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Discussion Starter #1
Just taken the plunge and put my Conn stencil Cavalier in for a full overhaul with Stuart, at Woodwind Exchange in Bradford. He says I won't be able to believe the difference when I get it back. Also very complimentary about the saxophone too, which I wasn't expecting. Said the rolled tone holes on the real Conns are more trouble than they're worth when it comes to fixing them, so I was better off without them. Seems to really love Conns.

Anyway, seemed like a really nice guy and the price was decent, anyone got any experience with Stuart?

Cheers, Ian
 

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Shouldn't you, perhaps, have asked this, before you 'took the plunge'? ;)
 

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Ian
I have not had any repairs or an overhaul done by Stuart but I bought my Mark iv alto from him,it was setup great.
Stuart comes with a good reputation,I would have no concerns leaving any of my horns with him for an overhaul.

Brian
 

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Discussion Starter #4
rogerb40uk said:
Shouldn't you, perhaps, have asked this, before you 'took the plunge'? ;)
Went on gut instinct! Now I'm wanting facts to back it up! I was just interested to hear opinions on him that's all... he had a personal recommendation from my old sax teacher aswell, so I'm not too worried
 

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Discussion Starter #6
jazzdoh said:
Ian
I have not had any repairs or an overhaul done by Stuart but I bought my Mark iv alto from him,it was setup great.
Stuart comes with a good reputation,I would have no concerns leaving any of my horns with him for an overhaul.

Brian
Well he seemed genuinely a decent guy who was in it more for the fun of it then anything - I know he's not too pushed for money!

clarnibass said:
Yeah I've heard good things about him, though I've yet to find anyone who has actually had anything repaired by him. Brian, it's interesting to know that the Mark VI was set up well though, that's a good sign...

I mean he was saying that he could easily whack in a front altissimo F key and modify the pinky cluster etc, so he seemed to know his stuff. He said to wait till I actually needed the modifications though before I wrecked the originality of the sax, especially as I learned on that sax, so I've never noticed the lack of them.

Also picked up on some minor things that no one else had spotted - like at the top of the main body of the sax, someone had hacksawed that groove that the tightening up screw works over to make it longer - so they could tighten up the crook better. Said it was at risk of not making a proper seal so he'd just quickly put a patch on it. Loads of little things like that, which didn't alter the original price he quoted me.

Very enthusiastic about the sax too, said he preferred the Conns that didn't have rolled tone holes as they were easier to repair to an "as new" standard - said Selmers managed without rolled tone holes, so Conns probably can too. Said it was up there with the best sounding tenor saxes out there. Refused to let me call it a Cavalier - said the guys who criticise the stencils Conn made should spend 20 years buying, selling, repairing and playing them professionally before commenting on them. Interesting stuff anyway, and it was nice to hear nice things being said about my sax, I'd gotten the impression on here it was only worth about £150 ($300). He said once it was repaired it would easily be worth £1000 ($2000, though probably worth less in USA anyway) when in decent playing nick. Again, find that unlikely, but I don't own a specialist vintage sax shop. :)

So he did seem both knowledgeable, and really cared about the instrument, and the extra jobs he found didn't alter the quoted price. Very happy so far, lets see if he does a good job!
 

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Discussion Starter #7 (Edited)
Just in case anyone's interested, I spoke to him again yesterday, as he's taken a bit longer with the sax then we originally thought. Said he'd had real trouble getting some of the screws out - mentioned putting some sort of oil on them and moving them gradually because he didn't want to use a blow torch? Didn't really get what he was talking about, so thought I'd ask here. Are blowtorches normally necessary? :shock: And which screws - the ones holding the rods onto the supports?

But it isn't altering the price, which is really good of him, just taking a bit longer that's all. Should be ready for Sunday (yay!)
 

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If the school that owned it did any regular maintenance (e.g., oiling the keywork) I doubt any screws would be rusted enough to require loosening with penetrating oil + heat from a small flame.
 

