Sax on the Web Forum banner

1 - 19 of 19 Posts

·
Registered
Joined
·
75 Posts
Discussion Starter #1
Okay, well, a few months ago I got this old 30's-40's Holton Collegiate alto. It needed some pad and cork work, among other things, but I could get a pretty decent sound out of it. I brought it to Schmitt music (one of the only music stores in my area) to be evaluated for repair, and the guy wanted to do a $500 restoration. That would make the money I'd put into the horn more than it's actually worth, even in pristine condition, so I said just repair the worst pads and stuff to make it playable with a $100-150 budget. The guy gets back to me today, three and a half months later, and long story short, doesn't think it would be worth it to just fix the pads that don't work at all, and leave the others. I have a feeling he also doesn't want to waste time on my instrument, as Schmitt stores have an annoying bias/priority toward instruments they've sold. Anyway, the guy just won't do it, so I take my sax home.

Now, I sort of collect junky old saxes... this isn't by any means my main horn, or even my backup. It's just a cool looking old thing that has a sound I like. And it has a great original case.

So I got to thinking, why don't I just learn to do the repairs myself? I'm a senior in high school, and am pretty serious with my sax/music career and think I'm going to continue with it in the future. It would be a great benefit to be able to fix up my own horns, as well as junk ones I buy, to turn a profit.

My question to you is, how difficult is learning to do this sort of repair (disassembly and reassembly of sax, replacing pads, etc)? How steep is the learning curve? Can anyone recommend some online material regarding DIY sax repair? How much will tools cost? Tips?
 

·
Distinguished SOTW Member
Joined
·
13,033 Posts
Click on the music medic link on the top of this page for a good start.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
75 Posts
Discussion Starter #3
Carl H. said:
Click on the music medic link on the top of this page for a good start.
Wow, a useful ad, that's got to be a first. I like the looks of their Sax Repair Kit and a couple other tools, I think I'm just going to go for it and see what happens. :D
 

·
Distinguished SOTW Member
Joined
·
13,033 Posts
Curt will also talk you through some of the technical issues you may encounter while learning. He is a nice guy and the advice is worth the price of the kit by itself.

Pick up the Saska book while you are at it.
 

·
Distinguished SOTW Member/Technician
Joined
·
3,286 Posts
Sax fix

"My question to you is, how difficult is learning to do this sort of repair (disassembly and reassembly of sax, replacing pads, etc)?"

I have been learning saxophone repair for 39 years now. The hard part is doing it well.

I admire you for giving it a try, you might get hooked (just a warning).
 

·
Premium Member
Joined
·
3,302 Posts
You might check out the information here on the NAPBIRT site, if you decide to get serious about this. I've been tempted to look into it myself, as I'm not far from Red Wing or Sioux City, and have some open time during the summer. For me, it would be nice to be able to help students with some minor issues, although Tenor Madness is only two hours away!
 

·
Distinguished Technician & SOTW Columnist. RIP, Yo
Joined
·
17,204 Posts
The Salmon Thief said:
....My question to you is, how difficult is learning to do this sort of repair (disassembly and reassembly of sax, replacing pads, etc)? How steep is the learning curve? Can anyone recommend some on-line material regarding DIY sax repair? How much will tools cost? Tips?
I had been servicing other woodwinds to what I believe was a very high standard before doing saxes. Saxes (and full-size bass clarinets) are a whole new ball game, simply because they are flimsy (to keep the weight down), and in every adjustment, allowance must be made for flexing of the metal. I consider the learning curve to be a very long road, before a technician can do a good, reliable job, and be confident about any problem the instrument presents on the way.

Changing pads is easy and quite quick. But to make an instrument reliable there is usually a lot more work to do on the tone holes, and mechanism, and adjustment. I would estimate that 2/3 of the work I do is actually correcting low standards in manufacture.

So it is your "etc" that is the biggie. It takes a lot of experience and a lot of specialised, expensive equipment, unless you are extraordinarily good at improvising, and already have equipment that enables this.

"How much will tools cost?"

Some equipment is specialised for other woodwinds, but to equip well for woodwind repair would cost around $20000 to 40000 IMO. The less equipment, the fewer tasks you can tackle, and the more time any task takes. (Think of a car mechanic with half his socket set missing.)

"Can anyone recommend some online material regarding DIY sax repair?"

By far the biggest, most comprehensive on-line resource for sax servicing that I know of is this very site.

