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Discussion Starter #1
Is there such a thing?
I was thinking of sending my horn to someone pretty good with a note of things that I notice wrong with the horn and saying "Make it perfectly playable, find any other mistakes on the horn and fix them."
Lets just say, there's not a lot of mistakes on the horn, rather than
  • The amount of cork on keys (palm keys especially to adjust the intonation of E and F, which the moment I finger an E palm keys, the intonation goes from in tune, to a huge leap with 20 cents sharp)
  • Possible pad leaks (I notice my low C# pad is leaking and a little bit from the low Bb pad)
  • Bb pads move while fingering a C#, I notice something with the rod moving, but I think its supposed to do that
  • Maybe key height
  • Octave hiss (Octave D, G, G#, A), with some Neck octave key problems
  • Nothing major, mostly adjustment problems

How much would it cost?
I have to ship it out as the local repair techs never finished the job.
In the United States.
 

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Distinguished SOTW Member, Forum Contributor 2007-
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Believe it or not, this is usually quite reasonably priced. And when you watch a good tech fix these things without even hardly looking down at the sax, you will know why. They do this stuff all the time. The range will be $50 (yes-$50) to about $250 depending on the tech, your market and how much time it takes the tech to do it. I had all this done a while back and my bill only was about $120. It didn't take the tech long at all and it was money well spent.

As a do-it-your-selfer I sometime fall into the trap of forgetting that pros are sometimes so much better, so much faster and so much more efficient than I am, that their fee can actually be less than I spend on wasted materials.
 

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Discussion Starter #3
When shipping, does sealing the pads shut with cork to send off cause leaks?
I kept thinking that, because my sax was fully repadded once with new pads, the moment I got it back,
leaks everywhere.
This happened a lot of times on more occasions, so I don't really like shipping my sax.
 

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You should try to find a local tech you can trust. Are there none in Brownsville? I know there's a good guy in Corpus Christi.
 

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Most of this is easy stuff, but I'm a bit concerned about the jump in intonation in the palm keys. Yes, lowering them can help, but come at a cost of getting them to speak clearly and easily.

You don't mention the horn, its age, or your setup and years of playing. If a tech sets something up well for himself in terms of intonation, it doesn't neccessarily mean you'll have the same experience. Much better if you can find someone locally you can work with to make it right for you while you're there.
 

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Don't ship the horn. Get a local tech that you can work with to get your horn set up 'perfectly' for you.
Once they do their thing, play it in the shop.
If there are little things that aren't quite right you can address them right then and there.
Sometimes it takes a few days of playing to figure out if additional tweaks need to be made.
You can't do that with a horn being shipped to and from and not knowing if the issues are being caused BECAUSE of it.

It's not your techs fault if you fail to test the horn before it leaves the shop to see if it's where YOU want it.
Most techs are only as good as their customer. It's up to you to help your tech make your horn 'perfectly playable'.
 

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Don't ship the horn. Get a local tech that you can work with to get your horn set up 'perfectly' for you.
Once they do their thing, play it in the shop.
If there are little things that aren't quite right you can address them right then and there.
Sometimes it takes a few days of playing to figure out if additional tweaks need to be made.
You can't do that with a horn being shipped to and from and not knowing if the issues are being caused BECAUSE of it.

It's not your techs fault if you fail to test the horn before it leaves the shop to see if it's where YOU want it.
Most techs are only as good as their customer. It's up to you to help your tech make your horn 'perfectly playable'.
I concur with everything Bandmommy says. These guys are NOT mind readers, and what's awesome for one player might be unbearable for another. Develop a professional relationship with a good tech, and learn to communicate what you need.
 

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Distinguished Technician & SOTW Columnist. RIP, Yo
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I think far too much is blamed on shipping. If shipping puts a sax way out of adjustment, it will probably be because a knock was sufficient to bend the body in transit.

I rather suspect that in most cases when shipping is blamed, the sax has actually been poorly set up in the first place. One way that this happens is that the technician relies on clamping to make pads seal. The effect, unless it to iron out mere microns, is never permanent.

Selmer Paris used to arrive here, shipped half way around the world, with pads wedged closed, and an appallingly n on-adjusted state. Most of this state could not possibly be blamed on shipping. I did a heck of a lot of public complaining about this - how they seemed to think that clamping keys would be a substitute for adjustment.

Now these saxes arrive here with only very minor adjustments required, and with NO WEDGING-CLOSED OF KEYS. The difference is simple... Adjustments are now done far better at the factory. Nothing to do with shipping, neither now nor in the past.

BTW, somebody has to wonder and ask, how accomplished a player is the O/P writer? Beginners, and players who don't know better, and those who have migrated from clarinet, often have an embouchure that is entirely responsible for the high notes being very sharp. Been there myself. In those cases, it is not a thing that one should expect a tech to adjust away.
 

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Don't ship the horn. Get a local tech that you can work with to get your horn set up 'perfectly' for you. Once they do their thing, play it in the shop.
If there are little things that aren't quite right you can address them right then and there.
Sometimes it takes a few days of playing to figure out if additional tweaks need to be made.
You can't do that with a horn being shipped to and from and not knowing if the issues are being caused BECAUSE of it.

