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Discussion Starter #1
Curious what the general lead time for repairs that require dropping off with your tech are?
How long is reasonable to expect?
What are ‘normal’ for ‘in demand techs’ vs. ?others?
I have used 1 high end guy in the area who turns around things in a week or so, 1 ‘school band’ tech who is about the same, and 1 guy who has never started a horn in less than 2 months, and, I swear if I didn’t start to pester him at some point it would never get gotten to.

I know its a formula of supply/demand/who is in at the moment, share your stories.
If you are a tech, please share your current lead times and if you turn work away after a certain backlog.
 

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My situation is kind of unique in that I run a small one man shop and only work on saxophones and do repairs by appointment only. That gives me the advantage of being able to turn over work in less time than the larger shops that repair everything and only take instruments that are brought in and put into a queue behind all of the other instruments waiting their turn to be worked on. In my area the average time before the work starts is about 2 weeks.

In my shop play conditions and clean/oil/adjusts can typically be picked up the next day if there is not a large amount of mechanical and dent work required. For re-pads and overhauls I like to have the instrument for 2 weeks in order to do the best work possible. Minor "over the counter" jobs are often done the same day or while the customer waits.
 

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Servicing - strip/clean/repair/re-assemble, typically day turn around, tell me your not in a rush and it can be two week turnaround.
Repad - join the que, no one jumps to front of que, typically within a month unless i have heaps on and I advise, typically have 3-5 waiting to be done
Mechanical Restorations - as I get the time, I only do one at a time, could take 3 months or longer. took 9 months to do mechanical restoration on a contra bassoon, i refuse to do any other mechanical restoration work whilst i was doing it, in my locality i do not know anyone other than myself that does mechanical restoration work

Steve
 

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More often, than not, my guy will do small repairs while I wait, and if it's something really simple, he doesn't even charge me. For more involved repairs (ie. neck fitting) a week. I guess when you own the shop you can do things like that? He plays pretty damn good, for a trumpet player, too!
 

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Sax Alley seems to run around a month these days plus or minus a week depending upon the time of year. That's pretty good considering the population growth in northern Colorado over the last 2-3 years which has been completely insane.

Typically they give you an appointment and work on your horn that day or within a day or so of that so you're only without your instrument for a day or two. I have several horns to play so I typically leave my gigging horns with them for a week or 10 days depending upon when it's convenient for me to get over there.

The other larger music stores I suspect are quicker but I haven't any of them work on my saxes for years now. Boomers in Fort Collins took about two weeks to swap a few pads and do a COA on one of my flutes about 8 months ago. I think they are a bit quicker simply because they have more bodies and the techs are cross-trained on several different instruments. The bad news is that unless you are a known local pro you're never sure who's going to work on your horn which means results can vary. These stores have a vested interest in trying to make people happy and meet expectations, especially with all the social media and reviews being posted, but the needs and expectations of a semi-pro player who's been playing 40+ years (or even a dedicated hobbyist) are different than those of the typical 6th grader. When your horn ends up in the pipeline along with a bunch of school rentals that the techs are just basically trying to make playable the results are not always ideal.

I don't know what "normal" is for anything anymore but my advice would be; find a shop/tech you like (a lot like finding a doctor or dentist) and develop a relationship with them. If you do this they will eventually know your needs, challenges, preferences, etc. and the experience will be more valuable and enjoyable for everyone. I've been with Sax Alley for about 20 years (before Tim even had the shop and he was working out of his basement) so he knows everything about my horns and my playing.

My second piece of advice would be to try and avoid the times of the year when many techs get swamped with school band horns. Mid to late summer right before the new school year begins is the worst. Likewise, just before Christmas concert season and Spring concert season are times I try to avoid as well. I realize that things don't always work out that conveniently but I try and schedule my yearly COAs outside of those periods.
 

