Saxophone Forum


by loudogskank
(11 posts)
10 years ago

Replace needle springs with modern springs?

I got a reaaaly old new wonder with original needle springs that barely work anymore. Is there any problem with replacing needle springs with modern music wire?

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  1. by bonzokat
    (3 posts)

    10 years ago

    Re: Replace needle springs with modern springs?

    If you sax is really old first you need to check that the keys work freely. un hook a spring on an open key and see if the key flops down on the tone hole. there should be no binding. I dont recall seeing a blued needle spring go weak and loose its ability to retension unless it was installed wrong or heated during pad replacement. they seem to get brittle and snap more often. you should be able to retension them. unhook and slowly add tension. the direction they go when unhooked will be the direction to add tension. carefully rehook to key, dont go past the key hook or you will loose the tension you just added. try one in an area that is easy to replace in case it snaps.(wear eye protection) you should be able yo find a shop with a supply of blued needle springs. Modern springs are stainless steel and are available in the same or very close sizes to the origional springs. when properly fit and installed they will work fine.

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    1. by bmcguire
      (45 posts)

      10 years ago

      Re: Replace needle springs with modern springs?

      Stainless steel springs are not even close to as good as Blue Steel springs are. I don't know of any pro horns that come with SS. They are still blued steel. There is something better about the feel of a horn with blue springs. So, if you need springs, have it replaced with the original.

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      1. by johnsonfromwisconsin
        (767 posts)

        10 years ago

        Re: Replace needle springs with modern springs?

        According to some of the technicians I've talked to, Stainless Steel springs are just as good as blued-steel springs are. Blued steel springs appear to be a feature that's really just a fad. They don't offer any better feel or action than good old stainless steel springs that have been used on quite a few professional horns ranging from the King Super20 to the Buescher 400 (gold plated norton springs are just screw-in SS springs), to the Conn M-Series, and so on. Back when it was acceptable, even prefered to have nickle plated keywork on lacquered pro instruments, SS springs were more common. These days, pro instruments tend to be completely lacquered and the SS can look out of place, and blue springs have been envogue. This is all according to my understanding. The problem with SS springs these days is they usually are installed too thick or with too high a tension on inferior instruments. A problem with Blued-steel springs is that they are a real hazzard to work with and can be more brittle.

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        1. by sax_maniac
          (984 posts)

          10 years ago

          Re: Replace needle springs with modern springs?

          The only problem with switching from blued steel to stainless is that the blued are stiffer for a given diameter. So your stainless spring of the same diameter will not provide as much stiffness. There may be some work involved to fit an equivalent stiffness stainless in the hole for the blued needle. Nothing a careful tech with the right tools can't accomplish. Oh... another problem. Horns designed for blued needle springs will generally have very small notches on the keys to receive the end of the needle. A stainless spring is thicker and may not be caught as well by the notch on the key. The spring could tend to slip off. Again, a manageable problem for a conscientious tech with the right tools, but I think it's just best to replace what used to be there with it's equivalent. Needle springs can be treacherous. I had a tenor body hanging from my hand once when I was doing some dent removal - and I wasn't using any fingers.

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        2. by bmcguire
          (45 posts)

          9 years ago

          Re: Replace needle springs with modern springs?

          First of all, a tech that says Blued Steel springs is a fad has a few problems... He must not work on PROFESSIONAL SAXOPHONES FOR PROFESSIONAL PLAYERS because he's simply wrong! And/or he's lazy! Blue steel springs need to be cut to length before having the end flattened. SS can be flattened, installed and cut to length. Also, using the King Super 20 (yes it's a great horn, wish I had one) or the Buescher 400 as examples for thier action isn't a good idea.... Can't beat the sound of a Super20 especially silver neck and bell, but they feel like crap (compared to a Selmer) A little harder to work with yes only brittle if you overheat them. Seriously, find a real repair person or tell me who he is so I know not to let him touch my axes!

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        3. by johnsonfromwisconsin
          (767 posts)

          9 years ago

          Re: Replace needle springs with modern springs?

