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Discussion Starter #1
In my experience a saxophone "repad" typically involves the following steps and procedures, and costs in the neighborhood of $300 - $400 in many shops in the U.S.

Saxophone Repad
- Removing all the keys
- Removing all the old pads
- Cleaning the old glue out of the key cups
- Cleaning the rods and inside the hinge tubes
- Cleaning the body inside and out with light polish if it is silver
- Cleaning the keys if needed
- Cleaning inside the neck
- Installing and seating the new pads
- Vacuuming the inside of the case
- Cleaning/Polishing the outside of the case with Armorall
.............................................................................
- Leveling toneholes as needed
- Regulating the keys
- Swedging only those keys involved in regulation as needed
- Replacing key corks and felts as needed
- Brief playing test

A "Mechanical Overhaul" which typically is in the range of $900 - $1200 includes parts 1 - 10 above and also includes the following:

Saxophone Mechanical Overhaul
- All keys are meticulously swedged to fit perfectly tight without friction
- The ends of all hinge tubes are faced with hinge tool cutters after swedging
- Any loose rods inside posts are addressed with oversized rods, or shrinking holes in posts
- Each pad is seated to perfection to touch 360 degrees at the same time with just the weight of the key
- All tone holes are leveled to perfection, and burrs removed inside and out
- Shellac of the best quality available is liberally used on the back of each pad
- Any and all key noise from whatever source is addressed and eliminated whenever possible
- The highest quality, state of the art materials are used throughout
- All key openings are set to provide the optimum venting of individual notes
- The highest quality lubricants are applied to hinge rods, pivot screws and rollers during reassembly
- Any worn, rusted, or weak springs are replaced with high quality springs
- All springs are meticulously adjusted to provide even action
- Any friction caused by imperfections in the spring tracts of palm keys is addressed
- Any excessively worn or bent pivot screws are replaced
- Post holes of pivot screws that don't fit properly are countersunk
- Loose fitting adjusting screws or those with damaged slots are replaced
- All body and neck dents are removed to make the appearance as cosmetically perfect as possible
- Any posts, guard feet, braces, etc. showing evidence of poor soldering are resoldered
- The neck tenon is fit to perfection
- A new neck cork is installed and perfectly fit to the mouthpiece(s) specified by the customer
- All key corks, felts, bumpers, dampening materials are replace with new
- The highest quality pads and resonators are installed as per the instructions of the customer
- The instrument is thoroughly play tested and adjusted over several days before returning to the customer
- Additional adjustments are done as the player and tech communicate when the instrument is picked up
- Three and six month free checkups and adjustments are included in the price

Of course this level of Mechanical Overhaul is typically done only on high quality professional saxophones that are older with mechanisms that are worn and loose due to years of playing.
 

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The adjectives you use to make the mechanical overhaul sound so much more special are entertaining. My "repad" covers everything in your repad as well as anything in your second list needed to make the instrument play well. It is rare that everything in your second list needs to be done to every part of the instrument like key fitting of every key or total spring replacement. I don't use "low quality materials in my repad as opposed to "Shellac of the best quality available" in a mechanical overhaul. I don't kinda level a tone hole in a repad and "level to perfection" in other cases. As one of my bosses use to say, you're selling the sizzle not the steak.

IMO a repad should: Replace ALL wear items. Corks, pads, felts... Remove play in key work, remove major dents in the body, Clean the instrument inside and out, replace any worn out springs. Lubricate the mechanisms. Set key heights and remove lost motion in mechanisms. PLAY TEST. I warranty my work for a year...with the exception of damage due to vandalism. I consider "accidently" dropping your horn vandalism by the customer. Oh yea, I don't repair or polish cases...I refuse.

In reality, if I have a "repad" that needs extensive key fitting, tone hole, dent work and spring work, I personally still call it a repad, I just charge more to do the added work.
 

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The only difference between my full repad and my mechanical overhaul is the mechanical reconstruction of the keywork. For me and how I do it, it just about doubles the amount of time spent on the job. For both jobs I level all toneholes, replace all materials, extensively playtest, get as perfect a pad seat as I can, fit the neck tenon, offer a warranty/checkups/adjustmenst as needed, etc. To me this stuff is obvious- if it needs done, it needs done regardless of what you call the procedure.

