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Discussion Starter #1
Hi guys,

So this is what's left of my baritone...

http://s258.photobucket.com/albums/hh252/Doc74/Kohlert baritone/

It was damaged in shipping and I had to take the whole thing apart. The hardware was about to burst off, some posts even snapped off. Apart from numerous smaller dents, there's some really bad ones like the ones shown in the pictures.

Before I take this to a tech, I would really like to try it myself. I have been taking dents out of cars for many years so I'm familiar with the proces, but of course not on a sax.

My question: of all the tools out there, which would be the best investment to get this fixed? The tone hole especially is looking pretty messed up. Money is an issue, especially considering this is the only sax I need to fix. I really can't justify spending hundreds on this. I'm hoping I can get one bar with a large dent ball or something or even make something myself.

I have also removed about 80-90% of the smaller dents and will need a good burnisher and support to smooth them out. Which burnisher is recomended?

I do have a tenor saxes with small dings so if there's a tool that can do both that'll be a bonus, but the baritone is definitely priority.

I just cannot afford to take it in and have it fixed. I'm hoping that eventually I can take it in to have it relacquered or at least have the bare brass protected somehow. Right now it has a very poor lacquer job on it. I used a mild paint remover on the neck and boy did that thing come to life!


I know I'm asking a lot for little but this thing is ruined as it is. If I need to spend a ton to have it fixed I might as well get another one. Fact is, with the rolled tone holes, it's a pretty decent sounding sax.
 

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There is so much more to what you are doing than just straightening and ironing out dents. All of the key placements and relationships go completely out of whack when the body is bent and the posts move. Changes as small a .001" make a difference. If the sax has rolled toneholes it is even more of a challenge to repair correctly. I hate to be the bearer of bad tidings, but this looks to be a challenging job even for a professional---let alone someone who has never worked on a sax before.

Maybe you could find a tech who needs some autobody repair and work out a trade of some kind.
 

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I hate to say this, but unless you have big bucks, save your dough and start over. If the horn got this bent up during shipping, even after you straighten the body, all the keys will need a lot of work too. Buy a better horn and chalk it up to a really bad experience
 

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Hmmmmm....having done rehabs myself for a few years and even having invested myself in some decent dent repair tools, balls, rods, etc....

.....I gotta say...if that one was in MY lap, I wouldn't TOUCH it.... unless I was ready to really sacrifice the entire instrument.

William is a TAD pessimistic, but just a tad. It ain't a goner, quite yet. But it's leaning that way....

You have already taken care of some of the priciest parts of the tech's work. You have unsoldered the thing apart. Take it, along with (as mentioned) all the keys and rods....to a tech and let them do it up right. It's an old Kohlert...those don't come around in BigHorn form very often. My guess is, to fix the dents, resolder some posts and escutcheons, realign the keys, relevel some holes, and reassemble the body...should only run about $300-500....assuming you take the body cleaning & pad and cork/felt work from there. Yes, it's a lotta work, but it is very accessible work, which is why 4-5 hours of pro tech work should get it there.

If what you need is for someone else to get it into total playability...then that'll be an $800 job (unless you are in the Bay Area in which case it becomes a $2000 job).

Forget the relacq.

It was damaged...did you get any $ back from the seller ? You should definitely negotiate for that (rather, um...aggressively). Get back several hundred and put that into the tech expense.

I mean, one of these back up and into good playin' shape are worth around $2000...although arguably they are better quality horns than newer ones which cost $3000+.

If you really wanna go for it yourself, then you are gonna have to get the right tools. Visit Votaw and have a look at what they've got. You'll need at least one rod and probably a half-dozen dent balls of several configurations, if not more. Not to mention burnishers and rubber/hide mallets, also.....

That's a good $350 min. worth of tooling.....
 

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Looks an easy enough repair, but I still wouldnt recommend you do it

My father taught me many many years ago how to paint a car and do the body work (he was a automotive panel and paint guy), Ive probably done about 40 full car resprays including body work over the years but I can tell you now its definetly different taking dents out of a sax to taking dents out of a car, the beauty with cars is BOG, so we can rough that dent out and putty it up sand it down and youd never know it was there, a sax is naked, the end finished bodywork is what you see, no bog no paint etc...you have to blend the damaged area back into the original area including the strectched metal, without any noticeable work, its actually an art form on its own, I find car dent work easy

Apart from my warnings above, you need to lean the body one direction, and straighten it back, you may need to insert a tapered mandrel inside and then push the dents down and up with a couple of slight curvature rollers, any will do just so long as they ar wider in curvature than the sax body area your working on, a small rawhide hammer is also needed as well to tap any creases flat, and maybe a flat burnishing bar to finish off.
 

