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Discussion Starter #1
Recommended Repairman (Soprano)

Hey, I just went to the https://forum.saxontheweb.net/forumdisplay.php?286-Dealer-Evaluations-Technician-amp-Business-Directory to see who the recommended techs here in the “Deep South” for a playability or maybe a cleaning/oiling service on a soprano I will soon be buying. It’s a 1983 Keilwerth. It has been played quite a bit, so I was also thinking who I might use if it needs an overhaul in the future.

There was really nothing in the Directory a few names and addresses and lots of Sam Ash stores, but no discussion or recommendation. There have been a number of requests for repairmen in towns and states in this forum, but should those be moved to the directory forum? Or does the directory need to remain strictly a directory? Just asking?

My real question is, Soprano saxes seem to require a lot of precision and detail to adjust everything just right. Is this significantly different for sopranos than other saxes?

Does it take a tech who specializes (not exclusively) in working of sopranos to get them to reach their potential? Who? Or will any reputable repairman do? I am thinking nationally on this, since I’m likely to need to mail it anyway.
 

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Discussion Starter #2 (Edited)
Re: Recommended Repairman (Soprano)

Well, underwhelming response has prompted me to explain the motivation for and refine the question.

I recently started checking the levelness of the tables and evenness of the rails of all the mouthpieces in my mouthpiece drawer. Two of the five alto mouthpieces I checked were dead on. One needed minor tweaking and the other two needed significant work. This was pretty straight forward and improved the character of their playability, even a quite cheap one.

Then, I turned to my soprano mouthpieces. Two had already been worked on and were perfect. Each of the other eight stock pieces and one that had been previously worked on needed at least some work. I sought advice from professionals and proceeded slowly. The small tolerances and work surfaces made working on the soprano mouthpieces noticeably more difficult to get the soprano pieces to a more playable condition.

Is the same true for in working on soprano saxes? I mean the palm key pads on my sopranos are tiny dots compared to the palm key pads on my alto. Does that kind of thing and the smaller tolerances make a difference in the difficulty of the repair or not? Maybe it makes it easier. Or, in your experience, is a re-pad / overhaul about the same on a soprano as it is on any other saxophone?
 

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If I still lived in Birmingham, Alabama then I'd take my saxes to Steve Collins. He did some minor work on a tenor for me several years ago and he has an excellent reputation. Here's a link:
https://www.collinshornworks.com/
 

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Re: Recommended Repairman (Soprano)

Learn to fix your own horns. I started learning like 15 years ago. I buy my own pads and work on whatever horn I have.
 

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Yes tolerances are more narrow...not only because the size but because the pitch...which is of course related.

...and yes sop mouthpieces are demanding. Im really shocked at the number of bad pieces people play because if they are a hair or two off they are a real baich. Sop is hard enough when the horn and mpc is in adjustment. I think a lot of folks suffer needlessly. I cant imagine getting palm key tones decent with even a small leak...much like a crooked facing.
 

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Thanks, Steve had been recommended to me a couple of years ago, and I have talked with him. A few things in the conversations were off-putting. I did not use him at that time because he refused even to look at my Chinese-built saxes going so far as to say that they should not have been made, sight unseen mind you. He also said some disparaging things about sopranos and repairing them in general, and then tried to sell me a Jupiter that he had overhauled, then he recommended that I have him overhaul then maintain any reputable brand sax that I got in the future.

Despite all of that, because of location, he is still a candidate for at least a for a playability check or even an oiling-cleaning. Surely, he cannot complain about a Keilwerth, even though it is older. I am expecting that he will complain about past work that has been done on the horn and that he will recommend an overhaul, which I am not prepared to do at this time. I mean I get it that a sax he has over hauled is easier for him to maintain because he knows what has been done to it, but it is still a lot of money.

Birmingham is a two-hour drive away for me and would require a trip dedicated to taking this sax to him, since I rarely have reason to go there. I would probably mail the sax at least one way. Atlanta is the same distance, and I go there more often, but I have never had anyone recommended to me in Atlanta area.

So, if I am mailing the sax anyway, that opens the whole continental U.S. in my mind, which opens a lot of possibilities. Who do I use though? Steve, left me with an impression of preferring to work on instruments other than soprano, so this may have subconsciously motivated my question about repairmen’s biases and skills in working on sopranos.
 

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Discussion Starter #7
Yes tolerances are more narrow...not only because the size but because the pitch...which is of course related.

...and yes sop mouthpieces are demanding. Im really shocked at the number of bad pieces people play because if they are a hair or two off they are a real baich. Sop is hard enough when the horn and mpc is in adjustment. I think a lot of folks suffer needlessly. I cant imagine getting palm key tones decent with even a small leak...much like a crooked facing.
Kudos to all of you who work on soprano mouthpieces. It is difficult and time-consuming to get it right, and mind you, I only leveled the tables and evened the rails. I did not even consider touching the chambers. I did enjoy it though, and the pieces are astonishingly more playable.
 

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Discussion Starter #8
No other suggestions for a repairman who is particularly good with sopranos?
 

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In my experience any tech who is skilled at doing saxophone repair can do the same level of work on all sizes of saxophones. My least favorite to work on are sopranos, since everything is so close together and access to the part you need to "tweak" is often blocked by other parts. It is like the "piccolo" of saxophones. The new LED leak light from Music Medic is indispensable to get to the upper part of the bore to check for leaks. The only "special skills" needed to work on sopranos are good eyesight and patience. :)
 

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In my experience any tech who is skilled at doing saxophone repair can do the same level of work on all sizes of saxophones. My least favorite to work on are sopranos, since everything is so close together and access to the part you need to "tweak" is often blocked by other parts. It is like the "piccolo" of saxophones. The new LED leak light from Music Medic is indispensable to get to the upper part of the bore to check for leaks. The only “special skills" needed to work on sopranos are good eyesight and patience. :)
Thanks for your reply. That seems to be the consensus. Apparently, not many repairmen love working on sopranos, but they suffer for their craft and do it anyway. My question probably should have been who loves to work on sopranos.

As far as recommendations go, most have stayed in my neighborhood. Steve Collins has been recommended several more times as the best in my general area. That’s probably my best bet for the simple work I need.

Someone suggested that I repair my own. I am often a DIY guy. There are practical reasons why that is impractical for me. Insufficient workspace is primary. I wonder how many of my own saxes I’d have to work on to break even after the investment in equipment. Having the right knowledge and skill might be a minor detail. And finally, I have been repairing my Chinese saxes that have been literally falling apart in my hands for several years. I’d just like to play for a while and not have to worry about whether or not my sax is going to work today.
 
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