I do disagree with your idea about using only the weight of the key to do pad seating. I think I've written about this elsewhere, but the location and direction of the energy applied by the finger, the fit of the key, and addition or subtraction of additional touchpoints (like a lower stack F# vs. an E fingering for the E pad), and the tension of the spring are all variables that will cause the key to sit slightly differently. An easy example is the low C pad. Seat it with no spring, then engage the spring, hold it in playing position, and engage the key as you would in playing and check out the huge leak that wasn't there when you had the spring disengaged and the horn laying on its side with the weight of the key holding it shut. Pad seating and leak checking should be done in as close to playing conditions as possible- spring engaged, pad close from the pearl, also tested with other keys when applicable.

I also price dentwork and soldering separately.

I know some folks will replace corks as needed, but the only time I find this can be done without the corks being the weakest link is on newer Yamaha horns, and even then the felts do need replaced.

At least in my case, the terms repad and overhaul are used to provide a solid foundation upon which to build a job that fits the particular horn. It is rare for the types of horns I find myself working on most often (vintage and unusual saxophones) to have its needs align perfectly with the stated services on my website. Usually there are a few "options" which must be added to get the horn to be as good as it can be. Each one is unique.


A quick overview of my "repad" and "overhaul" options: http://stohrermusic.com/html/text_block.php?psi=28

Me waxing poetic about terminology and consumer knowledge and how it impacts our business (and many other businesses besides): The Unprofitable Valley Or: Why So Much Stuff Is Mediocre
 

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The adjectives you use to make the mechanical overhaul sound so much more special are entertaining. My "repad" covers everything in your repad as well as anything in your second list needed to make the instrument play well.
My sentiments exactly

IMO a repad should: Replace ALL wear items. Corks, pads, felts... Remove play in key work, remove major dents in the body, Clean the instrument inside and out, replace any worn out springs. Lubricate the mechanisms. Set key heights and remove lost motion in mechanisms. PLAY TEST. I warranty my work for a year...with the exception of damage due to vandalism. I consider "accidently" dropping your horn vandalism by the customer. .
Exactly the same at my end point for point

I also price dentwork and soldering separately.
Same

Summary, a repad for me is as appears to be the general conscensus, bringing the instrument back to the best condition I can get it in without the refabrication of all the key assemblies and with limited plating / laquering. Then it becomes an overhaul and the price is subjective to the instrument and its condition, even then I us the term Overhaul loosley, I think out of say a couple hundred repads Ive done there would be plus 3 overhauls, where I made new hinge tubes rebuffed replated relacquered etc
 

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That's interesting...and this phenom has been discussed number of times in other threads, with generally the same conclusions:

There is no definitive 'standard' for those terms.

Just as a quick example, around here a few techs would not include much swedging, ANY sorta cleaning other than old glue/shellac removal, or any dent removal or resoldering as within the scope of a 'repad'....while keyheight adjusting/setting certainly WOULD be part of a repad.

As I said, the definitions just vary. And around these here 'parts, your repad runs on average $600...and your overhaul $900-1200....

(Bay Area Techs Disease)
 

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I call everything an overhaul and just give the horn what needs and price accordingly. i set everything to an extremely light touch and it simply will work (nor stay in adjustment) unless the pad cups and tone holes are level. also i agree that the springs must be engaged as they are a force against your finger when playing...

again, i usually only deal with professional horns, owned by professional players... but if someone came to me insisting that they only wanted the pads changed and non of the other work i would politely refer them elsewhere and wish them good luck with that...

i would compare it to telling you mechanic to only change the pads when the rotors are shot, it might still stop, sort of, just not very well nor for very long.

i do appreciate that if you work on a lot of student horns, people are not going to want to spend 800 to 1000 on a horn that when done will still be worth 300.00, but that is the reason I prefer not to work on those sorts of horns.
 

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I know this isn't a thread about praising or slamming a tech...but I'm going to do both in the same post.

