Tech Topics: 
Interesting Questions . . .
Flex-Lite at work in alto body ...

We receive many questions from our friends and clients and strive to answer them all completely and promptly. We have accumulated some of the more interesting and frequently asked questions here – along with our answers – to share with all our visitors.
Fair Warning:  Bear writes to his friends and clients in a PG-13 fashion … 

Topic Directory
  • items are alphabetized by the main idea, not necessarily the first word
  • if there are multiple issues in a visitor’s question several lines will lead to the same item
  • each item is dated so you can find all the new stuff

Saxophone Accessory Storage
head to the sporting goods section for sturdy, versatile & inexpensive storage options (4/3/02)
Trouble Shooting Beginner Saxophonist Issues
steps to isolate player issues from instrument issues
1. a student is having trouble overblowing the octave
2. unwanted harmonics (4/13/02)
(includes brief discussions of harmonics, altissimo & multiphonics in the saxophone)
3. fingering charts, with a discussion of keywork developments over the years (12/02/03)
(includes what may be either missing or extra on your old C-Melody or Chu Berry)
More Beginning (early musical development) Saxophonist Issues
1. Why are all saxophones not made in just one key — like C? (9/27/04)
2a. What saxophone mouthpiece is right for me? (11/17/04)
2b. Do I need a different saxophone? (11/17/04)
Selecting Saxophones for Beginners
buying from a trusted source is imperative when you have limited knowledge about a complex situation (1/2/02)
vintage/used versus new & renting versus buying
What is a ‘Student Saxophone’, anyway?
question concerning Selmer era Buescher Aristocrat leads to discussion of the labels that marketeers
arbitrarily put on our saxophones, and the confusion such labels introduce into buying a good saxophone (9/13/04)
The American Second Line Saxophones:
Conn’s ‘Pan American’ | Buescher’s ‘Elk Hart’ | King’s ‘American Standard’ | Martin’s ‘Indiana’ (11/1/04)
All About Bare Metal Saxophone Finishes
caring for & cleaning bare brass, silver, nickel or gold saxophone finishes; tarnish prevention strategies for everyone;
everything you ever wanted to know about burnishing saxophone finishes; a saxophone restoration polishing protocol;
removing green mold & other pesky bare brass maladies (2/26/05)
Bell Washes: Types & Techniques
24k & rose gold bell washes displayed & explained (9/28/03)
bonus information on caring for your fine silver & gold plated saxophones
Breath Vapor Condensation Issues
everything that goes into your ax has to come out — sooner or later (4/3/02)
let’s see if we can understand what, where, when & why …
Bronze and Brass as Saxophone Materials
more than you ever wanted to know about metallurgy (9/13/04)
includes a discussion of saxophone ribs (yum!) and stress bends to saxophone bodies
a closer look at the Buescher 400 ‘Top Hat & Cane’ models
did you know there was more than one Buescher design with the famed ‘Top Hat’ engraving? (12/14/04)
Burnished Saxophone Finishes
what burnished finishes look like, and briefly, how they are applied (12/22/01)
Cleaning & Polishing Saxophones
what works & what doesn’t for lacquered and bare metal finishes of brass, silver, nickel and gold (9/18/04)
also a discussion on disassembling your sax to do a complete job of spiffing it up
Chu Berry Conn Identification
serial numbers and characteristics helpful in identifying 1920s Conn saxophone models (1/15/02)
Taking a Chu Berry Conn Apart for Cleaning & Polishing
tricks & traps related to disassembling & reassembling a 1920s Conn saxophone
includes general information applying to disassembly & reassembly on other saxophone brands & models (4/15/05)
What Do I Need In a Laptop/Notebook Computer to Do a Solo Act?
minimum system requirements, application software, peripherals, sample arrangements (4/3/02)
Comparing Conn 6M & Chu Berry Horns
when comparing two great saxophones is it really necessary to decide which is better? (4/17/02)
follow up discussion of changes in Conn quality pre WWII vs. post war
Conn Res-O-Pads
the whole truth and nothin’ but — it’s even illustrated … (8/24/04)
Conn Serial numbers with ‘M’ and “N’ as a prefix
these seeming discrepancies fully explained (9/28/03)
(includes general comments on vintage saxophone restoration work)
Conn Transitional Model Saxophones
serial numbers and features to help you identify these fine & rare old Conns (1/15/02)
C-Melody Mouthpieces
get a mouthpiece that will make your C-Melody sound & respond like the rest of the great 1920s Conns (1/25/02)
(includes follow ups on shank length and reeds for original C-Melody mouthpieces)
**comments revised & evaluations of Runyon & Beechler Cmel mpcs added (9/30/03)
C-Melodies – a collection of significant issues
(plus some issues that extend beyond the Cmel subject to general vintage sax interest)
1. Are C-Melodies Inherently Flawed? (12/13/03)
2. Cmel issue discussions with an informed CS visitor (12/13/03)
3. Resolving a client’s Cmel intonation problem (12/13/03)
Cork Grease Substitute
get a nice snug fit and never wipe those fingers on your clothes again (3/27/02)
Saxophone Cosmetic Issues: Tarnish, Corrosion, Mold, Rust
what can and cannot happen to your saxophone’s finish (9/13/04)
what you can and should do about saxual cosmetic issues
advisability of DIY endeavors on your saxophone
(a very sad topic — not intended for the emotionally weak)
Saxophone Design Issues & Comparisons
Martin Committee & other dual left bell key saxes vs. Selmer style ‘balanced action’ horns (11/7/03)
(or why is it that your Mark VI bell swerves so wildly to the right?) 
Disposable Saxophones
the really bad ones to avoid at all costs (4/14/02)
Oriental Wonders, MexiConns, anything stamped China or PRC …
Advanced DIY Saxophone Service Issues
Much of what you will read here is beyond the scope 
of DIY sax repair, but it’s interesting stuff you can use to keep your favorite tech honest …

