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 moisture
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.
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
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.