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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
99.5% of us have to get professional work done on our horns from time to time. I live in fear of this. I have endured damage to my horns and shoddy workmanship in every instance over the last 60 years. I recently picked up my MK VI tenor after an 'overhaul'. To cut to the chase, I can assure you I will never have another horn 'overhauled'. I will have specific things done, maybe by different shops, but most of it by myself with the exception of dent work, key swedging and pad installation. This is the only way I will be satisfied.
So, I played the sax in the shop and it wasn't good, but I really wanted to get out of there. Once I got home (100 miles), I didn't really check it out but took it to a practice, where it utterly failed. I quickly spotted the spring for the RH Eb was off its perch, so I got that back on. Then I realized the G# was not closing all the way without the lower stack. I saw that the petal under the G# key for the B key was striking the B key a little early. I quickly fixed this by pressing on the B key while holding the G# key to force the petal down a hair. By now, the horn was starting to come back to what it really plays/sounds like, which should be phenomenal, but is only pretty good - not bad for having only my bare hands to fix it with. But I got through practice, and the next day I put it on the bench.
Going over it with the screwdrivers is a great way to find many other things, but mainly I was finding loose pivot screws. Naturally when I snugged them down the affected key binds, which is what I was afraid of. We had discussed this very thing and he assured me he had the rod-end reamers that he would need after swedging these rods longer to take up end play - but he did this stupid thing anyway. I don't have the reamers so I had to carefully hand-fit a couple of pivot screws. Then I found the Eb/low C assembly rod was loose so I snugged that, and guess what? Now the C is sluggish. I took the assembly apart and liberally lubed it, put it back but it didn't help. He must have over-swedged it and failed to correct. I did manage to kind of reach a compromise with it (BTW, the spring doesn't need to be adjusted - this is about friction) where the C works and the rod will not work its way out. This will improve with time, or perhaps I will lightly abrade the rod ends to free it up. Anyway, I saw a few more things, lowered the opening of the palm key/front F, yada, yada, but I saw a lot more I have to do.
Oh, almost forgot the low C# was not being properly held down by the B key lever so I made that adjustment. In the process, I noticed some of the bumper screws in the guards were turned way out/loose, so I adjusted those and re-set the C, Eb, B and Bb opening heights. This affects the relationships of the keys in the table key including the afore-mentioned G#/B but it all came out great. At this time I also found all three guard screws on the Eb guard were falling-out loose.
The most major thing I'm seeing now is the upper and lower stacks key-opening height is generally low, and the bis key is really low. I will work on this next, but I really hate to have to get into this particular thing after paying $1300 for an overhaul. But I'll do it. He used cork on the key feet that is simply too thick, but messing with the bis key will be an all-day job. There is extra-thick felt in the upper stack keys because of this problem and essentially I will have to re-set both stacks plus the G#/bis relationship and the bridging between the stacks.
However, I took the horn to last night's practice and really enjoyed it - it definitely is coming back to life, bit by bit. It was so good it reminded me of why we pay what we do for a MK VI, and I'm looking forward to getting those stacks ironed out.
Now don't be saying that I should take it back and make him do this stuff, because it just ain't going to happen. I will never see that cat again. I will pay somebody else to do what should be done if it comes down to it. The crazy thing is, the horn wasn't like that when he got it! What all this means, is that while he probably is mechanically good, albeit forgetful, he simply does not know how to do a set-up on a sax, which is the most important thing, because that's what controls how it plays and sounds.
I had also told him how I like the neck tenon - tight enough to play without the clamp screw. He totally ignored that and did not re-fit the neck. Before I left, I put the neck in the horn without tightening the screw and showed him the wiggle. He said 'But you can just tighten the screw, right?' So now I'm banging my head on the glass counter. There is simply no getting through to these guys.
Fortunately I'm not playing the original neck at this time anyway but it still should have been done. I'm using a Series III 'gold brass' neck on it that is great and just happened to fit perfectly.

