PPT mouthpieces

Low B and Bb hard to play

nigeld

Too many mouthpieces
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I'm sure this has come up before, but I thought I would remind Café members about it.

I was having a lot of difficulty playing bottom B and Bb on my alto. I could just manage B, but Bb was almost impossible. I live a long way from my usual repair person, and a quick visit was not an option, so I tried to find the problem myself. I tried lots of possible causes before finding the (obvious) one.

I carefully and systematically checked for leaks using a leak light, and found a couple of minor candidates, but fixing them didn't solve the problem. I even bought a softer reed to see if that might help (it didn't).

Then the penny finally dropped and I checked the G# pad with a leak light while pressing down and releasing the bell Bb key. Voilà - the leak. The reason I had not discovered this was that the movement of the pad was so small that it was not obvious, but the leak light showed it clearly. So 10 seconds adjusting the F-to-G# linkage with a screwdriver fixed the problem, and now I can play Bb. :banana:

Since this is a simple problem with a simple DIY fix, I will try to explain it.

Symptom: B and Bb hard to play. The saxophone does not ring on B and Bb. (I'll explain what I mean by this below.)

Cause and fix: The G# key mechanism on a modern saxophone is rather complicated. The G# key touch causes the pad to lift, unlike most pads where the touch closes the pad. There is also a linkage which will cause the pad to lift when any of the bottom Bb, B, or C# keys are pressed. However pressing the F key will keep it closed. On most modern saxophones there is a link bar between the F# and G# pads with an adjustment screw on top of the G# pad. If this is loosened too far then pressing the F key will not completely close the G# key, meaning that B and Bb will open it a fraction, causing a leak. But if the screw is tightened too far then it prevents the F key closing properly, causing a different leak. So it has to be just right. The good news is that is easy to adjust and it is easy to tell when it is right with a little experimentation.

(Note that this information does not necessarily apply to vintage saxes.)

There is a simple test for leaks which I call the "ring" test. I'm sure there is a better name for it. Hold down all the keys and then firmly open and close one of them (I use the RH1 F key). The saxophone should produce a hollow ringing sound. If you get a dull thud, then there is probably a leak.
 
As per my "pads and corks" thread. I reckon, if you're that way inclined, a little fettling ability not only helps keep things in working order but puts one in touch with the instrument. I certainly haven't done a pro job but now I'm much more familiar with the cogs and wheels of the sax even as I'm playing.
Shame @Stephen Howard's book isn't available. But his, the Cafés, Musicmedic's etc websites are a great resource.
 
There is a simple test for leaks which I call the "ring" test. I'm sure there is a better name for it. Hold down all the keys and then firmly open and close one of them (I use the RH1 F key). The saxophone should produce a hollow ringing sound. If you get a dull thud, then there is probably a leak.
View: https://soundcloud.com/jbtsax/popping-f-key-with-small?si=087d2f6376aa40569f19145f1b4fb9bc


View: https://soundcloud.com/jbtsax/fingering-low-bb-popping-f-key?si=6074a69fb3ac40c6b1793487e55c9f3f
 
here you go:

That’s a better description than mine.

The stupid thing was that I knew this, but the G# key movement was too small to notice and I didn’t think to check it with a leak light. :doh:
 
It’s also the time of year with huge weather fluctuations. Two weeks ago it was foggy here. Today it’s clear and 36°c 15% humidity. Everything I own has leaks today. With some luck a good warm up will get some humidity back in and fix the leaks.
 
3 or 4 Bb fingerings. For what? To be able to sell saxophones to recorder players.
I can't tell whether you are serious or not. If someone just plays tunes for fun and "noodles around" with improvisation then, no those alternate fingerings are not that important. On the other hand, when working on classical literature that is technically demanding or playing difficult big band charts those "alternate fingerings" can really come in handy.
 
The easiest and quickest way to check if your G# pad is opening when it should be kept shut by the G# regulation arm scree is as follows: Whilst playing a sustained low D, operate the G# key with your pinky finger - if there is a change in tone or resistance - the G# key isn't being kept fully shut.
 
I can't tell whether you are serious or not.
I'm rarely 100% serious. None the less, questioning why something, we take for granted, is thus and so often results in a better understanding of a thing. Sure, they are handy, people use them, even a noodler like me uses some of them. I'm just trying to get a level deeper than that.
 
I hadn't played my Comm III for a couple of months and the other day while playing it I couldn't get the bell key notes to play at all. I knew that meant a leak somewhere so checked it with my Ikea light strip leak light and sure enough the damn G# is lifting up just a small amount but enough to kill the bottom end. I tried looking at the springs to see if anything had popped out of it's hook or something of the sort but I can't see them very well due to all the rods and posts that hide them from sight. And after reading about the G# adjustment screw I felt even worse since the Martins of that period don't have them. I wouldn't trade this mighty mountain of a voice for any modern horn but I hate to have to make a trip to my tech just for a leak that I might be able to fix with the help of Stephen's book if I just could see through all that metal. Bummer.:(:(
 
I hadn't played my Comm III for a couple of months and the other day while playing it I couldn't get the bell key notes to play at all. I knew that meant a leak somewhere so checked it with my Ikea light strip leak light and sure enough the damn G# is lifting up just a small amount but enough to kill the bottom end. I tried looking at the springs to see if anything had popped out of it's hook or something of the sort but I can't see them very well due to all the rods and posts that hide them from sight. And after reading about the G# adjustment screw I felt even worse since the Martins of that period don't have them. I wouldn't trade this mighty mountain of a voice for any modern horn but I hate to have to make a trip to my tech just for a leak that I might be able to fix with the help of Stephen's book if I just could see through all that metal. Bummer.:(:(
Is the leak on the G# when it is at rest and none of the left hand pinky keys are being pressed?
Or is it just when you play either low C#, B or B flat.
if it is the latter then until you can get to a tech try putting a piece of masking tape on the G# arm in order for the "regulating arm on the F# bar key" to keep it closed when playing the bell notes.
 

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