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Discussion Starter #1
So I'm my school's lead alto player, and am switching to tenor for one of the school bands. I don't have the money to rent or buy a decent tenor, so I gritted my teeth, and waded into the school's instrument room, through the shiny new brass instruments that it seems are being bought on a monthly basis, through instruments that students own, back into the cobweb-ridden realm of the school woodwinds.

There, in that shadowy land, I found four tenor sax cases. I thought to myself "excellent, at least one of these has got to be in a semi-playable condition." So I dragged them all into the light of the bandroom, which they had presumably never seen since the school's opening. I opened up the cases, and pulled out the mouthpiece I had borrowed from the band director, and the tenor reeds I had bought.

To my surprise, the first case I opened contained no saxophone. This was a dire sign of what the future would contain. I opened up the second case, which supposedly contained a King brand saxophone. While at some point in the horn's past, this may have been the case, at present, it was more of a useless hunk of metal. I am no expert on saxophone repair, not by a long shot, but before I even tried playing it, I had an idea that it would not work out so well. I tried playing a few scales. A few notes spoke nice and clearly, but the rest were a garbled mess. While some of this was undoubtedly my fault as a novice tenor player, I am pretty sure that a fair amount of it was caused by former students who thought they were in fact expert instrument technicians.

Well, my first effort to try and fix the problem was to play a decent tenor to see how much of the problems were my own fault. I borrowed a tenor owned by one of the other students that was hers, and in much better condition than any school horn, and found that I could get the notes to speak clearly, with a reasonably even tone. I then tried the other two school horns, with the same results as the first.

I began to inspect the horns more closely. I was taken aback by what I found. It seems, that former students who played these saxes believed that whenever the horn didn't work quite right, shoosing a random piece, and bending it was the proper solution. Also, it seems that they have all been dropped a number of times, as many rods are bent, as are keys and pads that no longer fit over their toneholes. Nothing has ever been done to try and repair these horns, and looking at them, I was rather disgusted at the neglect.

I suppose my only real point with this is to vent frustration. I think students should have respect for their instruments and try to keep them in good working order. It really saddens me to find horns in such a state of neglect and disrepair.
 

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Welcome to the world of school owned instruments.
 

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As Bandmommy said, "welcome to my world."

Look on the bright side. You've got 3 horns in bad shape.

Useless.

Worthless!!! :D :D :D This is GOOD!!!

Chances are, at least one of them was a half decent tenor, at one point in time.

Chances are that at least one of them is repairable.

So you make an offer and pick up a tenor for low $$$ then get it overhauled and even with that expense you might still come out in front.

See if you cant get your private teacher, or a sax playing friend to go with you and sus out the 3 horns for a possible keeper.
 

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We had 3 Bari saxes at my High School.
2 in good working order and one that almost played.

Fast forward almost 25 years later.

I'm back in the old band room and checking out the instrument room.
There on the shelf are 3 smashed up bari saxes.
2 missing necks and the high Eb key but all 3 unplayable.

Such a sorry sight for 3 old friends and some really fond memories.
 

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today i just found a B&S trio, a b&S champion alto, trombone and trumpet, in amazing condition!
 

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Why don't you just buy your own tenor and stop complaining. I'm a MS Band Director and TRUST ME - nobody is throwing money at me to buy ANYTHING. Our new Principal has been great in increasing the repair budget. But let's face facts - Kids BEAT the snot out of horns and then wonder why I GO CRAZY.

We have tubas and french horns in circulation that are older than me and I'm 40. We're not talking about VINTAGE nice instruments.

So just take a step back. Starting mowing yards or working in the local drug store and in soon you'll have your very own tenor.
 

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This thread really got me thinking about the horns at my school. I started by thinking about what's in the sax closet. I the tenor section, we have three Bundy II's in semi-playable condition, one alto that I've never seen and FIVE brand spankin' new YBS-62's, all bought this year! I sure hope the kids treat them right.
 

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Discussion Starter #9
In response to A Greene's post, I think you may have misunderstood me. I am in no way blaming the school or band director for the situation. Rather I'm primarily blaming students who disrespect instruments. I realize that the orignal post sounded a little snotty and whiny, which may have been the reason for your reply's tone.
Also, as far as you suggesting that I go and buy my own tenor, as I said, I'm primarily an alto player, and even with a job, I really lack the money, or the inclination to go buy an instrument that I'm not sure I'll be playing for any longer than this year.
 

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Then I apologize; however, if you're really serious about long term saxophone playing you really should consider getting a workable tenor in the future. The tenor is really the MONEY horn. Particularly in the commercial gig scene.

I know we all love our altos; however, the tenor/trumpet horn combination seems to be the most profitable these days.
 

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I had a Buffet tenor sax SDA at the school where I taught and coundn't get any student to play a without "twisting arms" because it wasn't pretty enough.
Very tempted to buy it when I retired but there is this thing called ethics :)
 

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I substitute taught for a short time my first year of teaching. One of the schools had a King Super 20 Silver Sonic Tenor in school circulation. Same story - sort of beat up - left in the corner. I should have purchase a YTS-23 and simply traded the horns.

