Posted on February 21, 2015
338xxx King Super 20 Alto Repad
This was one of those jobs where everything went my way. There is an awful lot in the job of saxophone repair- and probably any job that requires working with aged mechanisms and variable materials- where a certain amount of it just depends on which way the wind blows. You could get a pad seated perfectly on the first try, or you could just as easily need to try 3 different pads and spend an hour before it came out right. Sometimes you can get an octave mechanism sorted out in an hour, sometimes it takes all morning.
This horn was what I think of as a saxophone that wanted to play, where I felt as if I had outside help. Kind of like flipping a coin and coming up heads 100 times in a row, its not impossible but it is improbable to have simply every single thing on a horn go the way you want. And that is what happened with this horn. It was immensely satisfying and I was quite pleased with the result.
I used flat metal resonators as is my habit on Kings, with moderately open key heights. I had to fit the double socket neck, which is never easy, but this one went about as well as it possibly could have. Double socket necks on Kings and Conns are difficult because the airtight joint is the connection between the inner surface of the body tenon and the outer surface of the inner sleeve of the neck tenon- a surface that is not accessible without unsoldering the outer sleeve, which is not something you want to do on a horn in good physical condition otherwise due to lacquer burn. So its a touch and go operation to get it done without direct access to half of the important bits of the connection, and you must go slow in the expansion and rounding of the inner sleeve because if you go to far, you have to take off the outer sleeve to shrink it back down. This one went quite well.
You may also notice in the photos some natural cork, something I have been using lately. I was never pleased with the behavior of natural cork as bought from suppliers in modern times, but I also noticed that cork adjustments on horns that still had their factory jobs on them from 1920s-1950s were often still holding strong. What gives? Well, assuming good quality cork, the answer is just the way the cork is cut, it turns out. If you cut with grain rather than across it like in normal sheet cork, cork is much more resilient and does a fantastic job of what it is supposed to do as an adjustment material. So I have begun buying thicker sheets of cork and cutting my adjustment materials out of them sideways. I’ll add this to my now-outdated adjustment materials article later on.
All in all, a very pleasing experience that ended up with a horn that just absolutely smokes.