My current alto was just given "the full monte" by abadcliche immediately before I purchased it. So I blame him profusely for forcing me to reach into my pocket and buy the horn. It's as solid as a rock, plays very well in tune, and feels absolutely wonderful. So I offer my praise for a job very, very well done, and I'm never trying another horn you've just completed ever again, unless I want another void to be created in my wallet from the purchase of another sax!

In all seriousness, not all instruments warrant the full scope of work described. But if the instrument can, from a value point of view, carry the cost of the the high end overhaul, it is definitely worth every penny. And frankly, the tech who actually does the work described above cannot afford to charge less than the $1,000 to $1,200 (or more) to do that level of work. The actual rate per hour for the work expended is not that high.

Just my two cents...and thank you abadcliche.
 

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I just want my sax to play easily, in tune, with no clanks or unexpected shifting of parts.
 

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Discussion Starter #10
Rather than offer a rebuttal to those who have jumped in with differing opinions. Let me frame my comments in the first post, to reflect more accurately my views on the subject and the terminology I use and am familiar with.

1. I would refuse to do a $350 "repad" within the definition that I listed on a professional Selmer, Yamaha, Yanagisawa, Keilwerth, Cannonball, Mauriat, etc. for the simple reason that these higher quality instruments require a higher level of mechanical adjustment and perfection. To do a student instrument level repad on a quality professional instrument would be an insult not only to the player but to the instrument itself.

2. The $350 range repad described in the first post is geared to the Bundy II, the Yamaha YAS 23, the Jupiter student model, etc. where the initial design and construction of the instrument is not in the same league as the pro horns mentioned. Not only is the instrument not going to play that much better if a lot more expensive procedure is done, but the level of the player would in most cases not be high enough for him/her to be able to tell the difference.

3. The mechanical overhaul in my definition that takes at least 3 times the amount of bench time as the $350 repad not to mention the playing time in between adjustments is geared for the upper eschelon of saxophones.

4. The choice of pads and materials is in keeping with the needs of the level of quality of the instrument as well as the needs of the level of player playing the instrument. The Bundy II does not need the most expensive pads and resonators, nor teflon to remove the last tiny bit of friction on the G# key. The pro horn does.

I guess the bottom line is not the semantics of what the repair service is called but the level of attention to the details and the thoroughness of addressing all of the variables that can effect cosmetics and the playability of the instrument.

My purpose and intent in starting this thread was to delineate the fact that the $300 range repair service whether it is called a repad, overhaul, or whatever does not encompass the same quality and attention to detail that the $1200 repair service provides when done by a skilled tech.

To understand where I am coming from, one simply has to do the math. A very modest and conservative charge for instrument repair is $40 per hour. Many shops charge more. At that rate a $300 "whatever" would represent 7.5 hours of bench time. At that same rate a $1200 "whatever" would represent 30 hours of bench time. It should be obvious that the work that takes a skilled tech 30 hours simply cannot be matched in a 7.5 hour procedure, no matter how fast the tech is. The only other conclusion that one might draw would be that the tech is working for just above minimum wage.
 

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I would refuse to do a $350 "repad" within the definition that I listed on a professional Selmer, Yamaha, Yanagisawa, Keilwerth, Cannonball, Mauriat, etc. for the simple reason that these higher quality instruments require a higher level of mechanical adjustment and perfection. To do a student instrument level repad on a quality professional instrument would be an insult not only to the player but to the instrument itself.
Ive probably repadded a couple of hunderd saxes over the last few years, we easily have a couple a week. They are from student to pro models, from vintage to almost new, they have 99 percent of the time fitted into the $295 alto fixed repad price and my Tenor $345 fixed price

I do not work from home, I have a shop with overheads and I earn more than the minimum wage. Your requirment to try and trivilise those that work exceptionally hard for there money again is a waste of time.

Only your customers can tell you if you are doing the right thing, a classic examnple is the excellent review given to Matt above, his customer was happy with his work for his price,

The point is John, I believe you have started this thread in response to a couple of other threads, some techs myself included do not care if this instrument is a pro model or a student model it gets treated with the same respect and work ethic, my understanding is your trying to imply infer that a cheap price go's hand in hand with a cheap job only suitable for a student instrument, you do not know what your talking about here john and I will call you on it..

