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Absolute Bananas! And the bending of saxes!

Melissa

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As you know I am learning woodwind repair, I have been to see Matt this week to collect 5 saxes, really because of his amazing reputation for repairs and I do not have the sufficient mandrels as of yet, though luckily my teacher shall turn some on his lathe for me when I buy the steel :) ..how cool is that! What a wonderful man.

Anyway, 5 saxes in to Matt's and four of them were bananas! Three which are my own tenors. Two of these were supposedly "overhauled" and new pads installed recently and yes, they are new pads...Again we find out about those techs that really should be getting a new job! One tenor was sent in a berkely sax shaped case which are supposed to keep them safe... Bananas!

One arrived with the entire upper stack feeling like it had an invisible balloon underneath, really awful.. This was the worst banana of all and due to the placement of pads and regulation- or lack of, then this it is unlikely it occured in transit, no front F should need stitting on to close. IMHO.

Another I purchased privately and had some very vintage pads on it, but had the same issues, upper stack, and so what I learned was that they can all bend relatively easily just through sending via the post if they are not well padded within the case- and even then, some of the older cases have too much side movement in them, resulting in more bananas!

However, some seasoned techs have said to me they have got half way through a repad before they noticed it was bent, I only spotted one, the others I just could not see it until Matt pointed it out, I was in a void of self harm for not seeing them.. for a while anyhow.

Supposedly even by simply knocking, falling over or having a sharp jolt can result in a painful experience for your sax, yes many can still be set up to play with the banana left in, but it would not be anywhere near as nice as one without. I just thought I would share this and hear others thoughts on it and if there are other ways of identifying a very bend on a sax tube in a matter of seconds?!

I must add that the dent and banana removal by Matt is seriously +++ good work, now I realise why so many here have taken instruments to him in the past, he now has my utmost respect.
 

Colin1

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I'm not entirely sure I understand the frequent use of the term 'bananas'
 

jbtsax

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A "banana" bend is not uncommon. Try to visualize the top of the main body of the saxophone being bent forward toward the bell so that it is curved rather than straight---kind of like the curve of a banana. My only thought is that if all of the keys are working properly with no binding and the keys are in the proper position over the toneholes, then it is unwise to straighten the body and throw everything out of whack if you are just doing a "play condition".

On the other hand, if you are doing a full mechanical overhaul then the time spent putting everything back in its original location can be part of the overall cost.
 

griff136

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I agree with John. Bends on saxes are not uncommon particularly on tenor saxes. If I have a sax in for a checkover and set to good working order then I would inform the customer but I would leave it if the sax can be made to play without major work. If I have a sax in for a service then I explain to the customer what is needed to rectify the situation.

Once the body tube is put back to being straight, often the keys that are mounted between posts on pivot screws are affected the most e.g. G key, High E and F# keys need fitting in order to remove any play which sometimes can be quite excessive 3-5mm even! In cases where there is more than the normal amount of "wear and tear " play, then this can be taken up by countersinking the pivot screw holes in the posts at both ends of the key and allowing the pivot screws to take up the "play". This method is pretty useless if your screws are the barrel type. Generally If there is more than a couple of mm play I will change the pad after ensuring the tonehole is level - which then adds a cost to the customer.

Other factors to consider is where the bend has started ( generally above the bell to body brace) and how the bend got there. Sometimes is is caused by trauma and other times in can be through use over years. If it has be cause by trauma then often the tone hole nearest the start of the bend can be affected - either out of round or unlevel or both. So these need to be addressed too.

If a sax has what i would call a gradual "over time bend' where it is playing well and leak free and the keywork is free of play and not binding I advise the customer to leave it be until the sax needs a repad.
 

Melissa

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Thank you @jbtsax and @griff136 , I very much appreciate your input.

The learning process is very long and I cannot imagine what you decent techs know, it is not just about taking on apart and such, that seems to be the easiest so far and techs have different ways of curing problems and is why I appreciate other techs input, the Banana expression came from Matt when he took one out of the case, I was surprised that he noticed within seconds, just like John said, the bend was leaning to the bell but very slightly, one sax was leaning back and the other was leaning both ways.

