King Super 20 octave problem

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    Default King Super 20 octave problem

    I have a King Super 20 tenor with the underslung octave key. The horn is otherwise marvelous, but the octave key is giving me quite some trouble. The problem is that despite considerable spring tension, it won't stay down properly. If I do slap tongues on the lower notes, I can see the octave key moving (ever so slightly, but still), and loud lower tones tend to step up an octave. I've identified the problem in the octave mechanism, because if I close the key permanently, it disappears completely.

    I've tried to get my head around it, but the problem seems to be beyond me. As I said, the spring tension is quite high as it is. If this rings a bell to anyone, I'd be extremely grateful for further tips. Thanks!

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    Default Re: King Super 20 octave problem

    I have never had quite the same problem but for some time I had the feeling that my new silver neck hadn’t the proper tension and in fact I was adjusting it all the time until a tech adjusted (at great peril to break it) bending ever so slightly the part of the neck that is in contact with the activator. I just took a look, and it is possible that a tech also replaced the spring at some point.

    The upper octave pad is rather thick (MM white Roo pad) and there is absolutely no lost motion in the octave key.
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    Default Re: King Super 20 octave problem

    I'd just move (bend) the bar that actuates the octave key out a bit and see - it's not a big move, so there's very little danger of breaking it...

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    Default Re: King Super 20 octave problem

    not very easy, the bar is made of solid nickel silver (not brass) which is extremely hard and will never bend under unduly pressure but it is also almost impossible to bend without risking it to break.
    Life is just a bowl... some have cherries in it, some don’t. Those who have the cherries aren’t likely to share them though.

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    Default Re: King Super 20 octave problem

    I've bent mine due to a similar problem - actually I held the bar and slightly bent the arm... it worked fine but it was also a small adjustment.

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    Default Re: King Super 20 octave problem

    mine wouldn’t bend and the tech ( who didn’t in front of y eyes) told me that the risk was real.

    It might be different if your super 20 was an early double socket one, maybe that is the difference. I think in the earlier horns the octave key is brass, not nickel silver.



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    Default Re: King Super 20 octave problem

    Does the neck have any "pull down?"

    That'll mess with the octave key closing BIG TIME!

    Might be super slight - get it checked. Or - push UP on the neck and flex it back into place - it works with the beater horns kids use at school, what could possibly go wrong? haha
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    Default Re: King Super 20 octave problem

    King necks do have a tendency to bend down when there is a lot of pressure on the top side of the mouthpiece. However, the problem may be the shape of the neck octave key spring. It is totally different from other octave key springs.
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    Default Re: King Super 20 octave problem

    Quote Originally Posted by milandro View Post
    not very easy, the bar is made of solid nickel silver (not brass) which is extremely hard and will never bend under unduly pressure but it is also almost impossible to bend without risking it to break.
    I often bend nickel silver, both to straighten it and to adjust (correct) key alignment. I don't recall it ever breaking. (Of course appropriate pliers are needed.)
    Silver-brazing may part if it was badly done.
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    Default Re: King Super 20 octave problem

    I am glad to hear that.

    This key, however, as I witnessed in person when the tech worked on it, is as hard as it comes and the tech, one of the most experienced people when it comes to metal repairs in the NL was very clears about the risks involved and warned me beforehand.


    The tech referred to the key itself which is “ forged” I think , not the solder.
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    Default Re: King Super 20 octave problem

    Thanks to everyone for the input. If either the octave key or the neck need to be bent into form, I'll just give up and take it to a repairer. Although I have to say I can't figure out how/why a bent neck could cause the problem, because the leak only seems to happen when proper air pressure is applied. But maybe that's just me.

    Pull-down of the neck has never been a problem with any of my other horns. Is silver particularly vulnerable in this regard or does it tend to happen with all tenor necks regardless of the material?

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    Default Re: King Super 20 octave problem

    pull down can happen with any metal and silver might be thinner and softer than brass but the super 20 neck has a proper brace to prevent this.

