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Discussion Starter #1
So what, you might ask. Guys do that every day. Not me. I have had techs abuse my horns unmercifully over the years. My usual feeling upon getting a horn from the shop is thank God, I think it still plays. So, in my town there is a music store that has been around for many years. At one time they had a well-staffed shop with a woodwind side and a brasswind side. The dent man was absolutely wonderful - gifted, really. The woodwind man was excellent. Over the years the store was bought out and with retirements/health/etc., the shop faded away. They were sending jobs to a guy 70 miles away in another city. In the intervening ten years, a sax player became the manager. He's a guy who gigs regularly and is a legitimately good and well-rounded player, and he began to rebuild the shop. Last year I took a couple of quickie jobs over there just to test the waters. Namely, neck fitting. The tech, a young guy but serious, turned out to be fast and good. I was getting hopeful and I have been obsessing for several years about getting started on this series of shop work needed on both my tenors and the alto. My new soprano also needs both necks fitted.
I called the store this morning, got the manager and inquired about an overhaul on my Selmer USA tenor. He said the right things so I drove up there with it this afternoon after writing several pages of do's and don'ts, I hated to do it but I have assumed too many times that the tech was an experienced professional and knew exactly what I expected - always a mistake. I have learned that if you don't put this stuff in writing, bad things happen. Examples; 'I prefer the tone holes to not be filed or sanded any more than necessary to remove build-up.' I know techs think they have to 'level' the tone holes, but every time that happens, precious brass is taken off of them. When the tone holes are gone, the sax is done. On a sax that has never been buffed after leaving the factory and has had no significant damage, there usually is no valid reason to level the tone holes. 'Key heights in the stacks are good'. This means I want them to be the same when I get it back. 'Note the shallow pad cups, designed for .160 pads and the mostly original pads in the sax. This is what I want to use for the new ones, as close as practically possible'. Really, this horn has almost entirely original pads in it and it is a 1989 manufacture that I've had since around 2000. I have played hundreds of gigs on it sometimes for months at a time without using the MK VI. I use stuffers in the neck, body and bell, inserted immediately after playing, which has always worked for me in extending pad life and of course keeping the sax clean on the inside.
Anyway, when leaving a sax anywhere for almost anything, just be sure to lay it out clearly what you are looking for. Maybe I take it a step too far, but I know what I want, and that is, in a nutshell, exactly what I would do myself if I had the tools and training to do that work. I do a lot for myself and I have done a pad job myself which amazingly lasted for years, but I don't do them regularly. I can't fit a neck. I can't swedge keys. I can't take out dents. I just want careful, thoughtful work with no harm done to the instrument. Doesn't sound like that would hard to get, but it is. The last guy that touched my MK VI almost got killed. He gave me the sax, and when I opened the case and took it out right there in front of him, there were a series of major dents in the body on the LH side running from the palm keys to the pants guard. He denied putting them there. I had to take the horn to the place I went today and the dent man, now retired, fixed it so you couldn't tell a thing. Another thing he did was instead of placing the pants guard in the slots provided in the two support posts and then installing the screws, he just stuck the guard on the posts and screwed it down, squeezing the slots together. Obviously, this damaged the metallic structure of the brass posts, and if it were ever done again they would break off. I fixed it and was relieved that there were no cracks. I had to take the horn apart and redo a lot of the set-up because of the goofy way he did things. I don't know why guys don't simply look at a new Selmer or most any 'Big 4' sax and copy what they do since they obviously don't know how.

So now you can see why just 'dropping off a sax for an overhaul' is a traumatic experience for me. However, I'm really hopeful this time, and if he does this right I might let him do the MK VI tenor.
 

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Distinguished SOTW Member, Forum Contributor 2016
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Quite the essay :bluewink:

I hear where you are coming from, totally. I understand that if, over the years, you have come to know your own horn, you would want to clearly communicate to the tech what you expect (probably notsomuch if it is a tech you have used for years, but a relatively new one).

I guess the one part which jumps out at me is:
I have learned that if you don't put this stuff in writing, bad things happen. Examples; 'I prefer the tone holes to not be filed or sanded any more than necessary to remove build-up.' I know techs think they have to 'level' the tone holes, but every time that happens, precious brass is taken off of them. When the tone holes are gone, the sax is done. On a sax that has never been buffed after leaving the factory and has had no significant damage, there usually is no valid reason to level the tone holes. '
You have your reasons for stating this. And again, maybe I am nitpicking at a post I generally agree/sympathize with, but....toneholes aren't always level. Not out of the factory. Not on a 50-year old horn. Not on a 10-year old horn. Just because a horn hasn't been refinished or sustained significant damage, this doesn't mean the toneholes will be level, or within acceptably level.

