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 Crow's Foot Adjustment
Author: Bill_D 
Date:   2021-02-18 00:36

I'm a beginner at clarinet playing and clarinet repair, and I don't know the proper names of some of the relevant clarinet parts.

I have a Yamaha YCL-250. Low E and F are satisfactory. I have to press harder than what I consider normal for Clarion C, and much too hard for Clarion B. When I get Clarion C working okay by bending the pad cup, Clarion B gets worse and vice versa. I seem to be going back and forth in an seemingly endless loop.

The pad cup seems to require a lot of force to bend. QUESTION: Is this a Yamaha YCL-250 characteristic? I apply a little force to bend the pad cup and nothing, then more and more force until it seems like the pad cup bends too much.

I checked the seating of the pad closest to the crow foot with a cigarette paper feeler gauge. It is tight where the pad cup connects to the linkage arm, and on the sides. The side of the pad opposite the linkage has only slight resistance with "normal" pressing of the key and can be closed completely with harder pressing. QUESTION: Does this mean that the pad needs to be re-seated or does bending the pad cup affect the side away from the linkage more? I don't want to heat the pad cup and float the pad to position if unnecessary as this might make things worse based on my limited experience (I have installed flute pads using paper shims). The pad furthest from the crow foot seems to have the same issue, i.e., the side of the pad opposite the linkage is very slightly open.



Post Edited (2021-02-19 16:07)

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 Re: Crow Foot Adjustment
Author: OneWatt 
Date:   2021-02-18 01:24

@Bill D,

I am way too new to this topic to offer better advice than you're likely to get shortly from other veterans on this forum. But I will caution you to STOP bending the same keys back and forth ... each pass further weakens the metal and you can easily invite disaster.

The Haynes publication "Clarinet Manual" by Stephen Howard offers a wealth of info on how to make prudent adjustments ... and which are best left to a pro to avoid serious damage. Also, Tom Ridenour has some extremely helpful, no-nonsense Youtube offerings, and the one entitled "Something To Crow About" would likely be on point for your issue.

Now, I'll get out of the way and let the pros jump in. Best wishes!

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 Re: Crow Foot Adjustment
Author: Paul Aviles 
Date:   2021-02-18 02:07

I would say, once the pad has been "seated" (has depression from the tone hole upon it) you should replace the pad and re-seat the new pad FLAT across the tone hole.



The crows-foot issue is a separate one. Pre-supposing the pads are seated fine, there can be an issue with the "B" pad closing before the "C" pad or the other way around. When I adjust for that difference, it only involves the crow's foot key (the "C" key). If the "B" cup comes down early, you can wedge your left thumb under the crow's foot and push upon the "C" cup just a little and check to see if you've brought it down enough to make up the difference (and just keep that up until you do). If it is the other way around OR you've gone too far adjusting the "C" cup downward, you open it up by putting some pressure on the "C" touch piece and seeing if you've opened it up enough (continue with one little nudge at a time until you do).






..................Paul Aviles



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 Re: Crow Foot Adjustment
Author: Bill_D 
Date:   2021-02-18 02:32

"I would say, once the pad has been "seated" (has depression from the tone hole upon it) you should replace the pad and re-seat the new pad FLAT across the tone hole."

Paul, your crows foot explanation is the clearest I've read or seen. How do you push up on the C cup, e.g., do I put my thumb on the edge of the cup and push up (not much leverage to move the cup).

I didn't understand what you wrote about pad seating. I purchased the clarinet recently and it has new pads. How can I tell if one or both pads need re-seating?



Post Edited (2021-02-18 02:40)

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 Re: Crow Foot Adjustment
Author: Steven Ocone 
Date:   2021-02-18 03:13

New pads first. then adjustment. These are tricky pads to install -especially the F/C key because of the size of the tone hole. I do not have much success with the greenback type of synthetic pads on these keys.

Steve Ocone


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 Re: Crow Foot Adjustment
Author: Chris P 
Date:   2021-02-18 04:18

The crow's foot adjustment usually goes out when the RH F/C touchpiece gets bent down as it's a very easy and vulnerable key to bend because of its height, design and the hardness of the metal it's made from. Some are made from fairly hard metal like cupronickel (which Yamaha use) and others of much softer cast nickel silver alloys. The arm that joins the touchpiece to its barrel is relatively thin as it has to run over the top of the Ab/Eb touchpiece arm and that's usually its undoing.