It's not your techs fault if you fail to test the horn before it leaves the shop to see if it's where YOU want it.
Most techs are only as good as their customer. It's up to you to help your tech make your horn 'perfectly playable'.
Yeah, I'm quoting this one in total because it really makes good sense. How many times have any of us had a horn worked on that we test-played in the shop after the repairs were finished and something needed additional adjustment or tweaking? If you ship your horn out for repair, you will not get this added, and oftentimes necessary benefit; and that doesn't even count the risks of damage or loss in shipment.

Don't let fancy advertisements and internet hype have you believe that you need to ship your horn out to some magician. It's mostly sales pitch and wholly overpriced when you get right down to it and compare such services with more local options. There are some excellent technicians out there with reasonable pricing. Mingle with other local players and find out who they are.
 

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I think far too much is blamed on shipping. If shipping puts a sax way out of adjustment, it will probably be because a knock was sufficient to bend the body in transit.

I rather suspect that in most cases when shipping is blamed, the sax has actually been poorly set up in the first place. One way that this happens is that the technician relies on clamping to make pads seal. The effect, unless it to iron out mere microns, is never permanent.

Selmer Paris used to arrive here, shipped half way around the world, with pads wedged closed, and an appallingly n on-adjusted state. Most of this state could not possibly be blamed on shipping. I did a heck of a lot of public complaining about this - how they seemed to think that clamping keys would be a substitute for adjustment.

Now these saxes arrive here with only very minor adjustments required, and with NO WEDGING-CLOSED OF KEYS. The difference is simple... Adjustments are now done far better at the factory. Nothing to do with shipping, neither now nor in the past.

BTW, somebody has to wonder and ask, how accomplished a player is the O/P writer? Beginners, and players who don't know better, and those who have migrated from clarinet, often have an embouchure that is entirely responsible for the high notes being very sharp. Been there myself. In those cases, it is not a thing that one should expect a tech to adjust away.
I agree with Gordon on this one.....Maybe a small leak or two could be blamed on shipping and be an easy fix, but if you have to get major work done after the fact, the horn would not have played well at the shop either.

A lot of the problems mentioned are very minor things. But intonation is a combination of a lot of things and as someone posted, if you try to adjust the sound by closing keys, especially those palm keys which can be finicky on certain horns, you're probably gonna get something you don't like out of it. Personally I prefer to have the keys opened a bit more as it allows the sound to fully resonate. You can get around a note thats a little sharp or flat, but when the horn feels like you have wool in the body on certain notes, that is often unbearable, and thats what closing keys too much will do.
 

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Forum Contributor 2007-2012, Distinguished SOTW Te
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Short answer: find a good tech, communicate well, build a relationship.

I also have not had many problems with shipping, and I have shipped hundreds of horns.

The answer to your question about cost really completely depends on WHY those problems exist and what steps must be taken to correct them. If your pads aren't new and supple with plenty of adhesive behind them and you are taking the time to ship the sax, I personally would much rather replace a pad than float it. Same thinking goes with many other problems- there are temporary fixes, fixes that apply to the effect, and then there are fixes to the actual cause of the issue. Usually fixing the cause is more expensive up front, but cheaper over time (and more satisfying).

You can patch your roof, you can put in a sump pump, but if your foundation has a crack you will still get water in your basement.

All that said, without seeing the horn its impossible to say. You could be very lucky and need relatively simple things, or your local techs might not be "finishing" the job because there are root issues that will be time-consuming and expensive to tackle. Perhaps asking your tech about these specific issues may shed light?
 

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Discussion Starter #12
There are no local repair techs that repair saxes.
I have to drive an hour to get to McAllen, Texas to get to a repair tech.
Corpus Christi is easily 4 hours plus to get to from here.
The thing is, my parents don't have a lot of time, so its hard to actually get there by car.
Here's another thing, the palm key notes E and F are extremely sharp, and its not me.
I played on other saxes to make sure it wasn't me. I'm always on the green or very close to it on those notes.
I'm guessing, key height? Amount of cork?
 

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Indistinguishable Resident Buescher Bigot and Foru
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Makes it all the more important to play test it while you're there.

Sharp palm keys could also be a mismatched mouthpiece with the horn. Grasping at straws a bit, but perhaps your tech uses a different piece to play test the instrument? Most techs, without specific direction, set key heights to factory norms -- or as near as they can determine them to be, and then adjust from there based on what they find when play testing.
 

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..Here's another thing, the palm key notes E and F are extremely sharp, and its not me.
I played on other saxes to make sure it wasn't me. I'm always on the green or very close to it on those notes.
I'm guessing, key height? Amount of cork?
Isn't adding a bit of temporary material, either to the cork or the body beneath the cork, a really easy thing to try yourself?
 