1. spot plating an assembled saxophone (4/19/02)

2. leveling empty pad cups (4/19/02)
3. fitting sax necks (10/31/03)
4. bis Bb key & other main stack relationships (10/31/03)
5. bass sax considerations (10/21/04)
(includes discussion of bare brass polishing & maintenance,
plus advanced info on leak lights for specialized saxual applications)
eBay Saxual Disasters
in the end, idoicy, dishonesty and just plain ignorance impact your saxuality in exactly the same way (2-9-05)
Electronic Wind Instruments — EWIs
general information on what EWIs are and how to enrich your music using them (4/3/02)
also, a source for repair to the common ‘squealing’ problem of the Casio DH-100
Fake 19th Century Saxophones
check this before you celebrate the bargain early Adolph Sax or other collectible early design you just nabbed (1/26/02)
Saxophone Finish Techniques
what satin, polished and burnished finishes each look like, and briefly, how they are applied (12/22/01)
(see the related item below on Common Saxophone Finishes and how to recognize them)
Common Saxophone Finishes
finishes commonly found on saxophones and how to recognize them (1/15/02)
(see the related item above on Saxophone Finish Techniques and how they are applied)
Fork Eb & G# Trill Mechanisms
1. at the end of our discussion of H. N. White we discuss dealing with these pesky little fossils (1/5/02)
2. additional info: purposes, functions and dysfunctions discussed in expanded detail (10/24/03)
Did I do that?
intentional & non-intentional harmonic separations are responsible for myriad saxual effects (4/27/06)
High Pitch or Low Pitch?
1. differences between the two tuning standards found in vintage saxophones (12/22/01)
how to recognize them, and how to use them
2. dual octave buttons & a general discussion on high pitch instruments, (10/5/04)
including the distinction between ‘antique’ and ‘vintage’ as these terms apply to saxophones
3. past & current musical applications for high pitch saxophones,
timing of adopting the A=440 standard (3/5/05)
Holton Saxophones
why these instruments are obscure and unappreciated (12/22/01)
Bear’s take on the dreaded “I” word (4/30/06)
Keilwerth Stencil Saxophones
great saxophones with rolled tone holes (1/26/02)
learn about names like Couf, Kohlert, Graslitz, the New King & more ..
The H. N. White Company Saxophones
King, Cleveland & American Standard (1/5/02)
company history, design achievements and even an explanation of those ‘mystery keys’ found on older vintage saxophones
Saxophone Key Prosthetics
make your own custom key risers, extensions & thumbrests to improve feel & playing comfort (2/13/05)
Leaks – Finding & Fixing Them
sax player, get a light …
classifying leaks so you can deal with them effectively
the usual causes for each type, plus hints on eliminating them (12/22/01)
Low Pitch
the modern tuning standard explained: who did what to whom — and when … (12/22/01)
Mark VI Identification Issues
given that saxophones of the Mark VI design were made both before AND after the range of serial
numbers & dates shown on Selmer charts, just how do you distinguish between SBA, Mark VI
and Mark VII Selmer saxophone models? Bear explains it all… (3/15/05)
Conn Saxophone Markings
understanding that stuff stamped between your thumb rest and the Low Eb cage (4/3/02)
the infamous MexiConns — that ‘N’ stands for Nogales, Mexico …
Maintaining Silver & Gold Plated Saxophones Finishes
tips on caring for your fine silver & gold plated saxophones (9/28/03)
bonus information on 24k & rose gold bell washes
What Materials Go into a Saxophone?
properties of materials, pros & cons, what matters most, what may not matter as much as you think (9/26/04)
Make Yourself a Neck Plug
quick & inexpensive neck plugs (aka body end plugs) can be made from ordinary household items (9/30/04)
Polished Saxophone Finishes
what polished finishes look like, and briefly, how they are applied (12/22/01)
(this discussion is on a metal finishing technique, not maintenance, which is discussed below)
Polishing Saxophones
what works & what doesn’t for lacquered and bare metal finishes of brass, silver, nickel and gold (4/14/02)
also a discussion on disassembling your sax to do a complete job of spiffing it up
‘set up’ and ‘regulation’ defined
some common regulation maladies & their effects on your play
determining when your sax might not be properly regulated
part 2 of a discussion including harmonics (4/27/06)
Satin Finished Saxophones
