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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hey Guys!

Was doing some research to see if I was getting a fair deal on an estimate a local shop gave me. Assuming nothing crazy or out of the ordinary is wrong with the instrument, what do you feel would be a fair price for this overhaul? Assuming it only has one tiny dent about a quarter of an inch wide. Everything else is just normal wear and tear. Hasn't been played in 40+ years. I know it's hard to do an estimate on a piece without handling it and looking it over yourself, so these would obviously just be ballparks. But if there is something specific you would need to know in order to give a more accurate figure just let me know. I know posts like this often get a few comments saying "There is no standard price." or "I would never give an estimate without looking at an instrument," but putting those aside, based on the info in this post, do you guys have any thoughts on what would be a fair price range? Also how many hours of labor does an overhaul like this take on average (again assuming normal wear and tear from usage, only one very small dent)?

Thank you all SO much for any input and help you are able to give. I need to be as frugal as I can right now, but I don't want to sacrifice the quality of the work by paying some hack to do it, only to find out he damaged the instrument =/

Also, this is a really awesome site! Glad I found it RIGHT when I started playing again! I played through middle school and high school, but my step dad sold mine when I was graduating. Couldn't afford to buy one for myself at the time and got busy with life. Now, 17 Years later, my wife's Grandma gave me this one. It's such a beautiful instrument and I've read great things! Also, it's kind of a cool story, because my Wife's Dad played it in school, and then it got handed down to her uncle a few years later as well.

Thanks again guys!
 

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VI Soprano, Searchlight Alto, TH&C Tenor
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Buscher sold out to Selmer in the early 60’s. Starting with the cache of parts Buescher had on hand, Selmer used the facilities to supply what were now designated as student horns to the American market. Yet Buescher had long been a quality instrument, and the post sale 400’s have a reputation for maintaining the best of that tradition, at least for a few years. I‘m not the best person to tell you what a good overhaul deal should be on it, which is your specific question. I’m just suggesting that whatever you put into it, you may not see coming back if you resell it. But there’s a good chance you have a pretty terrific horn there. At the very least, a very durable student horn. But I wouldn’t be surprised if it was a lot more than that. Which will likely remain undervalued, regardless. (Oh, and welcome!)
 

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this depends on whether your 400 stll used snap in pads or reg pads. i have seen leftover post selmer buyout 400,s still using buescher snap in pads. if so the price for repad goes way up. if standard pads price should be between 500 and 700$ for an alto if done locally. as stated above these horns are seriously undervalued while still very high quality horns.
 

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Good point on the snaps. That will make the price higher, so we need to know that.

Also, price is dependent upon where you live. An overhaul in the SF Bay area, for example, will 'normally' run $1200-2000.

The exact same scope of work overhaul in Portland, OR will run $700-1000.

The exact same scope of work overhaul in El Paso will run $500-750.

Etc.
 

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Wecome to Sax on the Web.

What @JayeLID said above is true. Here in Northern California an overhaul would run you $1200-1500 easily. In the midwest it could be half that price.

And it may only need a few pads replaced along with a COA. Clean oil and adjust. Having a complete overhaul will set it up so that you know it's in good shape for years to come. Doing a "play condition" repair might leave you going back every year or two for small fixes. It really depends on how much wear and tear is on it. If the keys are loose in their pivots and the key pads "wander" around over the holes then it definitely needs an overhaul. You can check that out yourself by trying to move the keys and determining how much play they have. There shouldn't be much at all.
 

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How many hours an overhaul takes depends upon many variables: 1) how fast the tech works, 2) how much key fitting is required, 3) if there are any "bent" keys, 4) how much cleaning inside and out is required, 5) how much tonehole leveling is required. A player can check the tightness of each key by moving the key cup back and forth to see how much lateral movement or "wobble" is present. If any keys are sluggish when they open, it could mean something is bent, of there is a lubrication issue. Diagnosing pads can be a bit more difficult, generally if they look dry and are hard to the touch they are at or near the end of their working life.
 

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Good info in all posts above. Obviously, all you can get here is a 'ballpark' idea of what an overhaul costs, and as pointed out, it may or may not need an overhaul. The best way to approach this, by far, is to take the horn into a reputable tech and have it checked out. It shouldn't cost you anything to get an estimate of the work needed. And you are very wise to get it put into good playing condition, assuming you are planning to play it.
 

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@wesuhley.sanderson

Welcome to SOTW.
As a suggestion have a good understanding with your tech the Termanology of the repair. COA, clean oil adjust. The sax is dismantled cleaned. three or four pads changed. Regulation is corrected and the saxophone is tuned. Next would be a full re-pad. This typically includes cleaning Key work and body (No polishing ) all pads , recorking and tuned. Some necessary minor swaging of lost motion / loose keys.
A overhaul includes all of the above plus repairs of dents, body straightening or any other long-term damage/wear. IE neck joint fit.
repairs are priced accordingly $200-$1200 or more. The labor is the big difference. Four hours on a COA versus 20+ on an overhaul. A COA being $200 range. Repad $600-$700 and a overhaul priced to the needs of the repair.
 

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The repair of that one very small dent is the least of it. A very quick & easy repair for a tech. I had a tiny dent like that in one of my horns and watched my repair guy take care of it in about 2 minutes. Again, like I said, take it in and have it looked over.
 

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Hey Guys!

Was doing some research to see if I was getting a fair deal on an estimate a local shop gave me. Assuming nothing crazy or out of the ordinary is wrong with the instrument, what do you feel would be a fair price for this overhaul?
Tell us your general location and the tech’s estimate, and we can give you a straight answer. Is it a repad or a full mechanical overhaul?
 
