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Problems with D key

Philly123

Member
Messages
188
Hi all, I'm having problems playing at the bottom end of my alto sax. Mainly D, but also the E and F#. I've tried tightening and looseneing one of the screws that seem to be connected but the problem remains. I don't think it's me as I've asked a few other people to blow, using their own mouthpieces and they've all encountered the same problem.

It's a Yamaha 275 which I've owned from new for about 2 years. I'm planning to try to get a sax repairer to have a look at it but just wondered if this is likely to be a big problem.
 

Colin the Bear

Well-Known Member
Messages
12,953
Soungs like you've got a little leak. Probably just needs a little adjusting. It's really hard to say without seeing the instrument. It's maybe had a bump in the case. However adjusting the wrong thing will only make it worse, so if you don't know what you're doing, give it to someone who does.
 
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Philly123

Philly123

Member
Messages
188
Hi Colin, someone else said that it might be a leak. I certainly think I've made it worse by adjusting a screw - it was only one note before I began, now it's 3! :confused: I'm probably going to take to someone to look at it anyway but what does 'a leak' mean, what would cause that?
 

Greg Strange

Well-Known Member
Messages
2,061
Hi Colin, someone else said that it might be a leak. I certainly think I've made it worse by adjusting a screw - it was only one note before I began, now it's 3! :confused: I'm probably going to take to someone to look at it anyway but what does 'a leak' mean, what would cause that?
A leak is when the pad is not sealing the tone hole properly / completely / correctly. How does it happen? Many different reasons - could be wear and tear where the tone cup is not sitting properly - or could be due to a knock to the tone cup arm?

Best advice - take it to a good horn repair person...

Greg S.
 
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kevgermany

ex Landrover Nut
Subscriber
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21,999
Could also be one or two of those little screws coming loose. If you're new to it, twiddling them the wrong way will make things worse. Could also be a piece of cork falling off. Basically every key that closes together must close exactly together, and you really need a leak light to see it. Could also be a key higher up the sax not quite seating properly. Best get it to a repairer. Shouldn't be a big job, unless there's been some mechanical damage as Colin mentioned.
 

jbtsax

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7,902
It is called "regulation" where closing one key closes another in order to work properly. The lower stack notes are the location of most of the regulation required on a saxophone. Being "out of regulation" is the gift that keeps on giving, because typically the player will consciously (or unconsciously) press the keys harder in an effort to make the notes come out. This in turn adds "bent keys" to the mix which will first have to be corrected by straightening each key individually first before fixing the regulation problem. Bent keys often leak even more, so the player presses even harder, and so on and, so forth.

Trying to adjust a saxophone by turning regulation screws without a leak light is kind of like trying to do your own tonsillectomy---you may have good intentions, but it is awfully difficult to see what you are doing and it is easy to make the condition worse.
 
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Philly123

Philly123

Member
Messages
188
I took my sax to someone today. You were all right, I do have a leak which seems to have been caused by something that's been bent. The man almost caned me when I said that I'd been adjusting the screws. :ashamed. Its going to have complete strip down, proper set up and cleaning. I've had it about 2 years so maybe a service is due.

Thanks for your advice.
 

Colin the Bear

Well-Known Member
Messages
12,953
Mmm. Complete strip down seems a bit over kill, but I haven't seen it, so maybe it isn't. That'll teach you to fiddle. lol.

Some people have a natural bent for mechanical things. Some are talented in other areas.


I'm reminded of an old saying that has gone out of use. "You can't dig a hole in a different place by digging the same hole deeper."

Or maybe "All's well that ends well" is more apt
 

kernewegor

Bon vivant, raconteur and twit
Messages
1,778
On the other hand...

If you adjusted a regulation screw and made the problem worse, try screwing it the other way a little at`a time (half a turn, maybe) and see if that at least takes you back to how it`was before you adjusted it.

Even without a leak light it is possible to tweak the regulation provided that you are cautious, careful and logical. But - you may have a leak light in your home without knowing it... cheap LED Christmas lights (ideally white) can be fed into the bell and by tilting the sax you can get`a few of the string far enough up the bore. Then in a darkened room put a rag over the bell, close all the toneholes and see if it shows you a leak (or two... or three...). Easier if you`have an assistant, but`you can do it alone.

Find your leak, then decide what to do next... it could be a tiny bit of cork has gone AWOL, rather than a screw going out of adjustment or something getting bent. Temporary repairs are possible - a tiny bit of card held in with a sliver of selotape can get you out of a hole on a gig or a lesson. I always have some in my case, along with selotape and a little screwdriver. If you are going to tweak a regulation screw, do a little at`a time and see if it improves. DON'T do several different things at once, or you won't know what is doing which...