Nov. 12: All's well that ends well. The panic is over and the horn survived with its big sound intact and no real damage. I decided not to raise the stacks at this time since after all it does play well. Those foot corks will compress over time and raise them a little anyway. The sound was scary at first, being bright and thin. In fact, at that first practice where I had to fix the two glaring problems, before that happened the keyboard player commented on how 'bright' it sounded. I think part of this was leaks and part of it was my simply being used to my other tenor. Anyway, after fixing the first two problems and finding a different reed, it really began to fatten up. It was just so funny with that comment coming from a guy you would never think would notice something like that and never seemed to pay the slightest attention to such things over the last 20 years. And I will continue to work on it as I work on all my horns - no horn is ever perfect and I don't believe any horn is ever really 'finished', because by the time you get to that point something else has had the time to go wrong. For me, working on them and making little improvements/repairs is very satisfying.
 

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Re: Overhaul Remorse

I know at least one tech who was NOT the one that worked on your tenor.

That sounds horrible. Is there some really good reason that you are not warning others of the shop?

OK, so he swedged the keys (and failed to fit the pivots). What else does a person get for $1300? I understand not going back to have him correct his work, but I don’t understand why you wouldn’t want some of your money back to get it done right.

This makes Matt Stohrer seem even more of a bargain.

I wish you all the best in getting your horn sorted out. These stories just crush me.

Happiness is a good tenor.
 

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Distinguished SOTW Member, Forum Contributor 2014
Super Action 80 Tenor, Yamaha Vito YAS-21 prototype, Kessler Soprano, Superba II Bari, Fender J-Bass
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Re: Overhaul Remorse

I would barely call this person a tech. If you can't even get the timing down on the G# key, or keep a spring in an easy to reach cradle, you have absolutely NO business doing complicated metal work on any level of saxophone. It's sickening that you were charged at all, and that your VI had to endure this. I would document all of these issues with pictures, and would entertain the idea of putting this "tech" on public blast to prevent anyone else here from having their horn treated in this manner.
 

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Re: Overhaul Remorse

A couple of points if I may:
1. You paid $1300 DOLLARS for an overhaul and "wanted to get out of there" AFTER you played it in shop and "it wasn't good"????? Then drove 100 miles (each way, right?) only to find out all of those things were BLATANTLY wrong?
2. Good on you for being able to at least somewhat fix that murderous list of things wrong with it on your own, but now that you've touched it, there's no way you'll get any of your money back from that "shop".
3. Whatever shop/business this is, they should be ashamed (and shamed here in public) for charging an outrageous price for an overhaul and allowing it to leave their shop in that condition. That just astounds me.
3a. You really need to tell us the name and location of this joint, so nobody in their right mind who reads this would ever take an instrument within 100 miles of them.
4. Whoever worked on that thing should never even come close to touching a horn again, much less call himself a repair technician.

Just......WOW.
 

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Re: Overhaul Remorse

I feel your pain, 1saxman...same thing happened to me, more less...I got a recommendation from someone on here to go to a tech that knows how to overhaul a King Super 20 tenor. It ended up the tech I went to didn't know crap about these horns and also I caught him in several lies, the whole ordeal with him was terrible!...like he told me it was taking him 9 weeks to undo a post on the horn that he says was frozen, and he couldn't get it loose..."But it's been 9 weeks now Ross, and you still can't get it unfrozen..."What are you doing with my horn???"...he says,"I'll keep on working on it" LOL!...another lie was when he told me that he washed/cleaned the horn, it had a smell to it...When I got the horn back, the same smell was still there.,I told him that he was supposed to wash it, he just gave me a stupid look, like he always does/did,lol.

The new tech that I went to, said it only should take an hour or two at the most, to get a post unfrozen...My new tech said my horn was a total mess when I took it to him, that the guy who did the overhaul had no clue what he was doing!...new tech had to redo/overhaul my horn all over again, this time it came out great!, it took him just 2 weeks...tuning on it is almost perfect! The best tenor I've played, and I've played a lot!...this stupid overhaul I initially had paid $900 for...and my new tech only charged me $200 for a complete overhaul along with a complete cleaning!...so I paid out $1100 all together.