    IF any pull down has happend it should show some signs at the very least by the brace. My neck wasn’t pulled down but was purchased aftermarket and fit is not universal not even with horns of the same brand.
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    Default Re: King Super 20 octave problem

    Here is an example of the Super 20 octave mechanism in proper operating condition: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=A3Rlqm0YY9A
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    Default Re: King Super 20 octave problem

    Make sure the real source of the problem isn't the body octave pad sticking to the pip. This is a very common quirk with these horns and makes hitting a clean middle D problematic. Thanks to the good folks here, I swapped out the body octave pad with a cork pad and it's been smooth sailing ever since with my Silversonic tenor. Prior to doing this, I had to clean the pad/pip before every gig, also oiling the mechanism. Haven't had to do either since installing the cork pad.

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    Default Re: King Super 20 octave problem

    I know this is probably going to sound stupid, but it works on my King Cleveland. Try just manually exercising the octave key before you begin playing, by physically moving the lever several times. If I don't do this, I often have octave problems. When I do it, I never have octave problems. Try it. You might just be surprised.
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    Default Re: King Super 20 octave problem

    I don't have any specific familiarity with this octave mechanism, but the joint between the part on the body and the neck key is always cushioned with some kind of soft material (usually either cork or one of those little plastic tubes). It is easy to sand or shave it down to give more clearance, or to wrap something around it to reduce clearance. I would certainly do this in preference to bending stuff until I was absolutely certain of the cause of the issue.

    Darrell's post implicitly speaks to the issue of excessive friction somewhere in the mechanism, either due to dirt or something bent, or old gunked-up lubricant. I would do a disassembly and thorough cleaning (if you are competent to do it) first. It sounds like a candidate could be friction in the system that leaves the body side actuator higher than it should be, contacting the neck key and thus allowing it to pop a little bit open. Generally there needs to be a bit of clearance between the neck key and the body side actuator.

    The King/Buescher style of "underslung" neck is actually exactly the same as a neck with the key over the top, except for the detailed design of the neck key. This is distinct from the Conn 6M (most of them) and 10M (a few) which have the vent on the bottom.

    Nickel-silver can absolutely be bent, with normal tools. It is a fairly malleable material though a bit less than brass. Truthfully for a key like the King keys shown, which look quite stout and there's not a lot of good places to pull on them when installed, I would probably just take the key off to bend it if that were needed.

    Looking at the pictures above I can see that while there's a nice big plate under the octave key mounting, that plate is not connected to the tenon (or double socket assy). So there is a weak point right there, where the lever arm for bending the neck is longest. It's probably rarely a problem on brass necks, but silver has quite a bit lower yield strength and I could easily imagine a bend occurring. If it were my horn I would fabricate a small piece to bridge between that plate and the tenon, so any bending loads would be taken down to the tenon/socket connection (which is thick and stout). I read a lot about neck pulldown on tenors; I wonder if it's nearly so common on Conn, SML, older Buescher, etc. that have a nice big brace that connects to the tenon area, compared to Selmer and Selmer copies that just have a plate under there that isn't.

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    Default Re: King Super 20 octave problem

    Did you, Turf3 ever work on a solid nickel silver Super 20 underslung neck? Or are you mentioning work done on other horns with nickel plate mechanics equating the two?

    Although it might look the same (from the outside) having a bit of plate on what is essentially a brass pice is not the same than handling a piece of solid material.

    Because I was there when the tech worked on my solid nickel silver neck it didn’t bent like butter, far from it!

    Nickel silver plate (or German Silver) which is on most nickel plated horns is not the same as solid Nickel silver.
    My super 20 has a solid nickel silver underslung (not brass plated with nickel silver ).

    Every tech that has seen my Super 20 says that the reason that it stays so well regulated is the solid nickel silver parts and the fact that it doesn’t bend well at all.

    Experience mande on different horns might not translate on these. There aren't too many saxophones with solid nickel silver mechanics. Martin Magna’s also have this.

    then there is nickel silver and there is nickel silver.

    observe this lady attempting to make a bracelet with different NS materials . Observe that this is not a forged key. she is working on. Observe also the fact that she says “ it springs back” (remember that is only a thin piece of metal, a thick forged key is a different thing altogether).



    should you still have doubts on what I am saying.

