I have a related question. Does anyone else keep their thumb out of the saddle? I keep it behind the saddle on my Strad, and I think it relieves the pressure on my mouthpiece. When I need to slide a note out, I just use the friction between my finger and the slide to hold it in place. I think you could take the saddle off, and just put a short rod in place at your preferred distance to hold your thumb farther away. I like how it feels when I have my thumb there, because the valve block seems too small for my hand during concert playing. For jazz, it'd be all right to do it normally, and for marching, but for concert band it seems to work great.