Taming The Saxophone

Technical Different timing between G and A with or without octave key

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160
Location
France
#1
Hello,

After so many years playing sax, I’ve got a question about a specific mechanism behavior:

Is it normal to have a slightly different timing between G and A with or without octave key? In which proportions.

I can certainly feel a difference, not huge, but it seems that I have to adapt my playing in upper register between G and A with octave key mechanism. It’s not sluggish but slightly slower. I can’t also really know if it’s more sensations in fingers with octave mechanism shocks as I’m pretty sensitive to that kind of things.

I can become a little bit obsessive with that kind of things. It’s on a cheap Gear4music tenor, can’t remember exactly how it was on my ex Yani.

Thanks.
 
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Colin the Bear

Well-Known Member
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10,885
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Burnley bb9 9dn
#2
After checking the mechanism is well adjusted, lubricated and moving freely, check the octave vents aren't fouled by running a pipe cleaner down them.
Try playing in the upper register without the octave key. Similarly try playing in the lower register with the octave key. You'll see how your embouchure can power through.

Nothing wrong with G4M saxes, when they're well regulated. imo. Bits of cork will wear on any saxophone, pads settle and stick, springs dislodge or even snap. Oil dries out and rods can bind. Set screws can move or bumpers and touch pieces wear.

A small maintenance problem can cause all sorts of problems. Having the attitude that your gear is cheap and nasty won't help your playing.
 

Veggie Dave

Bisaxual
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2,285
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Hutton, Essex
#3
I've never noticed a difference. I'll have to have a play tomorrow and see what happens but I would've thought that I'd have noticed something like this already.
 
Messages
160
Location
France
#4
I don’t bash the G4M tenor at all, it’s a honorable sax and I’m very happy with songs I record with it. Just noticed this last weeks. Slightly different timing makes sense with octave mechanism, frictions, octave spring resistance vs G key spring.
 

jbtsax

old and opinionated
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5,995
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Beautiful Springville, Utah USA
#5
There are two issues that can cause what you are experiencing in your change between G2 and A2. This is where the mechanism switches from the body octave to the neck octave.

The first is friction. Remove the neck and finger G with the octave key. With your free hand move the post that extends from the body up and down. It should "float" effortlessly. If there is any drag it should be looked at by a tech. Typically this means something is bent and oiling will not help. Sometimes there is friction between the post and the neck ring. I like to use teflon tubing on the post to address this.

The second is excess "lost motion". Assemble the saxophone and switch from G to A with the octave key pressed. Watch the mechanism. There should not be excess travel before the arm from the G key closes the body octave, or before the post from the sax engages the neck ring. When the sax is at rest there should be about 1.5mm between the post and the ring. If there is more than that it will cause excess lost motion and a feeling of delay.
 
Messages
160
Location
France
#6
Thanks JbTsax. I’ve checked all of that and everything is fine. In fact I do often maintenance on this sax as I’ve buyed Stephen Howard book.
I’ve already made some regulation with corks, adjusted springs, oiled everything every two months, removed some leaks by adjusting pads and some noise here and there, changed keys to abalones.

This sax is 4 kg, which is really heavy. The neck arm in itself is more heavy than usual. This gives it some inertia and makes it bounces on octave key A to G release if neck arm spring is not set strong enough and I can hear it in sax tone. So I’ve to set neck arm spring strong enough and set G spring really hard to dominate that. But feeling is too heavy if I do that, as G spring become really the hardest spring of the sax. It seems I can’t find the right balance. I even think about removing some material on the neck arm, or make a custom one from carbon for lighter weight. I’ve already changed neck arm pad to a Pisoni pro which is softer than original Chinese pad, but that helped just a little bit.

If I play sixteenth notes at 120 bpm, I don’t really notice it, it’s more disturbing at slower moves.

I can weight neck arm for comparison purposes, can be interesting.
 
