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Adjusting palm keys for small hands

SimonR

New Member
Messages
11
Hopefully the correct forum. 1st post, please bear with me.

Hi,

After a bit of an inconclusive search on this forum and online I wondered if I may ask some advice.

My 11 Yr old daughter has recently taken up alto sax but has problems with her left hand which often squeezes slightly against the palm keys obviously ruining the note she is trying to make.

Obviously I'm pointing this out to her and trying to get her to arch her hand a bit more, but that doesn't make for a comfortable playing position and is going to cramp up her hand in no time.

My guess is that the palm keys can be adjusted (in other words - bent!) in towards the body to give her more room. Is this the case? Is it advisable ? How would I do it without breaking something? Is there a better way ?

Kind regards,

Simon R.
 

kevgermany

ex Landrover Nut
Subscriber
Messages
21,947
What does her teacher say? It could be the hand position and a change of may sort things out. Better to sooner than later as correcting bad habits is much harder than doing it right in the first place (says someone who's 13yo daughter is going through this kicking and screaming on the cello at the moment).

If the teacher suggests adjustment, best take it to a technician, otherwise you risk bending bits you didn't want to bend - AND bending in the wrong place so that the LH palm keys don't open properly.
 

jbtsax

Well-Known Member
Subscriber
Messages
8,003
I agree with Kev's advice. Can you tell us what make and model of alto sax she is playing. Some student level saxes are designed for smaller hands to help with this problem. In extreme cases I have even heard of removing one or more of the palm keys and putting temporary caps on the toneholes until the student grows a bit. Most method books delay learning these notes so they are not missed for the first year or two.
 

RMorgan

Member
Messages
110
Hey Simon,

Make sure her left hand is shaped like she was holding a bottle and she´s touching the keys with the tip of her fingers, which should be arched.

It´s better to correct such things now before they become a bad habit.

If this is not the case, it´s better to take the sax to a good technician.

If she´s not using the left hand palm keys yet, you can also just remove them and seal the tone holes with small corks.

Cheers,

Raf.
 

thomsax

Well-Known Member
Messages
3,799
Hopefully the correct forum. 1st post, please bear with me.

Hi,

After a bit of an inconclusive search on this forum and online I wondered if I may ask some advice.

My 11 Yr old daughter has recently taken up alto sax but has problems with her left hand which often squeezes slightly against the palm keys obviously ruining the note she is trying to make.

Obviously I'm pointing this out to her and trying to get her to arch her hand a bit more, but that doesn't make for a comfortable playing position and is going to cramp up her hand in no time.

My guess is that the palm keys can be adjusted (in other words - bent!) in towards the body to give her more room. Is this the case? Is it advisable ? How would I do it without breaking something? Is there a better way ?

Kind regards,

Simon R.
Is she using/playing the palm keys? If not put a rubber/cork wedge under the keyfoot.
 

MMM

Senior Member
Messages
912
Instead of lower the palm keys, have you thought about raising the left hand B/A/G keys? This can be done very simply by gluing (using rubbery glue Evo Stick, NOT superglue as you don't want this as a permanent mod) disk shaped corks to the pearl buttons, it would probably only need an extra 3/4 mm to raise them enough.

Of course another option is to remove the palm keys (or just the D, which is usually the one that protrudes the most) and plugging the hole with a shaped cork (one from a wine bottle will do fine). Just make sure you do not misplace the keys you remove, so you can reattach them later, when this is no longer a problem.

These are both easy to do and reversible, any repairer/tech can do them or if you're handy with a screwdriver and sharp knife, you can do them yourself.
Hope this helps!
M.
 

aldevis

Surrealist Contributor.
Cafe Moderator
Messages
12,125
My 11 Yr old daughter has recently taken up alto sax but has problems with her left hand which often squeezes slightly against the palm keys obviously ruining the note she is trying to make.
This is quite a common problem. Please keep in mind that very few people have hands that are too small for a modern instrument.


Is she using/playing the palm keys? If not put a rubber/cork wedge under the keyfoot.
Instead of lower the palm keys, have you thought about raising the left hand B/A/G keys? This can be done very simply by gluing (using rubbery glue Evo Stick, NOT superglue as you don't want this as a permanent mod) disk shaped corks to the pearl buttons, it would probably only need an extra 3/4 mm to raise them enough.
These are both easy to do and reversible, any repairer/tech can do them or if you're handy with a screwdriver and sharp knife, you can do them yourself.
This is something that always puzzled me: I was taught everything the hard way: do not touch those keys, then, try to make a sound.
I understand that this attitude delays in the student the pleasure of playing, but on the other hand, not touching palm keys, makes you keep a "round hand", quite essential for good technique.

Any thoughts?
 

jbtsax

Well-Known Member
Subscriber
Messages
8,003
I would suggest that when placing the LH fingers in the center of the key pearls, the thumb in the center of the thumb button, and keeping the wrist fairly straight if any portion of the hand physically touches any of the palm keys that a modification is in order. Another way to say it is, if a perfect hand position doesn't work, then continuing to try to play and produce the right notes will just encourage a poor or awkward hand position.

I might also caution that putting corks into the palm key toneholes that extend far into the body tube will have a noticeable effect upon the intonation and response of the instrument. This of course is less of a concern for a beginning player than one who is more advanced, but it is something to keep in mind.

The Cannonball Alcazar is an excellent student saxophone that has keys specifically designed for slightly smaller hands but has the tone quality and intonation equaling their professional models. The main difference is the price and the more limited upper dynamic range.
 

SimonR

New Member
Messages
11
Thank you for all your comments.

She is playing an Artemis II, or at least that's what is inscribed on the bell. I saw the Alphasax in Wessex Music the other day, looked interesting, unfortunately no spare cash. I'm sure she can get on with what she's got.

I will take it up with her teacher, who so far hasn't actually said anything about any problems. Perhaps I'm just being a bit over analytical and expecting a bit too much :)

I think I will see how she gets on and then address it again if it seems like a permanent thing.

Thanks anyway people.

SImon.
 
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