          ----------------------------------------------------------------------- First of all, a tech that says Blued Steel springs is a fad has a few problems... He must not work on PROFESSIONAL SAXOPHONES FOR PROFESSIONAL PLAYERS because he's simply wrong! And/or he's lazy! ------------------------------------------------------------------- heh, A spring just puts pressure on a key to keep it open or closed, nothing more. There appears to be no mechanical advantage to designing a horn one way or another, although _maniac's statements certainly make sense, but if I'm wrong, how am I wrong? Details? Personally, I believe things that make sense and I'm apt to listen to technicians who take an engineer's approach to repair. ------------------------------------------------------------------ Blue steel springs need to be cut to length before having the end flattened. SS can be flattened, installed and cut to length. ----------------------------------------------------------------------- Wouldn't that be an advantage of SS springs? ----------------------------------------------------------------- Can't beat the sound of a Super20 especially silver neck and bell, but they feel like crap (compared to a Selmer) -------------------------------------------------------------------- Claiming that the difference in action is due to the difference in spring is highly dubious. The mechanical differences between those three horns is so far different it's completely disingenuous to claim that it's the spring that makes the difference.

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        4. by bmcguire
          (45 posts)

          9 years ago

          Re: Replace needle springs with modern springs?

          Claiming that the difference in action is due to the difference in spring is highly dubious. The mechanical differences between those three horns is so far different it's completely disingenuous to claim that it's the spring that makes the difference. ------------------------------------------------------------------------- True, but you can't say that because King and Buescher use SS springs that SS are just as good. Those horns are hardly benchmarks of well engineered actions. ------------------------------------------------------------------------ Wouldn't that be an advantage of SS springs? --------------------------------------------------------------------- Yes it is, it's also easier for the lazy tech! ----------------------------------------------------------------------- A spring just puts pressure on a key to keep it open or closed, nothing more. There appears to be no mechanical advantage to designing a horn one way or another, although _maniac's statements certainly make sense, but if I'm wrong, how am I wrong? Details? Personally, I believe things that make sense and I'm apt to listen to technicians who take an engineer's approach to repair. -------------------------------------------------------------------------- If the springs only job was to keep a pad opened or closed, why not use rubber bands? Thats what you are saying. Different materials have different tensile strengths and different spring rates. Because of that they have different feels, the feel that you get with Blue Steel springs is preferred by pros, engineer or not that is the most important thing. You can most likely duplicate the feel of Blue Steel with a SS spring, but it would mean using a stronger guage than would fit properly on a saxophone. Bottom line. Professional saxohones don't have old style blue steel springs because it's a fad, and they're not on there because of the appearance. And they are harder to work with than SS springs (I am reminded of that every time I stab myself with one while working on a horn!) According to an engineer, or on paper SS is the obvious choice but they don't have the same feel.

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        5. by johnsonfromwisconsin
          (767 posts)

          9 years ago

          Re: Replace needle springs with modern springs?

          ---------------------------------------------------------------------- True, but you can't say that because King and Buescher use SS springs that SS are just as good. -------------------------------------------------------------------- It does show that SS are good enough for well respected pro models. A lot of people find the action of these horns to be just fine. That was the nature of my original statement ----------------------------------------------------------------------- Those horns are hardly benchmarks of well engineered actions. -------------------------------------------------------------------- Matter of opinion. ----------------------------------------------------------------------- Yes it is, it's also easier for the lazy tech! ---------------------------------------------------------------------- sax_maniac has remarked that there would actually be extra difficulty in equipping a horn to SS that had originally been engineered with blued steel, and that makes sense. Therefore, it couldn't be laziness. ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- If the springs only job was to keep a pad opened or closed, why not use rubber bands? ---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- That's rediculous #1) How durable are rubber bands? Notice how sunlight and air alone can wear rubber bands and cause them to break? You would end up having them all replaced every couple weeks or so. #2) Rubber bands emit substances that can be corrosive as they degrade. #3) the speed and pressure from SS and BS springs would be similar, and you can adjust their tension, unlike a rubber band, so please, stop absurd! ----------------------------------------------- Thats what you are saying. ------------------------------------------------ I'm saying there is really no evidense that SS and Blued Steel have no real difference in action, but nice strawman, however. I'm willing to change my mind in light of good evidence or reasoning, which you've failed to supply. ----------------------------------------------------- Blue Steel springs is preferred by pros ---------------------------------------------------- Because they look better visually, and they are told they feel better, so they think they're better. AKA, a fad.