So....if I found unlevel toneholes on holes on which I am installing new pads, but the client specified NOT to level the toneholes...then the client is insisting that I install new pads on unlevel toneholes. The client has just:

a) made my job harder

b) sort of insured that the pad installation I do on this horn may well not end up being an example of some of my better work.

c) pushed the situation in a direction where, perhaps in a couple weeks or perhaps after a while, my pad job may not perform acceptably to the customer.

All of this to say...I would not be put off by written instructions from a customer. I can completely respect an owner's investment (talking emotional) in his axe.
But if some of those instructions seemed contradictory to my experience/modus operandi, I would certainly want to discuss....
 

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Forum Contributor 2015-2017
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Yeah. The guy I go to is the first I have used in a long, long time.

I learned tod o a lot myself after the *last* guy had my 10m.
Nothing permanently damaged, but what a S**tshow.
 

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TENOR, soprano, alto, baritone
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Discussion Starter #4
Toneholes don't have to be 'level'. Look at them - do you see any deviation down the stacks, like one slanted one way and the other slanted the other way? No. So you put a flat reference surface on each one and a few show thin slivers of light - very minor deviation - basically hand-made instruments. But the soft Selmer pads easily handle such minor deviations - that's why they use them, to speed up pad installation, provide quieter action and provide dependable sealing during their life span which increases customer satisfaction. Now If you 're going to put hard pads on that require a reference flat surface, okay - you have to file them. But I specify OEM pads - I don't use hard pads. They are not required for extreme projection or for any other reason. The only horns I ever had with dished or wavy tone hole rims had been over-buffed/damaged - and the pads sealed fine and lasted for a long time. I had those toneholes 'pulled' to correct them which also required some filing to level. That poor sax (1304xx) had everything done to it that is possible; bent body correction, dished tone holes pulled, even cryo! Its actually still in service with a relative and plays pretty well.

Just don't give me that stock NAPBIRT line - I'm way past that. I look at most techs like a guy who would put a neck cork on a tenor and extend the cork so far down the neck it actually starts to go around the curve. I wondered why they would do that, then discovered they do it to cover up the damage they do to the neck getting the old cork off and trimming the new cork using the bench motor. I asked a guy once 'What do you think? A mouthpiece is long enough to need that much cork? It isn't. Or maybe you think the mouthpiece can go on around that curve? They might be hard rubber but they ain't flexible.' So to me, 'leveling tone holes' is almost in that category. How about the guy (unknown since he did it before I got the horn) who carefully cut the needle point off every spring on the sax. He obviously did not know why they have the needle points and extend past the hooks.
 

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I like tone holes to be pretty darn level. But I do that myself. And very little metal comes off.

I also like the firm pads. But I have an older tenor that I put OEM pillows on. The toneholes were just not very level. And I leveled three or four of them A LITTLE, and left the rest the way I found them - a little ripply. Plays great. No way I was going to grind away and try to get them all really level.

But yes, leveling the holes is a one way ticket to a ruined axe if done to extremes.
 

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I know techs think they have to 'level' the tone holes, but every time that happens, precious brass is taken off of them. When the tone holes are gone, the sax is done. On a sax that has never been buffed after leaving the factory and has had no significant damage, there usually is no valid reason to level the tone holes.
I'm pretty sure the old Orsi stencil I am working on now would have changed your mind. :) Once they are properly leveled, in the factory or elsewhere, it shouldn't need to happen again unless body damage has occurred.

Hope it turns out well!
 

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Many new saxophones have non-level tone holes, to various degrees. Some are very slightly, some are no where close. Some have a shallow gradual curve to the "warp", which is far better than some which are random and wavy. Some saxophones have the tones hole filed "level" (actually not level) at the factory... with coarse files leaving a huge burr and very rough surface.

There are many other factors for this too. Tone hole alignment with the key/pad. If it's not aligned, can it realistically be improved, etc. What key it is, open or closed, if it needs to be adjusted with other keys, etc. These are all things that can make a pretty non-level tone hole be just fine, and a just very slightly non-level tone hole cause a lot of issues.