    Read this.


    https://orchid.ganoksin.com/t/solder...el-silver/8490



    if you don't have to work in nickel silver - don't.
    nickel is a totally pain in the arse to bend, saw... if you do
    still want to work in nickel, use silver solder. just remember
    you will need a special nickle pickle because if you put
    nickel in your gold/silver pickle it will turn a really nasty
    green color.


    And it is not only silversmiths complaining, Gunsmiths also complain of the same.
    Life is just a bowl... some have cherries in it, some don’t. Those who have the cherries aren’t likely to share them though.

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    Default Re: King Super 20 octave problem

    Quote Originally Posted by milandro View Post
    Did you, Turf3 ever work on a solid nickel silver Super 20 underslung neck? Or are you mentioning work done on other horns with nickel plate mechanics equating the two?

    Although it might look the same (from the outside) having a bit of plate on what is essentially a brass pice is not the same than handling a piece of solid material.

    Because I was there when the tech worked on my solid nickel silver neck it didn’t bent like butter, far from it!

    Nickel silver plate (or German Silver) which is on most nickel plated horns is not the same as solid Nickel silver.
    My super 20 has a solid nickel silver underslung (not brass plated with nickel silver ).

    Every tech that has seen my Super 20 says that the reason that it stays so well regulated is the solid nickel silver parts and the fact that it doesn’t bend well at all.

    Experience mande on different horns might not translate on these. There aren't too many saxophones with solid nickel silver mechanics. Martin Magna’s also have this.

    then there is nickel silver and there is nickel silver.

    observe this lady attempting to make a bracelet with different NS materials . Observe that this is not a forged key. she is working on. Observe also the fact that she says “ it springs back” (remember that is only a thin piece of metal, a thick forged key is a different thing altogether).



    should you still have doubts on what I am saying.

    Read this.


    https://orchid.ganoksin.com/t/solder...el-silver/8490



    if you don't have to work in nickel silver - don't.
    nickel is a totally pain in the arse to bend, saw... if you do
    still want to work in nickel, use silver solder. just remember
    you will need a special nickle pickle because if you put
    nickel in your gold/silver pickle it will turn a really nasty
    green color.


    And it is not only silversmiths complaining, Gunsmiths also complain of the same.
    Well, first of all, the neck tube of the Super 20 is sterling silver, not NS. So if the wall thicknesses are similar, the neck tube would be more prone to bending (though in truth not enormously more prone) than a brass tube. Smart design would have used a thicker wall tube in sterling than in brass, so the section properties would be similar. I don't know whether that was done.

    Secondly, I am totally familiar with the difference between nickel (not NS) plating on brass, versus solid NS keywork. I have not owned a King, but I do have a Martin Handcraft Committee with the solid NS keywork. It is harder to bend than brass of comparable thickness. But it is still a malleable metal. Note that I said very clearly that I would probably take the key off the neck altogether to bend it, so as to be able to apply the right amount of force in a controlled manner, without stressing the rest of the neck. Remember too that what we are talking about is a very small permanent deformation to make a small adjustment. Look at the bend in the key where the two parts go around the neck to join up at the pad cup. That bend is way more than you would do to make this tiny adjustment, and the material clearly didn't fracture there, did it?

    Just as a quick check, MatWeb shows UNS36000 (my best guess for brass keywork alloy as it's moderately strong and readily available) with yield strength around 45,000 psi, and around 20% elongation. Unfortunately, MatWeb shows around 1200 nickel alloys (most of which are proprietary superalloys like Hastelloy, Monel, Inconel, etc.) but for those marketed as "nickel silver", and depending also on temper, yield strength seems to run around 60-70,000 psi and elongation around 10-15%. I think we can assume the brazing process used in assembling the key does a pretty good job of annealing, so you can see that the differences between NS and plain brass are significant but not anything like the differences between, say, plain brass and titanium or 1065 steel hardened to Rockwell C60 would be.