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Messages
160
Location
France
#9
As I said, sax is 4 kg, and neck lever is 48g. Even in hand lever feels heavy. With inertia it bounces on release and I hear it in the tone if neck spring is not firm enough, so I’ve to make much firmer G spring. G to A with octave key became too hard or too slow or even bouncy on G release depending on springs settings. I’ve tried lot of things here, like checking everything (nothing bent, moves freely), oiling, changing G arm to body octave key and octave mechanism rod to neck lever materials, changing neck pad, adjusting spring tensions, it’s still not as fast as I’d like it to be.
I really think about removing some material from neck lever bottom with my Drexel tool or make a custom one, but need to know before what’s a more common tenor sax neck lever weight.


B7AC1830-C0B0-476D-8973-6726E4E2CE2B.jpeg
 
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jbtsax

old and opinionated
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5,995
Location
Beautiful Springville, Utah USA
#13
What material is between the arm from the G key and the top of the body octave? What material is on the post that extends from the body? How high does the neck octave key open?

The weight or mass of the neck octave key should not be a significant factor since it has a fulcrum in the center and the lower portion is curved. These help to "balance" the key. Let's take the G out of the equation and finger A while repeatedly adding the octave key. Does the neck octave "bounce" when you do this? You don't need to strengthen the neck octave spring excessively to eliminate bounce. You simply need to reduce how far it opens. The spring on the G key only needs to be slightly stronger than the spring on the neck octave key.

I still go back to my first statement that either friction or lost motion (excess travel) or both are causing the issues you are experiencing. Points of friction can exist between the arm from the G and the top of the body octave, and the rod that extends from the sax and the neck loop.
 
Messages
160
Location
France
#15
Material between G arm to body octave key cup is cork + thin felt layer from smartphone cleaner I glued on cork, for smoother action. Distance between both parts is minima like you can see on this pic where G is closed:

7978D06A-CF2C-4C6F-88F2-FDD8E9CF0EA8.jpeg


On octave rod lever is a semi-hard plastic tube, distance is also minimal with neck lever. Some improvement can certainly be made here:

47E8AD57-7BE1-4002-B8C6-59F94197D62C.jpeg


Distance between neck pad and neck cup is approx 3,5 mm when opened by octave key. Pad seems old on precedent post picture but it has perhaps six months, I used several times some lighter fluid to make it less sticky when it was new so it has this color. It’s a Pisoni Pro pad from Thomann I’ve glued myself. Can I still make the pad closer to the neck and have proper venting? Seems to be a nice way to improve things as it will allow to make spring tension lower without bouncing:

0FD17CA8-3DBD-4DB2-A029-BC2FC21B7749.jpeg
 

jbtsax

old and opinionated
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Messages
5,995
Location
Beautiful Springville, Utah USA
#16
Two things that look odd to me. 1) the thick cork on the arm from the G---my sax just has a thin piece of felt, 2) there is no protrusion of the pad in the body octave key cup.

I suggest you measure the diameter of the rod that extends from the sax and go to Ebay and order some teflon tubing slightly smaller that will give a snug fit since teflon doesn't glue well.

You can adjust your neck octave to 1/2 that opening and it still will vent perfectly.
 

Jazzaferri

Well-Known Member
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Messages
1,996
Location
Victoria BC Canada
#20
If you want to reduce the mass of the octave key which will make a noticeable difference in response time unless you get a really strong spring. figure out a pattern for drilling a number of holes in the key. try and keep the diameter of the hole as the minimum thickness between holes. There is lots of info online about structural lightening but as the stresses in your sax a very low my rough guideline will work.

If I were doing it (I have drill presses and tons of bits) I would drill increasing hole sizes on the arm between the pivot and the pad and a pattern of maybe 3-4 mm holes in the area immediately below the pivot. If I went crazy some small holes in the thin arms. Would look pretty cool if done precisely. 1.5 mm pilot holes in the ceterpunched pattern to prevent any bit walk. Could cut the mass by a third maybey and the more mass taken away from the areas farther from the pivot point the faster the response.

I have built a few race cars and raced motorcycles for a number of years. Drilling in this environment is much more critical. particularly on brake disks and suspension parts.
 
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