As jbtsax says, you must avoid pressing the keys harder if your sax starts to develop leaks. It is well worth developing an ability to spot problems early and trying to figure out what is causing it. Understanding how your horn works - and how it can go out of kilter - is part of the skill of being a musician, as is being able to do at least some repairs and adjustments yourself. If the clock is ticking before a gig starts you need to have some tricks up your sleeve...

Have a look at this site. Lots of information to help with your problem, but also stacks and stacks of other stuff of great interest (including some humourous articles!). I bought the book and wouldn't be without it!

http://www.shwoodwind.co.uk/HandyHints/HandyHints.htm
 

kernewegor

Bon vivant, raconteur and twit
Messages
1,778
I took my sax to someone today. You were all right, I do have a leak which seems to have been caused by something that's been bent. The man almost caned me when I said that I'd been adjusting the screws. :ashamed. Its going to have complete strip down, proper set up and cleaning. I've had it about 2 years so maybe a service is due.

Thanks for your advice.
Hmmm. As Colin said, a complete stripdown? Sounds drastic.

I don't want to take the bread out of a tradesman's mouth - having been one myself in a rather different but`also technical field - but you really ought to get to know how your instrument works and how to diagnose some common problems and do minor adjustments and at least emergency fixes yourself. Otherwise one day you will have an unplayable horn due to a trifling fault, half an hour before you go on stage and no hope of finding a technician...

It will give you a nice sense of achievement, too. Show the instrument who's boss... Taming the Saxophone? Right on!
 
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Philly123

Philly123

Member
Messages
188
Perhaps I got the terminology wrong. I got the impression that he was going to take the whole thing apart and put it back together again. I agreed because I had been thinking of having it overhauled, I've had a few little niggly things with it. I'd forgotten that I actually have the Haynes manual - should have had a look. Actually, the octave key on my spare saxophone seems a little loose. I was planing to let this guy have a look at it when I pick up my main one, but perhaps I'll see what the book says.

I like the idea of the Christmas / leak light. I've still got some up on my wall ..they're so pretty I couldn't bear to put them away. I'm going to have a go now.

Thanks everyone
 

Greg Strange

Well-Known Member
Messages
2,061
Perhaps I got the terminology wrong. I got the impression that he was going to take the whole thing apart and put it back together again. I agreed because I had been thinking of having it overhauled, I've had a few little niggly things with it. I'd forgotten that I actually have the Haynes manual - should have had a look. Actually, the octave key on my spare saxophone seems a little loose. I was planing to let this guy have a look at it when I pick up my main one, but perhaps I'll see what the book says.

I like the idea of the Christmas / leak light. I've still got some up on my wall ..they're so pretty I couldn't bear to put them away. I'm going to have a go now.

Thanks everyone
I'm glad you're getting your horn sorted.

I made up a leak light using a mini-mag light (very small flashlight / torch) with a bit of string tied to it...works a treat - got the idea from an article written years ago in the recently defunct Saxophone Journal magazine...

Greg S.

P.S. Of course my mini mag light is purple to match my purple logo 62 series horns:thumb:
 
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kernewegor

Bon vivant, raconteur and twit
Messages
1,778
I like the idea of the Christmas / leak light. I've still got some up on my wall ..they're so pretty I couldn't bear to put them away. I'm going to have a go now.
My ex-wife-to-be kept our Christmas lights up until we rented out to summer visitors... I like 'em. Makes the place look like a pub... I never`wanted the Christmas decorations taken down when I was a kid, either...

If you have a second sax (cheaper? older?) you may feel less inhibited about`having a go at fixing it yourself. That will stand you in good stead with (dearer? newer?) horns. Take control of your instruments... learn how they work... go to your techie when it is beyond your ability/confidence level... which will rise in time.

When you have had a look at your octave key post again and describe the symptoms . Stephen Howard is a member, as is jbtsax as you know... plus others who might have some useful comments... so online help is available...
 

kevgermany

ex Landrover Nut
Subscriber
Messages
21,999
I'm all for doing it yourself. Just a warning - make sure you understand how the keys seal and interact before you start. And make sure that you know exactly what you've done so that you can undo things if it doesn't work. Be careful with the octave mech - there should be some play in places, and it's another place where it's easy to mess up (and not so easy to undo).

I hope you got a quote for the work, could be expensive - especially if the tech is doing things that don't need to be done. Does sound like a bit of overkilll, but we can't see the sax.
 
