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Hey folks,
For MANY years I have been interested in band instrument repair but have been stonewalled at every corner in trying to learn the trade. Repair techs have been pretty adamant on not teaching the trade, I'm not sure why. Anyway, I am now at a point that I can afford to go to school to learn. The bf and I are planning on going to WIT; however, we cannot get in until Fall 2012. So, in the mean time, I've decided to go ahead and try a few things on my own. Where does one usually start in terms of woodwind repair? Should we start on building our tool collection now? If so, where is a good place to purchase tools and supplies?
 

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Distinguished SOTW Member/Forum Contributor 2009
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I am a hobbyist tech, but have repadded and done basic overhaul work on quite a few horns. I started by reading everything I could, buying a few "student line" horns online (old Martin Indiana, YAS-23, etc) and repadding them. Spent about 1,000,000 hours on each of my first few horns, kept thinking and working and trying stuff until I got them really good.

I've got no doubt that the learning curve is faster in a school, but you can get a pretty good start if you're smart, read a lot, and start tinkering.
 

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Start with a good set of screwdrivers, a basic heat source like an alcohol lamp, and a BIG box of band-aids.
A pair of duck billed pliars come in handy as well.
Start on something REALLY inexpensive. If you mess up royally you won't feel so bad.
My first refurb was a cheap plastic clarinet. I learned a LOT getting it back into playing condition.
 

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If your not going to go to a school for a while or at all, then the best way into the trade is to go and buy some ebay specials(clarinets/saxes/flutes), get them in, learn to repair on them and if you do repair them then turn around and onsell them, through this process if you can break even then your ahead becuase your learning.

Screwdrivers dont scrimp on, buy the best you can afford, they are the most improtant tool to start with, add a alcohol lamp and a feeler gauge and your ready to go
 

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Dont rush out and buy loads of tools. I did this prior to college and now 8 years later have tools that I have only used a couple of times and dont do the job they now either gather dust or have been used/modified for some other task.

I agree with Simso, get the best screwdrivers you can afford, and read up on as much info as you can. the book "the complete woodwind repairer" by Reg Thorpe is a must and it also has a section on what tools to make!

good luck
 

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Buy The Haynes manual, some good screwdrivers,I use Wiha screwdrivers myself. An alcohol lamp is good because it's not too hot.It won't burn lacquer as fast. Also a good razor knife for cork cutting.
Don't go overboard on too much stuff at first. Do a lot of reading to get familiar with an instruments workings,and go from there.Enjoy!
 

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http://www.musicmedic.com/catalog/products/kit-100.html

Check out the repair kits from MusicMedic - this is where I got my start & I've come a long way since. If you are primarily a saxophonist, might as well get good at repairing saxophones first before you move on to flute, trumpet, etc.

Looking at your signature it seems that you double! They also have kits for flute & clarinet if those happen to be your primary.

Btw, MusicMedic has GREAT tools & supplies. You should also request a free catalog from Ferrees.
 

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I would strongly suggest that you first contact Mark Schmedinghoff the BIR instructor at WIT and speak with him about things you can do to prepare to take the course. Schools typically have a list of required tools including which brands are recommended. He could also recommend the repair manuals that he uses throughout the course that you could buy and become familiar with. I would also caution against teaching yourself and practicing bad habits and poor techniques that will have to be "unlearned" at the school when you are taught the techniques recommended by your instructor. That said, practicing disassembling, cleaning and oiling, and reassembling your personal woodwinds will familiarize you with the parts and the use of screwdrivers and springhooks. You could also contact Ferree's and Allied and inform them you are going into BIR and request a catalog from each company to become familiar with the tools and supplies that are commonly available.
 

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Forum Contributor 2007-2012, Distinguished SOTW Te
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I had a similar experience. When an apprenticeship was not forthcoming, I started off with the MusicMedic kit and and ebay horns.

It was not yet published, but I wish I had had Reg Thorpe's The Complete Woodwind Repair Manual.

SOTW also has a wealth of information. If you can think of the question (including your current one), chances are it has been answered here already.

