Beginner The Emergency Saxophone Repair

s.mundi

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Last night, I had a job for a regular/important client. During the first set, my soprano was having a major problem. The client's friend requested "Misty", but I only do it on the soprano. I wanted to keep them happy, so I figured it out. After the first set, I used sandpaper to remove areas of both G and G# pad cups then used a Sharpie marker to add the protective coating. It solved the binding problem, my client was happy, and I got a $50.00 tip. I love it when it works out.




 

Wade Cornell

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If these two keys were touching, then one or both have moved from where they should have been. The answer was to bend them back...brutal but so is sanding away material. I don't get using a marker pen as bare brass is more than OK. If desired one can touch up lacquer later.

Whatever works is fair...but in this instance I don't think you've done your instrument any favors. Worth the $50 tip? That's up to you!
 
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Stephen Howard

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Ouch!

It's not uncommon to see a collision between the G and G# key cups on a soprano. The toneholes are situated rather close to each other and there's often very little room to accommodate the necessary overhang of the cups in relation to the size of the toneholes.
Some manufacturers get around this problem by knocking a small flat in one or other of the key cups - and some opt for thinning the cup walls where the two keys lie close to each other...so the solution above is not without precedent.

However, such modifications are only made during the assembly process. If a collision happens subsequent to the manufacturer's setup it's a clear indication that something has changed which now allows the cups to touch - and the proper fix would be to work out what that change is and correct it. The most likely candidate is that the horn's taken a bit of a knock (probably while it was in its case) and the body has taken on a very slight bend...or some of the pillars have been knocked out of alignment by hammer action. For example...there's a rather large gap between the end of the G key barrel and the pillar. Was that there before? Does the G key now wobble on its pivots? Might the point screw be loose?
In other words, thing's ain't where they oughta be - and when that happens it typically means that some of the pads will no longer be seating properly.

The fix with the sandpaper has tackled the problem of the colliding keys (for now), but hasn't done anything about the possible leaks...or the fault that caused the problem in the first place.
Wade is bang on the money in this case - the best course of action would have been to bend the keys slightly...and in the case of collisions it can usually be done by inserting a table knife (i.e. not a sharp one) between the two keys and using it to gently lever them slightly apart. It's non-damaging, and the horn can be restored to its former glory at a later date.

I have no idea why the marker pen was thought necessary...it's not like the keys are going to dissolve into nothing because a bit of lacquer's gone missing.

But still, a fix 'in extremis' that gets you through a gig is still a fix - and if nothing else it serves to illustrate the importance of asking why a problem occurred, and of backtracking from the symptom to the source.
 

Alphorn

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I would need to hate my instrument to subject it to such crude measures. I know, some regard a sax as a simple tool that has to perform when requested. I believe they deserver a bit of love.

Well, the fix brought you through the gig. So it is probably justified.

Alphorn
 
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s.mundi

s.mundi

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This client invites me four times a month for private parties, so I wanted to keep her happy. I learn something new every day.
Thank you for the very informative post.
 

jbtsax

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What @Stephen Howard said. I would just add that sometimes it is possible to diagnose how a key cup has moved by examining the pad to see if there are double "rings" or seats. For cosmetic purposes, the sharpie can be easily removed with alcohol. To protect the bare brass, you could then put a very thin coat of clear nail polish over the sanded areas---not perfect, but it would look better than the photos. :oops:
 

JayeNM

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Removing the sharpie marker indeed is an easy endeavor. Some Goof-Off or Goo-Gone will take it off and will not effect a modern lacquer. The nail polish coating can be applied, or the bare brass can just be left as-is until a servicing where the keys would be removed, then the areas can be attended to and made to look less 'abraded'.

The fix was necessary to get things to work, and the fix worked, albeit some might have found it a bit crude. So, hey, well-done.

Next course of action (if OP so desires) would be to get horn to tech and as already noted by others have it checked for a leak in that vicinity. LIkelihood is there still IS one.
 

Pete Thomas

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What @Stephen Howard said. I would just add that sometimes it is possible to diagnose how a key cup has moved by examining the pad to see if there are double "rings" or seats. For cosmetic purposes, the sharpie can be easily removed with alcohol.
One thing occurred to me.

If the issue was caused by possible a slight bend due to a knock, then isn't there a chance that the keycups have moved as well as the tone holes. In this case there may not be any change to the indentation as the pas may still seat in the same place relative to0 the tone holes.

In that case then I would think as a DIY remed/bodge, bending the keys to apart may actually make things worse if the pads no longer seal on the tone holes with there same ring indent, so may well leak a bit. And in that case the Os.mundi's fix of snadparing the keycaps to alleviate the biding would actually retain the integrity of the pad seal.

Just a thought.
 

jbtsax

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One thing occurred to me.

If the issue was caused by possible a slight bend due to a knock, then isn't there a chance that the keycups have moved as well as the tone holes. In this case there may not be any change to the indentation as the pas may still seat in the same place relative to0 the tone holes.

In that case then I would think as a DIY remed/bodge, bending the keys to apart may actually make things worse if the pads no longer seal on the tone holes with there same ring indent, so may well leak a bit. And in that case the Os.mundi's fix of snadparing the keycaps to alleviate the biding would actually retain the integrity of the pad seal.

Just a thought.
I follow your logic. However a common symptom of the body being slightly bent is that the keys in that vicinity no longer move freely. This takes me back to my mentor in repair telling me the secret to repair is to figure out what created the problem and then do the opposite. He was a master at doing that. I am still learning after nearly 20 years of repair. In other words like you are saying, it is better to treat the cause than just address the symptom.
 

Pete Thomas

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I follow your logic. However a common symptom of the body being slightly bent is that the keys in that vicinity no longer move freely. This takes me back to my mentor in repair telling me the secret to repair is to figure out what created the problem and then do the opposite. He was a master at doing that. I am still learning after nearly 20 years of repair. In other words like you are saying, it is better to treat the cause than just address the symptom.
Agreed, but I am merely talking about the on-gig emergency fix - not how it be done on the workbench. (for once I'm stating on topic! :) )
 

Stephen Howard

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If the issue was caused by possible a slight bend due to a knock, then isn't there a chance that the keycups have moved as well as the tone holes. In this case there may not be any change to the indentation as the pas may still seat in the same place relative to0 the tone holes.
Nah.
 

gladsaxisme

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I have a curved sop that has this problem and believe it's been there from new and was wondering what could be done to sort it as there seems to be very little room between the surrounding keys to bend them apart without colliding with another adjacent key so it looks like thinning the side of the problem key cups might be the recommended fix
 
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