Technical BW alto sax. Noisy lower stack keys

Fortyniner

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21
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Belfast
#1
Hi, i've just got a Bauhaus walstein alto sax that is a few years old. The lower stack keys [F<E<D} are somewhat noisy compared to a new alto that I have to check against. I find that if i put a folded tissue between the felts and the body then that quietens it considerably. Do these tiny felts [ they are on the ends of adjusting screws ] tend to go hard? What s the best fix please?
 

saxyjt

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France
#2
I often add some felt patches when I find the noise irritating. I once stole a piece of sticky felt from my wife who's a school teacher currently in pre-school (école maternelle).

IMG_20181205_145735774.jpg


I usually stick them directly on the body under the offending foot. You may have to adjust the action after that so everything closes as they should. :w00t:
 

DavidUK

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Near Lutterworth, Leics.
#3
I suggested @Fortyniner post here to see what the best solution is for this BW he bought from me. I'd noticed the felts were white, which seemed odd for felts, but didn't play it enough for noise to be an issue. I have noticed this "clacking" on many other horns and also sometimes bouncy lower stack keys which go ker-boiiiinnng when released.

I wonder if @jbtsax , @griff136 , @JayeNM or @Stephen Howard might offer advice how best to deal with both the clacking and the ker-boiiinnnging?
 

Pete Thomas

Chief of Stuff
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#5
Although I don't mind doing a spot of DIY servicing (to the chagrin or delight of my tech my tech depending whether he needs the work, often accompanied by muffled titters) the business of corks and felts is something I prefer to leave to the experts because they aren't just for making things quieter. They also adjust where the positions of the keys. The slightest teeniest wrong thickness of cork or felts means leaks. And leaks are bad.
 

JayeNM

Formerly JayePDX
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428
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New Mexico, US
#6
Hi, i've just got a Bauhaus walstein alto sax that is a few years old. The lower stack keys [F<E<D} are somewhat noisy compared to a new alto that I have to check against. I find that if i put a folded tissue between the felts and the body then that quietens it considerably. Do these tiny felts [ they are on the ends of adjusting screws ] tend to go hard? What s the best fix please?
Clarification, please: are you saying the felts are on the underside of the key feet currently ? Can you post a pic of the area ?
 

DavidUK

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Near Lutterworth, Leics.
#7
From memory, I think they may be attached to the feet. Difficult to tell from this...



Hopefully the OP can post a better photo with a foot moved away from the body?

In any event Pete is correct. Bunging a different, softer, felt in there may upset the balance of the keys. Then again, the OP is an instrument maker (not saxophones) so may possess the skills to understand the inter-relationship of all the keywork like what I can almost do! :confused:

It'd be lovely if every horn was whisper quiet in operation but generally this doesn't happen, especially with a cheapie.
 

Fortyniner

New Member
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Belfast
#9
They are the pads on the adjustable feet shown above. When your finger is flicked off the keys they hammer on the body making the noise. These keys are quite heavy to press so might it be the springs too heavy?
 

DavidUK

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#10
The key gap may also be a variable. The wider the gap, the more distance to travel and the faster the terminal velocity. The faster the key's terminal speed on releasing, the louder the noise.
Also, a wider gap would give the impression of a heavy spring as you're using more of the spring's tension.

To alleviate all of these variables for the "perfect" feel, the felt material, the gaps, the spring tension could generally be tweaked by a tech in very little time.

But as I said in the other thread, your best bet for peace of mind would be to get a full "set up" done by your local tech, explaining this key noise is something you've noticed, and for a small outlay you'd have a good as new horn with no worries for a good while.

I recall once having an annoying vibration I couldn't track down on an alto. Took it to a tech, Paul Carrington, and played a few notes.
He placed one finger on a rod and the noise stopped. It was a missing rod cup felt. Sometimes it takes years of experience to spot the obvious.
A good tech is worth their weight in gold. Let's hope the one near you is a good one! :)
 

JayeNM

Formerly JayePDX
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428
Location
New Mexico, US
#11
Well, clacky keys can be the result of regulating materials OR the fact that the key barrels have worn and are not nicely fitting the pivot rods any longer.

Given that you say the noise becomes considerably less with your tissue fix...you could conceivably glue small pieces of sheet teflon or thin cork (am talking like .4mm) to the body (you would have to remove the lower stack keys and pantguard) beneath where the current felted feet strike it. With the cork solution, you may then want to readjust the keyheights, as the cork will 'close' the heights a tad - which it appears is simply done by turning the foot screws. As you are mechanically-inclined, this wouldn't be 'messing' with much really. Simply partial disassembling, gluing, reassembling, and screw turning.