Bottom Line...The thing I learned is, be very careful who you listen to regarding an overhaul on here...do more research, which I didn't do!
 

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Re: Overhaul Remorse

If such an extortionate amount of money and hours spent in driving weren't an issue this would be laughable-as it is it's tragic. Compared with many makes, Selmer's are not 'difficult' horns to work on-that's the beauty of 'em, no rolled tone holes to raise,no set screws and odd octave mechs etc. This guy is a comedian.
 

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Re: Overhaul Remorse

When I get a tattoo, I get it done by a specific artist. I research their work and match it up to what I want done. They may live in Vegas, NYC, Miami, etc. The cost is usually high but the results are never disappointing.

I don't understand taking a prized horn to a stranger for repair. Research the repair shop and technician(s) and pay the price for quality "known" work or take your chances...
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
Re: Overhaul Remorse

I know at least one tech who was NOT the one that worked on your tenor.

That sounds horrible. Is there some really good reason that you are not warning others of the shop?

OK, so he swedged the keys (and failed to fit the pivots). What else does a person get for $1300? I understand not going back to have him correct his work, but I don’t understand why you wouldn’t want some of your money back to get it done right.

This makes Matt Stohrer seem even more of a bargain.

I wish you all the best in getting your horn sorted out. These stories just crush me.

Happiness is a good tenor.
I might have gone to Matt Stohrer but as far as I could determine, he isn't taking new business.
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
Re: Overhaul Remorse

All of the 'techs' who have abused my horns in the past had one thing in common - NAPBIRT.
 

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Re: Overhaul Remorse

All of the 'techs' who have abused my horns in the past had one thing in common - NAPBIRT.
Yeah, I suspect like many craft-based industries instrument repair probably benefits from an apprentice/journeyman/master training process where the student learns more-or-less one on one from a master who won't allow you to attempt more difficult tasks until you've proven your mastery of the simple ones. I've been a program director at a community college for over a decade and can assure you that schools have a lot of ulterior motives that don't align particularly well with producing a graduate with the necessary skills to actually do the job.
 

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Re: Overhaul Remorse

All of the 'techs' who have abused my horns in the past had one thing in common - NAPBIRT.
I hope you don't mean to imply that all 1300+ members of NAPBIRT are incompetent at repairing and overhauling saxophones. As a member of NAPBIRT who has numerous friends and acquaintances whose level of skill I have firsthand knowledge of, I can state unequivocally that is not true.

A common misconception about NAPBIRT is that membership in the organization represents some type of "certification". That is not the case. NAPBIRT (National Association of Professional Band Instrument Repair Technicians) was founded as and continues to be an "educational" organization. Membership includes "master technicians" with 30 or more years experience and those just out of repair school who are starting out in the trade and everyone in between.

NAPBIRT Mission Statement
The mission of the National Association of Professional Band Instrument Repair Technicians is to promote the highest possible standards of musical instrument repair service by providing members with a central agency for the exchange of information and continued education through the administration of programs that benefit its membership.
 

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Re: Overhaul Remorse

May I make an observation ? And this is in no way a judgment on you or anyone.

Based upon this Forum alone...doesn't this happen to you a lot ? I mean, if memory serves, you have had an inordinate amount of very bad tech experiences which you have discussed here over the years.....

Again I am not being snarky. It just seems that, given you are a very experienced player with many years under your belt, and you don't live in the middle of nowhere...there would be a few solid techs you have found somewhere not too inconveniently located from you (?)

I know good techs, I know bad techs. I know techs in the middle....the latter being not great, not fastidious, probably focused on doing certain scopes of work based on the majority of clientele they are used to getting (school districts or rental music shops, for example), BUT honest enough folks who will endeavor to address the needs of their client IF those needs can be expressed specifically, as opposed to in general terms such as 'tune up', 'play condition', etc.

