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Saxophones Lockable Register Key?

Sweet Dreamer

Senior Member
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505
Lockable Register Key?

Ok, here's another key question that's probably a bit unorthodox and may even be seen as silly, but it's just a beginner's question, so have mercy on me.

Here's my question:

Has anyone ever seen a 'lockable' register key on a saxophone?

Here's what I'm talking about:

A register key that works like a 'CAPS LOCK' key on an old fashioned mechanical typewriter. Say you press it near the bottom of the key, then it just works normally. But if you press higher up on it there's a latch that will catch it and hold it down so you can play in the high register without having to continually hold the key down. When you want to release it just press near the bottom of the key again and it unlatches.

I've been playing some stuff in the high register and I'm just wishing that I could lock this register key down and forget about it. So I searched the Internet for a lockable register key for a saxophone thinking that I might find either a sax that has one, or an after-market mechanism that could be installed on a sax that does this. But I get no results in my search so I guess this isn't a very popular idea.

So has anyone ever heard of such a thing or ever seen anyone who made something like this on their own sax?
 
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Pete Thomas

Chief of Stuff
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13,958
I don't know of anything like this.

Not an illogical idea, but I have a feeling it could have more cons than pros. It's the sort of great idea that might just have the ability to bite you on the bum when you least expect it.

Plus, one more bit of mechanism to go wrong.

However, I'll go to bed tonight seriously thinking about this idea. Hmmmm.
 

saxnik

Member
Messages
381
I agree, not a totally outlandish idea (quick, get your patent filed), but I think that the more you play the more you develop ways of counteracting irksome bits of saxophone design to the point that you do forget about them.

To continue the 'CAPS LOCK' theory, when I touch type I rarely bother to use caps lock, since my little finger naturally goes to the Shift key if I want to capitalise. I just let go when I've finished the caps. Same deal with the register key on sax, habit is now ingrained and indeed I don't think about it.

Unlike your typewriter/keyboard though, the register key isn't an on/off switch - you also have to alter your embouchure slightly to get the right note. In fact, it's possible to play high register without using the register key, and even low register notes can be obtained with the key on (though usually the tuning's suspect!). Luckily though, also unlike with typing, your thumb has very little else to do, so it might as well work out a 'comfortable' way to operate the octave key.
Mine really doesn't need much pressure to work it, and all I'm doing is flexing the thumb knuckle joint slightly, no great amount of movement or force required!

Like Pete says, I think in my case my bum would get bitten - I'd forget to release any locking mechanism, and wonder why the low notes sound odd.
Thinking about it, a better analogy might be cruise control on a car. If you're playing a lot of long high notes it's like cruising on the motorway, and the lock makes sense. If you're in heavy traffic and doing lots of speeding up and slowing down, the system becomes a bit of a pain. If you're playing a lot of fast notes above and below the break, you wouldn't need the lock, just letting go is simpler.

To be honest, I do a lot of miles as a muso, and my car has no cruise control. I'd use it, but not on every journey, I'm capable of travelling at a constant speed for many miles before I start to wish I had cruise...

Regards,

Nick
 

Pete Thomas

Chief of Stuff
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Actually it woud make sense if there was something else your thumb could be doing meanwhile, but I don't think there is.
 

Sweet Dreamer

Senior Member
Messages
505
I agree, not a totally outlandish idea (quick, get your patent filed)
Yeah, I might have just blown away the patent rights by posting the idea here. Darn it anyway.

Oh well, I hope whoever takes the idea and runs with it hurries up and makes one and sells it CHEAP. :)))

Or better yet, if they're reading this, I'd just like to say, "You're welcome to the idea, just please send me your first reliable prototype for free and owl consider it a square deal."

If it has a high quality saxophone attached to it, I'll be even more pleased. ;}
 

Saxlicker

Well-Known Member
Messages
1,932
There may come a time when you choose not to use the octave key anyway.....
Does that provoke any thoughts amongst the more experienced players?

Good or bad?
 

Sweet Dreamer

Senior Member
Messages
505
Why is it so hard to remember not to move your thumb?
It's not.

All I know is that I've been practicing improvising various phases on the C major scale. I play them first in the low register, and then repeat them in the high register. I'm just finding them more difficult to finger whilst my thumb is holding down the register key.

Ok, I won't say that it's "hard" to do, by far. However, I will say that it's "different", and definitely "more difficult" than when I don't need to keep my thumb on the register key.

Of course, I'm a raw beginner and I haven't done this much at all, so you're talking to someone who is experiencing this for the very first time. I'm sure that after I get used to it, it won't seem like it's anymore difficult.

However, the "purist" within me, is saying, "Hey, this is clearly more difficult than without having to hold down the key, so if you didn't have to hold down the key it's GOT to be easier, and if it's easier then it's GOT to be more efficient. And better efficiency could potentially translate into better music. So if you could lock that key down you could just play away easily like you do in the low register without being hampered by it."

Ok, maybe I should just tell the "purist" within me to shut up. :)))

But I always like to at least consider his thoughts for whatever they might be worth. ;}
 

Sweet Dreamer

Senior Member
Messages
505
There may come a time when you choose not to use the octave key anyway.....
Does that provoke any thoughts amongst the more experienced players?

Good or bad?
That's a thought that hasn't gone unnoticed by my 'purist' guardian angel too.

I sometime play in the wrong register just via embouchure alone (usually by mistake), but then I realized that it could easily be on purpose and so why do I even need a register key at all (other than for security?).