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Discussion Starter #9
hornimus said:
If the school that owned it did any regular maintenance (e.g., oiling the keywork) I doubt any screws would be rusted enough to require loosening with penetrating oil + heat from a small flame.
Ah. Well I know it hasn't had any maintenance whatever for at least 40 years, and for 30 of them it was in a garden shed, so that probably explains that one... :)
 

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Going slow when removing frozen pivot screws is not a bad sign. I don't hesitate to heat up the posts with a torch to free frozen screws, but if your repairman prefers to let penetrating oil do the job, that's OK.

There is an advantage to non-rolled tone holes. If the rolled tone holes on old Conns get dented, it is dangerous to file the edges to get them flat again because you might go through the metal on the edge of the tone hole.

The rolled tone holes on Keiwerths are soldered on, so there's lots of solid metal (not rolled sheet metal like Conns) if you have to file tone holes slightly to level them. Straight (non rolled) toneholes can also be filed if necessary. the less filing the better, but it's an advantage to be able to put a perfect flat surface on a tonehole after removing dents.
 

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Yes, removing old stuck screws can take a while sometimes. Heat can help. If he doesn't charge you more for this it is already very nice of him. Usually on old instruments one of the first things I check is if all the screws turn easily because if not in worst case it means cutting the key (so far I only had to do this once, usually heat and penetrator do it).
 

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I find this thread very frustrating and irritating. Here we are waiting to see if Firefly2005 gives Stuart the thumbs up. Stuart is a highly respected player, dealer and repairer. He's played and sold saxophones top more professional musicians than most of us will even see. Your comments will be useful when you get the horn back but why not hold off on the "well it seems to be going ok so far" stuff.
 

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Discussion Starter #13
JimD said:
I find this thread very frustrating and irritating. Here we are waiting to see if Firefly2005 gives Stuart the thumbs up. Stuart is a highly respected player, dealer and repairer. He's played and sold saxophones top more professional musicians than most of us will even see. Your comments will be useful when you get the horn back but why not hold off on the "well it seems to be going ok so far" stuff.
Have I said anything remotely critical of Stuart? I've already given him the thumbs up. Doing a lot of work at a great price, and sticking to it, and has been brilliant with me - even let me drop off the sax at his house as it was an hour closer to me than his shop. I just thought as this was a saxophone repair section and he had told me something I didn't fully understand I'd see what he meant. Is that really so much of a problem? I didn't want to waste his time explaining to me when I'm a novice when it comes to the mechanics of saxophones, would rather find out on my own so that I sound like less of a pratt when I next speak to him. If that's ok with you...:)

I'm sure the next person who looks on the forum to see what kind of repair service Stuart offers would find any info about his customer service useful. And so I can say he's been absolutely brilliant so far, and I'll look forwards to playing my sax on Sunday. Maybe you should read the compliments I've given him before jumping in all guns blazing.

Anyway, looks like we've got the same high opinion of him, so lets not bother having a thread war eh? :)
 

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Discussion Starter #14
Anyway, got the sax back last week and it plays like a different instrument. Absolutely beautiful, I couldn't be happier. Stayed within the original quote too, said he'd had fun doing it. Apparently had had to replace a few rods too due to corrosion, but had managed to find original Conn rods from another instrument. Got him to play it a bit to see how he could make it sound - made me realise that I've got a long way to go if before I'm too good for that instrument! He told me the only tenor sax that was as good a sound but with better keywork was a Selmer Mark VI, and that anything newer would be easier to play, but wouldn't have the sound.

So "thumbs up" as JimD said :) for Stuart's repair skills. Nice guy and I'd thoroughly recommend him.
 

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Stuart does all my repairs and is as good as it gets. He's one of the nicest, most dependable dealers and repairmen. Very few people know more about horns than him. He's also a killer player....one of the very best in the UK!!!
 
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