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so I'm taking a shot here, if someone could describe the proper steps and maybe how to do some of the hard ones id be very appreciative
 

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I think you need to be more clear in your question . . . are you intending to do your own overhaul? Are you intending to start an overhaul business? Are you intending to hire a repair-tech to overhaul your saxophone? DAVE
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
I think you need to be more clear in your question . . . are you intending to do your own overhaul? Are you intending to start an overhaul business? Are you intending to hire a repair-tech to overhaul your saxophone? DAVE
I'm doing it myself
 

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Okay . . . where to start? Your question strikes me as someone who is going to do brain surgery but doesn't know where to begin - and asks real brain surgeons for some pointers.

I've never done what you want to do. But if I did, the first thing I'd do is make sure I have the right screwdrivers and other tools, plus all the other materials needed to re-cork, re-pad, and deal with springs, etc. Then, I'd clear my work bench. I mean, a good tech could write a whole book just answering your question . . .

I'm sure there are texts about how to do this. Good luck. DAVE
 

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for starts, get Stephen Howard's "Saxophone Manual" (Haynes).
 

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Sorry, but one should not really just do there first overhaul with no previous knowledge, the end result will be a bag of parts and possibly the bin.

You need to start by learning to change a pad or two on a functional working instrument and then progress from there.

Anything less is really quite silly,

Steve
 

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I agree with Simso. There are dozens and dozens of traps for the inexperienced. Every process can have complications.

And I for one, do not wish to rewrite the books (that have already been written) in this forum.

You could start by finding out how much you don't know, by:

1. Reading and digesting respected texts on the topic: i.e. Stephen Howard's "Saxophone Manual" (Haynes) &/or Reg Thorp's The Complete Woodwind Repair Manual http://www.napbirt.org/

2. Spending dozens of hours reading material already written in this forum, now one of the world's most comprehensive resources, even if not the best organised.

3. Browse tool and materials suppliers specific to the trade, to get an idea of where your money might go. (I think it would be fair to say that the average capable tech would have spend say $40 000 average on equipment and stock. For me, actually closer to $100 000. Simso, a lot more).
Examples:
http://musicmedic.com/
http://www.ferreestools.com/catalog-pdf.html
http://www.votawtool.com/
http://www.krausmusic.com/index.htm#HomeIndex who do not sell to the public.
http://www.boehmtools.de/index.php?id=1315

Start off being aware that for a good result, you are dealing with adjustments and alignment of parts, to an accuracy around 0.02 mm and better. You will be using a wide range of materials, and to choose/use/handle them well, you really do need experience.
 

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With your apparent lack of knowledge, the only appropriate advice is......do not even consider it!
 

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As someone who has taken the path you are contemplating, I will use an analogy I feel fits folks like us.......
We are 'general' carpenters, and will still need the 'finish' carpenters.
Getting everything to work perfectly together takes years of experience IMO.
Seating ALL the pads perfectly.....getting the regulation to work, though not technically difficult, is time consuming at first as you make adjustments to one key that throughs another off.

I would ask, is this your main sax or a 'beater'?
Do you want to do a FULL overhaul, or just repad?
Are you good with soldering? Do you have all the tools needed in case you break a spring?

It takes time and doing quite a few before you feel like you are even close to being 'OK' at it.
 

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so I'm taking a shot here, if someone could describe the proper steps and maybe how to do some of the hard ones id be very appreciative
There are a host of YouTube videos on the topic. All you really need is a good screw driver and a small torch.

Don't bother buying good pads. You'll probably have to take it to a tech for a complete redo of your failed effort anyhow.

Not recommended.

FWIW, I've no reservations about taking my horn apart for semi-annual cleaning, but I would NOT consider an overhaul.
 

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so I'm taking a shot here, if someone could describe the proper steps and maybe how to do some of the hard ones id be very appreciative
If you have to ask, it probably won't turn out well....unless you're some sort of handyman/brain surgeon/engineering genius. Then, it might turn out okay (not great).
 

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Tictac, Simso, and Gordon have given the most useful advice and sources, so far.

But I have a question (seriously, not being a wise guy here). I am just curious...