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Discussion Starter #6
Thank you all for your replies, I do appreciate it. The more I look at it, the more I believe this sax is done for and that's a shame because it played sooo dang nice. JayeSF, I shipped it myself from Belgium to the US when I moved, along with two tenors and an alto. I have owned it for quite a few years. The postal dudes claimed it wasn't their fault and I never got a dime. The wooden case it came in is shattered, the tenors have numerous dents and busted keys, the alto had one bent key which was the easy fix. I just may take it into a repair shop and see what they can do. I don't think it wise right now to buy all those tools when there is a good chance I can not get it playable again. It might be cheaper to find another sax, I don't know. It does have some sentimental value....

If I would buy another baritone there are many brands out there, any I should avoid?

It's really worth $2K? I payed around $700 for it I think. Ugly as could be, but just had an overhaul and played like no other sax I had ever touched.
 

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Dammit...that's hella saaaaaad. Was it insured ? Sounds like you went thru that process, but dang....if the box actually arrived in THAT codition, I'd scream bloody murder.

Well...you can land a vintage low Bb in good playing shape for around $1200 these days....a low A would go for about $2000.

So...I dunno, I guess compute whether spending the $ on tech work could get your horn back to playing...vs. the cost of a new one. You might be able to get about $150 for the horn in its current condition, if for nothing other than a parts horn...

(I do have a Kohlert low Bb which I could let go for around $1700 if you are interested...also many others between $650-2200, depending on what you want).
 

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Discussion Starter #8
Dammit...that's hella saaaaaad. Was it insured ? Sounds like you went thru that process, but dang....if the box actually arrived in THAT codition, I'd scream bloody murder.

Well...you can land a vintage low Bb in good playing shape for around $1200 these days....a low A would go for about $2000.

So...I dunno, I guess compute whether spending the $ on tech work could get your horn back to playing...vs. the cost of a new one. You might be able to get about $150 for the horn in its current condition, if for nothing other than a parts horn...

(I do have a Kohlert low Bb which I could let go for around $1700 if you are interested...also many others between $650-2200, depending on what you want).
I wish I could afford another Kohlert or have this one reparied but it will have to wait. What do you have that is under $1K ?
 

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Definitely fixable. Relatively routine stuff, but made more time consuming because it is a bari, with poorer access.
 

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Discussion Starter #11
Having it fixed is not an option at this time. I have my expenses covered but spending this much to fix the sax was not one of them.

Since I had little to lose, I thought I'd give it a shot myself and low and behold, I got the sucker straight again!

I don't have any specific tools so I went to Lowes and picked up a 3/4" black pipe and a 1" to 3/4" reducer. I bolted the 3/4" end of the reducer on the bar, clamped down my angle grinder in the vise and ran the 1" reducer part over the spinning disc until half of it was smooth and round. I then clamped down the homemade bar and ...ball....into the vice, placed the main body over it and pushed the dents right out.

When I look at it fom the side, the rear of the body is still a bit bulged out, I guess the brass stretched. As long as all pads and keys fit back into place I can live with it! I don't see how I can get it perfectly straight again without doing more damage, but again I think it won't affect any of the key work. The two tone holes that were warped need a bit more attention but they are about 95% back to where they belong. It's only because the tone holes are rolled that I need to take my time and watch what I do, but they will be just fine.

When I bought this sax years ago it had a terrible relacquer, it looked like someone took a spraycan of gold to it, it was also painted flat. I removed all of this and found a ton of waves where someone tried to rub out the dents. I can see how that happened because it is sort of what the previous creases I handled now look like. : )

I tried to rub them out which helped up to a point and also placed the rippled body over a polished bar and tried to burnish out the dents but that's not really working. Maybe I need to ask the wife to hold the sax but then still I think my technique is off. I actully rubbed a flat spot in the body at one point which luckily was easily pushed back in place.

If this thing can play again, I can live with how it looks but if there's a way to at least smooth out the worst of it then I want to give it a shot. Oh and I don't actually have a burnisher, I used a big long drill bit which looked pretty hard to me. Is this ok or is a burnisher totally different? I'm sure I can find one at Woodcraft or something.

So what is the correct way to smooth out brass and minimize dents and ripples?