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        6. by sax_maniac
          (984 posts)

          9 years ago

          Re: Replace needle springs with modern springs?

          For the record, my comments are based on the combination of my experience with refurbishing saxophones along with my Master's degree in engineering - the engineering degree only helping me better understand what working knowledge I've acquired as well as troubleshooting. The type of spring goes along with other design features as the hinge rod receiver, the hole in the post, and the angle at which the spring leaves the post. As all springs can be bent and all holes can be widened or diminished, there is no practical reason a horn can be fitted with either type of spring. I've got needle springs on my '57 Keilwerth that are a little rusty and don't look so pretty, but they give me just the right feel, so I see no reason to replace them. As much as marketing of the brand name is important is to sales, so is "perceived" quality - separate from actual quality. My Selmer III alto I sold off was beautifully packaged and had a magnetic clamp you inserted through the body which grabbed the upper and lower stack keys and held them shut - an internal key clamp. Cool! The downside? Didn't happen to me, but to use steel in the resonators makes them prone to rusting unless you are terribly diligent about keeping the inside of the horn dry (which I am). I swab out at every intermission or break I possibly can. OCD, perhaps... My point being that the blued needle springs - while from an engineering/technician's perspective aren't the most practical - do contribute to that perceived pro horn appearance and feel. It would be odd to see a Selmer Reference Series horn with stainless springs, though it could probably be tolerated (appearance wise) on a silver plated III.

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        7. by sax_maniac
          (984 posts)

          9 years ago

          Re: Replace needle springs with modern springs?

          The spring's primary function is to sufficiently resist the force of the player's fingers. There are two factors to the force. First, the amount required to fully depress or open the key. Second, the force curve, or the variable amount of force encountered throughout the full key travel (harder to press down at first - less additional force required as you reach full travel). The length of travel is somewhat short, so whether the force curve (technically, moment curve) is linear or curved is likely indistinguishable by the player. So it's safe to assume that the net applied force is really the only factor noticeable. Key height has a bigger role in how the action feels. A blindfolded player would have a very difficult time telling whether the springs are blued steel or stainless - given the same model of horn. The spring durability is more a factor. A clean non-sweaty player in a dry climate can keep those blued needle springs nice and purty for a really long time. Stainless is, well, stainless. Horns designed for needle springs usually have little tiny notches the spring tip fits into. Put a stainless spring in there which is thicker, and it might not stay on the key, though it will certainly fit mich tighter in the post (so much tighter, that you mayhave to drill out the hole to allow a larger diameter spring in there. For a given diameter, the stiffness of blued steel and stainless is ceratinly different, but adjustments can be made to a certain extent. As a human being, I'd rather not get stabbed by another needle spring the rest of my life, but as a tech, I'd also like to not have to retrofit a horn from one type of spring to another. Chill, man!

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        8. by bmcguire
          (45 posts)

          9 years ago

          Re: Replace needle springs with modern springs?

          So it's safe to assume that the net applied force is really the only factor noticeable. Key height has a bigger role in how the action feels. A blindfolded player would have a very difficult time telling whether the springs are blued steel or stainless - given the same model of horn. --------------------------------------------------------------------------- I promise I could feel the difference! --------------------------------------------------------------------------- If anything I think Stainless steel springs look better! Fad's don't usually last 100 years and show no sign of stopping! As an engineer I can appreciate your scientific opinion, but as an Artist you should understand mine! It is not a percieved difference, blue steel is better. Play a Yamaha 62 and a Yamaha Custom. Same brass, similiar dimentions, same factory. The Custom has Blue Steel springs and has a better feel. Enough that you can feel it with a blindfold. In todays world of mass production, do you really think a factory would still deal with these springs only for traditions sake? -------------------------------------------------------------------------- Chill, man! - it's all in good fun! P.S. Every pro I know that plays a Super 20 does so because of that awesome sound, they all agree that if thier Selmer had that sound they would use that, cause the king's action sucks....

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        9. by sax_maniac
          (984 posts)

          9 years ago

          Re: Replace needle springs with modern springs?

