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Hi I was wondering about how to restore my 1961 West Germany made Rene Dumont alto sax and possibly a few other saxs I recently was given. I would like to learn to restore them to how they look the day they came out of the factory and possibly a few maybe to give it a rougher look. I just want to know some ways to learn the trade and mixtures to use to remove like the lacquer on some saxophones. All help is welcome thanks.
 

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well, you need to learn a lot of stuff and although many technicians are self taught I don’t suppose that the level of professionally that you are talking about can be achieved doing this on your own.

Very few technicians attempt to restore the looks of a saxophone to its original beauty ( and even less “ improve” on that) in this day and age because it seriously diminishes the value of the saxophone at least from the collector’s point of view ( since the process almost invariably requires at least some form of re-plating if the saxophone is silver or gold plated or re-lacquering if it is lacquered after substantial buffing which is frowned upon, nowadays, from the collectors and the market in general).

There are such shops and they charge a very substantial premium which I am afraid is rarely in line with the market value of a lesser horn.

If you want to do that you need to become an apprentice there and perhaps before of that consider a serious course at a major school teaching musical instruments repair. Alternatively you need to spend years and years doing this at home.

Your 1961 Made in Western Germany alto could be a Dörfler & Jörka ( this brand bought from different makers) its value will never justify such an expensive process.

Anyway, bringing back such a saxophone to its original look require a lot of work and not just being able to delacquer and relacquer it back.

It would be like equating the restoration of a classic car to respraying the car, there is more, a lot more to restoring a car than spray it and even only dent removal requires a very substantial experience.

Should you still want to do the delacquering

http://www.saxontheweb.net/Resource...l=www.saxontheweb.net/&ref=&ss=2767j840513j12

http://www.saxontheweb.net/Resource...l=www.saxontheweb.net/&ref=&ss=2081j540707j10

Good Luck!
 

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The steps to doing this are simple. The task is not. Any one task of the process can take years to learn well. I have about 35 years experience and worked in an overhaul shop doing just the things you are asking about. I refuse to refinish anyone else's instruments except my own now. It is a dirty job that takes lots of skill. And unless you are setup like some shops to mass produce the process, you will not save yourself any money by doing it yourself, assuming you intend to buy the tools to do this. For example, search some of the threads here on key fitting. It will take you a month just to read all the stuff. :) If you are serious about repair, try baby steps...remove a key and put in a pad or repair a spring something that seems simple but can lead to a whole can of worms as well. Good luck.
 

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You could spend a month reading in this forum for a few clues. This is arguably the most comprehensive printed resource available. (It is not really fair to expect writers here to repeat themselves just for you. :)

Another option is to read a decent manual - that still only gives you comprehensive basics and no experience - such as Reg Thorp’s The Complete Woodwind Repair Manual http://www.napbirt.org/

But as Slausonm says, there is far more to doing a good job in this field than meets the eye, and for much of it you do not get far without a fair bit of specialised, expensive equipment.
 

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Also, you have to be clear as to what you want the end result to be.

What does "restore" mean ?

To some it would mean not only a complete 'overhaul' (a term you must become familiar with) but also a complete relacquer or replating.

Or does 'restore', to you, mean bringing a sax which does NOT play back into respectable playing condition ?

There are many different definitions when one refers to musical instrument work.

As noted by all...this stuff takes a good time to learn, and a lot of focus and determination. But certainly if you put your mind to it, find the resources, have the funds (as this requires buying tools and materials one cannot just get at the hardware store), and the desire...it's possible.

We are talking an INITIAL tool investment of around $150-200. For GOOD, proper tools and materials. Just sayin', to give you some perspective.

But keep in mind also, you will have a learning curve. It took me about a dozen saxes before I felt I was getting the hang of it and producing end results which I felt somewhat confident about.
So if what you have is 4 saxes there.....you probably will not hit a good, solid level of extensive repair by sax #4.

So....how do you wanna go about it ?

Start small....how to disassemble and reassemble, how to bath/clean the horn, how to replace and adjust some pads.

Then you graduate to bigger things....dent removal, full repadding, key adjusting, tonehole leveling, body truing. This stuff requires further tool nvestment...another $400-700 or so, honestly.

Then bigger: soldering, resoldering, major body and neck work, refinishing, etc....add another $300+ of tool investment.

It keeps going.....and going.....

In the good ol' days what you would do is apprentice with a tech. But seems that (at least according t threads here) techs aren't interested in apprentices anymore.

So, you can go for written material, Forums like this, and also strike up a relationship with a local tech ~ not so much for an apprenticeship but rather to have them do work which you cannot, while hopefully being the kind of person who is willing to discuss with you what they're doing. This may take some time to find that sorta tech, but doing so is really, really helpful. But it does require that you pay them for their services they are performing on your horns, of course....

But the idea being YOU do some of it, and THEY do what you cannot.....and over time, as you gain some knowledge and some more tools, you start doing some of the stuff you used to have the tech do, etc....

I know, that doesn't sound like do-it-yourself...but it is worth about a million bucks to have that sort of relationship with a professional, experienced repair person.
 

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... It keeps going.....and going....[/COLOR]
If I had to replace all the tools that I use, not the ones that I bought that turned out to be rather useless, it would take at least $50000.
 

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Also, you have to be clear as to what you want the end result to be. What does "restore" mean ?

I think OP was rather clear about his very ambitious plan!

........ I would like to learn to restore them to how they look the day they came out of the factory...........
OP is clearly not talking of “ just” repadding an old sax and make it playable, he's talking about rebuilding it to original looks and specification which includes a number of metal processes including buffing and relacquering on top of the rest of the mechanical skills required to make a saxophone a playing instrument.

Which is something that even many experienced technicians would be rather weary to undertake.

In fact I don’t know of any technician in the Netherlands who would accept such a job. Until not long ago these “ re-builds” were routinely offered by specialized repairers in the USA and Selmer did also factory re-builds.

Indeed few of these specialists remain in the USA.

Borodi is one of them. Whether their rebuilds are made following orthodox or unorthodox methods and whether they are devaluing rather than adding value to an instrument is a different matter.

Read about Borodi here

http://www.saxontheweb.net/Resource...rl=www.saxontheweb.net/&ref=&ss=1350j428688j7
 

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I think OP was rather clear about his very ambitious plan!



OP is clearly not talking of “ just” repadding an old sax and make it playable, he's talking about rebuilding it to original looks and specification which includes a number of metal processes including buffing and relacquering on top of the rest of the mechanical skills required to make a saxophone a playing instrument.
Yes, it was a bit of a rhetorical question, actually ;). But then he said that bit about wanting to make some look funky...which is definitely a different direction, aesthetically and process-wise.

And beyond everything you and others have already mentioned, lies the fact that when it comes to vintage horns, the vast majority of people specifically do NOT want them newly refinished; or their original finishes messed with.

Adding along the lines of what Gordon said above, the investment required for the equipment to de-lacquer and/or de-plate...then, for plating and/or a proper lacquer process...is something which 95% of techs never even bother investing in. Like you say....there are specialty outfits that do only this sorta thing....
 
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