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Discussion Starter #6
I just think two months plus without an update, even after requested, is not acceptable.
Next week I am going to “rescue” a horn that has been trapped without update when requested.
I really love the guy and his work especially for vintage high quality horns but there are others around that are as good and more accessible.
Has taken me a bit to navigate the NYC repair landscape as many are turning to full overhauls only.
I’ll tell you who I’m impressed with and moving my repairs to, when they are all done! Hahahahah
 

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I just think two months plus without an update, even after requested, is not acceptable.
Next week I am going to “rescue” a horn that has been trapped without update when requested.
I really love the guy and his work especially for vintage high quality horns but there are others around that are as good and more accessible.
Has taken me a bit to navigate the NYC repair landscape as many are turning to full overhauls only.
I’ll tell you who I’m impressed with and moving my repairs to, when they are all done! Hahahahah
That's curious. Here in Colorado it's the opposite I see happening. Ellen Ramsey, one of the local flute gurus, has on her site that she's presently not accepting overhaul work and just doing COAs and minor repairs. It seems like the turnover is quicker and the margins better on adjustments and minor repairs than they would be on overhauls.
 

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Normally, I make an appointment in advance, drop the horn off in the morning, pick it up at the end of the day. Even a full COA and/or a dent removal can be accomplished in a day, if they've set the time aside. Not sure what would happen with an "emergency" repair if I came in without an appointment and needed something right away. I think that's why it's good have a back-up horn.
 

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I usually call in the morning and arrive after lunch.
He fixes it while I watch unless it's a major task which usually gets done by the next day.
An overhaul is different but less than a week.
 

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The last time I took my tenor in for a clean and adjust I had to make an appointment about five weeks out. Unfortunately for me, I went in to make the appointment right in the middle of back to school and the shop was swamped with getting the rentals ready for the kids. My clarinet needed some work and I had to make an appointment about a month out. They schedule their pro horns by appointment only. I went in one day with a torn octave key pad and they replaced it while I waited. It depends on the type of horn, the quality of work expected for a pro horn is higher. And it depends on their workload. There are two or three other shops doing repairs but I'm not too familiar with them and don't feel like experimenting when I know these guys will do a great job.
 

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I'm UK based. My first tech (one man band) is booked solid up 6 months in advance and lives 300 miles away (a long drive for us Brits to drop in for a small adjustment job!) so I make appointments for major jobs well in advance and wait - that's why I have several altos and too many tenors for backup! He is into vintage horns like mine so the wait is worthwhile. I do small repairs (eg neck corks) myself. I have tried out a second tech based only 100 miles away, a big company that can give me an appointment 30 days in advance, but they seem to specialise more in modern instruments, my Selmer Super Sax (1928) was a bit of a surprise for them, I think! The quality of work in both cases is very good.

Both techs turn minor repairs, repads, etc around in two to three weeks, while a rebuild on an old King alto by the one man band was away for 8 weeks, but it needed a huge amount of work and came back in fantastic condition for a very reasonable price.
 

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I just think two months plus without an update, even after requested, is not acceptable.
Next week I am going to “rescue” a horn that has been trapped without update when requested.
I really love the guy and his work especially for vintage high quality horns but there are others around that are as good and more accessible.
Has taken me a bit to navigate the NYC repair landscape as many are turning to full overhauls only.
I’ll tell you who I’m impressed with and moving my repairs to, when they are all done! Hahahahah
Two months doesn't sound too bad if the tech does very good work, but the "without an update" bit is a real concern.

In the last few years I have had very variable results from 4 techs. 3 in France (where I live) and 1 in Holland. For a full re-pad or for a major repair, my experience was:

#1 (F), quality ****, price $$$, 4 months
#2 (NL), quality ***, price $, 1-2 weeks
#3 (F), quality **, price $$, 1 month
#4 (F), quality *, price $$, 2 months

I currently use only #1 (very good but slow and expensive) and #2 (good, fast and competitively priced). Sub-par work (#3, #4) is not worth it to me.
 