    Thirdly, pretty much all parts of keys except the big rounded touch pieces on the palm keys, and the spatula form parts of the table keys, are all forged (no matter what material) because they are stamped out of sheet material and then hard soldered (or you can call it brazed) together to make up a key. The properties of sheet material are essentially the same as the properties of a custom-made forging, because sheet material is made by rolling which is just a plane form of forging. The particular key shown looks to me like a hard soldered assembly of several pieces, most of which were blanked from sheet; it's not totally clear to me how the biggest piece of the key was made; I can imagine three or four process flows for it. I am willing to bet a large sum of money, however, that it was not a cast part.

    Once we are talking about a forged piece vs. a piece blanked from sheet, machined, and brazed into an assembly, yield strength (resistance to permanent deformation) and tensile strength (resistance to breaking) will be essentially the same for a similar alloy. Generally a cast part (and bear in mind that forging/wrought alloys are generally different from those used in casting) will be less ductile for a given tensile strength, but it all depends on the alloy. Anyway, I am positive that the part in question, and for that matter the vast majority of keys on saxophones in the last hundred years or so, are not cast.

    Fourth, if NS as a material for keywork posed such great problems in forming and bending, all the keys on pretty much every clarinet made in the world today, plus all the keys on pretty much every silver-plated flute made in the world today, would not be made from it.

    Fifthly, the fact that jewelry makers complain about working with NS is not very important to me. If you want to solicit opinions about materials and their workability, you need to talk to professional machinists, tool and die makers in stamping shops, and so on. They will tell you that they would a hundred times rather work with NS than, say, Hastelloy, Monel, or D2 tool steel.

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    Default Re: King Super 20 octave problem




    I am afraid that you are incorrect, yes the tube is solid silver but the underslung key (on late Cleveland and early Eastlakes) is nickel silver (in the ones I am talking about the earlier ones, double sockets, as shown above, is made of brass) and that is the part that you suggest to bend ( and it won’t).

    I take, from what you say, that although you are very experienced with the NS problems with all the 5 points you make, you have never actually worked on a the octave Key of a late super 20 or you would know that it is made either of solid NS, as this one in the picture below.

    That one (!) you won’t easily bent, that I can guarantee because I have seen it first hand happening (or not ). The technician was trying his best and it took a really long time to make it work as it should.



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    Default Re: King Super 20 octave problem

    Quote Originally Posted by milandro View Post



    I am afraid you are incorrect, yes the tube is solid silver but the underslung key (on late Cleveland and early Eastlakes) is nickel silver (in the ones I am talking about the earlier ones, as shown above is made of brass) and that is the part that you suggest to bend ( and it won’t).

    I take, fro what you say, that although you are experienced with the NS problems with all the 5 points you make, you have never actually worked on a the octave Key of a late super 20 or you would know that it is made either of solid NS, as this one in the picture below.

    That one you won’t easily bent, that I can guarantee because I have seen it first hand happening (or not ).

    I didn't say it would be "easily" bent. In fact, if you read what I wrote, you will see that I suggested the key be taken off the horn to do any needed bending, because it is a hard part to bend and there's no good place to get hold of it while it's on the horn.

    I also clearly stated that the key is of NS. I think everyone with even a passing degree of familiarity knows that a lot of the keywork of King S20s is solid NS, just as the Martin Committee 1 and 2, as well as considerable of the Buescher 400 keywork, as well as probably 90+ of all clarinets, as well as probably 99.9% of all silver-plated flutes. I listed a number of reasons why keywork of NS, although definitely more resistant to bending than brass, is not some kind of exotic "supermaterial". Nor is it particularly brittle. It is still a malleable material.

    I guarantee you that I can take that NS key, put it in a vise, and bend it 10X the amount that would be needed for an action adjustment, without fracturing the material, and using only normal hand tools and my normal hand strength. Just as with any time one bends a key, you have to make sure not to bend it around the hole in the middle of it where the hinge tube goes through. Avoiding this is a simple matter of where you clamp it when you bend it, and using normal dexterity.

    IF you go back a couple of posts, you will also see that bending the key or the neck is probably the last resort, and normal action adjustments, as well as cleaning the mechanism, making sure all unnecessary friction is removed, and properly lubricating it, should be the first place to start.

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