I would say, for the most part...the 'bad' techs are in a minority...the 'good' techs are in a minority but not a ridiculously small minority...and the majority of techs fall into the middle category.

Maybe I am just lucky due to where I have lived...Northeast, Northwest. But I have to say, even HERE, in the Desert-West and-not-PHX vicinity....really a corner of the country which time, sophistication, conveniences, and even governing systems have sort of passed over....of the 5 or 6 techs servicing the 600,000 inhabitants of El Paso and Las Cruces vicinity (say w/i a 70 mile radius)....none of them 'suck' in the sense of 'they just do a poor repair job'. A couple suck in their scheduling and turn-around times. None would come close to 'mangling' an overhaul or repad.
 

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Re: Overhaul Remorse

A common misconception about NAPBIRT is that membership in the organization represents some type of "certification". That is not true. NAPBIRT National Association of Professional Band Instrument Repair Technicians was founded as and continues to be an "educational" organization. Membership includes "master technicians" with 30 or more years experience and those just out of repair school who are starting out in the trade and everyone in between.
Yes. This isn't just a misconception of NAPBIRT but of many trade and professional organizations. I remember for example when I practiced architecture in CA, I decided NOT to join AIA. I was simply Registered Architect, State of CA. There were prospective clients who would raise this : "why aren't you AIA ?"...as if being AIA somehow meant I was more skilled, or had completed additional legal certifications. I kenw garbage-crap architects who were AIA, I knew really GOOD architects who were not. I had friends who were AIA, and friends who weren't. Our decisions to join or eschew were based upon a number of reasons.

Likewise with NAPBIRT...a tech chooses to belong or NOT belong to NAPBIRT, based upon whether they feel they want to associate with the organization or feel they can gain something from such an association (or offer something to it).

There is the intimation in this thread ...and the intimation has already been repeated and amplified...that somehow NAPBIRT is a training facility for techs. That techs gain the majority of their training via this organization.
And that it is a bad training apparatus. These notions are misleading.

A NAPBIRT-associated tech MAY have gained their training from a trade school program, from an apprenticeship, or from somewhere else. The fact that the tech may belong to it does not provide any information as to how the tech may have gained their training/experience.
 

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Re: Overhaul Remorse

I'm sorry to hear that it did not work out for you, but the next saxophone tech will be amazing.
The world is full of companies and professionals that provide a service. We rely on the plumber, dentist, lawyer, auto repair technician, police officer, doctor, nurse, watchmaker, ac repair technician, saxophone repair technician, and many more.
In 1990, I lead a service team that produced over 12 million dollars each month. It's not about knowing everything about the industry or having extensive experience. You can not teach an adult how to truly care/give a sh*t, how to maintain a high level of work ethic or the importance of evaluating your services.
 

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Re: Overhaul Remorse

OK, so he swedged the keys (and failed to fit the pivots). What else does a person get for $1300? I understand not going back to have him correct his work, but I don’t understand why you wouldn’t want some of your money back to get it done right.
Yes. If $1300 is not worth fighting over, what is? I can understand a c'est la vie attitude if you pay $15 for a neck strap in a faraway shop and it quickly breaks. "Oh well, I'm not going to drive all the way back just to demand a refund." But a contract for a major piece of specialized labor should be a different story. It's like paying a mechanic to fix your car, or a contractor to work on your house. In exchange for payment, you are entitled to have the work performed correctly and within the agreed specifications.
 

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Re: Overhaul Remorse

Yes. If $1300 is not worth fighting over, what is? I can understand a c'est la vie attitude if you pay $15 for a neck strap in a faraway shop and it quickly breaks. "Oh well, I'm not going to drive all the way back just to demand a refund." But a contract for a major piece of specialized labor should be a different story. It's like paying a mechanic to fix your car, or a contractor to work on your house. In exchange for payment, you are entitled to have the work performed correctly and within the agreed specifications.
Here's the thing here and you raise a good point (although your point can be interpreted 2 different ways, either as "I want my $ back" or as "I want to show you what you failed to address/correct").

