Saxophone Forum


by odedtzur
(19 posts)
17 years ago

revolution

i wish to present a topic which is painful for all of us: repairs. say a repair man tells you the problem is bigger than you thought, and it costs more. how would you know if he's bullshiting you? let's face it, most saxophonists don't have the knowledge to protect themselves from this - if they do they repair themselves. where i live, for example, there is one good repairman who cheats your eyes out and one honest repairman who ruins your saxophone (and your eyes too from watching...) and that's it. are we doomed to depend on other people this way all our lives? spend money we don't have on people we don't trust? i have decided to start repairing myself and i am looking for advice. where can i get the basic materials (lamp, etc..) and where can i read the basic stuff about repairs? and don't tell me i have to be a pro to do this - i don't buy it. you are invited to join the revolution - don't let them tell you it's too hard! take you life and your horn in your hands. thanks

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  1. by Lefty
    (21 posts)

    17 years ago

    Re: revolution

    the part about how do you know if the repairman is b.s. ing you reminds me of the politician joke, how do you know when he's lying to you? His lips are.... I wonder, too, about the statement regarding the local repairmen. How do you know you're being cheated? Is he too expensive? By what standards? Larry Naylor says that the most expensive repair is the one that doesn't work when completed and paid for. As a repairman for 31 years, I would certainly say that if I can do it, then anyone can. And you probably can. But I would wonder about the enmity regarding the "good" repairman in your area. Lefty

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  2. by Sax_Shark
    (134 posts)

    17 years ago

    Re: revolution

    Man, if you can do that, more power to ya. The last time I tried to repair my sax, it lasted all of five minutes. Then something broke again and the bill went up. Sigh....and I was so close too...... Have you thought about sending the horn off to repair men that you can trust? It may be cost prohibitive but it might be more secure. ????? They do have instrument repair school. That would be a neat craft to learn. Hmmmm...College? Anyways, good luck dude. Hope you can do it.

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    1. by connsaxman_jim
      (2336 posts)