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...Don't let fancy advertisements and internet hype have you believe that you need to ship your horn out to some magician. It's mostly sales pitch and wholly overpriced when you get right down to it and compare such services with more local options. There are some excellent technicians out there with reasonable pricing. Mingle with other local players and find out who they are.
As the owner of one of the very few saxophone shops in the country (where people ship their horns) I wonder about this statement. I believe I know many (all?) of the techs in the US that get horns shipped and most or all that advertise on the internet. I don't know any of them that are making a killing on repairs and most of them, including us, do the work that is least profitable in this industry; overhauls. I don't know any that "wholly overcharge." Do you have any first hand experience with this?

Although finding a local tech to work on your horn is a fine idea, why the negative approach to us that get work from all over? There are good techs everywhere, but some techs are especially good at one thing, and for this reason, you may be wise to ship them your horn. In our shop, it's overhauls and tuning and toning. I don't know of another shop that does the work we do and shipping a horn to a shop like ours for this service is a great option for someone that just wants a killer overhaul.
 

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Although finding a local tech to work on your horn is a fine idea, why the negative approach to us that get work from all over?
I've already stated the main reason for my view on shipping a horn out for service, and that's the inability to play test a horn that's been worked on in the shop to see if it needs additional tweaking for the individual who is seeking the service. I've certainly had horns overhauled and/or repaired that needed such adjustment after initial service and I'm sure you've had to tweak a horn or two for someone that came to you locally for repair after the job was done.

As for pricing, it shouldn't offend you that I can find folks to do the same for less, and it's the nature of this site to help others make smart consumer choices. In that respect I would urge others to seek out less expensive alternatives rather than put their horn at risk in shipment and not have the ability to testplay on the spot after the repair is done. This advice may conflict with your business model, but it's the nature of this site to provide information to other players and let them decide what choices to make for themselves. Now you don't have to admit that there's a lot of hype with many of the repair techs out there who target customers outside of their region, as it's rather obvious. Sometimes folks just need to be reminded that it ain't magic and it ain't rocket science. It's band instrument repair.
 

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As a repair tech with over 10 years professional experience, and over 30 years overhauling and adjusting my own saxophones, I can unequivocally vouch for Curt Alterac's level of work and his honesty and integrity in his business. I have attended several clinics done by Curt and others of the Music Medic staff and can affirm that Curt works incredibly hard to keep his state of the art repair facility at the cutting edge of the best techniques, materials, tools, equipment and supplies. Curt and his staff are all saxophone players at the highest level, and as such can take a saxophone beyond being mechanically perfect to a level that meets the artistic requirements of his clientele in terms of adjusting nuances of timbre and intonation of specific notes in each register. The best thing about all of this is that Curt freely shares all of this to the rest of us on his website and in clinics and workshops.

To suggest that a "neighborhood" tech can take a saxophone to the same level that Curt and his staff do in their overhauls that take several days and charge hundreds of dollars less is ludicrous. Such statements show a complete lack of understanding of the craft and art of woodwind repair. Many of us are aware of the self aggrandizing, unscrupulous, and overpriced repair techs who dishonor themselves and the profession, but to put Curt Alterac and the Music Medic staff in the same category, even if by inference, is both wrong and patently offensive to those of us in the profession from whom Curt has worked hard to earn both our respect and admiration.
 

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Forum Contributor 2007-2012, Distinguished SOTW Te
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I was willing to let the first statement go, but dang:

Grumps: "it shouldn't offend you that I can find folks to do the same for less"

Have you directly compared work done by everyone you are currently disparaging? If you have specific experience, be sure to share it if you'd like. Blanket statements don't do anybody any good. Everyone does things differently. Just reading the first page of the repair section on this forum makes that clear.

If you are pleased with your local tech, that is excellent. If you would like to encourage people to try locally, that is also totally within reason and good advice. After all, we are all local somewhere. Your point regarding shipping is reasonable and is an issue that people shipping horns for repair (or buying them at a distance) should be well aware of.

But to make an actual judgment and say it publicly when you have no factual basis (especially one that implies dishonesty) is out of line- just as if I were to judge your tech without firsthand knowledge. C'mon now, Grumps. Keep that logician hat on.
 

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If you are pleased with your local tech, that is excellent. If you would like to encourage people to try locally, that is also totally within reason and good advice. After all, we are all local somewhere. Your point regarding shipping is reasonable and is an issue that people shipping horns for repair (or buying them at a distance) should be well aware of.
Thanks. These are things folks should consider before shipping a horn out for repair, and when the topic comes up, I'll likely remind them.


But to make an actual judgment and say it publicly when you have no factual basis (especially one that implies dishonesty) is out of line- just as if I were to judge your tech without firsthand knowledge.
Where did I call anybody dishonest? It's just business, and folks have the right to charge whatever they wish to and pump up their own skills to their heart's desire. It's just that when I see some of the marketing involved and compare pricing with local alternatives, I see services advertised for twice as much, and sometimes much, much more than even that. Now if a tech can get that much for their services, I salute them. But when folks come here for advice in regard to shipping out their horn, I'm not going to be afraid to tell them to shop around, get local references and see the internet hype for what it is. This isn't about good or evil, or honest or dishonest. It's just business; for all angles involved.
 
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