Saxophone Forum


by mgictwnger
(36 posts)
2 months ago

Buescher True Tone soprano compensator key.

I play a Buescher sop from 1926. The upper register intonation above G has always been problematic: mostly sharp except for C# which was very flat.
While researching what appeared to be an extra tone hole located between D and E on the lower stack I came across a discussion of the "compensator key", a tone hole located above the B key and part of the octave mechanisim. This hole las designed to open a crack on high C# and above, being held closed when any note from high C on down ia played. The amount of opening is controlled by the thickness of the cork under the thumb key which operates the octave mechanisim. Modern techs either don't understand this antiquated mechanisim or just don't want to mess with it and set the cork to leave it closed.
I glued a thin piece of cork on top of what was there under the thumb key and sanded it down until the compensator key opened just a hair. This raised the pitch of high C# and greatly improved the ease of producing the notes above it (the horn is keyed to high F). Back in the day it was referred to as the "bitch key" because of the difficulty of getting the cork to just the right thickness, it took me two tries.
As for the closed pad between low D and E, it is a mechanisim for producing Eb by fingering a D and lifting the middle finger of the right hand. Most techs reverse the spring and keep this pad closed because of leaking problems, which is how I'm leaving mine.

Here's a video of the compensator key in use:
https://www.dropbox.com/s/csxnkkriw1n334p/Buescher%20Sop%20Compensator%20Key.mp4?dl=0

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  1. by historicsaxwhisperer
    (275 posts)

    2 months ago

    Re: Buescher True Tone soprano compensator key.

    The lower stack extra key is referred to as the Forked E flat key.

    All makes and models had this key.

    I myself HATE to have the spring reversed or a cork put into the cage of the forked E flat cup to keep the cup closed.

    It throws off the movement of the lower stack key action.

    There is only one way to set this key up correctly and only a few techs out there have the experience to do it right.

    One of the quirks of a pre 1930s horn.

    but, vintage horns are my thing.

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    1. by mgictwnger
      (36 posts)

      2 months ago

      Re: Buescher True Tone soprano compensator key.

      I get what you're saying about the forked Eb key, but my lower stack seems fine the way it is. Maybe I'm just used to it, but if it ain't broke...
      What do you think about the "compensator key"?



      Original Quote:
      "The lower stack extra key is referred to as the Forked E flat key.

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      1. by historicsaxwhisperer
        (275 posts)

        2 months ago

        Re: Buescher True Tone soprano compensator key.

        I think you are simply referring to the upper stack float key.

        The lower stack has one also. Between G# cup and F cup.

        As with the upper stack situation, any key depressed in the lower stack will close the float key and also close G# if G# is activated.

        On horns with a front F, the front F key is between B and the upper stack float key.

         

        Yes, on a soprano, millimeter measurements can and do make a note play in tune or out of tune.

        A good tech will playtest a horn and make final adjustments with a tuner prior to delivering to the owner. The average ones dont even bother. The bad ones do a very bad leak check and tick off players.

        I myself got into refurbishing vintage horns the same way you are, by researching and questioning how things work.

        Just an FYI. The first step at setting up a saxophone correctly, is getting upper stack Bflat key to move correctly with the lower stack float key. All the rest of the setup branches out from this point.

        Enjoy

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      2. by GFC
        (734 posts)

        2 months ago

        Re: Buescher True Tone soprano compensator key.

        It seems the "compensator key" idea has been revived as the "speaker key" by Saxgourmet.  The devil is in the details; hopefully Goodson has come up with a better solution for adjustment.  Maybe it makes life better.  I personally have no experience with it.

        I came to appreciate the forked E flat on an old King soprano, for playing certain  runs involving the bell keys.  Maybe the forked E flat problems were something the industry could have solved had they been convinced of its value.

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    2. by historicsaxwhisperer
      (275 posts)

      2 months ago

      Re: Buescher True Tone soprano compensator key.

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      1. by mgictwnger
        (36 posts)

        2 months ago

        Re: Buescher True Tone soprano compensator key.

        Here are pics of the key on my instrument: with nothing pressed, with ony the octave key pressed, and with the octave and B pressed.

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