If a repair person does a BAD job....a client has the choice of just being incredibly disappointed and never using the person again, and maybe even flaming him/her online...and leaving it at that. OR they can return to the repair person and show them precisely where they failed or came up short.

As a repairer...I would be grateful for the LATTER. As a client, I would think it is the better course of action as well...because...why wouldn't I want to somehow improve the whole deal for myself ?

Plus, how is a tradesperson gonna get better at what they do if nobody communicates to them that their work was disappointing/unacceptable ?

(Yes I realize this, to some, may be considered a 'naive' position to take - and indeed the typical retort to this position (so y'all can save yourself the cyber-ink from penning it yourself) would be "if the person got it THAT wrong to begin with, WHY in the world should I think they are gonna correct it or even have the capability to ?" Yes, this isn't an invalid position...just a sorta mean one and a bit hyper-critical, IMHO; and if I were to be particularly combative on a particular day, I might even argue that some folks do NOT want to move the situation towards resolution but would prefer to remain in anger and disappointment, although I am NOT positing that in this instance. Just mentioning there are some people of that sorta ilk).

It's not about knowing everything about the industry or having extensive experience. You can not teach an adult how to truly care/give a sh*t, how to maintain a high level of work ethic or the importance of evaluating your services.
And there is an example of that, IMHO, pessimistic and judgmental position. YES it has some aspects of validity. Yes, it's OK to be extremely disappointed. BUT, you can also not always automatically assume that a sub-par job is the result of a service person who "doesn't give a sh*t". Dismissing the whole experience based upon that sort of conjecture actually only hurts the client and the tech.

A quick example: my buddy Tony, great tech in the Bay area, went about solder repairs in a certain way for a few of years, producing good structural results and nobody every complaining. Hundreds of clients seemingly satisfied with his results.
One client he got was a guy who played in SF Symphony, and his trumpet (a very GOOD one, obviously) needed some solder work on a brace. Tony did the work, correctly as far as structure and positioning and everything practical...and the guy came to pick up the trumpet.
He looked at it, and proceeded to rip Tony a new #sshole - if you'll excuse my French - as far as the aesthetic finish result. Tony, besides feeling terrible about it - then proceeded to work up his game on the precision of his finishing of solder repairs. By the time I met him, maybe a year later...damn he makes those things look GOOD. But obviously, he didn't always....

So I generally say (again, coming from the repairer position myself) - LET the person KNOW what you find unacceptable, and give them either the chance to correct it, or if they feel they cannot - the option to somehow 'make good' (or better at least) on the monetary transaction aspect of it.
 

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Re: Overhaul Remorse

LET the person KNOW what you find unacceptable, and give them either the chance to correct it or if they feel they cannot - the option to somehow 'make good' (or better at least) on the monetary transaction aspect of it.
I agree with the statement one hundred percent. It is a customer service driven world. Anyone that provides a service deserves an opportunity to make the customer completely satisfied.
 

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Re: Overhaul Remorse

An excellent way to "vet" the repair techs in a given area is to ask local professionals or nearby university saxophone teachers who they trust to repair their instruments. "Word of mouth recommendations" are often one of the most reliable accreditations there is as evidenced by the frequency it is sought on SOTW.
 

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Re: Overhaul Remorse

…….. I recently picked up my MK VI tenor after an 'overhaul'. To cut to the chase, I can assure you I will never have another horn 'overhauled'. I will have specific things done, maybe by different shops, but most of it by myself with the exception of dent work, key swedging and pad installation. This is the only way I will be satisfied.
………...
Same here. The last 20 or 30 years of playing I did my own repairs; bought an alcohol lamp, shellac, specific pads, etc.
 
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