To check the pads are seating, use a feeler gauge cut from the thinnest cigarette paper you can get, cut into a long wedge shape (without the glue line) with the narrow end around 2mm wide. Place the end between the pad and the tonehole and with gentle finger pressure to close the pad against the tonehole, draw out the cigarette paper and you should feel drag which means the pad is making contact with the tonehole.

Test the entire circumference of the pad this way and notice where there's more or less drag, or none at all as that will be where the pad isn't making contact against the tonehole. If the pad is too light on one side and too heavy on another, then the pad cup has either been bent if the pad was seating before, or the pad hasn't been seated correctly and that's a much easier fix if you know what you're doing.

You will also use the feeler gauge to check the regulation where one key closes another along with it - in this case the E/B key closing the F/C key and the amount of closing pressure each pad should have. Assuming all the pads are seating well, the E/B key pad should close with slightly less pressure than the F/C key pad as that will ensure you'll get E/B by holding down just the one key and it'll also take into account the torsion in the keywork - always expect there to be some torsion in the keywork.

Now the crow's foot adjustment - don't stick anything to the silencing material on the crow's foot if it's still intact as that will only infuriate your repairer if it's ended up a really sticky mess when the silencing material was already in good condition, but now needs to be replaced as that's turned a simple repair into a more involved one when keys have to be removed.

And assuming you've not stuck anything to the crow's foot in a bid to 'cure' the problem (and not causing any problems in not doing so), you can carefully bend the touchpiece back up by placing your left thumbnail under the crow's foot (between the crow's foot and the joint) and then gently and carefully bend the F/C pad cup down by applying pressure with your right thumb, a little at a time instead of one massive bend. Then check the closure of the F/C key pad with the feeler gauge when holding the E/B touchpiece down to close the pads with light finger pressure.

If the F/C pad is still not closing, then repeat the bendig process until it closes but with slightly more pressure than the E/B key pad. Always test it by holding down the E/B touchpiece or LH E/B lever rather than holding the E/B pad cup down as the amount of key flex (or torsion) will differ and you'll get a false reading.

If you've overdone the bending and the E/B key pad isn't closing at all using light finger pressure (and the F/C key pad is closing), then you'll have to gently bend the F/C key touchpiece down until you get both pads closing against their toneholes as they should - don't simply push the F/C key touchpuece down as that will compress the pad, but support the front edge of the pad cup with the edge of your thumbnail and then gently push down the touchpiece and test the pad closure with feeler gauges until both pads are closing as described earlier.

If you then find there's a gap between the crow's foot and the underside of the E/B touchpiece, but no gap between the crow's foot and the F#/C# touchpiece and there's no play/lost motion when using the LH F/C key, then you'll have to bend the linkage arm on the E/B key to close the gap completely. Hold the E/B touchpiece down and press down on the shorter linkage arm that links the E/B key to the LH E/B lever and check and repeat until the gap between the crow's foot and the RH E/B touchpiece has closed up. Don't overdo it as this is more difficult to reverse without damaging the silencing materials on the linkage arm as they're only small squares glued to a small surface area and easily compressed or torn off.

If you're in any doubt or don't want to take risks, then take it to a competent woodwind specialist as soon as you can. Better to have them put it right than doing anything that could cause harm and end up being an expensive repair instead of a relatively easy and less costly fix.

Chris.

Post Edited (2021-02-18 20:49)

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 Re: Crow Foot Adjustment
Author: Paul Aviles 
Date:   2021-02-18 06:17

Chris,


Much more thorough.......thanks.




I did want to put forth that there was at least one occasion on a clarinet (can't remember which but most likely a cheap, off brand) I actually experienced bending of the cup! So when confronted with the option of compressing a pad or bending a cup, I choose the pad compression (easier to change a pad than straighten a cup).






................Paul Aviles



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 Re: Crow Foot Adjustment
Author: Chris P 
Date:   2021-02-18 13:01

As you've got a Yamaha, the keywork on them is very sturdy and the chances of bending (distorting) a pad cup are about as minimal as you can get, unless you use excessive force or apply it in the wrong place.

