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Owning an old Tenor (1949/50) SBA you have to wonder if you are ever going to get it into tip top playing shape as they seem to constantly need attention and adjustment for minor things here and there.

Firstly its hard to find a top quality technician and secondly when you do its hard for them to have had a lot of experience dealing with vintage horns as there arent that many of them left to service in the world.

Well I have to confess that after a year of using this truly superb horn I now have it looking and playing the way it probably looked and played back when it was first made (save for a little missing silver plate)

Since being gifted this horn it has always had a rather clunky sound to it when using the low C# and a couple of other notes not to mention an awkward octave key mechanism making those altisimo notes like High G tough to hit with consistent regularity

Well NO MORE - I am pleased to report that my sax is now in tip top grade 1 playing order (shame I cant say the same about the operator) and its all down to one man namely Dirk Zeylmans and I am not ashamed to come forward and openly give unadulterated credit where it is truly due.

Since first becoming the guardian of this horn (I just consider myself the person who is lucky enough to be using it until I die when that honour shall pass on to someone else) I have had it re-padded corked and felted but still the clunkiness remained and the octave mechanism left something to be desired despite a couple of technicians having a go at remedying these minor problems.

Having first heard about Dirk from a professional Australian sax player I contacted him a few months back and arranged to meet him so he could give my horn a once over and as I was going to be in Melbourne so arranged to go visit him in Canberra (about a 1 hour flight from Melbourne) on Friday (yesterday) 11 October. He was going to look at it and do what he could but if it needed extensive work I would return for a full rebuild in January next year.

To say he provides a first class service is a gross under statement because he well and truly went beyond the call of duty for me allocating a day to sorting out my horn and having discussed it with a pro playing friend who told him what he thought needed looking at a few days before I arrived on the phone.

First off he actually came and picked me up from the airport accompanied by his son Flynn and took me around to his workshop which was a nice touch and very much appreciated.

He then proceeded to strip down my horn and reassemble it and also cleaned it from top to bottom once it was stripped down (no mean feat due to it being quite tarnished as its a silver plated version with about 80% of the original silver plate remaining).

Having left the horn with him whilst I toured Canberra City Center, watched a movie and had a hair cut I returned around five hours later when he had literally just finished reassembling my horn.

Without going into full details of what was actually done (quite a lot) suffice it to say that the clunkiness is now all gone and the High G is just another note in the upper register and the horn plays as smoothly as any horn I have tried to date and just has a wonderful solid feel to it behaving in the way you would expect a new horn to play.

Not only that but the horn itself now looks almost new (where the silver plate remains) but that was probably down to his son Flynn who cleaned the body whilst the horn was stripped whilst Dirk himself polished the keys on reassembly.

The only thing that shocked me was the bill at the end of it as it was way too low considering all the work that had gone into servicing and cleaning the horn which I honestly expected to be much more considering the work and time spent

As such I can only say that if you ever want or need a world class technician (dont take my word for it take it from all those pros that travel the world and send their horns to him) then Dirk is THE MAN and he is as good or even better with flutes than saxes according to pro players I know.

I can honestly say it was a pleasure meeting him and his son yesterday and he is a perfect gentleman who pays meticulous attention to detail and I have absolutely no reservations in unequivocally recommending him to anyone at all for work on their horns (or flutes for that matter).

PS Dirk is an accomplished sax player too and as such has a very comprehensive understanding of what players need from their horns and its rare to find someone who can actually talk the talk and walk the walk when it comes to repairing servicing and playing saxophones. Its also rare to find someone who has worked on so many vintage horns as he and his son own an extensive collection of vintage horns and I have never seen so many of them all in one place before on all of my travels.

Bottom line - just like any review about restaurants on Trip Advisor all you need to really know about anyone writing anything is whether they would go back again and in my case the answer is not only a resounding yes but that I doubt I will ever let anyone ever touch my horn again (save maybe for adjusting a minor leak here or there)

Credit where credit is due and Dirk Zeylmans is definitely a top notch technician whom absolutely nobody is ever going to be disappointed in
 

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Nice to hear.
Dirk is also a member on here.
I’ve heard nothing but great stuff about him.
I’ve spoken to him on the phone once or twice and he helped me out with a ligature I was after some time ago.
A nice guy and obviously a great tech also.
 

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Dirk has worked on a number of my horns and has always done a top quality job for a reasonable price which has usually included postage to and from Canberra. He's a terrific player too.
 

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Distinguished Technician & SOTW Columnist. RIP, Yo
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I met Dirk a few years ago. I was highly impressed with his astute attitude to repairs. And such a nice person to boot.
(And as some well know, I don't dish out praise lightly!)
 

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Dirk and his son Flynn are fellow Super 20 player friends/customers of mine for some years. I always enjoy our correspondence and if I ever make it back to Australia he's one of the people I'd love to meet in person.
I've consistently heard positive things about his work from my customers down under...
 

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Dirk and his son Flynn are fellow Super 20 player friends/customers of mine for some years. I always enjoy our correspondence and if I ever make it back to Australia he's one of the people I'd love to meet in person.
I've consistently heard positive things about his work from my customers down under...
A visit to Dirk means a trip to Canberra, our nation's capital. I love visiting Canberra because it's unlike any other city in Australia. It has remarkably good infrastructure for a city of its size and a host of cultural attractions. Its circular layout by US architect Walter Burley Griffin is mightily confusing for anyone with a grid mentality, but that's part of the fun.
 

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A couple of weeks ago I got my 1937 Conn 10M tenor back from Dirk. I put it in for a complete overhaul, including full repad with Music Medic roo pads and Maestro Star resonators. He did a wonderful job on it: it plays like a new instrument. Rapid response and NO LEAKS.

The tenor is an old relacq: when Dirk returned it to me, he commented that he'd like to recut the Naked Lady engraving on the bell next time. I didn't know he did engraving as well, I said to him. Yes, he said, he was trained by Sherry Huntley…. That's right near the top of my bucket list !

Top techy — top bloke !
 
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