what satin finishes look like, and briefly, how they are applied (12/22/01)
Saxophone Construction Materials
a question about the suitability of Yanagisawa solid silver models (4/3/02)
Saxophone Mechanism Issues
become a better player by understanding how your sax makes the notes you finger sound the way you want them to (12/22/01)
(part of the discussion on finding and eliminating leaks)
Saxophone Mouthpiece Basics
mouthpiece design theory — dispelling the tip opening myth…much, much more… (2/25/05)
Vintage Saxophone Mouthpiece Issues
achieve your tone & response goals: a common sense approach for matching mouthpieces to a vintage sax (4/3/02)
Mystery Saxophones
instrument names we’ve never heard … your input is welcome if you have additional information
1. Periett Paris (4/5/02)
Replacement Necks, Tunable Necks, Cork Grease Substitute
the value of your neck, how to use a Conn neck tuner correctly, teflon plumber’s tape is a life saver (3/27/02)
Obtaining Replacement Pads For Do-It-Yourself Projects
1. pads are readily available to those with the urge to take on a DIY resto project (4/14/02)
2. choosing the right type of replacement pads
3. Conn Res-O-Pads, description, advantages with RTH horns, fitting
4. expanded discussion on Conn Res-O-Pads (10/25/03)
Relacquering Pros & Cons
dispelling the myths about relacquered saxophones — warning: your core values are about to be challenged (12/22/01)
Vintage Saxophone Restoration Issues
1. I Need to Get My Vintage Conn C-Melody Restored (4/17/02)
2. advisability of DIY jobs (9/28/03)
Selmer ‘New York’ Saxophones
a discussion of the various ways the Selmer name has been used on saxophones (12/22/01)
(the instruments that are highly sought — and those that aren’t)
The Selmer Padless Saxophones
a very interesting & obscure piece of saxophone lore (4/17/02)
Selmer Serial Numbers — Inconsistencies
the serial number chart on your vintage Selmer’s number isn’t necessarily the last word on the model you have (09/30/04)
Saxophone Set Up/Regulation issues
discussion with an insightful CS visitor sparks valuable exchange, revealing your saxophone’s deepest secrets (01/21/05)
included is a process order for setting up saxophones that assures you won’t get lost in the details
Solder Repair Hints
a few hints for experienced solderers on assuring clean, strong joints for saxophone work (9/26/03)
Stuck Screws & Rods
only enough force to accomplish the required result: a step-by-step protocol for stuck screw & rod removal (11/19/03)
Traveling With Your Saxophone
tales of planes, trains & automobiles — not to mention trucks, buses and boats … (4/17/02)
Vintage Soprano Saxophones
brands and their characteristic keywork & sound traits (12/22/01, updated 1/30/05)
Spot Plating
1. you can do something about those wear spots on your vintage plated saxophones (1/15/02)
(includes source for information & equipment)
2. follow-up on spot plating an assembled saxophone (4/18/02) 
Stencil Saxophones
1. those strange names you’ve never heard are usually tied to some that are quite familiar (1/28/02)
also, a discussion of stencil quality & the evolution of the stencil models through the decades since 1920
2. Why can’t I just look up who made which saxophone on a list? (10/25/03)
Sticking Pads
keeping pads clear of crud, plus causes to avoid, including a frank discussion of pad savers & key clamps (1/5/02)
follow-up concerning travel & key clamps (1/29/05)
Stolen Saxophones
your rights as a victim, what happens if you mistakenly buy stolen goods, (4/2/02)
plus the CS clearing house for lost, stolen and found musical instruments
Storing Saxophones
prepare your instrument for a safe & snug long winter’s nap (12/2/03)
also some hints on keeping cases smelling fresh, holding tarnish at bay, and minimizing chances of water damage
Identifying Saxophone Types
a foolproof way to determine exactly which type of sax you have  (12/22/01)
(especially how to separate the C-Melody and C soprano from the fold)
Troubleshooting Setup, Response & Play Issues
a collection of short responses on miscellaneous problems
1. Hard Responding Upper Octave A
2. Flat Middle C#
3. Fuzzy Middle D on Tenor
4. My Sax Seems to Play Sharp (4/5/02)
5. Low Note Response, Altissimo Issues, Making a Nifty little leak Light (1/24/05)
What’s My Sax Worth?
complexities of the dreaded ‘V’ question exposed (9/28/03)
(includes ancillary discussions regarding Conn transitional altos, early King altos, Buescher Cmels, and Beechler Cmel mpcs)