On two I found the mechanism very tight exactly where Griff has indicated, even though this is all supposedly precise there appears to be some tolerance allowing them to be set up to "play" condition. I am still quite surprised at just how many do have an actual banana bend in them.
 

jbtsax

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I have had good success "stretching" hinge rods to take up slack using Ferrees can opener neck expander with thIs accessory called the "triple key extruder". These rollers cost nearly as much as the neck expander itself.

H59A_small.JPG
 

Nick Wyver

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Within a month of buying my SX90R alto (15 years ago) I had dumped it on the floor twice (stupid zip-up cases). After the second time it didn't really want to play so I took it a local tech because I needed it working pronto. He got it playing but it wasn't remotely perfect. When I had a bit more time I toddled off to see Mr Noble in Hove. He took one look at it and said "It's bent". The other chap had failed to spot this rather fundamental defect. Anyway, he got out the broom handle and gave the sax a bit of a tweak, fiddled with the keywork a bit, and, lo and behold, it was fine - and has been ever since.
 

griff136

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I live in Exmouth Devon.
I have had good success "stretching" hinge rods to take up slack using Ferrees can opener neck expander with thIs accessory called the "triple key extruder". These rollers cost nearly as much as the neck expander itself.

H59A_small.JPG
I'm hoping to make something similar to fit on my cross slide and in my lathe chuck
 

griff136

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I live in Exmouth Devon.
I have recently discovered my tenor has a bend and its about 6-8mm towards the bell measured at the top, gradual curve from around the octave key upwards, this video looks good?

View: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Zv8Wn4a6zIg

Jez, what Jeff Smith demonstrated in the video is the procedure most techs use to straighten the sax body tube. Indeed it was the method I was taught when at college. However what isn't explained is that once bent back some of the keywork may be loose between it's respective keyposts, which will need addressing.
 

Jez Watson

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If it plays Ok, leave as is. Or tale it to a good tech.

the intonation is a little of, a mate has the same sax and his has better intonation, not to mention his sounds fatter and more resonant, comparing the tubes mine is bent as stated
 

kevgermany

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Yep, it's like Griff said. It's not just the simple bash. It's what need doing afterwards. What worried me was if you had a go yourself. I'm a big fan of this, but in this case you could end up making things worse.
 

griff136

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I live in Exmouth Devon.
the intonation is a little of, a mate has the same sax and his has better intonation, not to mention his sounds fatter and more resonant, comparing the tubes mine is bent as stated

Jez - the intonation could possibly due to the key heights/venting.

Comparing yours against his is like comparing chalk and cheese - even if they were brand new, subtle nuances can make all the difference.
Have you tried your friends crook on your instrument? if not you should - it may make a difference.
 

Jez Watson

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Hi Griff, yes tried his crook with exactly same results, i have ordered another horn which im hoping will come tommorow that i recently tried which was a revelation to me as it was in tune haha, i didnt realise i had been struggling with the tuning on mine
 

jbtsax

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I watched both videos and as usual each has a slightly different approach to the same diagnosis and repair. They are both great repair techs and teachers. About straightening sax bodies, my mentor taught me two absolutes:
  1. Never, ever do this to a saxophone while its owner is watching.
  2. Always straighten to body with all the keys still on the sax.
As has already been mentioned, most of the time is spent fitting keys after the body has been straightened so there is a lot more to body straightening than just a simple tap or two.
 

Jez Watson

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well got bored and decided to have a go at straightening the tube like in the video, which was quite successful!
cant find any leaks other than some very small issues that may have been there which were eliminated with a strip of masking tape, i will have a better idea when i take it to my mates who played it beside his to compare, hes got a better memory than me ! i do remember thatG2 was quite sharp before and now its bang on, the tuning to me seems much better, there is an issue with the horn that has always been there though, when using palm E and F both these notes feel like they want to drop an octave, still the same, they were a little flat before the tube bashing and now they are much better
 

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