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Discussion Starter #1
I've been looking around online for a place i can send my old beaten MK vii alto for an overhaul plus either a relacquer or silver-plating job.
Hope to find a quality repair facility but wonder why the variation in prices is so much!!

The horn plays well, fantastic tone with no apparent leaks, lowest B-flat is easy, but it needs an overhaul for the following reasons:

(i) There is no really good local repair place, (I live on an island in the Caribbean and would be sending the horn UPS
(ii) It was previously left outside of it';s case for a couple years so there is virtually no lacquer left, it';s really UGLY, so it needs a body job.
(iii) The one local guy who did a quick job on it didn';t adjust all the key heights properly, so overall key response doesn';t feel as smooth as before.
(iv) Between middle D and G I don';t always get the octave without “blowing it in” so there seems to be an octave adjustment needed

So basically the work I';d like done is:
(i) Complete mechanical overhaul, adjust all key heights same etc.
(ii) Check intonation
(iii) octave key adjustment.


The place i see referenced here most is www.tenormadness.com and i'm seriously thinking about sending it there BUT ..
From their website the overhaul is $950 plus $400 for the lacquer.


Then this other place
http://www.musical-instrument-repair-shop.com/saxophonerepair.htm apparently will do exactly he same overhaul with these prices:
Overhaul only - $470
Overhaul with lacquer - $760
Overhaul with silver plating - $1090


so i could basically get a new silver-plated job for $260 less than a lacquer job from the first place!!

Question is, as per the thread title, is there really any serious difference between these places. I'm referring to any decent shops with a pro who's been working on horns for 15+ years.

I'd hate to blow a few extra hundred just to say i sent my horn to shop X !!
 

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1. Send it to Randy at tenor madness for an overhaul.
2. DON"T RELAQUER IT! No matter how it looks, it will be worth less relaquered.
 

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Relacquering is a bad idea. Then again the VII alto is more than likely without engraving, so no one would know providing the buffing was minimal. On another horn I'd say no relacq.

And the last thing you want to do is send your horn to a hack. Tenor Madness, Sarge at WWS, and there are a few others that do excellent work, but go with the guys that have a good rep and get the job done right the first time.
 

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Discussion Starter #4 (Edited)
OK

Couple more questions based on responses.
Who is WWS?

I have NO intention of reselling so the relacquer decision will be based soley on the controversial "don't mess with the sound" issue. It seems the jury is out on it and i've read the threads so like any innicent bystander i'm thoroughly confused.

So what i'd do is defer to the opinion of the shop i send it to after they play it whether i should lacquer, plate or otherwise.

Let me hasten to add that it looks REALLY ugly to an onlooker, although i'm not a pro and just want to do weekend gigs when i feel comfortable to do so, i'm already wary of the "where'd you get that old ugly sax" comment from well-wishing friends!

More importantly though, it's corroding in a couple places and i'd hate to lose the instrumet by it getting worse.

In fact let me see if i can add a couple pics (hope it doesn't chew too much bandwidth.

Thx for the feedback.

Ian.
 

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Grafton alto | Martin Comm III tenor
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Some people would pay a lot of money for a finish with a patina like that!.

But I understand if you want it to look pretty and don'ta care about the resale value (which may be affected but may not be disastrous), then silver plate would be my suggestion. It would also look very nice with silver body and gold plate or gold lacquered keys.

If you decide against refinishing, then as the horn plays well it doesn't need a complete overhaul, it just needs a bit of a service and regulation (springs and corks basically) which should cost way less than an overhaul which would include new pads. Of course, you'd need the overhaul if getting it plated as the horn would need completely stripping down.
 

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Yikes, iantech! When I saw the first picture I thought "not so bad ..." — but looking at the corroded spots on the left side of the bell and around the thumb, well, re-sale be damned, I'd get the horn re-lacquered. I can recommend Tenor Madness from personal experience as far as putting the horn in playing condition; I don't know about their lacquer work but I'm sure it's excellent. Another thought, if you're paying all that money ... a new instrument?
 