Good point.

In fact, I'm going to go try that right now.
 

griff136

Well-Known Member
Messages
1,048
There may come a time when you choose not to use the octave key anyway.....
Does that provoke any thoughts amongst the more experienced players?

Good or bad?
Good IMHO a good player should be able to overblow the octave without using the octave key and get decent results on most notes.

Pete Canter gave me an exercise a while back to help improve my tone - play the 2nd octave scales and arpeggios without using the octave mech and play the lower octave with the octave key open - very difficult at first but works if you keep at it and it does improve your overall tone.


as for the original post - I dont see why you would need a lock. it can't be hard to just keep your thumb on the octave key.
 

Nick Wyver

noisy
Subscriber
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5,949
Good IMHO a good player should be able to overblow the octave without using the octave key and get decent results on most notes.
Yes, it's ok as an exercise but you wouldn't want to do it all the time. Why make playing it harder? It messes with the tuning as well.
 

Pete Thomas

Chief of Stuff
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13,958
Good IMHO a good player should be able to overblow the octave without using the octave key and get decent results on most notes.
This is what we have to do on the flute anyway. The hard part id to blow harder to get the octave, but still be able to get quiet dynamics. Will anyone ever invent an octave key for the flute?

as for the original post - I dont see why you would need a lock. it can't be hard to just keep your thumb on the octave key.
True. The idea of it being lockable is to solve a problem that should not be there in the first place.

But then you could argue that about cruise control which was mentioned earlier as an analogy.
 

johnboy

Senior Member
Messages
1,179
Hey, this is great, if we all put our heads together, we might be able to redesign the sax so that we only have a few keys and our mouth to worry about.
Oh I just realised, it's already been done, it's called a trumpet!

John.
 

kevgermany

ex Landrover Nut
Subscriber
Messages
21,947
But then you could argue that about cruise control which was mentioned earlier as an analogy.
But cruise control does solve a problem for me - I get cramp in my right foot when driving long distance.... Dangerous, nasty cramp that locks my foot up and makes braking very difficult. Cruise contol is a necessity for me.

But the octave key is a different case. And, like the keyboard caps lock, I'd never use it.
 

old git

Tremendous Bore
Messages
5,545
This is what we have to do on the flute anyway. The hard part is to blow harder to get the octave, but still be able to get quiet dynamics. Will anyone ever invent an octave key for the flute?
Perhaps we should remember that the Böhm system was originally invented to make louder and easier to manufacture parallel bore flutes. Flute players were already used to overblowing octaves, perhaps it indicates that saxophone players are less skilled? ;}

You could try leaving the thumb mechanism off the flute and try open, closed and half holing as on the recorder. Wonder if that would work on my Hanson ST8? Now where did I put my hacksaw, drills and epoxy resin?

Griff, when are you in town, next? :ashamed
 

Sweet Dreamer

Senior Member
Messages
505
Would you need a locking key if you used the Jim Schmidt fingering system?
I don't know. I'm not familiar with the Jim Schmidt fingering system.

I am a raw beginning, and I practiced these high register phrases quite a bit last night and I am getting better at them. However there are a few instances where having to hold down the register key whilst playing is definitely more difficult from playing the precise same note run in the lower register when I don't need to hold down the register key.

In fact, the note run that is giving me the most problem is C, D, B. For some reasons, that particular note run gives me problems whilst having to hold down the register key. Whereas when I play the exact same run in the lower register it's smooth as silk.

In fact, here's what's happening. When I first starting playing this phrase in the high register what initially happened was that, as I played the note run in question my thumb let up on the register key, and it screwed up the run. So then I realized that I need to pay attention to keeping the register key fully depressed during the run. But then I found that when I do that, I can't play the other keys as smoothly.

Yes, I'm SURE I'll get it with practice. But the bottom line is that it's more difficult for me than if I didn't need to keep holding down the register key. The proof of that is simple - It's simply easier to play in the lower register when I don't need to hold down the register key. So there can be no question that it's simpler to play when I don't need to hold down the register key.

The only question at this point, is whether or not I'm man enough to handle a little extra button holding task I guess. :)))

Well, I'm sure I'll get it. It's certainly not an insurmountable problem. None the less, the proof that it's easier and more natural without having to hold down the register key is already in, due to the fact that it's easy to play in the low register when the register key isn't involved.

Plus I'm playing a whole solo phase here that is entirely in the high register, so that's what made me think about the idea of a lockable register key. Why not just "shift" into the high register and play away normally like I would do in the low register?

That was just my first thought.

I'm sure it's silly. I just need to practice this fingering until it feels natural I guess, but it's STILL giving me trouble. I still can't play it smoothly yet. It's especially hitting that C, D, B note run, which goes by pretty quick. Having to hold down the reg key makes it more difficult. I play it real clean in the low register without a problem. That's all I know to say.

But I WILL get it, I'm sure. ;}
 

Sweet Dreamer

Senior Member
Messages
505
But then you could argue that about cruise control which was mentioned earlier as an analogy.
Well that's definitely me and my personality. I'm a "cruise control" type of person in everything I do. If I can find a simpler more efficient way of doing something I'm all for it. I guess I'm lazy, but they say that laziness is the mother of invention.

I use cruise control even when I go to the local store with is only 5 miles down the road! Of course I live in a rural area where this is possible. That wouldn't make sense in high-traffic areas I suppose.

But yes, give me a reg key lock and I'll USE IT. I'm that lazy!
 
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