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When I test play my repadded instruments, I discover leaks I
would have discovered simply with the leak light had I been more observant.

As somebody said, the leaklight doesn’t lie.

I presume the skilled technician doesn’t need to play test very much.

Do you sometimes try to get through a horn without play testing, meaning to say you play test only at the very end?

By avoiding too much playtesting does the skilled techinician save time?

This question leads to a sub question:

Is it conceivably possible to repair saxophones without being able to play one?
 

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I once received a soprano back from a local shop with the high E accidentally sprung open instead of shut.

The guy _did_ know better. He wasn't an idiot -just lazy. I never went back.
 

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zagzig said:
When I test play my repadded instruments, I discover leaks I
would have discovered simply with the leak light had I been more observant.

As somebody said, the leaklight doesn';t lie.

I presume the skilled technician doesn';t need to play test very much.
Quite the contrary, I think better technicians playtest more.

zagzig said:
By avoiding too much playtesting does the skilled techinician save time?
Only in that the job is incomplete and therefore took less time.


zagzig said:
Is it conceivably possible to repair saxophones without being able to play one?
Not at a level that deserves being called repair. Playtesting reveals a whole new spectrum of information about the horn, and is just as essential as a leaklight. The longer I playtest a horn, the more I know about it. The more I know about it, the better I can make it play and feel. I spend hours playtesting and tweaking each horn. In fact right now I am taking a break from playtesting a tweaking a VI tenor that I would have been done yesterday if it weren't for playtesting.

Sometimes it drives me crazy that I can't playtest the horn for weeks, knowing that something I might miss, no matter how small, will show up after 10 or 20 or 100 hours of playing.
 

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Is it conceivably possible to repair saxophones without being able to play one?
Yes.

A local brass/reed tech is a trombone player. He does nice work with saxes. He's very busy, so he must be doing something right.

Another tech hereabouts is a trumpet player. His work with saxes does not receive the respect from players that the other guy gets.

A local pro sax playing tech does really good work on saxes. I use him exclusively.

Another local pro sax playing tech, now deceased, was a hack. He never got much repeat business.

Conclusion? There is no absolute correlation between one's ability to play a sax and one's skill as a sax technician.

I know piano tuners who cannot play the piano, luthiers who cannot play the violin, and airplane mechanics who cannot fly airplanes.

An ability to repair and adjust a device does not always have as a prerequisite an ability to operate the device.

(Most obstetricians are men.)
 

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zagzig said:
As somebody said, the leaklight doesn';t lie.
Who said that?

I would trust a cigarette paper under a pad (all the way round) , but not a leak light.
 

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My wife has been rebuilding clarinets for over 30 years.
I have been rebuilding everything from piccolos to tubas.
My wife only plays guitar but does a much better job rebuilding clarinets then me.
I do the blow testing.
 

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There will always be problems that will be found from playing the horn vs. checking leaks etc. How are you ever going to know that a snap-in resonator is buzzing when you play a specific note unless you play it? How are you ever going to know that low C# blows open when subtoning low Bb, or that the A above the staff is wheezing? How would you check intonation? How would you fix an intonation problem? How would you know if a keyguard screw is rattling?

I personally would never give my horn to someone who can't or isn't going to play it.
 

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Has it occurred to you that maybe these techs work in establishments where there are sax players on staff as teachers and in sales?

Few techs can play every kind of instrument. And most shops can't afford to employ enough technician/players to cover every kind of instrument.
 

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I was answering what I thought was the original question, which is more about should he skip playtesting to save time? My answer is still no. I wasn't really thinking about the situations you mentioned at all, although since you mentioned sax players on staff etc., it seems like you are also saying that instruments should be playtested...

IMHO, FWIW, the repair is not complete without playtesting. I personally only repair instruments I can play, and if I want to start repairing more instruments than I currently do, I will be learning how to play them as well. I never even really knew that there were guys out there who couldn't play what they fix- to me that is like a boatbuilder who has never been in the water! I certainly wouldn't buy a boat from him.
 

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Lee Kramka is outstanding (!) but doesn't play much. He's a cellist.
He says it works better because isn't a strong player. Because of this he cannot compensate for problems in the horn with superior skills and get fooled.
Don't know how much he play tests though.
 

