Questions - and answers
On this page you'll find answers
to questions sent in by readers or prospective buyers of the Haynes Saxophone
Manual. If you have any questions relating to the content of the book,
or as a result of applying any of the techniques, please feel free to
drop me a line.
? Does the book tell me how to regulate the
cork and keys on the saxophone ? I can remove the keywork and I can change
a pad but I do not know how to regulate the upper and lower stack. There
must be some rules how much cork there should be on the keys. Some of
the keys works in combination and the cork over the key foot can be used
to regulate it. The cork under the key foot has to do with key height.
I know I can put some thicker cork on or sand it but I do not know how
thick it should be. P. Olsen - Denmark
A Yes, it contains a sizeable section that deals
with fitting and regulating key corks, along with all the information
you need to know about how 'regulation' affects the keywork. It shows
you how to distinguish between problems caused by build issues and faulty
pads and those caused by poor regulation.
? I'd like to buy the saxophone manual for
my son, but I'm a bit worried that he might start messing with his saxophone
and end up breaking it, though I want him to know how to take care of
it. What would you advise? Mr. Leedy - Canada
A You'd have to go some to physically break a
saxophone - it something I've never seen professionally other than from
a deliberate attempt to damage the instrument ( with a hammer ) or from
a nasty accident - but there's certainly plenty you can do to stop a horn
working by poking about without knowing quite what you're doing. The manual
helps to avoid this by explaining how the instrument works and showing
what all the component parts do. I would recommend starting with the basic
care projects ( like cleaning and oiling ) and then moving on to the testing
section. This will help players familiarise themselves with the instrument's
mechanism and become more confident about handling it - at which point
it will become far less likely that they'll make any major mistakes. In
any event the diagnostic techniques show how to check for and correct
any such problems.
The bottom line is the care techniques alone will make a significant difference
to the playability and reliability of the instrument, and anything that
furthers a player's understanding of how their instruments works has to
be a good thing. If any mistakes are made, they won't be serious!
? I bought a cheap Chinese sax ( before I read
your article! ) and have always had trouble playing F,E and D in the low
and mid range. I bought your book and did the test for leaks and found
all the pads on the lower stack were leaking. Worse than that, I found
the tone holes were not level. Will it cost a great deal to have it repaired,
and is it worth it? J. Finch - UK
A If you've found warped tone holes on the lower
stack then it's a good bet that some of the others will be similarly warped.
If you're lucky and it's only the lower stack holes at fault then you
can probably reckon on spending about £40-£60 to have the
lower stack stripped, the tone holes levelled and the pads reset.
If the horn is still under guarantee you could argue that it's unfit for
purpose, or negotiate sharing the cost of the repairs. Whether it's worth
it depends on how much you paid for the horn, bearing in mind that a (
good ) replacement can be had for just over £200.
? I was checking my action and found little
bits of paper stuck to some of the corks. This can't be right, can it?
S. Foster - UK
A It's not ideal, but sometimes a repairer will
find that a cork needs thickening up by only a very tiny amount. In order
to save on the bother of replacing the cork they stick a piece of paper
over the existing one. It's a bit of a bodge coming from a professional,
but it's a common technique used by many home repairers - and if it gets
them out of trouble then all well and good. What tends to happen though
is because the paper is less resistant to oil and water, it can disintegrate
- usually on a gig. For reliability, and a quieter action, fit a new cork.
? I've been using thin oil on my keys for a
while now and I want to start using a thicker oil. Will I need to have
the action degreased first? K. Tomas - Germany
A You shouldn't need to - most oils will mix quite
happily unless you've used something unusual. Degreasing would help in
that when you apply new oil ( thicker or otherwise ) it will push out
any thin oil present in the keywork, so unless you remove the thin oil
it's likely to migrate out for a while longer. It's not a big problem,
it just means you'll have to keep cleaning the instrument until the thin
oil has been replaced. It will take some time before you feel the full
benefit of a thicker oil though.
? My low F key pad has a tear in it that goes
right over the tone hole mark. The leather is pretty good though, is there
anything I can do to save it? The sax seems to play ok. Mr. Jeffreys -
A A tear in a pad will reduce its ability to fully
seal over the tone hole, especially if the tear goes over the seat. It
really needs replacing, even if it's quite new.
You can improve things slightly by gluing the leather to the pad felt.
Apply some contact adhesive to a small stick or the tip of a screwdriver
and very carefully wipe a thin smear of it on to the felt
beneath the tear, ensuring the glue covers slightly more than the torn
area. Press the pad leather down onto the felt and align it as best you
can - then hold it in place for a minute or two. Be very careful not to
get any glue on the face of the leather - it will be very hard to remove
and could make the leak even worse. You should consider it a 'get you
out of trouble' fix, and have the pad replaced as soon as possible.
? My husband is a professional sax player,
I was thinking of buying a copy of the manual for him for his birthday.
Would it be something he'd find useful? Anon - USA
A Strange as it might sound, professional players
often know very little about how their instruments work, and many of them
play on instruments that have so many small faults that most beginners
would struggle to play them. It's because they get used to working around
the faults ( we call it 'compensating' ). They also hate leaving their
instruments with repairers - and anything that keeps them away from us
is worth its weight in gold to them! He'll love it.
? In the exploded saxophone diagram on page
25 the palm Eb key is marked as the E key. J. Oakely - UK
A Technically, yes, it is the top Eb key - in
order to play an E you have to press down the side top E key as well as
the palm Eb. However, whenever players refer to the palm keys they always
talk in terms of the 'top D, E and F keys'. It's one of those technical
inaccuracies that seems to have become common parlance. To avoid confusion
I have changed all references to this key to Eb.
? Is the Haynes Saxophone Manual a proper
repair manual? Phil Carter, USA
A No, it's a maintenance manual. Maintenance deals
with keeping what's working in good order and fixing small problems -
as well as diagnosing larger ones. Repair deals with fixing things that
are broken or damaged. Repair techniques often require expensive tools
and well-honed skills. You can buy repair manuals if you wish to do more
than maintenance, and I recommend the Reg Thorp Woodwind Repair Manual
? English is not my first language so
do you have any plans to do translated editions? H. Bloch - Germany
A It's up to publishers to produce translated
editions. They will buy the rights to a number of copies and have the
text translated. If you know of a publisher in your country who specialises
in either music books or technical manuals, you can ask them if they'd
consider producing an edition in your local language.
? I want to buy a 'beater' horn cheap
to do up, will your manual be the right thing for this? Richard Levy -
A It depends on how beaten up your 'beater' horn
is. Assuming at has no serious mechanical or structural defects then I
suspect you could get pretty far with the manual. If you have to invest
in a full-blown repair manual and some specialist tools it will probably
end up costing you more than buying a decent horn in the first place.