Have you done other repairs already...easier ones, less extensive, more basic ? Pad changing, cork/felt changing, key regulation, some simple dent repair, etc ?

Then...are you properly tooled ? I would say a basic set of repair tools, for the repairs noted above, is around a $300-400 investment; a set of tools which would be used for an overhaul, more like $1000-2000 absolute minimum. Do you have that sort of budget ?

If not, you will be subbing out some of that work to a professional tech.

Now....the term 'overhaul', scope of work being defined differently by different techs...regardless, encompasses a very complete and extensive scope of work. If you have not waded into the simpler repairs I noted above, I (like others) would posit you are not quite ready to attempt an overhaul.

IF, of course, you are familiar with those simpler repairs, then that may be another story...

Welcome to the Forum and best of luck. This particular section is a very useful resource for repair....
 

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I'll chime in here...been a while since I've visited this place. First thing...whether or not you are capable of doing this yourself depends on you, how determined and meticulous you are more than your inexperience. I had an intermediate soprano sax that was my first attempt at any such work and I came here and received the same warnings. I had a similar experience restringing a piano, went to piano techs forum, and received grudging disdainful tips from folks whose reality would turn upside down if they had to face the fact that someone could do their job without going through what they did.

I'm simply saying this so you don't avoid the attempt just because of the intimidating advice. Both my soprano sax and my piano turned out swell, and I've overhauled many saxes since then. There are reasons to be cautious though--

That said, this forum is better than most about that, and the techs warn you against the job because most of the time, they are right about such things. You need to understand what is involved and have the drive and patience for it. To be honest, the fact that you haven't even replied or put any detail into your post seems like these might be a concern for you. I'm sure some of the folks who warn you don't want to be blamed if you don't fully understand and/or execute any instruction they give.

I would suggest searching this forum. What you ask has been answered to others despite the reluctance. If you demonstrate that you are equal to the task--by this, I mean the effort of reading up some, asking questions that betray an understanding of what you're getting into--then these guys are a big help. They were to me.
 

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Mellowmeyer, perhaps you are unaware of how rare you are.
I encounter a lot of really substandard DIY work (and really substandard technician work!)
I very rarely encounter half decent DIY work. But yes, it does exist.
And to improve DIY work, and warn and highlight re bad technician work, is a major motivation for being here.

Jmadonia, if you ask a question that needs a book to answer it, then you are unlikely to get somebody here to write an answer.
If you ask specific detail questions, this place becomes very helpful.
 

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I thank ya Gordon, that's high praise from you, but that's why even I put stipulation to what I said. I just don't want the OP to give up IF he/she has the tenacity. Like I said, so far, I'm not seeing it.

There are certainly advanced things that require experience no matter what...like fixing bad dent work.

I think the problem most DIYers would have with the typical leak-fixing and pad replacement is simply one of patience. Yes, tolerances of thousandths of an inch are important, but with a leak light, they are easy to see. Stuff like key corks are mechanically obvious...like a teeter-totter...put material under one end, the other end moves farther, key closes. The thing is, your first time, you might be spending 2 hours on one key. But the only way you'd have a parts bin is if you splooged glue all over something...bent a key like 30 degrees or something....or hit something too hard. Yes, people do it, but my point is that all of those things are a result of impatience, not lack of capacity. That's why, as you say, we see bad technician work too...and that's evidence of what I'm getting at, I think. The experience doesn't matter if the person is impatient.

But anyhoo, I think this individual may be taking it to a tech anyway...since they have not shown a presence here... I guess for anyone doing a sax, the only other thing I think is relevant to clear up is cost of tools. For a typical sax overhaul, you need the pads...cost varies depending on which kind of sax, but count on $60 I'd say. If they're not in good condition, TECH cork of various thicknesses (this stuff has skyrocketed). You can superglue very thin pieces to thicker ones to make a size, if you want to save some $ by going through your current corks with a micrometer :-|... but a full set of them is around $50 for small sizes, I think. Stick of shellac - $7 ish. If you don't have one, a little butane torch - $20 (for a cheapo); small screwdriver set, leak light $20ish... swedging pliers if you want to start improving the intsrument... All this can come from musicmedic, and he has some wonderful tone hole files that I use any time I do a sax, but they are expensive. You can do it with hand tone hole files for cheaper, but you must be more careful not to "tilt."