Alternative would be to replace the felts. Quite honestly, I never liked felts as regulating materials for key feet.
 

Colin the Bear

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Burnley bb9 9dn
#12
The simple answer is not to flick your fingers off the buttons. Keep them on the buttons. Always. You'll find the alto gets very noisey falling down a metal fire escape, so don't do that either. I've replaced the buffers on the feet on my alto with composite cork. If I flick the keys it's quite noisey. When playing, not so much in fact hardly noticeable. ;)
 

DavidUK

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Near Lutterworth, Leics.
#13
Key barrels all seemed good with no slack. No noticeable wear, just dirty when it came to me, and so dismantled, cleaned and re-oiled.
No adjustments made as it played just fine after assembly. Maybe I play so loud I don't hear the keywork?

Anyhow, it's up to you if you try a DIY fix first. But you may mess it up and have to pay a tech more to unravel. I know my limitations and tend to prefer paying for expert help when I'm not sure if I'll mess things up or not. Having said that, if I were you I'd probably have a DIY go at finding a solution, but don't blame me if it all goes wrong!

I did take the nylon material out of my Vito's Bis/G# adjusting screws recently as they too were clacking, replaced with cork as per @jbtsax advice and it worked nicely.

George's advice above may close the heights of the keys a tad, but this may in turn make the keys feel lighter, so long as the sound isn't affected by them being too closed.
 

saxyjt

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2,440
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France
#16
you could conceivably glue small pieces of sheet teflon or thin cork (am talking like .4mm) to the body (you would have to remove the lower stack keys and pantguard) beneath where the current felted feet strike it.
Although my experience is nowhere near yours, I don't get the gluing of Teflon on the body. Teflon is good for friction but is kind of hard and will not have much effect on the noise, will it?

I may be offering a simplistic solution with my small felt patches on the body, but it's been good so far after a couple of years at least. :confused2:
 

jbtsax

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#17
The common nomenclature in the repair trade is "hing tubes" and "hinge rods" or sometimes "steels". "Key barrels" is a term I have not heard before. In answer to the question felt can harden over time. I like to use thin .4mm synthetic felt between the tops of the key feet and the back bar of the F# and C keys. It is quiet and has a minimum amount of compression which adds stability to the regulation.

For the bottoms of key feet on the lower stack I use regular cork, usually 1/16". Ease of sanding to correct lost motion and quieting are the benefits of this "traditional" material. I don't find the compression of regular cork to be an issue in this application. Then the key height of the lower stack is adjusted higher than I want it to be. Then a self-adhesive felt "dot" is attached to the body directly beneath the foot which brings the key height down to where I want it to be. In the example of the BW sax, I presume there is a round cork attached to the bottom of the key height adjusting screws. In this case I would also attach a felt "dot" to the body under where the key touches.

For the upper stack I use regular cork on the key feet as well, but mechanically there is no significant noise, nor key "bounce" that is common to the lower stack so a felt pad is not needed. I assume this is due to the difference in size and geometry between the upper and lower stack keys.

Teflon is not a quieting material, rather it is useful when parts "slide" when they make contact to reduce friction. Sometimes a key will "hit" the other before the sliding action takes place. In these places I laminate a thin piece of tefon to a thin piece of synthethic felt. which gives me the best of both worlds. The lever that extends from the G# touch to close the G# key, and the lever that extends from the G key to close the body octave key are two locations that come to mind.
 

Fortyniner

New Member
Messages
21
Location
Belfast
#18
I've ordered some self adhesive 2mm felt so I will cut small pads out of this and stick them on the body underneath the pads. This way it's easily reversible and won't damage anything. I'll also try to keep my fingers on the keys. I'm sure though in Stephen Howards book he says that keys are often too heavy and it's not difficult to adjust the springs to get a lighter action.
 

Fortyniner

New Member
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21
Location
Belfast
#19
It would be interesting to know what weight action others have. I've weighed this one as described in SH's book and it's between 3 and 4 ounces. He suggests it should be around 2 oz for an alto. All the keys are similar so i think I will phone the local tech tomorrow and see if he can have a look at it. I think the action would be a lot quieter if the springs were adjusted.
 

Targa

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#20
You might have been better buying the one from Curly for the extra thirty after all.
They are a good reputable dealer and if it did have any problems they might have offered a refund of the cost of getting it sorted.
 
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