Some of us work very hard for our income, some dont. When you start working for yourself and can charge what I charge and have customers that will speak on your behalf then you may show a little bit more respect, and not start pointless threads
 

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I agree with the Matts :)

A repad is a term I heard about on the forums, we don't use it (or a translation of it) here. An overhaul is a basic term I sometimes use, not often. I guess any repair that would include all or almost all pads changed I might call an overhaul. Not because I think it's an overhaul, but because people here would pretty much understand what I mean. Although people here sometimes say an overhaul and could mean anything from just cleaning the pads to just changing one pad to who knows what.

I agree with second Matt (second only in that he posted second :)) about adjusting keys to seal with spring on similar to playing position.

I'm also looking at it from the opposite point of view of what types of repairs there are and which work with different models of instruments. I start from the actual instrument, then see what needs to be done, what options I can offer other than bringing it to optimal condition, depending on what the owner is interested in or can afford. Some people will want whatever is necessary to bring the instrument to the best condition. Some rather save and accept less than optimal but good playing condition. For the cheaper repad for student models, I don't have that. I've never seen an instrument where this was the best value for the owner.

This is why I never have "repad" or "overhaul" description or prices. It all depends on the circumstances and the instrument. The "name" for the repair is only in retrospect so to speak. I have two pages about "overhauls" on my website. The first explains why it doesn't really mean anything... the second shows what a "usual" overhaul will most likely have (with an explanation of why another could be different). Not in English but FWIW (the second has some photos).
http://www.nitailevi.com/useful_advice/overhaul/overhaul.htm
http://www.nitailevi.com/useful_advice/overhaul2/overhaul2.htm
 

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"2. The $350 range repad described in the first post is geared to the Bundy II, the Yamaha YAS 23, the Jupiter student model, etc. where the initial design and construction of the instrument is not in the same league as the pro horns mentioned. Not only is the instrument not going to play that much better if a lot more expensive procedure is done, but the level of the player would in most cases not be high enough for him/her to be able to tell the difference."

I think that the student Yamahas and Jupiters I see are pretty well manufactured and in many cases better designed and executed than many of the pro horns which try to be to cute when a simpler design would effect a better result.

The idea that a student doesn't play well enough to warrant the same attention to detail that a pro deserves is very disturbing. Speaking only for myself, I try do do the best possible work I can on every horn, for many reasons. Two of which are;

1. I don't condescend to or patronize students. They are as deserving of my respect and best efforts as the pro is.

2. Doing a good job is about a solid work ethic and the standards to which we hold ourselves. It's also more than anything else, a habit. If you do your best work on the "unimportant" stuff, you'll develop good work practices and a habit of just plain good work. If you start to discriminate, you're just developing the habit of inconsistency.

I think this thread is really just a rehash of your "Professional Tech" rant and again, it would seem that most of us don't share your obsession.
 

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We're not taking to a hair with a scalpel again, are we?
C'mon, it's the CUSTOMER that counts - they get the work done and they pay the bills...
The customer does not care in the slightest whether you choose to title your particular scope of work as a 'Repad' or as an 'Overhaul'.

I just got a new set of tyres put on my Saab 9-5 - and I could not have cared less if the business wanted to call it a 'Tyre Change' or a 'Tread Overhaul'!
What I did care about was the business deciding that I was only driving a Saab (even if it was the top-of-the-line Saab) rather than the Ferraris, Porsches and Maseratis they often care for and that that meant I would not care that the wheel alignment was done poorly in that the steering wheel was now 19 degrees off square with the wheels pointing straight!
For some strange reason, they'd given me a 'second-tier' service because my vehicle was 'second-tier' in their eyes.
Furious, I pinged them for it and demanded they do the job right!

In the OP's first post, there is the suggestion of 'less thorough' (I'd say inferior) service because the OP has decided the instrument is less deserving of the technician's best efforts. I'm as insulted by that type of thinking as I was by the tyre centre's attitude.