So other than that, anyone who's serious and above all, patient--search for things like this:

Leveling tone holes, upper & lower stack, pad seating, key cup alignment, swedging, shellac... And then when you get stuck, just like Gordon said, this place is a gold mine.
 

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Mellowmeyer, perhaps you are unaware of how rare you are.
I encounter a lot of really substandard DIY work (and really substandard technician work!)
I very rarely encounter half decent DIY work. But yes, it does exist.
And to improve DIY work, and warn and highlight re bad technician work, is a major motivation for being here.

Jmadonia, if you ask a question that needs a book to answer it, then you are unlikely to get somebody here to write an answer.
If you ask specific detail questions, this place becomes very helpful.
It definitely DOES depend on the person's proclivity in such mechanical affairs. I mean, if one is NOT mechanically inclined already, the large hill just became a mountain.

Also, patience.....

...are you willing to screw up and not get despondent about it ?

Are you ready to have to take apart that lower stack a dozen times because you just cannot get that pad to stop leaking ? Or will there be a point where you just give up and let the leak stay there ? AFTER all the leaks are gone, then...are you ready to take apart the stack AGAIN to adjust the foot corks for the best intonation across the horn ?

Can you tap, tap, tap a keycup back into level without wailing on it ?

Will you continue to soak that buggered rod in penetrating solution over and over ? Or will there come a point where you just lose it ....and start slamming a countersink punch into one end of the barrel to force the mutha' out the other end ? (which may give you some temporary release and joy, in a Neanderthalic sense, but will also put you in a far worse pickle than before :dazed:).

Fun stuff like this.

But given the OP started another thread stating he had just rec'd his MusicMedic starter kit.....Jmadonia....I suggest you just start with some of the simple work described in the pamphlet which comes with that kit. Replacing some pads, seeing if you can get them to seal, that sorta stuff. Familiarize yourself with shellac, a leak light, a pad spatula, a few of the simpler pliers, a spring hook, etc. You will need a better torch than the kit has, as well.

Get a few project horns, but ones which do not have a lot of body damage...and go at them with the kit. Over a short time, you will find you need to augment the kit with add'l tool purchases here and there...but you can do this slowly; you need not drop $500 at once. Ferree's, Votaw, instrumenclinic.com are other domestically convenient & useful materials/tools suppliers.

Gordon is correct...your question, while I am sure it was on the level, is too broad for any sort of very useful response (beyond just referencing other written materials).

It is when your question is specific to a certain situation or problem that folks in this section can reply most helpfully.
 

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It definitely DOES depend on the person's proclivity in such mechanical affairs. I mean, if one is NOT mechanically inclined already, the large hill just became a mountain.

Also, patience.....

...are you willing to screw up and not get despondent about it ?

Are you ready to have to take apart that lower stack a dozen times because you just cannot get that pad to stop leaking ? Or will there be a point where you just give up and let the leak stay there ? AFTER all the leaks are gone, then...are you ready to take apart the stack AGAIN to adjust the foot corks for the best intonation across the horn ?

Can you tap, tap, tap a keycup back into level without wailing on it ?

Will you continue to soak that buggered rod in penetrating solution over and over ? Or will there come a point where you just lose it ....and start slamming a countersink punch into one end of the barrel to force the mutha' out the other end ? (which may give you some temporary release and joy, in a Neanderthalic sense, but will also put you in a far worse pickle than before :dazed:).

Fun stuff like this.

But given the OP started another thread stating he had just rec'd his MusicMedic starter kit.....Jmadonia....I suggest you just start with some of the simple work described in the pamphlet which comes with that kit. Replacing some pads, seeing if you can get them to seal, that sorta stuff. Familiarize yourself with shellac, a leak light, a pad spatula, a few of the simpler pliers, a spring hook, etc. You will need a better torch than the kit has, as well.