It's probably still there in a closet or maybe complete trashed at this point. What a shame. But nothing was worse than seeing a student marching with a Low A Mark VI Bari Sax.
 

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My highschool was old... there were probably instruments there since the era where the school was built maybe I'm exaggerating a bit, but there is one example that always stood out to me...

I was helping to clean out the music closet in the basement (the room where marching stuff was stored) and burried under a mess of horrible looking uniforms, random cases, and dumb field props I found a completely beat up Bass Saxophone, silver finish, I think it as a stencil horn (but I was in high school and more worried about playing the dang thing than its brand)... The crook looked like a square, there were dents littered across the body tube... Pads that were hard as a rock... The bow *shudders*... Mind you, I just said saxophone- no case, no gig bag, just this sax laying on the cement covered with stuff that hasn't been out of that closet in probably at least 15 years (I say that cause that's when those uniforms were retired).

I ordered reeds and slapped them on the mouthpiece that I tried as hard as possible to clean out. BOY was that thing FUN!!! I got all of 3 notes out of it in the lower register!!!

Our school had a instrument tech come out twice a year... Before he came out, I wrote a list of what I thought was wrong (boy, I was a naive kid that thought ke knew everything), which consisted of saying it didn't play in the low register, which keys stuck, etc. I left the sax in plain sight for the tech to take a look at it (that silly class thing in high school). Later in the day he wrote on the note "and what do you want me to do?"

Long story, sorry, felt like sharing, and being sad about a Bass Sax that has by now been eaten alive :(
 

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My school has an older king zepher tenor that looks like it was used as a scratching post, i couldnt even get the serial number.

we also have a Mk VI, which as soon as i saw it, and relized what it was, i grabbed it, and its not leaving my sight till i graduate.
poor thing has already had 1 or 2 bad relaquer jobs and has 3 key rods replaced with silver rods (instead of the laquer) and the octave mechanism contains the end of a sax lyre broken off and sodered on...

and this year we got a bunch of new cannonball saxes (why cannonball i have no idea) and some of the kids wanted to march the poor things. stupid stupid stupid
 

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There are ALWAYS going to be some bad horns at schools, no matter the level.

I recently test played every single woodwind that my old high school had in the instrument closet. Close to forty or so horns. Of those, maybe fifteen were in playing condition. The rest required anything from alignments to complete overhauls, to a trip to the dumpster. Selmer SBA Low A bari with a bent body tube and needing a repad, Bundy Contra Alto clarinet that needed an overhaul, etc.

Now, at University of the Pacific, things are better, but still not what i would call good. Of course, I chose the best tenor that I could get (Mark VI, in pretty good condition, relaq). Bari was another story. Of the baris that weren't loaned out already (for pep band... they gave out a Mk VI and an SA 80 II), one had no neck, one was locked inside a case (no idea what it is), and one (the one I took) had a large dent in the neck and needed a repad.

Any suggestions on how to open up a locked instrument case without destroying the case? Just PM me!
 

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If I recall correctly, when I was in high school we had several Yamaha student models, a couple Selmer USA horns, and a Conn 10M. Nobody wanted the 10M, because it looked all red and green from age, and the Yamahas and Selmers were all shiny. And really...a lot of people had trouble getting the 10M to play in tune, and that's understandable since they were on generic mouthpieces. Still, she was my favorite, and they were all amazed when I smoked em on it! (now I have a 10M of my own! :) )

In my high school, the kids really didn't beat up on the school horns. We had too much respect for the instruments and much moreso the program to do that. I think if you can create a program with a strong sense of tradition and pride, you'll find the kids will take much better care of your instruments. (that same logic does not go towards middle schoolers, however, who just can't help it). AND...no funding or not, I feel that a band director is responsible for making sure the horns he has all play, especially if he happens to get that talented student who will truly be able to appreciate it, even if they're just ratty MexiConns. It seems a sorry thought to me if that "future Sonny Rollins" student were to be discouraged from music because he was forced to play on a horn that wasn't playable. (I know, I'm overly romanticizing it) Still, even if the director isn't capable of doing some of the repairs himself, it would certainly seem possible to me that some sort of a deal could be made with the local music store on the repair of the instruments. Writing for Grants can also be effective. I just worked with a band that got a lot of it's percussion equipment through a grant.
 

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Clarinetdude108 said:
we also have a Mk VI... ... and has 3 key rods replaced with silver rods (instead of the laquer)
Many Mark VI's had nickel silver(brass/nickel alloy) rods which can look somewhat silver compared with the rest of the horn. Don't worry, this is normal. The lyre chunk soldered to the octave key does sound plenty scary, though! :shock:
 

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My favorite horn 'horror' story was a high school kid, looked to be about freshman age. He decided to take apart his school bari so he could clean it in the bathtub. Took off all the rods etc, cleaned it, and then realized he didnt know how to put it back together.

He brought it all into the shop in a cardboard box. After the guy doing most repairs(I was mainly there jst to teach) gave him a good scare about how difficult was gonna be to make it like it usd to be, how it'd be really expensive etc, the kid left and we had a good laugh.

The Bari was fine, and clean!
 
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