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Professional players with emergencies: Typically while customer waits, or same hour or overnight. (Most players here do not have a "backup" instrument.)
Others with a looming performance: Typically in plenty time for the performance and rehearsal.
Kids with Music exams: Often while customer waits for small jobs, or typically a day or three for others.

I live a flexible, semi-retired lifestyle of considerable variety. Work is part time, and I want to keep it like that. So:

Other work: It depends hugely on what time of year (eg school holidays when I am less available, after holidays when teachers say to pupils, "why haven't you got this fixed", pressure resulting from school concerts and music exams) hence my work load, the state of my arthritic thumbs, the tiredness produced by the state of my arthritic back (or the medication!), etc.
I aim for a few days, but for big jobs that may stretch to a few weeks. I warn customers if I anticipate that. More than 5 weeks is rare.

I am recently resisting major work on very poorly made saxes or old, larger instruments that are realistically mechanically not worth keeping going because of design &/or neglect &/or gross wear.
It just interferes too much with my quality of life.

I would hate to be in this job, working full time or more, with a huge backlog! That would be frequently letting customers down with no intention to do so. I suspect it is likely with some of the most capable techs.
 

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I would hate to be in this job, working full time or more, with a huge backlog! That would be frequently letting customers down with no intention to do so. I suspect it is likely with some of the most capable techs.
I love what i do, but you nailed it. There are times I have no less than 700 odd instruments in for repair, albeit school break example used, nothing worse than saying to a customer, I am trying my hardest to get it done for you.

Only yesterday i told two guitar customers cannot touch your guitars until next march and they said thats fine, a bassoon restoration came in told them next february, an oboe restoration came in told them next march and that was just yesterday being used as an example. These four examples are now sitting in the storage shelves waiting to be started with the other hundred or so

Today is saturday, my day off, but I am painting two guitars today and a trumpet, its just never ending.

Not enough people in this trade and i want to start working in a retired capacity soon.

Steve
 

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And you will have staffing issue to contend with too! No thanks.
I suppose eventually the long-waiters will realise they all need backup instruments. :)
It's not good when you don't have time to play with your many toys!
 

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Curious what the general lead time for repairs that require dropping off with your tech are?
How long is reasonable to expect?
What are ‘normal’ for ‘in demand techs’ vs. ?others?
I have used 1 high end guy in the area who turns around things in a week or so, 1 ‘school band’ tech who is about the same, and 1 guy who has never started a horn in less than 2 months, and, I swear if I didn’t start to pester him at some point it would never get gotten to.

I know its a formula of supply/demand/who is in at the moment, share your stories.
If you are a tech, please share your current lead times and if you turn work away after a certain backlog.
I think that most techs in the NL are able to do most overhauls in a one to two weeks time. When I hear that in countries like Sweden or apparently the UK there is waiting list of several months I always think that there must be job opportunities for someone over there.

The majority of shops have two to 3 techs working there. Shops tend to be rather highly specialized. In other words at most they may be doing woodwinds and brass but I know of shops doing only flutes, clarinets, bassoons, rarely a saxophone shop does multiple instruments.

The only 2 shops that I know that is famous for brass, flutes , clarinets and saxophones (under one roof) is Matthew’s and Adams although perhaps van Gorp and van der Glas do that too.

We don’t have any shop which would do guitars or drums AND woodwinds and Brass.
 

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I just closed for a two week break over christmas, here is a snap photo from our alarm system of some of the waiting workload to be done,

No less than 200 instruments sitting there waiting to be repaired.
No less than 13 repads and or overhauls sitting there waiting to be started

Some of us just have crazy workloads and we are constantly turning work away
 

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I just closed for a two week break over christmas, here is a snap photo from our alarm system of some of the waiting workload to be done,

No less than 200 instruments sitting there waiting to be repaired.
No less than 13 repads and or overhauls sitting there waiting to be started

Some of us just have crazy workloads and we are constantly turning work away
Great storefront setup, it's my dream to actually have a storefront brick-n-mortar shop someday....
 
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