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Discussion Starter #8
shotgun said:
Yikes, iantech! When I saw the first picture I thought "not so bad ..." — but looking at the corroded spots on the left side of the bell and around the thumb, well, re-sale be damned, I'd get the horn re-lacquered. I can recommend Tenor Madness from personal experience as far as putting the horn in playing condition; I don't know about their lacquer work but I'm sure it's excellent. Another thought, if you're paying all that money ... a new instrument?
That is actually my main motivator (forget what onlookers think, i'm personally ok with the finish) but the corrosion has me a bit worried.

The thing is , it doesn't seem to have gotten any worse to the naked eye since it's been in a case and i''ve been using it over the last few months, but one can never be too sure.
 

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Has the corrosion significantly eaten into the metal? If so I'd be worried that any buffing required to smooth the surface and get rid of all corrosion would remove practically all the metal. If you don't get rid of all the corrosion, then plating or lacquer will most likely not stay on.
 

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Discussion Starter #10
Pete Thomas said:
Some people would pay a lot of money for a finish with a patina like that!.

But I understand if you want it to look pretty and don'ta care about the resale value (which may be affected but may not be disastrous), then silver plate would be my suggestion. It would also look very nice with silver body and gold plate or gold lacquered keys.

If you decide against refinishing, then as the horn plays well it doesn't need a complete overhaul, it just needs a bit of a service and regulation (springs and corks basically) which should cost way less than an overhaul which would include new pads. Of course, you'd need the overhaul if getting it plated as the horn would need completely stripping down.
Interesting suggestion, I was thinking of silver because i like that finish BUT .. (there's always one) ... I also have one of the last Mark VI horns made .. a silver finish with F#key s #235363 in pristine condition .. but i find myself wanting to use the vii almost exclusively. To me the vii has so much more body and character. The Vi seems a lot thinner in the upper rergister and doesn't seem as flexible.

By the last point i mean that it seems the vi is really great if i'm playing older ballad-like stuff but doesn't feel as good when i try to coax a more contemporary or full-bodied sound. It's hard to describe but the vii i want to get fixed seems to take on a personality that you impose on it depending on how you play.

So, does the silver finish on the vi have anything to do with it's relative unresponsiveness/character? I seem to have heard uncomplimentary things about the sound of silver Selmers. Would it mess up the vii if i silver-plated it? (can't afford gold plate!!)
 

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Discussion Starter #11
Pete Thomas said:
Has the corrosion significantly eaten into the metal? If so I'd be worried that any buffing required to smooth the surface and get rid of all corrosion would remove practically all the metal. If you don't get rid of all the corrosion, then plating or lacquer will most likely not stay on.
hard to say Pete. The metal doesn't lok any thinner at the spot, but i'm not sure how deep the greenish corrosion actuall is. Should i try scraping it off or anything like that?

BTw thanks for the responses/suggestions
 

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Grafton alto | Martin Comm III tenor
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iantech said:
So, does the silver finish on the vi have anything to do with it's relative unresponsiveness/character? I seem to have heard uncomplimentary things about the sound of silver Selmers. Would it mess up the vii if i silver-plated it? (can't afford gold plate!!)
No the finish makes no difference to the sound. I recently borrowed a MKVI silver tenor - beautiful sound and I've owned several MKVIs.

I know what you mean though about getting that bit extra when you push a MKVII.
 

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iantech said:
hard to say Pete. The metal doesn't lok any thinner at the spot, but i'm not sure how deep the greenish corrosion actuall is. Should i try scraping it off or anything like that?
I'm no metallurgist, but I imagine that if it comes off easily by scraping, then it is basically trashed metal so it might as well come off. I would prefer to go at it with metal polish or very fine wire wool first.

To lacquer or plate, they will need to get rid of corroded metal, and as you can imagine that will either leave pits which will look very nasty when replated, or they polish the pitting out so it's smooth - but as I said that could remove most of the metal. Not good as this will weaken the instrument.
 

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What you have on the side of the bell is commonly called "red rot" and it is common on old brass instruments that have not been well cared for. http://www.brassarts.com/about_red_rot.htm It is obvious from the picture that the bell area is deeply pitted by this effect. This area would have to have all of the corrosion completely removed before doing any type of cosmetic finish because the rot will just continue to erode the metal if it is simply covered over.

