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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
I went to a new tech in NY who I had heard very good things about to take a look at one of my horns, a late model Mark VI alto that I purchased many years ago, but which I have used only very infrequently as a second horn. The tech said he was willing to do whatever I wanted, including spending a couple of hours on it to replace a few pads, fix leaks, etc. and generally put it in the best playing condition possible given a budget, but recommended an overhaul as the horn is in mostly original condition and he felt it could be a super playing horn if fixed up. I like the horn, but I have always preferred my other alto.

Although I do trust this tech and liked him, I am talking about a significant amount of money and I have been trying to decide if I should spend the money to put a horn in top condition that I generally don't play much. And, assuming I am willing to do so (which I think probably makes sense whether I keep it or ultimately sell it), I also am questioning if I should trust the overhaul to someone who has not done any other work for me before but who otherwise has a good reputation. Would getting a little work done and getting a second opinion on the need for the overhaul make more sense?

Any thoughts are appreciated.

I prefer not to mention names/prices, etc. on the forum, but if it would help anyone, feel free to send me a PM and I can provide more details.

Thanks.
 

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Why keep an expensive horn that you play "very infrequently"? Sell the Mark VI and buy another backup alto for one-half or one-third the price. Let the new owner decide about an overhaul.

You'll have more fun trying out replacements than worrying about how much to invest in repairs that would mostly just sit around.
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Why keep an expensive horn that you play "very infrequently"? Sell the Mark VI and buy another backup alto for one-half or one-third the price. Let the new owner decide about an overhaul.

You'll have more fun trying out replacements than worrying about how much to invest in repairs that would mostly just sit around.
That's a reasonable answer and question. And it's a good point. But just to play devil's advocate (and think out loud), given what I paid for the horn years ago, I could pay for the overhaul and still have invested only about half of the value of the horn. Granted, if I skip the overhaul, sell the horn and buy something less expensive, I'll have some money in my pocket, but presumably I'll also have to sell the horn for a good bit less (although perhaps not quite as much less as the overhaul would cost). If I have the overhaul done, I might wind up with a really great player and even if I only use it as a backup, it would likely be a better long term investment than a model that may lose value over time.

Just another thought.
 

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You might not know the full potential of the backup horn if it’s currently not set up the best it could be. Maybe you would like it after an overhaul more than your current primary horn. If you think that’s not likely, you should consider selling the backup, and replacing it with something for less $, as others suggested.
 

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Get the overhaul, compare the two horns that are now in "top playing condition", keep the one you like better as the main. If you still don't prefer the 6, sell it as overhauled and buy something a lot cheaper with the $ you raise from the sale.
 

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Keep it as original as possible. If you can get the sax playing leak free by just changing a few pads and such, I would go with that. Should you decide to sell it, the next owner will probably rather have his/her tech do the work. If you keep it, you can have a major overhaul at your discretion.
 

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All the above are reasonable arguments, depending on how you define “backup”, and whether you truly have any interest in the horn.

Flip a coin. Seriously. See how you feel about the outcome, and let that reveal YOUR feelings about the matter.

Maybe you don’t need a backup horn at all.
 

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If you decide to get it overhauled, you’re probably not taking a big financial risk, given what kind of horn it is. I had an overhaul done some time ago on a second line stencil horn, knowing that I was taking a big roll of the dice. I ended up not liking the horn enough to keep it, and lost a lot of money on that gamble. Sounds like you wouldn’t be in that boat with your 6 if you get it overhauled.

But if you like your current primary horn enough, maybe you should consider the advice from StuartSax - have some work done on it then decide what you want to do with it. At best, you might like it enough to play it more frequently. At worst, you’d be able to sell it in better playing condition and probably lose little or none of the repair costs.

I agree with Dr. G. Just flip a coin. In your case, it doesn’t seem like a big gamble whether you end up keeping the horn or selling it.
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
If you decide to get it overhauled, you’re probably not taking a big financial risk, given what kind of horn it is. I had an overhaul done some time ago on a second line stencil horn, knowing that I was taking a big roll of the dice. I ended up not liking the horn enough to keep it, and lost a lot of money on that gamble. Sounds like you wouldn’t be in that boat with your 6 if you get it overhauled.

But if you like your current primary horn enough, maybe you should consider the advice from StuartSax - have some work done on it then decide what you want to do with it. At best, you might like it enough to play it more frequently. At worst, you’d be able to sell it in better playing condition and probably lose little or none of the repair costs.

I agree with Dr. G. Just flip a coin. In your case, it doesn’t seem like a big gamble whether you end up keeping the horn or selling it.
I agree. It's unlikely a big risk either way. At the moment I'm leaning toward just getting the work done to put it in good/better playable condition, but holding off on the overhaul. I also am going to have to get some work done on my main horn (which is an older (130XXX) VI) and it may make sense to see what that entails before putting the other horn in top condition.

