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 Loose A key
Author: DontBflat 
Date:   2021-08-16 01:11

Hello every one!
I just started playing a Selmer Signet 100 that I bought locally from a hobbiest instrument repair guy a few months ago. (Really great guy and I could call him about this but I would rather figure it out “on my own”). My A key is not returning to its original resting position when I let it go. Is there a quick fix for this? All the screws seem right and there are no other problems otherwise. Any info would be great! Thank you!!

Charlie

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 Re: Loose A key
Author: kdk 2017
Date:   2021-08-16 01:36

It's always possible the key sleeve is binding on a slightly bent pivot rod or that the flat spring is binding. Is it doing this when you let the G# key go with it, or only when you hold the G# key up while releasing A?

I had this problem once and it turned out (I've described it here in past threads) that the wood had dried a little from disuse and contracted enough to cause the posts to move closer together, binding the key's movement. I humidified the instrument for a few days by putting a Boveda humidipack in the case and the key action returned to normal. It isn't likely to be a cause on a regularly played instrument, but just something to consider if the instrument has been in storage.

You can file the sleeves slightly shorter if the problem persists, although I'd trust that to a skilled tech, mostly to be sure there isn't a simpler explanation like a binding rod or spring.

Karl

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 Re: Loose A key
Author: Ken Lagace 
Date:   2021-08-16 02:45

Are you sure the spring hasn't broken?
Try a bit of oil on it. But DO NOT 'file' it! If you do any shortening, use fine sandpaper and make sure that the rod is perpendicular to the sandpaper.

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 Re: Loose A key
Author: Chris P 
Date:   2021-08-16 03:24

DON'T OIL ANYTHING!

I see it all the time when people assume a binding key needs the contents of a whole bottle of oil poured all over it and everything else when that creates a major cleanup operation and all too often doesn't deal with the problem.

Take it to a specialist repairer as soon as you can so they can correctly diagnose and deal with the problem without having an undue oil slick to deal with.

Chris.

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 Re: Loose A key
Author: clarnibass 
Date:   2021-08-16 08:46

Some possible causes:
- Key hinge tube and/or rod screw is bent
- Rust and/or dirt in the hinge/rod
- Friction between spring and surface it slides on (assuming it's a flat spring on that clarinet, very few models have needle springs there) - either from rust, or the spring is digging into the surface (then check if it has sharp end and sides)
- Key binding only when screw is tightened - this happens when the rod screw bends from tightening, either the post face and/or the rod screw relief face are too misaligned
- Hinge tube binding between the posts
- Bent post

It could be more than one thing at the same time.

Oil is pretty much never used to help with binding. It is only for reducing wear and quieting the mechanism (to a certain extend at least).

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 Re: Loose A key
Author: Chris P 
Date:   2021-08-16 21:33

If the throat A key had some lateral play in it and that was swaged to make it a perfect fit, then that can do a number of things which cause binding.

Either it was made to be a perfect fit between the pillars and is binding up with changes in humidity levels, or it was swaged to be a perfect fit and the swaged end is binding on the rod screw, or there's a burr on the swaged end which is being caught when the rod screw is fitted.

Signet and Bundy clarinets have a short needle spring for the throat A key which needs to be balanced well in order for it to work. If it's too weak, then the throat A key will be unreliable and made worse if the key is a tight fit between the pillars.

All cross mounted keys need a tiny bit of lateral play between the pillars to ensure they function under any conditions.

Chris.

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 Re: Loose A key
Author: DontBflat 
Date:   2021-08-16 22:07

Thank y’all very much for these well informed answers! This problem is a little out of my league it seems. I am going to make an appointment to see my guy Jim this weekend. I’ll let y’all know the outcome!

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 Re: Loose A key
Author: DontBflat 
Date:   2022-01-11 21:26

It turns out the spring inside the key had broken! My guy, Jim, informed me that it is a bit of a “fluke” happening. I’m glad that it tuned out fine and I am back to playing again. Thank y’all for the help!

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 Re: Loose A key
Author: Bob Bernardo 
Date:   2022-01-17 08:17

As everyone posted, please check.

During all of the years doing repair, 45 years, the posts that hold the A key in place tightened up, due to the actual wood of the horn swelling just a tad. I'd probably have a repairman CAREFULLY grind off a bit of the 2 posts until the A key doesn't bind up. I like tools similar to Dremals for this job. Other than that do what the others posted.


Designer of - Vintage 1940 Cicero Mouthpieces and the La Vecchia mouthpieces


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 Re: Loose A key
Author: clarnibass 
Date:   2022-01-17 09:45

>> I'd probably have a repairman CAREFULLY grind off a bit of the 2 posts until the A key doesn't bind up. I like tools similar to Dremals for this job. Other than that do what the others posted. <<

From the first place and later update it sounds like the problem was almost the opposite, loose, not binding, and not closing because of the broken spring.

When the problem is that the key is binding and is too tight between the posts, unless one of the posts (or both) is crooked and/or the post face is crooked, I prefer to slightly shorten the key hinge.

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 Re: Loose A key
Author: Chris P 
Date:   2022-01-17 21:54

"I'd probably have a repairman CAREFULLY grind off a bit of the 2 posts until the A key doesn't bind up. I like tools similar to Dremals for this job."

No repairer would ever do that!

They'd use the correct fraising tool to shorten the ends of the key barrel to fit it accordingly between the pillars instead of mucking around grinding the pillar faces as that will risk causing the key to bind up, especially if the threaded pillar face hasn't been ground correctly which will cause the rod screw to bow when it's tightened.

Always use the correct tool for the job. If your repairer doesn't have the correct tools, then find another repairer who has.

Chris.

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