Bear has a few simple rules about writing to him. 
If you don’t follow them you will still get an answer, but if you do you will get the answer you want …

1. Write in complete sentences with proper punctuation and capitalization (cuz if Bear decides to publish your question here he doesn’t like to have to grade your paper) 2. Spell check before you press send (Bear can’t spell either, but he knows there’s no excuse with all these modern conveniences) 3. Keep it clean (this is Cyber SAX !!!)  and remember to use Please and Thank You (those words are still the grease on the wheels of success) 4. Try not to ask grape questions cuz Bear gets bunches of email (he could probably write you a book but we have better uses for his time) 5. Sign your name (if you’re squeamish about privacy remember Bear won’t know whether it’s your real name or not, but he like’s to think he’s your friend. Humor him, OK? We have to…) 6. Select a subject that clearly tells Bear your message is about saxophones or music (we get tons of spam, so non-saxual subjects are prone to be caught in our spam traps) 7. Send only .jpg files as attachments (other file types can contain viruses — BTW, make sure your pix are clearly focused, relevant & well lit .. you may have the finest furniture & pets possible, but they aren’t helpful in answering your questions) 8. Please DO NOT put Bear on your address book or distribution lists (Bear doesn’t have time for chain letters & such — besides, these lists are how viruses spread .. if you have to keep such lists make them text files or spreadsheets .. Of course you can find Bear’s email address at the bottom of every CS web page)

(return to Tech Topics summaries)

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