Buffing and lacquering would not be a viable option for this type of damage IMO. The overhaul shop, after scraping away the corroded metal could possibly fill the pitted areas with a silver solder which then can be sanded, shaped, and buffed prior to silver plating. If you are after the best cosmetic as well as mechanical fix, I would recommend talking with the tech who will do the work prior to making a commitment to see what experience he has with this type of repair.

John
 

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ian; there's another alternative that will preserve the patina while not harming the sax - just a standard overhaul. Part of this is an acid dip that removes all corrosion, tarnish and dirt. It's then thoroughly washed to remove the acid, and the mechanical work starts. When you get it back, it'll look a lot brighter, but the patina will come back quickly. Use Pledge spray wax on the horn from then on (spray on, wipe off) to maintain it. If you like the sound of this horn now, do not have it lacquered or plated - UNLESS - instead of polishing, it's lightly blasted to get the matte look. Then it can be given a 'clear shot' of bake-on epoxy. The result would look very much like the Selmer Reference 54 but without the darkening in the nooks and crannies. It could also be silver-plated after the blasting, for a matte silver look.
 

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Discussion Starter #16
jbtsax .. that sounds like major surgery ... ouch!!

1saxman .. i like the options you mentioned .. especially the acid bath with no additional coating. My only concern is, wouldn't the problem re-occcur eventually? What will protect the bare brass? Are you suggesting the Pledge (isn't that furniture polish?) will take care of the bare finish?

Also i'm not averse to a matte finish with the Ref54 appearance.

The question is, can you reccomend someone who can do the type of work you mention?

I guess this goes back to my basic question about quality differences between shops! Can a $1000 job be as good as a $1400 job?

I'd much rather send it to one place who could handle the overhaul and the body work.

Again thx for all the good advice
 

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iantech said:
Interesting suggestion, I was thinking of silver because i like that finish BUT .. (there's always one) ... I also have one of the last Mark VI horns made .. a silver finish with F#key s #235363 in pristine condition .. but i find myself wanting to use the vii almost exclusively. To me the vii has so much more body and character. The Vi seems a lot thinner in the upper rergister and doesn't seem as flexible.
Don't silver plate a Selmer. I know Pete may have found one that he liked, but before the boon in prices, they were never as highly regarded and even those with their original silver consistently sold for less money than those with original lacquer. Now there could be other factors at play in why these horns sold for less, such as not wanting to polish a horn regularly, but although I dig vintage American silver plated horns, I'd never been wowed by the sonic qualities of a silver VI tenor; whether I was playing it, or someone else. Now I haven't gone through dozens and dozens of them, and this is all purely opinion... but it's quite expensive to silver plate a saxophone, and for some reason or other... players never really preferred it in regard to Selmers.
 

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iantech said:
The question is, can you reccomend someone who can do the type of work you mention?

I guess this goes back to my basic question about quality differences between shops! Can a $1000 job be as good as a $1400 job?
This is what it comes down to. I don't agree with some people who say "you get what you pay for". Sometimes there are bargains to be had so this is where recommendations will come in handy - and it is possible for a $1000 job to be as good as another person's $1400 job. Your problem is you don't need a good tech, you need a good tech who is familiar with restoring corroded brass and can also recommend a good lacquerer or plater.

When I lived in London I sent a tenor off to be relacquered. The overhaul was great, but within a week all the lacquer had fallen off. The repairer had sent it to one of London's supposedly top lacquerers, but he didn't know the person and was only going on reputation. He felt very bad about it and suggested I take the horn to the lacquering person which I did.

I presented him the the saxophone - you could literally rub the lacquer off with your thumb, and he blamed me. He said I must have been using some kind of hairspray!

For this reason I would suggest you find out if the repairer will take responsibility for the whole job, not just his/her part of it. Unfortunately for you, I think that kind of person is not going to be one of the cheaper techs unless you are very lucky.
 

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heath said:
And the last thing you want to do is send your horn to a hack. Tenor Madness, Sarge at WWS, and there are a few others that do excellent work, but go with the guys that have a good rep and get the job done right the first time.
Have you had good work done by Sarge? I had him work on one of my altos and it was pretty much a hack job. he also tends to charge a ridiculous amount for his fancy overhaul options.
 
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