I'm presuming the OP doesn't deliberately use inferior pads for the 'less thorough' service - so the only real variation is the care taken over the work.
Similarly, I was buying Continental Comfort 5 tyres for my Saab - and they are the same expensive tyres that come new on Saab 9-5 cars as well as Ferraris and Porsches and Maseratis - so the only real variation was the lack of care taken over the work by a condescending tradesman who should know better (and got told so by me)!

If I'm paying for my child's student horn to be 'Repadded'/'Repaired'/'Overhauled'/'Fixed' (call it whatever you will) and some arrogant repair tech tells me, "Sorry mate, this is only a student horn so I'm just gonna give a quick work-over and I'm not gonna do my best work on it 'cause your horn is *&%$", I would be particularly displeased with the repair tech's work ethic and would be informing him of where he could put his opinion of my horn! And is a Selmer more deserving of top quality repairs than a vintage Conn? Or a Martin more deserving of top quality repairs than a King? Should Keilworth's just be binned?

Sure, some horns just aren't worth as much as others (and my new Saab 9-5 was only worth 70% of the cost of a new Porsche) and may not warrant spending huge amounts to bring it to absolute perfection, but I am a customer paying the money and should be able to expect a non-discriminatory service...
Sensibly, I only put Continental Comfort tyres on, not Continental Sport tyres. I would not have complained if I'd suggested inappropriate tyres and the tradesman suggested more appropriate tyres, but I sure will complain if the service including the appropriate tyres is not give the tradesman's best efforts that I am paying for!

Damn, but that was an awfully long-winded way to say the OP will never get any repair business from me because I firmly disagree with the ethics! Oops...

KennyD
 

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Sorry about this long post. Just started typing...


Kenny, what you're saying is both sensible and impracticable. Consider that our shop does only pro overhauls and is set up in a way that every instrument is done exactly the same. That is, our shop does not care if you're KennyD or Kenny G, you will get the same work. We can't do any better than we do and we consistently do our finest work. Since work is done in a line each person would need to take special care to make their part of the job better, but they already do that.

So now, we run into a situation where someone comes with a YAS23 that needs an overhaul. Sure we can do it but it will cost $1500.00 just like a Yamaha custom would. Our shop is very fast, extremely efficient, clean and well run. Assuming we cannot do the work any faster and this is the amount of work we deem (based on our experience) necessary for a proper overhaul, what do we do? What we actually do is tell the customer that they should take the horn elsewhere, to a place that is accustomed to doing faster work, less prep, and can deal with all the problems that ensue. Taking this approach, keeps all of us in the shop thinking and working on a professional level.

If you want great work you have to go to someone that does great work all the time. If you want fast cheap work, you will be best served going to someone that is accustomed to doing fast and cheap work. So, I think there is a definite place for the tech that does inexpensive overhauls even if they are not done as well. Just like there is a place for musicians, like me, that play locally and take weekend gigs. I don't think you want work that good, on your student horn, and you don't want race car mechanics changing your tires. However, great work on your student horn and race car handling are very nice if you can afford them.

I think the real difference might be in the TYPE of technician and not the job they do. I DON'T think a tech that is used to working at breakneck speed can just put in more time and do pro, or exceptional level, work. Like wise the opposite is true. So maybe we don't need to perfectly define the process (since there are SO MANY facets to it) but the technician. Here's an idea for two types of tech.

For lack of better names...
1. The Artisan type.
2. The Engineering type.

The Artisan type realizes that not all horns are the same. Is goal oriented and can quickly make decisions based on the problem at hand. The Artisan understands the instrument and how to, based on what they are given, make it play very well. This person realizes that not all pads are going to install the same, not all parts will fit exactly the same but works very hard to make the end result very-very good. If you ask an artisan to do his best, he will likely tell you he always does and be confident with the answer.

The Engineering type considers her job to make everything right. Understands the concepts and can change mechanisms and parts enough that she can manipulate the parts to work anyway that is needed. This person is goal oriented but the goal (mechanically) is unrelated to the condition of the instrument coming in and the end result will always be the same (mechanically) more than just playing well.

I think, based on talking to many people in the trade, that some ideas are very logical when the work behind them is done in an engineering way, but completely impractical when the work done behind them is done in an Artisan way and visa versa.