Also, how much is more than "remove build up"? Is 0.005mm too much? 0.01mm? 0.05mm? More? Less? If this "build up" can't be removed by a non-mechanical way, then you can see if there is a material that will scrape the build up but not the metal itself. This is sometimes not possible. So some of the metal itself will likely be removed, going back to the question of how much is ok. Maybe I'm lucky that I don't remember any customer not trusting me to have good judgement.

Basically agree with JayeLID's post.
 

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Do I have a setting wrong on my screen...

The OP has around 35 words per line, meaning that when I finish reading one line in the OP I have to track all the way back to the beginning of that line to find where the next line is.
This does not happen with a newspaper, which has only a few words per line, and is not a problem if paragraphing is instigated for the benefit of the reader.

I found the OP just too hard to read. Perhaps a bit age related too :)
 

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I would decline your work.

Reason, you want a repad or overhaul, and no tone hole levelling, sorry pass. That screams of all sorts of crazy to me

Steve
You wouldn’t touch mine either.
If the sax hasn’t suffered some sort of trauma it shouldn’t need tone hole work. My repairman has never gotten into that or even suggested it.
 

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Honestly I think all of this is a non issue if you have an open conversation with your tech BEFORE they start the work on your horn. Nothing wrong to have them evaluate it and discuss their finding with you, they're likely to see issues you didn't (it is their job after all, right?) If at that point you feel their experience isn't what you want or you don't think they can do your horn to your desires go see someone else.

I understand (I agree) you don't want anything being done to a horn that may be detrimental, but sometimes work is necessary and has to be done to have the horn play to the best of it's ability. My last over haul, my tech and I had a conversation over what we wanted to do, and agreed on the job. During the process different issues arose, so he called me and let me know what was happening and how he wanted to correct it specifically since it wasn't what we originally discussed. Horn has since turned out great!

In the end though, communication is key, and it's a two way street. If you have the right tech, they'll do what is needed to make the horn right, and be open with you about it.
 

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You wouldn’t touch mine either.
If the sax hasn’t suffered some sort of trauma it shouldn’t need tone hole work. My repairman has never gotten into that or even suggested it.
Agreed, I have no interest in repairing people’s instruments with them tying my hands whilst doing it.

I can picture it now, go to the car mechanic and ask for my engine to be overhauled and then specify they cannot machine the head, the cam journals, the cylinder bores or the block, as I have an idea on how it should be done which is better than theirs even though they do it all day every day.

Plenty of people exist out there in the big bad world that call themselves techs.

Steve
 

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Do I have a setting wrong on my screen...

The OP has around 35 words per line, meaning that when I finish reading one line in the OP I have to track all the way back to the beginning of that line to find where the next line is.
This does not happen with a newspaper, which has only a few words per line, and is not a problem if paragraphing is instigated for the benefit of the reader.

I found the OP just too hard to read. Perhaps a bit age related too :)
I enjoy reading 1Saxmans posts. A few paragraphs would make the post much easier to read.
 

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I think it perfectly reasonable to spell out your expectations. Its also reasonable to say to the tech "If you think you need to do something else, pick up the phone and call me first and we can discuss"

Informed consent and all that;)
 

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TENOR, soprano, alto, baritone
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Discussion Starter #15
Do I have a setting wrong on my screen...

The OP has around 35 words per line, meaning that when I finish reading one line in the OP I have to track all the way back to the beginning of that line to find where the next line is.
This does not happen with a newspaper, which has only a few words per line, and is not a problem if paragraphing is instigated for the benefit of the reader.

I found the OP just too hard to read. Perhaps a bit age related too :)
:) Your age or mine? I have a feeling they're similar. :)
 

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Thinking I was being helpful, one time I put tape flags on all the corks, rollers, felts, pads that I wanted the tech to look at or replace, just so he wouldn't miss all the things I had identified and wanted corrected. When I dropped the horn off, all I said essentially, was please repair/replace the things I've marked. Big mistake. Not only did this make him extremely angry, but when the job was done he told me to never come back to his shop.

Did I get what I deserved? Should I have handled it differently? Or was this guy way too sensitive and just plain crazy?
 