Get a few project horns, but ones which do not have a lot of body damage...and go at them with the kit.
This is how I got started 25 years ago. A particularly frustrating situation where a highly reknowned repair shop in San Francisco took my selmer tenor (that was playing but not quite perfect) and charged me $400 to render it completely unplayable. My son's music teacher handled the transfer back and forth so it was problematic to go back and complain. After 10 hours or so, I figured out a couple of things that were wrong, remedied them, and started my journey. I then decided to learn more and started buying old Conns from flea markets and garage sales (later on eBay in the early days)...these were available for <$100 at the time...some actually free!! The first ones ended up taking 100s of hours (learning dent work, straightening tone holes, removing stuck rods and making new ones, removing busted springs and replacing, soldering techniques even patching holes where they had corroded through!) but some of them ended up being nice players.
HERE is an early example.
HERE is another

In full disclosure, I was trained as a machinist before going back to college obtain an engineering degree, but have been a musician since my first piano lessons at age 5. I did start out with a small shop that I had built for restoring the 1920-built Craftsman home that I have lived in since 1983; new mechanicals and complete refurb of construction. The shop is now about 30% dedicated to saxophone repair; I have a small number of regular clients and do some spec overhauls for resale as well. People generally seem happy with my work, but it was a long road. The biggest joy is that anything that even annoys me in the slightest about my own horns can be made better than new...often with subtle modifications.
 

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This is my first post on SOTW, though I've been a background reader for quite a while. My sax experience is a degree in instrumental music education - saxophone primary, oboe secondary. But I stupidly became a lawyer! LOL So at this point, I'm a living room musician and play with a community group. I've played an alto Reference 54 since 2006 (had some troubles at first but a dream after setup).

I have an old horn, a Vito 7131, late 80's, so I'm assuming it's Japanese made but haven't done the research - doesn't matter, really. This was my horn through high school. I babied it. I was the kid who swabbed thrice and wiped off prints after every time I touched it...and would scold the others for leaving reeds on mouthpieces! Because of that diligence, even as a "beater" that's been collecting dust for almost 20 years, most of the pads are still in great shape. None are torn, but several are worn thin. Only a few leaks. Being well worn, it has some clickity-clack issues, so the mechanism sounds like tin cans blowing down the street. Playing a quick run up a scale comes with percussion accompaniment! I'm tired of seeing it sit in the corner, so I've decided to use it as a horn to learn repair on (no - I would never dream of attempting a repair on the Ref 54), and so I'm going to overhaul it. Yes, I am well aware of the challenges ahead. (As an aside, I also had a YAS-23 at one point, and I preferred the Vito as a student horn. It was a great instrument to grow up on.)

I'm in a prepping sort of stage of the project. I've purchased the Howard manual and the MusicMedic repair kit. And of course, I have a trove of books and manuals from my undergrad days. I actually have most of the MusicMedic kit tools already, but I'm buying the kit because I want a set that is completely dedicated to horn repair and not clunking around the tool box in the garage. I suppose I could take the list to Lowe's and cobble it together, but it's easier just to order. Point being - there won't even be a screw adjusted until I have studied and put together a solid plan of attack. (Someone mentioned YouTube videos. Very helpful.)

The extreme caution and pessimism in the earlier comments are off-putting (not only about attempting the project but also the forum in general). We get it. It's a steep learning curve that can end in frustration and a mess. Please know the message has been received loud and clear, and there's no need to reiterate it in reply to this post. I'm looking for constructive encouragement and suggestions, not "the sky is falling down" fear mongering.

I would appreciate some constructive feedback and suggestions - the tips and tricks that come from experience, as noted in replies above. If one doesn't make an attempt to get that sort of experience, one will never have it. Thus, those of you who do have experience and can offer some sage advice would be most appreciated for spreading the wealth of knowledge.

So read up, watch up on YouTube, have a plan, be prepared for failure - what specific issues are commonly encountered and what are some of your tips and tricks (even as simple as how to position a tool when working on xyz part)? And if anyone has overhauled this specific model of horn, I'd be grateful for your thoughts.

Again, I'm completely aware of the challenge. This is a learning project on a horn that is collecting dust and will not be terribly missed if it went to hell. Worst case scenario, I make a mess, and I'll be out a little bit of money and time. Either way, I intend to learn something.
 
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