But the fact remains with the F/C touchpiece and while Yamaha's keywork is fairly sturdy (compared to some Buffet clarinets where the F/C touch is notoriously soft), they can still get bent. On cheap clarinets made of low quality, thinner gauge and much softer nickel silver or brass alloys, pad cups can bend and distort much easier.

The only clarinets I've seen with the strongest F/C touchpieces were Leblancs where the F/C and Ab/Eb keys were mounted completely separate sets of pillars and the F/C touchpiece arm was much shorter as it didn't have to run over the top of the Ab/Eb touchpiece arm and key barrel. Only Leblanc keywork became more conventional in the '90s and they mounted both keys on the same set of pillars as they do on Noblet, Normandy and Vito clarinets, presumably as a cost-cutting measure.

Chris.

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 Re: Crow Foot Adjustment
Author: OneWatt 
Date:   2021-02-18 19:59

Chris - Many thanks for your explicit description/solution. I suspected that doing this might resolve this (minor) issue on one of my clarinets but was hesitant to address it - and almost willing to ignore it, since those notes speak nicely in the lower joint. But a visual gap between the E/B underside and the crow's foot was obvious (and bugged me), producing a touch of double-action. You've empowered me with the confidence to proceed!

Chris P wrote: "If you then find there's a gap between the crow's foot and the underside of the E/B touchpiece, but no gap between the crow's foot and the F#/C# touchpiece and there's no play/lost motion when using the LH F/C key, then you'll have to bend the linkage arm on the E/B key to close the gap completely. Hold the E/B touchpiece down and press down on the shorter linkage arm that links the E/B key to the LH E/B lever and check and repeat until the gap between the crow's foot and the RH E/B touchpiece has closed up. Don't overdo it as this is more difficult to reverse without damaging the silencing materials on the linkage arm as they're only small squares glued to a small surface area and easily compressed or torn off."

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 Re: Crow Foot Adjustment
Author: Bill_D 
Date:   2021-02-18 22:31

Thanks very much for the detailed explanation. I now understand how to do it, but I need to work on the execution. I thought I almost had it, but a few hours later no. Either my key pressing varies or the metal has memory.

I'd definitely prefer a woodwind technician do this work, but I haven't found one locally.



Post Edited (2021-02-18 22:38)

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 Re: Crow Foot Adjustment
Author: Paul Aviles 
Date:   2021-02-19 00:23

Locally may not be an option. Having grown up in Chicago (several wonderful repair options) I was under the impression any major city would have good techs. NOT THE CASE.



One I can highly recommend rather central to the entire country is Jonathan Copeland of Louisville Kentucky. There are others but Jonathan is "central" and has that rare quality of great artistry on top of the technical ability...........not a common trait at all.





..............Paul Aviles



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 Re: Crow Foot Adjustment
Author: Bill_D 
Date:   2021-02-19 02:00

Thanks for the recommendation Paul.

I checked his web site and it's encouraging.

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 Re: Crow's Foot Adjustment
Author: Matt74 
Date:   2021-02-19 17:28

Bill D, It’s probably metal memory. I find that I have to go back to double check adjustments. If you bend it again it will probably stay. Or, you can overbend it a little, and then push it back to where it should be.

The second register shows the problem before the first because it’s overblown. The overblown notes are less stable. It’s probably an issue in the first register too, but you don’t notice it. Everything should work perfectly with very light finger pressure.

- Matthew Simington


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 Re: Crow's Foot Adjustment
Author: Bill_D 
Date:   2021-02-19 18:36

Thanks, metal memory explains what I'm experiencing. Bending back and forth is challenging since the metal is so "hard" to bend.



Post Edited (2021-02-19 19:10)

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 Re: Crow's Foot Adjustment
Author: Chris P 
Date:   2021-02-19 20:49

You needn't worry about metal fatigue as it's not as though you're constantly bending the keys by an excessive amount, but only by fractions of a degree at a time instead of bending anything at right angles to regulate things. There is some metal memory, but with care, time and practice, you'll soon get the feel of things.

Chris.

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