Some examples include:
1. Leveling tone holes. -Completely useless task unless many other steps are taken first. We spend over 15 hours on an overhaul before tone holes are leveled. For years technicians have avoided leveling tone holes because it lessens the life of an instrument. Based on the work they were doing, they were right. Today, everyone does it and most would be better not to. Artisan type work is getting Engineered level tone holes without the amazing amount of prep need to ensure that the instrument is right.

2. Padding. There is an idea that you should only push pads around and never pull on them. This is not really practical if things are not level. If everything is 'perfect' then ok... So, I see frustrated technicians struggling with padding using engineering techniques on an Artisan type of prep-job.

3. Padding: There is a discussion of bending vs. floating. An Artisan can bend away and get excellent results. An engineer would need to fix everything behind the scenes and leave the bending out. No Engineer would fix everything just to willy-nilly bend it again.
Today, there are many Artisans type techs that seem to have picked up on the engineering type of idea. They get frustrated because, based on the previous work, bending is actually the best thing to do; but, they have been told that bending is bad and they avoid it.

Of course, I like one of these approaches more than the other, but both have very solid place in our industry. -Assuming they actually exist outside of my mind.

In my opinion, the Engineer type approach will result in an instrument that needs very little work throughout it's life. It can be maintained easily and will remain consistent. This type of work is time consuming, expensive, thoughtful and very serviceable. Once serviced by a Engineer type tech it can be brought back to spec but once serviced by an Artisan, it begins it's decent into brokenness. An Artisan will find it enjoyable and successful to work on a horn overhauled this way. If properly maintained, this work should last... forever?; minus the materials.

The Artisan type approach will result in many levels of instrument depending on the skill of the Artisan. Assuming the Artisan is very skilled, the work may appear to be as good as the engineer minus some thoughtful modifications. An Artisan will have good success working on a well overhauled Artisan instrument. The engineer will not be able to work very well on this instrument and will find it frustrating.


An Artisan could not just switch over and be an Engineer and an Engineer could not just be an Artisan. -usually.

So, when we talk about these terms and someone says "perfectly" or, "swedged" or "Fit" or "padded" these things mean such different things that discussing them could only really be done successfully in a shop at a bench. Since these are the terms that make up the entire job "overhaul" "Mechanical overhaul" and "Repad" discussing and comparing the larger jobs seems completely impossible!
 

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...To understand where I am coming from, one simply has to do the math. A very modest and conservative charge for instrument repair is $40 per hour. Many shops charge more. At that rate a $300 "whatever" would represent 7.5 hours of bench time. At that same rate a $1200 "whatever" would represent 30 hours of bench time. It should be obvious that the work that takes a skilled tech 30 hours simply cannot be matched in a 7.5 hour procedure, no matter how fast the tech is. The only other conclusion that one might draw would be that the tech is working for just above minimum wage.
Slow down...let me get out my calculator....
 

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Very interesting thread.

Curt, interesting and thoughtful response. Makes me feel a little less crazy, for sure.

From my website under the "philosophy" heading: "No matter whether the work takes 5 minutes or 50 hours, I use nothing but the best materials on every instrument I work on. Whether your instrument is worth $50 or $50,000, the same meticulous care is given. Whether you are a jazz giant or first year student, the same work is done for the same price."

I think I might think more about what Curt said and perhaps add a bit more. I also believe there is room for many different types of repair in the world, and it is my duty to inform the customer about what my type is so they can make the appropriate choice for their circumstances and desires.

I find that much of my personal difficulty comes from being asked to do types of work I am not comfortable with and trying to do so. The longer I do this, the more I realize I serve the customer best when I am doing what I want. It sounds silly, but its where the best value is for my work. Its just so hard to say no when you want to help folks!

Edit: Funny, I just did exactly that. A customer brought in a Conn 10M that IMHO needs an overhaul to be right, but my pricing was a bit high for him. He asked if I could do less for less, and after a battle of my repairman's will vs. my human will, I respectfully declined. Sounds silly, but stuff like this makes me break out in a sweat. I hate to turn down work, but I know I will be miserable charging anything for what I consider an incomplete and imperfect job.
 
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