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Philly123

Philly123

Member
Messages
188
Well I've dug my Haynes manual to see if I can work out what's wrong with the octave key on my Jupiter sax and stuck already. I did learn that it's not just the "octave key" but the "Octave key lever on the body" which feels a little sloppy (although it seems to play okay). Perhaps there's nothing wrong with but it feels very much looser than the one on my Yamaha and I really have to stretch my little finger so its fully pressed down. I feels like there's no tension in it. Anyway, I gone through the first bit Step 1 on page 72 of the manual (cigarette paper over the octave key pip) and this seems to grip okay.

Moved on to step 2 and I can't work out the location of the parts referred to :confused: for instance it says,

" .... repeat the test for the body octave key. ... close the G key does that mean just press the G key or press the G, B and A keys together, as you would to make a G note?

and press the octave key touchpiece (the lever I think

and you may have to press the octave key pin down which bit is this? in order to open the pad

Place the paper under the pad as before (is the the octave key pip I did in step 1?) and release the octave ...etc.

I'm posting this at the risk of appearing very unkowledgeable about my saxophone, but I'm sure you'll understand why I was so pleased to hand my other over to someone who really seemed to know what he was talking about out.
 

Colin the Bear

Well-Known Member
Messages
12,953
We all have different talents. Some are mechanicaly minded and some have different talents. Don't sweat it. If it's not obvious to you then let your tech sort it.
 

jbtsax

Well-Known Member
Subscriber
Messages
7,902
does that mean just press the G key or press the G, B and A keys together, as you would to make a G note?
All you need to press is the G, but all three will work as well.

the lever I think
Right

which bit is this?
The "octave key pin" is the metal rod that extends past the end of the sax and opens the neck octave key.
(is the the octave key pip I did in step 1?)
Yes.
 

kevgermany

ex Landrover Nut
Subscriber
Messages
21,999
Just G + octave. It's only linked to that key.

You'll see the body pip move. It's often difficult to find, especially on the smaller saxes as it's hidden under the other mechanics.

For completeness, there are two octave pips. One on the neck, the other higher up the body, just below the neck tenon. The G key controls which opens when you press the octave lever/key. What he's trying to get you to do is test both the neck pip and body pip. Should make sense now.

Lightness is down to spring balance. Be grateful it's light an works - means it's well set up. If you have to press it down too far, get a tech to adjust it, it may mean bbending the lever, or it may mean other adjustments/corks.

Don't do anything to the octave mechanism. Stick to checks for now. You'll quickly make the sax unplayable if you get something wrong.
 
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Philly123

Philly123

Member
Messages
188
On the other hand...

Even without a leak light it is possible to tweak the regulation provided that you are cautious, careful and logical. ... cheap LED Christmas lights (ideally white) can be fed into the bell and by tilting the sax you can get`a few of the string far enough up the bore.
I had a go at this. However, I should have taken more notice of your warning at the beginning, that is to be careful, cautious and logical. I used my light string, without really thinking about its components. NOW I know that it would have been much more sensible to have used a string containing bulbs which were small and rounded, rather than the long pointy bulbs mine contained - many of which couldn't wait to get hooked into the holes and other convolutions inside the body of the horn:doh: Spent a very sheepish 15 minutes trying to extricate the thing. But the goods news is no obvious leaks.:D
 
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Philly123

Philly123

Member
Messages
188
For completeness, there are two octave pips. One on the neck, the other higher up the body, just below the neck tenon. The G key controls which opens when you press the octave lever/key. What he's trying to get you to do is test both the neck pip and body pip. Should make sense now.

Lightness is down to spring balance. Be grateful it's light an works - means it's well set up. If you have to press it down too far, get a tech to adjust it, it may mean bbending the lever, or it may mean other adjustments/corks.

Don't do anything to the octave mechanism. Stick to checks for now. You'll quickly make the sax unplayable if you get something wrong.
Thanks for this. It did make sense and I eventually found the body octave pip and did the cigarette paper test. Seems to be okay. However I moved on to Chapter 18 of the Haynes Book (Setting the Springs) and it seems that there's, what I think is, a spring behind the octave lever key which looks slight bent. I wonder if this what's causing it to feel loose. I haven't used it since I bought my new one, so can't remember if it's always been like this.

After my leak-testing mishap :ashamed (see my previous post) I'm not going to mess with it. I'll have to use it next week at my workshop, so I'll ask my tutor to have a blow and see what she thinks. If she thinks it's not right, I get the tech man to look at it when I pick up my other one.
 
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