As Buddy Lee suggested, the best case is probably to have both horns in top condition so I can compare them side by side, but that might involve two overhauls and I'm not ready to do that just yet.
 

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Since it has leaks you can't really make a good assessment of the horn. Shops are in the business of selling overhauls. I have had many overhauls recommended. I have gone on to play those horns for years with a few problems fixed. However nothing feels as good as a fresh horn. I believe in having a backup. If its just a backup get the thing in playing shape. What is the cost of the playing condition repair compared to the overhaul. Would something like a full repad do the job? I think of that as in between.
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
Since it has leaks you can't really make a good assessment of the horn. Shops are in the business of selling overhauls. I have had many overhauls recommended. I have gone on to play those horns for years with a few problems fixed. However nothing feels as good as a fresh horn. I believe in having a backup. If its just a backup get the thing in playing shape. What is the cost of the playing condition repair compared to the overhaul. Would something like a full repad do the job? I think of that as in between.
Yes, you are right, although the horn hasn't always had leaks. It's a really great instrument, but it has a different character than my main horn (a little brighter and somewhat less complex/spread sound) and I tend to prefer the latter, although the "backup" has fewer intonation and other quirks. Basic repair vs. overhaul would be significantly less. Repad vs. overhaul isn't enough of a difference to warrant going the less expensive route IMO.
 

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The dryness and hardness of the pads, and the amount of "play" in the keywork are two indicators to look at when considering an overhaul. Once both of these "indicators" reach a level where it becomes difficult to regulate the saxophone and to have it stay in good regulation for a reasonable amount of time and be dependable it makes sense to mechanically restore the instrument to "factory condition".
 

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Based on what your tech told you (he recommended an overhaul), I agree with saxoclese. Of course, that's assuming the tech isn't trying to take you to the cleaner, but you say he has a good reputation so it's a judgment call on your part, having talked to him in person. So here's my take:

If you plan on keeping the horn and can afford an overhaul, get it done. Also get your main horn put into top condition. Now you can play either horn, depending on which you prefer at the moment. And I'd bet they will both play very well so if you rotate them, they will both stay in good playing condition for some time. I've also found that once a horn is overhauled, if you take it in every year or so and have whatever minor work it needs done, that overhaul will last for many years.

If, otoh, you are considering selling it, don't get any work done on it and sell it as is. You'll still get a very good price for a VI.
 

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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
Any guess as to approximately what % of the cost of an overhaul would likely be able to be recovered on a sale, say, within a year after it is done?
 

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Any guess as to approximately what % of the cost of an overhaul would likely be able to be recovered on a sale, say, within a year after it is done?
It depends on whose name is behind the overhaul. If it's not done by a well-known tech, it could even hurt the value of the horn. In general, I think it's a lot like selling a used car; you can pay to get a new radiator, battery, oil change, shocks, etc..., but it doesn't necessarily mean you're getting any more when you sell than if you had just done nothing.
 

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Considering you got the horn for quite a deal an overhauled version done properly makes a horn easier to sell. There are a lot of people who really devalue an instrument in their heads when its listed as needing an overhaul. An overhaul can mean many things (and prices) to many people.

I suppose it may help those here who are techs to know what exactly this tech means by a full overhaul. Are the tone holes flat? New Springs, felts and corks plus pads, removing dents....

If you want to keep and use the horn at times there may be something that can be done in between what is considered a full overhaul and replacing a few pads. Depending on the condition of the horn there may be some gray area you have not explored. If that is the case talk to your tech and you will have a little more information to base your decision.

If you keep it...its not likely that a VI is going to get any cheaper so getting it in good playable condition remains an investment.

Im not a big proponent on selling good instruments if you are not hard up on cash. Is there the possibility that your sound concept may change and thus sellers remorse.

If your finances are fine then money comes, money goes...will a marginal gain in cash make a real life difference to you?
 

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Im not a big proponent on selling good instruments if you are not hard up on cash. Is there the possibility that your sound concept may change and thus sellers remorse.

If your finances are fine then money comes, money goes...will a marginal gain in cash make a real life difference to you?
I agree. I regret several instrument sales in my life.

Since you already own the Mark 6 backup (I didn't see where you said what your main horn is), if you need to use it in the backup role, you'll be really happy with it. If you sell it and get a good Yamaha 21 (for example), that will give you some cash (and we don't know whether that extra cash would make a big difference in your life right now or not), but when you need to play the backup you won't be quite as happy.
 

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Get the overhaul, compare the two horns that are now in "top playing condition", keep the one you like better as the main. If you still don't prefer the 6, sell it as overhauled and buy something a lot cheaper with the $ you raise from the sale.
+1 - I've done full overhauls on all my older horns now, IMHO, if you have the cash it's the way to go. You end up with a horn you can evaluate accurately, not to mention they feel so much better to play...as for finding a tech you trust...its a leap of faith the first time. Cheers
 
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