Sax on the Web - Forum Archive / SML (Strasser-Marigaux) / Buying Blind

Norman
User ID: 8903453
Jun 26th 3:38 PM
I'm a novice sax player but have read through these threads with great interest. I thought I might pose you experts a scenario.
You are in a strange city for a day you wander in to a junk shop and see a SML tenor for sale. There's no mouth piece and you have no access to one and so you can't hear what the sound is like. What are the things you would look at/for in deciding whether you should buy the instrument. Do you buy blind knowing that these are good instuments and could be overhauled if necessary.
Paul
User ID: 1278884
Jun 26th 8:26 PM
ASSUME that saxes from pawn shops, flea markets, ebay, neighbors closets, you will have to have some or all pads replaced, corks,adjustment, etc.

Look for dents, neck damage in particular. A bad neck on an old sax can be difficult or impossible to replace. Same with missing keys.

Dents in the bow are very difficult to repair due to the big reinforcing rib. But, shallow dents or dings here may still yield a playable sax.

Talk to a repairman and have him show you what is easily repaired, what is expensive.

A ding that in the bow or bell area will not affect playing at all, if in the neck, will make the sax play poorly. And a repaired neck may be just as bad. A critical area.

As I said, assume you will have to have it overhauled, and pay accordingly. If the keys are all there, not damaged, and the body is pretty well intact, use cosmetic damage, that is bad lacquer, a poor case, obviously bad pads, as a bargaining point. After all, you would not pass up a 1958 Corvette for $1000 because the battery was dead and the tires were getting bald.
Alex
User ID: 7399413
Jun 26th 9:29 PM
And, of course, you NEVER travel without your mpcs, knowing that if you do, you will run into this horn.
Norman
User ID: 8903453
Jun 27th 1:57 PM
Paul
Thanks
The car analogy is a good one. My problem would be recognising that it was a a bald tyre issue rather than there was no wheel which I guess equates to the damaged/dented neck.
Paul
User ID: 8464923
Aug 18th 10:24 PM
A good brand and model sax, such as anything by SML, if the keys and body are intact, is a good buy. As I said, corks, pads, springs can all be fixed, and are normal upkeep. I would not even worry if it plays well when I purchased it. It CAN be made to play well by your repairman. But you have to have all the parts, and they have to be in good working condition. Even a brand new top line sax, if the high F pad is leaking just a little, will be unplayable. What's a new palm key pad replacement... $5 or so? I would not bother with a playing test, remembering to bring my mouthpiece, etc.

Why not pay a visit to a good repair shop. Ask them to show you what kind of damage can and cannot be easily repaired. They will likely have a LOT of examples to show you.
Steve Goodson
User ID: 0032624
Aug 19th 7:16 AM
A few things that I look for are:
1)
Steve Goodson
User ID: 0032624
Aug 19th 7:17 AM
A few things that I look for are:
1) is the horn complete and original? If all the parts aren't there, you'll probably never find them anywhere at any price. Have any parts from other makes been substituted?

2)
Steve Goodson
User ID: 0032624
Aug 19th 7:29 AM
A few things that I look for are:
1) is the horn complete and original? If all the parts aren't there, you'll probably never find them anywhere at any price. Have any parts from other makes been substituted?

2) is the finish original? Has the horn been excessively buffed? Feel the engraving. It should have sharp edges.

3) Do the keys have excessive play? do they fit tightly? are the ends of the key tubes pinched indicating previous swedging? These are all signs of high mileage!

4) How's the neck? It is the heart of the sound. If it has been damaged, the horn is probably one you should pass up.

5) Assume that all of the pads, corks, and springs will have to be replaced. Not sa big deal, but be sure to build the cost of this into your purchsase price. Even a horn with new looking pads may need a proper overhaul if the pad job was poorly done.

6) Look for signs of previous repair, and make a judgement about the quality of that work. Sloppy solder work and lumpy dent removal indicate that the horn was not maintained by a competent technician.

7) Make sure the body tube is absolutely straight. If it's not, the keywork will never feel right and the pads will never properly seal. Straightening the body tube is a tough repair to do right, and will often result in stressing the metal which will have a bad effect on the sound of the instrument.

If at all possible, take the instrument to a technician you know and trust. They will probably see things you don't! Hope this helps.