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abadcliche said:
I wasn't really thinking about the situations you mentioned at all, although since you mentioned sax players on staff etc., it seems like you are also saying that instruments should be playtested...
Well, yes, but not necessarily by the tech. The few times the local trombone player/ instrument tech has worked on my trumpets or saxes, I've playtested them myself to ensure that the problem has been addressed. When the sax playing tech fixes something, I always playtest it before taking it home. Doesn't everyone?

abadcliche said:
I never even really knew that there were guys out there who couldn't play what they fix- to me that is like a boatbuilder who has never been in the water! I certainly wouldn't buy a boat from him.
You should change your sotw id to abadmetaphor. :) You don't often get to buy a boat from the builder. Dealers typically handle sales. And many employees on the line at the local Sea Ray plant are not also boatsmen. The son of a friend of mine works with fiberglass construction, does not go boating and doesn't care to. I doubt that all the people working on the assembly line at the Selmer plant are sax players.

Besides, there's a big difference between building and repairing.

Anyway, the original poster now has two authoritative answers to his original question, those being, "yes, techs must also be players" and "no, they don't" the former from a tech who also plays, the latter from a player who knows techs who do not play. Sometimes we can be really helpful here. :)
 

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zagzig said:
When I test play my repadded instruments, I discover leaks I
would have discovered simply with the leak light had I been more observant.
That is exactly why any tech should always have their work play tested. No matter how obserbant we are, we are in fact only human, and everyone always misses something eventually.
 

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I play test only at the end, to:

1. Confirm that it now plays well.
2. Make sure I did not do anything silly like leaving a spring off.
3. See if there are any venting issues affecting notes.

In most cases, I did not need to play test.
 

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abadcliche said:
Sometimes it drives me crazy that I can't playtest the horn for weeks, knowing that something I might miss, no matter how small, will show up after 10 or 20 or 100 hours of playing.
This is why my 'speculation' horns that I buy, fix and resell, get rotated into my 'casual' gig cycle for a while, to find the little bugs that you don't notice until you develop some familiarity. Unfortunately, customers don't want me to hang on to their horns for a month or two just to get 'familiar'...

I also think that woodwind instruments are a bit unique in their demand for attention to detail. Piano is my main instrument, and I hire a tuner to keep my old Mason&Hamlin in order...she's a cellist. I play enough brass to test my repairs, and it's rare that anything comes back with subtle problems. There is just a lot of nuance in woodwind repair, as mentioned above, and sensitivity that that and to user preferences seems IMO to be more important than other instruments. I know several luthiers that make spectacular guitars, fiddles and mandolins, but don't play.
 

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zagzig said:
Is it conceivably possible to repair saxophones without being able to play one?
Within reason, yes. Consider this; I have a very close friend whom is one of the most respected brass instrument repair/design specialists in the world, and he is a drummer by nature. Blind people are also amongst the very best piano tuners, though they often can't play the instrument technically.

I don't believe there is a yes or no answer to this question IMO..
 

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Al Stevens said:
You should change your sotw id to abadmetaphor. :)

:D I would have answered earlier, but I was nursing abadhangover from labor day BBQ-age.

Interesting to see the responses to this question. Like I said, I didn't even know there were woodwind techs who couldn't play. Always something new to learn!
 

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I work with a guy (car mechanic) who cant drive.... He is good not perfect but the boss is going to fire him anyway. He hired a guy who can drive.......and he is his nephew too. :(
 

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abadcliche said:
How are you ever going to know that a snap-in resonator is buzzing when you play a specific note unless you play it?
Hmm...interesting. The Selmer Cigar Cutter I'm testing does buzz on one specific note (C3), and for some reason, it has a brown plastic resonator here that differs from all the slightly domed metal resonators throughout the rest of the horn. Are you saying that this resonator is buzzing?
 

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Buzzes can be caused by ANY hard component that is very close to, but not quite touching, another hard component.

Most common culprit is a long key (eg high E) vibrating against a supporting post part way along.

Another possibility is unlubricated rollers or octave mechanism.
 
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