Time, effort, and a passion for the work will be your greatest allies.
 

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+1 for Stephen's "Haynes" book
+1 for buying a promising "project horn" off some flea market site.

I suggest you start with a clarinet, it's smaller, it's easier to repair quite successfully, and the basic work can be done with a very small toolbox. Low investment, comparably big chance for a rewarding result.

(here's what my Field Repair Kit consists of, and I swear I refurbished my last clarinet with these tools alone)
 

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Nothing much to add, really. I cannot agree that a clarinet is easier to repair. I mean, yes, body-wise you might encounter less damage...but crap...even today, 2 years into sax repair...I'd rather sit on a mandrel than have to do a clarinet repad.....no fun in that whatsoever.....

Don't wait for a course to open for you....grab the bull by the ol' Tejas Longhorns and just go for it.

Get the Haynes book, get the MusicMedic kit (although the pads won't be a very good choice for someone just starting out - Precision pads are unforgiving on installation and you should begin with different pads). Then you will need maybe another $200 worth of tools. Get some beaters off of eBay (or PM me, I have many project horns I will never get to and I will sell them cheap).

BUT: Be careful about beater horns...one with significant body damage will be of little use to you other than causing great frustration if you do not have several hundred dollars of dent repair tools. A newbie isn't really gonna be setup for removing a bellbrace in order to repair body tube/bell impactions, for example.

Start simply: disassembly, cleaning, reassembly, padding. As time goes on you can pick up some dent removal tools and maybe get into simple resoldering as well.

When you come to issues/conditions which are more difficult and beyond your means....give that portion of the job over to a tech and try to establish a relationship w/ him/her (this is oft times easier than just approaching a tech and asking "gee, whiz...do you need a free apprentice ?" Because you are now a customer, asking for only a limited scope of work and asking if the tech would mind you looking over their shoulder a bit).

By the time you learn to disassemble and reassemble, remove old pads, clean the cups, clean rods and screws, lube, get pads to seal and such...you will already have enough know-how to be a marketable apprentice at an established tech's shop.....

Start now and, hell...if you can establish a passing relationship with a good tech or two....by Sept. 2012 you won't need to go to school.
 

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Nothing much to add, really. I cannot agree that a clarinet is easier to repair. .
I guess its different for different people. I would have agreed the clarinet is the easiest to repair. When I have people apprenticing, they always start on clarinets for a couple of months then progress to sax's
 

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I think a clarinet is a lot less labor intensive, but for myself my favorite horn to repad is a vintage 10m. I actually have fun rebuilding them. Clarinets are fun as well, but nothing like a 10m for me.
 

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Clarinets are pretty straight forward.
Fewer keys to forget where they go, lots of cork to practice on, and you can do the 'suck test' to check for leakies a little easier.
They still have those pesky needle springs to leave you pierced and bloody, so you can practice avoiding getting jabbed as well.
 

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Where do you get your Reso's?...{better be using them!}\
Nothin worse than see an older Conn sax fitted with big ole plastic resonators???????????yikes
 

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You must have the crochet hook or similar unless you want to assemble the clarinet with problems from a de-tensioned G#/D# spring. That spring must be fitted to the key, with the key displaced in the direction of the tip of the spring, before the pivot rod is inserted.

IMO it is simplistic to say a clarinet is easier. It might be simple if it was made well and is in excellent condition. Otherwise there are many, quite common, possible complications, eg non-level tone holes, grain grooves running across tone holes, chipped tone holes, eky cups misaligned with tone holes, leaking tone hole inserts, loose posts, binding ring keys, tricky mounting of side keys, some pretty fussy venting, sloppy pivots, malfunctioning throat A springs, ring key heights to correct, extreme precision required in aligning F/C & E/B pads over tone holes, associated linkages as complicated as anything on a sax or flute, with no adjusting screws, binding or loose tenon timber, splits, etc.

Once a repairer is experienced in recognising and dealing with all these, then yes, clarinets are quite straight forward.

Each instrument has its idiosyncratic probelms to solve.
 
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