Using the High F# Key
Paul R. Coats
For me, the high F”# key was a rarity, a
mythical creature that I did not see until my college years. I thought it
entirely useless… after all, like everyone said, they don’t write higher
than the high F for the Saxophone, anyway.
Well, I was wrong, they were wrong, and the
music store owners who talked me out of ordering the high F# option were
wrong. I now find this key to be a very useful, welcome addition to the
I am still getting used to the feel of this
horn and I never had a high F# key to use before. I really should get hold
of a modern fingering chart for these things.
Dave, there are so many good uses
for the high F# key, besides the obvious one. But let me first mention
this… to use the various fingerings I will show you, you must get in the
habit of using the right hand middle finger to press the high F# key.
The first and most obvious use of
the high F# key is to extend the range of the regular palm key
fingerings. So, for the “palm key high F#” you would press the D, Eb, and
F palm keys with the left hand, the high E key with the knuckle of the
right hand, and with the middle finger of the right hand, the high F# key.
Of course you know the “fork E
and fork F”. These use the “front F key”, also called variously the “fork
F key”, “auxiliary F key”, or “alternate F key”. The E3 can also be
fingered: Octave key, front F key, LH2, LH3. This works on soprano,
alto, and tenor saxophones. For bari sax, and some tenors, you must add
the RH2 to bring this note in tune. Practice playing from C3 (Octave Key
and LH2) to the fork E fingering, and back to C3. Also practice playing
from D3 (Octave key and D palm key) to the fork E and back to D3.
F3 may also be played with the
fork F fingering, which is: Octave Key, front F key, LH2. Practice
playing from C3 to F3 and back. Incorporate the fork E and F fingerings
into your playing as much as possible.
So, to extend this even further,
you may use the high F# key with the fork F fingering to produce another
high F# (F#3). I call this the “fork F#.” Or, you may simply add the
high F# key to the A2 fingering (Octave Key, LH1, LH2) and you have
another easy, fast high F#.
The high F# key can be used to
produce an excellent high G (G3). For alto and soprano, this is
fingered: Octave Key, front F key, RH1, high F# key. It is easily seen
that it is very easy to go to this high G from fork E, fork F, or fork
F#. This G3 is hereby named “fork G”.
For tenor sax, the fingering is
slightly different. To play G3 on the tenor: Octave Key, LH1, side Bb
key, high F# key. This is the clearest, most stable high G that can be
played on the tenor saxophone. And it is not flat, as is the traditional
So, here are a number of
fingerings that utilize the high F# key. I hope they help your high
register playing as much as they do for me.
Dave wrote back:
Far more ways to use the high F# key than I
imagined. I will have to train myself to use the second finger to add the
high F# key quickly and accurately.