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I've seen other similar threads to what I'm going to point out here in the past, but felt it deserved a new thread.

Yesterday I took my MKVI tenor to my tech because it hadn't been in the shop for over a year, and even on that occasion, I only had some very minor things done. I thought the horn was playing well, but decided it should get a check up anyway. He immediately identified several leaks, including a leaking octave pad. So I left it overnight. He changed a few pads, oiled the mechanism, cleaned it up, etc. and I picked it up today.

Man, what a difference! It's like a new horn, and now I realize just how hard I was working to play it, even though I didn't think it was playing poorly. Because these leaks develop gradually, there's a tendency to adjust and not realize the horn isn't playing well. It didn't need a total overhaul by any stretch, but what it did need was very, very important.

So, the moral of the story is, get that horn to a tech if you've been playing it a lot over the past year or so, and especially if you detect the slightest problem. It's probably way more in need of attention than you think!
 

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So, the moral of the story is, get that horn to a tech if you've been playing it a lot over the past year or so, and especially if you detect the slightest problem. It's probably way more in need of attention than you think!
I agree with JL
Most techs will look at it with a leak light for free.
I always offer a free key oil job anytime.
 

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I recommend being prepared to leave your horn a day or two. It gives the tech chance to check things out properly with the pressure of a customer waiting around to get his sax back. With customers hovering around chatting it can be easy to miss something or rush things a little.
 

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Because these leaks develop gradually, there's a tendency to adjust and not realize the horn isn't playing well. It didn't need a total overhaul by any stretch, but what it did need was very, very important.
Yes. I try to take my horns in twice a year for this same reason. A slightly leaky horn can be hard to discern from a bad reed too.
 

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I recommend being prepared to leave your horn a day or two. It gives the tech chance to check things out properly with the pressure of a customer waiting around to get his sax back. With customers hovering around chatting it can be easy to miss something or rush things a little.
Absolutely. That's a great tip. In fact, my tech was willing to do it while I waited, but asked if I'd be willing to leave the horn for a day or two. I said yes definitely (I have a couple other nice tenors), he then had plenty of pressure-free time, and I didn't have to wait around! I picked up the horn the next day.
 

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yeah, little leaks add up. they also kind of creep up on you, you might be unaware of them because you get used to them and adjust by trying a little harder...
I once flunked an an exam this way; I studied for over a month on a difficult technical piece and didn't succeed. Took my horn to the tech and that made all the difference, upon my request I retried a week later and passed ( with a good grade ) without adding much more studying hours.
So , yes getting your horn checked is relevant when you feel something 's not quite right.
 

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It's like the frog in the pot with cold water on the stove. The heat goes up gradually until it's too late and it's cooked. I agree, take your horns in periodically.
 

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Agree 1000%. I try to go every two weeks--my other horn player friends make fun of me and say I'm anal, but when I go a couple months, I notice a huge difference when I get it back.
 

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mine is waaaay over due, just don't have the cash at the moment. I know it needs a regulation and a couple pads, the other issue is it is tough to get to the tech who is in North Jersey, good hour ride each way. But I will get it taken care of, probably while I am away on a documentary film shoot. heck I can't play then anyway. ;-)
 

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Most techs offer something like a playing condition check (PC2) for around $100. Mine consists of taking all the keys off, wiping down everything with alcohol and carefully reassembling greasing rods and pivots properly (from the inside->out rather than the outside->in). While I go, I check pads (will replace a few included, except the more expensive big pads...often the three octaves and G#, maybe Eb for a few bucks extra if it's a tenor or bari), and regulate carefully. Takes ~3 hours typically, but if folks leave the horn for a few days, I can fit it in (I have a day job) and maybe give the body a soak if it is grungy.

I try to do this once a year or so on my own horns that I play most.
 

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I took my horn into my tech because I had dropped the pivot screw on my G key in the middle of a gig and never found it again...long story, had to switch between playing tenor parts on EWI or transposing them to alto.

Anyway, I called him up and he agreed to do the job while I waited. Come to find out the upper post for the assembly had come away from the body. A fifteen minute visit turned into an hour of work with new solder and LOTS of adjusting. To top it off, he was trying to add some flex to my G# spring and it snapped clean off... Luckily we're pretty close so he did the work with a smile on his face and didn't charge me an arm and a leg.

The problem is it's really easy for me to lose track of when I last brought an instrument in. What seems like a couple months ago always turns out to be more than a year...although this time was only 6 months (but I wouldn't have thought of it if it was still in working condition). I need to make a calendar event for myself as a reminder.

Anyway, great advice.

-Barry
 

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Forum Contributor 2012, SOTW Saxophone Whisperer,
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Just some side notes from a repairman's perspective.......

ABSOLUTELY if you think something's up ....... there is. The one who knows the horn is YOU and if something doesn't feel right, it's worth mentioning. A good tech can determine what it is that you are noticing.

That being said - I think EVERYBODY should approach bringing their horn to the shop with the expectation of leaving it AT LEAST for a day or 2. If you get to walk out with it the same day (which I think happens quite often because it may just be a minor adjustment), you should feel the same way that you would finding a $100 bill on the ground.

Charlie
 

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I have experienced the same thing with leaks. They just creep up on you and you don't notice till they are gone. It sure is a good feeling getting the horn back problem free.
 

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Most techs offer something like a playing condition check (PC2) for around $100. Mine consists of taking all the keys off, wiping down everything with alcohol and carefully reassembling greasing rods and pivots properly (from the inside->out rather than the outside->in). While I go, I check pads (will replace a few included, except the more expensive big pads...often the three octaves and G#, maybe Eb for a few bucks extra if it's a tenor or bari), and regulate carefully. Takes ~3 hours typically, but if folks leave the horn for a few days, I can fit it in (I have a day job) and maybe give the body a soak if it is grungy.

I try to do this once a year or so on my own horns that I play most.
For a $100?!
 

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Distinguished Technician & SOTW Columnist. RIP, Yo
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Hmmm. Do you strip your car down every year also?
 

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Discussion Starter #18
Hmmm. Do you strip your car down every year also?
LOL, you know I'm far less concerned about my car's condition and maintainece than my horn. I know, I know, what happens when the car breaks down on the way to a gig? But it seems like the occasional oil change keeps it running fine and I don't care if it purrs like a kitten or not. And most of the time I carpool with my guitarist who has a top-notch vehicle.

But I want my horn in as near perfect-playing condition as possible. It's a matter of priorities I guess.
 

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Hmmm. Do you strip your car down every year also?
No, but I dont spit and cover my car with saliva and condensation from my breath either.

My car has a thing called oil / grease reservoirs to conatin the lubrication required to operrate the part, my sax doesnt. In a sax, any lubrication can easily migrate out of the joint from being used.

Comparing a car with a sax in this analogy is not a fair comparison.

I / We always strip an instrument of all keys for a service and or repair, the only exemption to this rule is if the instrument has been serviced by us in the last year.

How others do there services repairs is there right as well, but this is my process / my policy in my shop
 

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Your sewing machine?
Your bicycle?
Your printer?
 
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