      17 years ago

      Re: revolution

      I admire you for wanting to learn to repair your own horns. When I first started collecting saxophones a few years ago, I didn't have a lot of money to spend. I bought a couple horns fairly cheap that needed a fair amount of work, and I really had no idea who to take them to. The shop that I had taken my horns to before was out of business. The owner retired after many years and closed his shop. I talked to a couple local places. One shop sold mainly new instruments; Selmer, Yamaha, Jupiter and Yanagisawa saxophones. They did not do any repairs on site. They sent their instruments out for service, and said that to have my tenor overhauled would take the better share of three months. The price they quoted me was outrageous! The other shop was a "Selmer Snob" shop, and they told me that my Conns were not worth repairing, but offered to sell me a new Selmer for a GREAT DEAL; just a few dollars OVER LIST PRICE! My uncle has played professional saxophone for nearly 50 years. I asked him if he knew of a reputable repair shop and he recommended Luke Richmond and The Wind Works in Burton, MI. Both my Conn 10M tenor and my Directors model 14M alto were in the basement of my parent's house on a shelf along with some recording gear, and a PA system. I had a little studio set up in their basement. Well, the idiots who plumbed the house did not glue the PVC drain pipe together for the bath tub properly. The drain pipe pulled apart at an elbow......right above my saxophones, recording and PA gear! UGH!!! So, my Tascam digital recorder and Peavey mixer were ruined! Both saxophones were soaked with water. Both cases were pretty much ruined. The tenor needed pads anyway, and the case wasn't in the greatest shape, so it was no great loss. The alto had been repadded a few years prior. Thankfully, the insurance paid for most of the damages, and I decided to have the alto repadded and the tenor relacquered and overhauled. The first horn I took to Luke was the alto, mainly because it needed the least work. He basically overhauled the horn for $325! New springs, corks, pads, and he chemically cleaned the horn and polished it. It looked very nice and played about as good as any Directors model can play! I really liked that horn! I sold it a couple years ago after I bought my 6M, but that's another story! Shortly after I got the alto back, I took the tenor in. The Old 10M was looking pretty bad. It had been relacquered at the Conn factory before my father got it in 1963. Dad played it through high school and college. I played it in jr. high, high school and college, and what little lacquer was left on the horn was looking pretty bad. Spots where the bare brass was exposed were starting to oxidize. Luke stripped off all the remaining lacquer, thoroughly cleaned and polished the brass. He relacquered the horn and then baked the finish to cure it. He polished all of the silver keys and installed all new pads, corks, etc. I started hanging around Luke's shop; anxious to see my old tenor completed. I learned a lot by watching and asking questions. When I first picked up the horn, I almost cried! It was beautiful! It looked like brand new again. It played like new too, but with that classic, bold 10M sound! Luke ordered me a new SKB case to replace the old beat to hell Conn case. I took it over to show my dad. He looked at the SKB case and asked me if I had bought a new tenor. "Not exactly", I said as I opened the case. He took one look and pulled it out of the case, slapped on the old Otto Link Super Tone Master and started playing Girl From Impanema in the style of Stan Getz, one of his favorites. About a year after having the 10M relacquered, I purchased a Conn 6M alto. I wanted a Naked Lady alto to match my tenor. That's when I got the fever, and I decided that I wanted to start collecting Saxophones; especially Conns. I bought my 6M cheap; only $300, and it played great. It had been relacquered before; however, and they hadn't done a very good job. I knew Luke could make my alto just as beautiful as my tenor. I had him relacquer the alto also. By this time, my repair tech was also a good friend. I watched and assisted with some of the repairs, and I wanted to learn more. I bought a few more horns, and he helped me with repairs. Finally I had enough confidence in myself to try doing some of my own repairs. My first horn was a Conn New Wonder Series I C Melody. Then, a Chu Berry alto, and a few others. Still there are some things I would not try to do myself. I am by no means a repair expert, but I do most of my repairs myself now. Whenever I need an expert, I call Luke! Some of my tools, I made myself, some I had to purchase. I made my own leak light ( from an old strand of outdoor Christmas lights) and a spring tool (from an old tire patching kit). I bought a good set of small screwdrivers, and I made some wedges to block the action to make adjustments and stuff. I just took some wood shims, cut them to the size I needed and glued some felt on them. A lot of these tools can also be purchased through musicmedic.com One thing I can tell you is that repairing horns takes a lot of patience. Sometimes, things don't always go back together as easy as they come apart. And then again, sometimes getting them apart can be a pain too! WD40 or Liquid Wrench helps; especially with the old Conns that have the set screws. I spray them before I even try to remove them! When you remove the keys, number them as you take them off. Then when you reassemble the horn, you'll know what keys need to go on first. Some keys don't matter too much. Others do. I always put the rod screws back in whatever posts they came out of too. Sometimes I'll sand the rod screws with a little fine sand paper to clean them up and then spray them with a graphite lubricant before putting them back in. It's not rocket science, but it is tidious and time consuming and it requires a fair amount of finess. You can also do a lot of damage if you get in over your head and you're not careful. If you have any doubts, don't do it! Jim

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      1. by Dave Dix
        (421 posts)

        17 years ago

        Re: revolution

        About 25 years ago i put my mk 7 tenor in for a repad as it as in atrocious condition. When i collected it i was gutted. The so called tech had replaced all the pads and put them in with small squares of double sided tape!!!! It leaked so badly and was un-playable. After fisticuffs at the shop i got my money back less the price of the pads and eversince i do my own repairs except major dent work and i also do repairs for a few other players i know. Finding a good tech is harder then you think !!! Dave

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        1. by odedtzur
          (19 posts)

          17 years ago

          Re: revolution

          first of all, thank you all for your remarks and information. lefty - a story for you: the "good" repairman overhould my horn. few months later i come with some leaks, not so bad, and he looks at the horn carefully and says: "look, i don't know who overhould this horn but he did a not-so-well job... the pads are not all the same and in bad quality. now i have to do a lot of work to correct what he did". when i told him he is the "other" repairman he said "oh" and shut up, later he invented another story. plz understand that i am not against techs in general, really, i have no hatred in my heart. i just think they are the only ones with the knowledge, and they don't share because they want you to keep coming. this situation leads to cheating naturally, like in a car shop. money is too tempting. i would like to see players go to techs and be able to argue, disagree, even suggest their own ideas to fix a problem. even if the tech is the fixer in the end, because he got good hands, this is a healthier situation. since i can't go to repair school (love the idea though) and don't have a tech i can hang with, i need a way to learn from written material. ideas?

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