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Soprano sax crook/neck springs

Ever since the introduction of budget sopranos with removable crooks (or necks) onto the market I've being getting clients in with problems to do with the octave key on these instruments. The design of the crook octave key is similar on a number of brands and the problem is that opening the key to its fullest extent bends the spring which powers the key. Once this is done the spring will no longer make contact with the crook and the key simply dangles uselessly on its saddle.

Granted, the key doesn't open that far in normal use - but if you catch your finger on the key when removing the crook from the case, or you catch the key when you're trying to push the mouthpiece on that extra fraction...or more likely you lift the key to blow out some Soprano crookmoisture from the octave key chimney there's a good chance you'll bend the spring. What's needed, and what's fitted to more upmarket sopranos, is a bumper which prevents the key from being opened too far. The picture shows the problem...the arrow indicates where the buffer ought to be.


Crook spring distortionThis diagram shows what happens; top shows the spring at rest, holding the octave key closed. Middle shows what happens when the key is opened fully, with the key barrel acting as a fulcrum point over which the spring is bent.
Bottom shows what happens after the spring is bent - it has lost its integrity and no longer contacts the crook...and the octave key hangs open.

Now, it is possible to tweak this type of key to allow it to open all the way without knackering the spring by putting a double kink in the spring so that it doesn't get caught against the key barrel when the key is fully opened - but whether this will work depends on the length of the spring and the position of its mount point in relation to the key barrel. The drawback of this method is that sometimes the action of the key feels less than snappy with a double bend in the spring. Having a buffer fitted allows for the spring to be set to the optimum profile.

If you own a soprano with this type of key then what I'd advise you do is the next time you find yourself at the repairers open the octave key all the way and see what happens...if it bends you'll be in the right place to have the spring adjusted so that it won't happen again by accident.

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