May I suggest that the best overall answer to your question is to buy the currently most respected book on the topic, thoroughly read it to find what you are in for, remembering that the book only touches the surface really, and is not a substitute for experience. Then ask yourself the question again. The book will either show you that this course is not viable for you, or inspire you.

Repair Instruction Manual:
THE COMPLETE WOODWIND REPAIR MANUAL - by Reg Thorp, available from http://www.napbirt.org/
 

·
Administrator
Joined
·
13,985 Posts
hornfixer said:
I have been learning saxophone repair for 39 years now. The hard part is doing it well.
Exactly. I too have been repairing and restoring saxophones (as an amateur, for my own enjoyment) for many years now, and can achieve some pretty spiffy results. Certainly enough to satisfy my own stringent requirements.

However, to obtain results to the level of fine art (as many superlative techs who do it for a living can), rely on the true professionals. Their livelihood and reputation depends on the excellence of their knowledge and workmanship, and they hone it more carefully and fully than the average hobbyist sort (like your's truly;)).
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
75 Posts
Discussion Starter #10
Thanks a lot for the advice, guys.

I'm pretty sure I'm going to want to learn to do my own sax repair at some point in my life, so... why not now. Maybe I'm a bit naive, but I'm going to jump into this.

I realize that I'll probably actually worsen the sax's condition from the amateur job, but hey, that's what junk horns you get for $100 on eBay are for.
 

·
Distinguished Technician & SOTW Columnist. RIP, Yo
Joined
·
17,204 Posts
"Maybe I'm a bit naive, but I'm going to jump into this."


Good on you. That's what I did with instrument repair, 40 years ago, when my Haynes flute was run over.

And that was with no internet help, and a book that misled me as much as it helped. It is so much easier now, now that so many trials by error can be easily bypassed.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
67 Posts
If he has these....

-"swedging pliers"

He will need Broaches, straight pin reamers, 1200 grit lapping compound and hingetube shorteners. Don't forget he may need pivot reamer and
post countersink. ;)

Carl
 

·
Distinguished SOTW Member, Forum Contributor 2014
Joined
·
2,081 Posts
Gordon (NZ) said:
(...) when my Haynes flute was run over.
First flute with a Flathead, eh? :D

But I understand this must have been devastating for a young pup back then. My belated sympathies.
 

·
Distinguished Technician & SOTW Columnist. RIP, Yo
Joined
·
17,204 Posts
axetech said:
If he has these....

-"swedging pliers"

He will need Broaches, straight pin reamers, 1200 grit lapping compound and hingetube shorteners. Don't forget he may need pivot reamer and
post countersink. ;)

Carl
And the first spring he breaks of at a post he may need .... and ... and .....

And the first really rusted pivot he encounters he may need .... and ... and ...

The the first .... he encounters he may need ... and ... and ...

It just goes on and on.
 

·
Distinguished Technician & SOTW Columnist. RIP, Yo
Joined
·
17,204 Posts
tictactux said:
First flute with a Flathead, eh? :D

But I understand this must have been devastating for a young pup back then. My belated sympathies.
You did well to empathise with the emotion I did not express.

Playing flute at the time was my primary means of self expression, and of emotional communication. That was taken from me. I recall thinking that it was as devastating as losing my voice and a limb or two.

As a result though, I learnt far better means of emotional communication and self expression, acquired another career, and diverted that crazy emotional connection with a lump of metal to people instead.

A huge change in my life really, and I'd definitely say for the better.
 

·
Banned
Joined
·
5,336 Posts
You might look into the possibility of working part time in a music store repair shop during summers. They will probably start you out cleaning and stocking rental cases or cleaning brass instruments, but you can pick up a lot just by being there and becoming familiar with the tools and procedures. If you have an aptitude for repair, have a good attitude, and work ethic they may take you on later as an apprentice either with or without a diploma from Redwing. Just another option to look at.

John
 

·
Distinguished SOTW Member/Forum Contributor 2008
Joined
·
946 Posts
I am as interested in the mechanics of a saxophone as I am in playing one. Learning how each component works and how they relate to each other on these magnificent instruments is fascinating. If you do not have that kind of interest, it may not be for you. It isn't easy.
 

·
Distinguished SOTW Member/Technician
Joined
·
3,286 Posts
Repair school

I'm pretty sure I'm going to want to learn to do my own sax repair at some point in my life, so... why not now. Maybe I'm a bit naive, but I'm going to jump into this.
I am taking in students in my shop. I see that you don't live far from me.

Maybe I can help.
 
1 - 19 of 19 Posts
Top