Yep. and we all absolutely know that it's not going to ever happen. The likely guys to implement this kind of innovation are actually more concerned with the reproduction of Nostalgia horns and their derivatives because that's what sells .Get past this? How?

This kind of fitting , in the link I am posting did not exist until about 40 years ago .Prior to this all face to face "union" type fittings employed an internal central olive. I fitted 10'000's of these in brass, plastics,steel, alloys, blah. They were designed specifically to join 2 tubes together where no or little ability for lateral movement exists.
The type below ,the end with the nylon washer utilizes a basic fibre or rubber gasket or o'ring. It's irrelevant. Just have this on the crook and redesign the top of the horn with a thread and machined face. "Ha ha not a chance in hades".
The added bonus is that the locking nut would hold the neck in the position selected with a quick nip up .
Obviously this type of connection presents a challenge re aesthetics ,( not so much ) as the "jubilee clip" hose connector style we have just now but technically it's the obvious solution and I believe should / could have been used on the fated vibrato plastic horns .
Sigh.

 
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turf3

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Yep. and we all absolutely know that it's not going to ever happen. The likely guys to implement this kind of innovation are actually more concerned with the reproduction of Nostalgia horns and their derivatives because that's what sells .Get past this? How?

This kind of fitting , in the link I am posting did not exist until about 40 years ago .Prior to this all face to face "union" type fittings employed an internal central olive. I fitted 10'000's of these in brass, plastics,steel, alloys, blah. They were designed specifically to join 2 tubes together where no or little ability for lateral movement exists.
The type below ,the end with the nylon washer utilizes a basic fibre or rubber gasket or o'ring. It's irrelevant. Just have this on the crook and redesign the top of the horn with a thread and machined face. "Ha ha not a chance in hades".
The added bonus is that the locking nut would hold the neck in the position selected with a quick nip up .
Obviously this type of connection presents a challenge re aesthetics ,( not so much ) as the "jubilee clip" hose connector style we have just now but technically it's the obvious solution and I believe should / could have been used on the fated vibrato plastic horns .
Sigh.

Yes, that's basically it. One has to do some adjusting of dimensions for the actual saxophone joint, and you have to address the octave mechanism that bridges the joint. It's not rocket science.
 
Clivey

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Yes, that's basically it. One has to do some adjusting of dimensions for the actual saxophone joint, and you have to address the octave mechanism that bridges the joint. It's not rocket science.
No no . Lol . Just Heresy
 
Ivan

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Well, the solution is to design a joint that isn't fragile, that lasts indefinitely, and provides a good seal; firm mechanical connection; angular adjustability; and fast and easy attachment/detachment.
I already have that on each of my saxes which are all of modern manufacture (less than 40 yrs old)

Snug fit, stick when tightened, no wobble, bog standard design

Is the O/P proposing a solution for shagged out vintage horns or for badly made new ones?
 

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