          I was not aware that the 62 and the Custom were the same horn except for the type of springs used and the custom's annealed bell. My bad. Boy, is Yamaha pulling a fast one there! Please describe for us what about the feel is better to help us understand.

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        10. by bmcguire
          (45 posts)

          9 years ago

          Re: Replace needle springs with modern springs?

          I never said they were the same, I said they were very similar, and they are. Key height (which you said influinced the feel more than spring material) Key size and screws and rods are the same. They feel very different... The best description I can give as to why Blue springs feel better is they give a more positive, firm (not hard) feel. I know that doesn't say much but it's hard to put a feel into words! This could possibly be duplicated with SS springs, but I think it would require a much thicker guage spring which would not fit as well. Let me try another. I'm very involved in Auto Racing. The Valve retainers in our $40,000 engine are stainless steel, but the valve SPRINGS are not, SS valve springs have been tried and they tend to float, and are too (don't laugh) springy, where the std. steel springs are more positive. The shocks and torsion bars in the car are also not SS, I would guess for the same reason. As an engineer you have to know that different materials have different spring rates. (If I could retro fit our shock dyno for sax springs I would tell you what that is) and for that reason feel different! If the only reason factories used Blue steel was because it was a fad and SS were truly better I'm sure they could have them Black Oxide plated or dark blue anodized, and even make them pointed at one end, but they don't. There has to be a better reason than that. I (as a non superstar, but a pro level player) prefer the feel (don't care about the look) of Blue Steel springs. And thats all i got... we might have to agree to disagree on this one!

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        11. by sax_maniac
          (984 posts)

          9 years ago

          Re: Replace needle springs with modern springs?

          "This could possibly be duplicated with SS springs, but I think it would require a much thicker guage spring which would not fit as well" I think we are not in disagreement at all. I believe I stated that a horn with needle springs could be equally retrofitted with SS so long as a larger spring were put in it's place and the spring tip modified to accomodate the notch in the key. F=kx. Force=spring rate * displacement. Your spring rate being determined by the cross section geometry and material properties (elastic strength to strain ratio which would be different between SS and blued carbon steel). So a given force over a prescribed difference can be obtained with a higher elastic ratio and a smaller cross section (needle spring) or a lower elastic ratio and a larger cross section (SS). As I've developed the knack for replacing needle springs, I don't mind so much working with them except when I'm cleaning the bodies. OUCH!!!!

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        12. by definition
          (963 posts)

          9 years ago

          Re: Replace needle springs with modern springs?

          Hey! I play a Super 20, yes for the sound, but no the action does not suck; it is merely different. I personally actually had the springs set harder, as is my preference. There is only one thing I would change on these older horns that Selmer was the first to do: Put a roller on the low Bb - C#. I love the action on the 20

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        13. by selmer 4evr
          (309 posts)

          9 years ago

          Re: Replace needle springs with modern springs?

          Is it not true that yamaha touted SS springs on the first 62 pro horns and now they have gone over to blue. By the way even in some metal reed instruments such as pro Accordions blue sweedish steel is the steel of choice.

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        14. by connsaxman_jim
          (2336 posts)

          9 years ago

          Re: Replace needle springs with modern springs?

          Blue steel springs have a higher elasticity, which makes them better for this time of application, but, stainless steel has proven to be very adequate. I would replace the springs with the closest to the original as I could find. You should be able to find replacement springs for a Conn New Wonder.

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        15. by saxomaniac
          (14 posts)

          9 years ago

          Re: Replace needle springs with modern springs?

          I'm looking to get much better action out of my Pogo stick. Should I use blued steel or Stainless springs? I think this post has lost its spring.

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        16. by Dave Dix
          (421 posts)

          9 years ago

          Re: Replace needle springs with modern springs?

          Buescher did not use stainless springs and the norton springs are blue steel gold plated. Put a magnet on one and you will find out Dave

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      2. by gersax2003
        (1 post)

        7 years ago

        Re: Replace needle springs with modern springs?

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        1. by chalazon
          (547 posts)

          7 years ago

          Re: Replace needle springs with modern springs?

          whoa...maybe it is brain surgery.

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