Distinguished SOTW Member, Forum Contributor 2014
Just a general question for the elite tech, or the advanced tinkerer. Do you do your own work on your horn. In my case, the answer is yes, unless it becomes uneconomical to do so. I've always had an interest in how the horn works, and have been decent in identifying mechanical issues from a young age. As the years went by, I learned a ton from several wonderful techs who were very open with what they do, how they do it, and why they do it that way. I still get my horns fully rebuilt about every decade, but do all of the inbetween work myself. In my opinion, it's important to be able to identify and repair issues in the mechanisms timing, which usually pop up due to bumper material compressing or expanding. I'll do light pad work up until the point where the stack keys fail. After that, it's just time to let someone do a full repad. To date, I've successfully repadded an old True Tone alto, and am capable of doing the job on my primary horns. However, and this is where economics pop in, it's just less cost effective for me to purchase the required pads several times over in order to make sure that I have pads that fit my particular keycups properly. Once I do this, and factor in the time it takes me to do the job, it's considerably cheaper to let the more experienced tech take over. Outside of that, the only other thing I won't touch is metal work. I have neither the tools, hands on know how, or enough parts horns to experiment on to even think about attempting that work on my primary saxophones. Part of me has always wanted to go down the "full time tech" route, but I just enjoy playing too much. I am grateful in learning from many of the true craftsmen both on and offline, and am grateful that I can handle most issues myself if they pop up on gig day.