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By and large, the Selmer Buescher 400s are very good horns - you could have a very good-sounding alto. Because it sat for 40 years, it should have little playing time on it so I would not expect many loose keys. However, that sitting could have been destructive if it was not in an occupied space with HVAC. I am currently 'bringing back to life' a tenor from 1994 that sat for over 20 years, but inside of living quarters, so there was no humidity damage. Probably the main problem on mine is the old oil turned to black goo. The right thing to do there is to take it all apart, clean and re-lube. I have a process I use to avoid taking apart but its pretty messy as it makes the black stuff, now liquified, seep out of every joint.
Anyway, I'm 'anti-overhaul' after many bad experiences so I'll suggest you simply have a tech look at it and itemize what he thinks is wrong with it. At the same time, I'm very much in favor of the 'COA' explained above. It is possible that it may not need any pads, or maybe just a few. I doubt if it has 'snap-in' pads. If there is no rust on the springs and other steel parts, you could possibly do with the COA. Whatever you decide, if you the tech work on it, please tell him to not remove the springs (assuming they are serviceable) and to not disassemble the sub-assemblies that control the way several keys work - I mean the ones with sliding adjustments. If these are disturbed, which is not necessary, it could be a long time, if ever, before you get it back like it was.
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
Wow!!!!!! You guys are amazing. Sorry I’m just now reading the responses. They were all so so helpful. What a great forum. I took it to a tech and they quoted me 800 dollars for an overhaul. What made me kind of annoyed is that I had asked for a list of everything that needed work with a quoted price on what those things would cost, and he seemed hesitant to give it to me. He said he always charges 800 dollars, as it’s just his standard price. If any of you work on Saxes in Portland, OR let me know! Or if you have a recommendation of someone you trust there.

Thanks again!
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
Good point on the snaps. That will make the price higher, so we need to know that.

Also, price is dependent upon where you live. An overhaul in the SF Bay area, for example, will 'normally' run $1200-2000.

The exact same scope of work overhaul in Portland, OR will run $700-1000.

The exact same scope of work overhaul in El Paso will run $500-750.

Etc.
Do you know of a good place in Portland? That’s where I live.
 

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I took it to a tech and they quoted me 800 dollars for an overhaul. What made me kind of annoyed is that I had asked for a list of everything that needed work with a quoted price on what those things would cost, and he seemed hesitant to give it to me.
I'm not surprised he didn't want to make out a list with every little thing priced. He probably could have told you what the overhaul involved, but to list the price of each step might be pretty difficult. I'm not a tech, so don't know for sure, but while it definitely isn't unreasonable to expect an explanation of the overhaul, it might be difficult to explain each and everything that will come up in the process. Can't hurt to shop around though. Hopefully someone on here from the Portland area can give you some recommendations.
 

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Two things. 1st, I think $800 for an overhaul is probably a good price, given where you are. It might be close to “standard” for your area, that is, +/- 15% of all techs. More important, how good is the tech? Best way to find out is ask other (preferably professional or at least gigging) players. Maybe some other Portland folks could chime in. @JayeLID used to live in Portland, he may have some insight.

2nd, asking for a detailed list of what the tech would do to your horn isn’t helpful. Many things might not reveal themselves until the tech was well into the job. Most of those things would be included in the standard price; only very weird and/or severe defects would require extra money.
Having said that, it is useful to get a list of what is included in a standard overhaul. Disassembly, complete cleaning, minor dents removed, body straightening, post alignment, key fitting, new screws fitted as needed, springs replaced as needed, corks and felts and pads all replaced, action adjusted - that is what I would expect. I would also expect a conversation around key heights and light or heavy action. Some techs might not include a couple of those items (which might make me look elsewhere).
 

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Wow!!!!!! You guys are amazing. Sorry I’m just now reading the responses. They were all so so helpful. What a great forum. I took it to a tech and they quoted me 800 dollars for an overhaul. What made me kind of annoyed is that I had asked for a list of everything that needed work with a quoted price on what those things would cost, and he seemed hesitant to give it to me. He said he always charges 800 dollars, as it’s just his standard price. If any of you work on Saxes in Portland, OR let me know! Or if you have a recommendation of someone you trust there.

Thanks again!
I highly doubt any technician would give you a breakdown. Like I said in post nine understand the realm of work in each category. You went in and asked for an overhaul. You got the standard overhaul price based on his knowledge and experience. If somebody walks in and asked for an overhaul and then asks for a breakdown of pricing. It really shows you don’t know what you’re doing. Common beginner mistake. Asking what a service category includes is completely different.
What makes you think the technician you’re dealing with is untrustworthy? Sounds to me like he’s planning on handing you back a well assembled unit. Complete with a couple additional hours he’s going to end up taking answering all your questions.
 

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Wow!!!!!! You guys are amazing. Sorry I’m just now reading the responses. They were all so so helpful. What a great forum. I took it to a tech and they quoted me 800 dollars for an overhaul. What made me kind of annoyed is that I had asked for a list of everything that needed work with a quoted price on what those things would cost, and he seemed hesitant to give it to me. He said he always charges 800 dollars, as it’s just his standard price. If any of you work on Saxes in Portland, OR let me know! Or if you have a recommendation of someone you trust there.

Thanks again!
Here’s an example of the kind of Stuff that gets attention (and an example price): Repair Shop | United States | Tenor Madness
 
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