One more thing. The brass is easily bourhgt to a shine but some spots have deep scratches. How do I remove the scratches? Sand with gradually finer sandpaper? When all is said and done, do I need to protect the brass or leave it as is?

If all fails and I need to buy another bari, I will be calling on some of you, but it won't be anytime soon me thinks. We need a new driveway badly...
 

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Not like a car is it. Manipulating brass to appear gone is an art form. Takes a bit of practice and hand skills, the bulged area needs to be manipulated into the other areas, that is you need to blend the bulge so its not so obvious, burnishing is the flattening and pushing of that disrupted brass i9nto the surrounding areas
 

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Discussion Starter #13
If this thing was made of steel it wouldn't have been easy! I can build a fender from scratch and never touch the bondo but brass is a bit more challenging. Fun though!

Ideally I should remove all posts so I have better access and I may remove one or two. But the horn is simply old, it has marks everywhere, it really does not need to look brand new, I just want to smooth out the obvious spots. The bell for instance has a few small spots and a small crease on the top edge, but it cleaned up so nicely, this thing hasn't been this clean in decades!

So how do you burnish? Someone hold the wavy part tight against a polished steel rod and the other rubs the dents? Lots or little pressure? Slow? Fast? This is not something I do on cars! :mrgreen:

You can't really see a bulge, at all, I just assume there is one long bulge because it still looks a bit bowed on the back. The front, where the tone holes are, looks perfectly straight. It would make sense that the back stretched seeing how bent this tube was. When I dry fit the parts and it's nothing but cosmetics then I'm leaving it as is. I wouldn't know how to repair it without making it look worse, the back of the body has only a few small dings and looks pretty good.
 

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Burnishing is exactly that, a backup piece of steel and then the brass and then a roller or flat bar.

Before burnishing,you need to remove ridges and creases to do this you use a rawhide hammer and a backup bar, the backup bar goes inside the sax, when all the creases and bumps are removed, then you need to rough the surface level, that is burnishing bar or rawhide hammer and level the surface, after the surface is levelled you continue burnishing but use lighter pressure and same again until your almost applying no pressure, the more pressure the flatter it gets, but it leaves marks the lower the pressure the smoother the finish
 

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Discussion Starter #15
So I need a rawhide hammer and with this I would hammer and dolly so to speak until the brass is almost smooth? Iwas trying to burnish the brass smooth but found the material was still too irregular. I've never used a rawhide hammer before. Right now I'm gently using a plastic and hard rubber hammer. Should I get a special burnisher or would the oversized drill bit be ok?

Tomorrow I'll get a thicker black iron pipe and work it untill it's flawless, that'll give me more surface area coverage.

Thank for all your help!
 

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The drill bit would be OK if really smooth, but a flatter surface, or even concave curve would be a lot better.

Especially if your burnisher has a small area of contact, don't push too hard, or you will push the metal thinner, which will make it larger in area, which will make your bulge worse.

Personally, I very rarely use a burnisher over a mandrel, mainly for this very reason. I use it to push metal back somewhere when the situation is such that it really cannot go anywhere else, without making the body metal thinner, e.g. light burnishing to push the ridges at the sides of your scratches (if they are still there) back into the valleys resulting form the scratches. In your case, I would use no mandrel, but instead of the drill that you have in mind, use a flat (or shaped) bar of Teflon or UHMWPE. A polymer has less chance of "bruising" the metal.

A different approach is to use something such as acrylic or polycarbonate sheet, curved (using heat) to fit the body curve reasonably, and tap on the outside of that (over a mandrel) with any small steel hammer.

Other technicians will attempt to de-bulge by using light planishing hammers, often having a thin sheet of very tough polymer (not unlike car suspension bushing material) glued over the face of the hammer, again to prevent bruising of the metal. If the bulge is turned back into a dip, then it can be brought back up to level by using dent balls.

Different courses for different horses.

I suspect the bulge is because you pushed the dent out too far, hence stretching the metal. It is not easy to un-stretch metal, as you no doubt know from your fender making..
 

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Discussion Starter #17
The bulge is on the other side of the body. I pushed the creases back but was careful not to push the material too far. Because there were already smaller dents there and now the body received two deep crease, which made it trickier to push every little dent out, the entire body bent forward. Although there is no real bulge, the brass had to have stretched which would explain why the back of the body seems a bit too fat. I think that if you would lay a straight edge on the back of the body it would hit where the strap hook is but not on the very top and bottom. Shrinking steel is easy enough but shrinking brass? I don't want to go there!
 
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