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Discussion Starter #17
A tone hole is not a worn-out engine cylinder that must be machined to ensure a good rebuild. A tone hole doesn't wear out with use and have to be resurfaced. Don't forget, I've had it the other way for 60 years and now I'm simply trying to be proactive and prevent things that have happened to me before because I was too trusting. Once this new tech does a good job and doesn't harm anything, he won't be getting any more lectures from me. I still don't think I asked for anything out of line. I personally do not believe tone holes should be ROUTINELY abraded/leveled at all - only as a repair procedure when needed.
If I read one poster correctly, I believe he mentioned 'correcting' tone holes when the key cup was not parallel to it? That's a definite no-no. You adjust the pad cup , not the irreplaceable tone hole. Maybe I read it wrong.
Incidentally, my USA tenor does have some quirks; several keys are not centered on the tone holes but they're close enough for rock & roll. The 'C' side key just barely covers, right at the edge of the pad, and he's going to bend that arm to swing it over more to the center. The sax has the wrong bell on it; all the other USAs I've seen have the Selmer Paris-sized bell flare, I forget the measurement. Mine has a noticeably smaller bell flare but there is no question it is the bell the sax came with. I figured they ran out of bells one day and they put one on that was going on a 1244 student model. Now here's the thing - you probably would expect the bell tones to be not as deep because of it but the opposite is true - the bell tones are deeper than my MK VI.
Finally, going back to the tone holes, on the day they made my sax, the mill that grinds each tone hole needed to be replaced because each rim is slightly flatted with a burr edge on the outside and inside. I was planning on carefully filing them smooth but actually forgot about it before taking the horn in. I doubt if he does anything about it but would be pleasantly surprised if he calls on it.
But with all that the sax really does have a good sound. I think for alto and tenor players the USAs are a better horn than the new ones currently available at that price. Too bad there aren't that many of them around.
 

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Personally, I'd never take a horn in for overhaul unless I'd used the tech for smaller jobs and developed trust. There are several within 125 miles of here that I trust, I'm willing to travel some.

That said, I don't know diddly squat about how to make the horn perform optimally. I can't even bear to watch them work on it. I take it to them, they discover and fix, I play test, everyone is happy. I spent an afternoon with a tech making adjustments to action and setup of my 1954 alto when I first got it, for issues of intonation and overall sound. The right tech can work (what seems to me) magic.
 

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Toneholes don't have to be 'level'. Look at them - do you see any deviation down the stacks, like one slanted one way and the other slanted the other way? No. So you put a flat reference surface on each one and a few show thin slivers of light - very minor deviation - basically hand-made instruments. But the soft Selmer pads easily handle such minor deviations - that's why they use them, to speed up pad installation, provide quieter action and provide dependable sealing during their life span which increases customer satisfaction. Now If you 're going to put hard pads on that require a reference flat surface, okay - you have to file them. But I specify OEM pads - I don't use hard pads.
I understand you may have had experiences which have led you to develop this conclusion.

All I can offer this thread is that, after refurbishing over 1000 saxophones....a tech , when repadding....is correct to want to first make sure the toneholes are level.

Your characterization of the holes getting mauled or ground down dramatically - again, I can understand if you have had such an experience in the past, performed by a poor tech.
But a decent tech with decent tooling will not 'damage' your toneholes by filing them level.
And a decent tech realizes that if the hole lip is dramatically unlevel, they must do a combination of pushing up and filing, as opposed to just filing the heck out of 'em til they reach the low spot.

Doesn't matter if you pads are hard, medium, or soft, either. Soft pads can, for a while, hide unlevel toneholes and stave off some of the negatives. But that isn't really, IMHO, the proper way to pad. You seem to be suggesting 'softer pads don't need holes to be level'. As clarinbass says, there are many aspects to installing pads beyond the hole rim and the pad - but if a customer insists the tech not touch the holes even though tech finds some to be unlevel - then you are handicapping the tech, and compromising the job IMHO.

The only instance where I would understand a customer saying 'no filing' would be on RTH's. In which case, once again, if I found unlevel holes I would still try to correct that via pushing from inside...thus making 'em level; not leaving 'em unlevel and working a proper seal around that.

As I said, other than this...I pretty much understand where you are coming from.
 

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I would decline your work.

Reason, you want a repad or overhaul, and no tone hole levelling, sorry pass. That screams of all sorts of crazy to me

Steve
I wouldn't necessarily decline it, but I would say exactly what I said earlier: "IF I find unlevel holes, regardless of the pads you want installed - you are compromising my work by this insistence. Therefore, as you are not allowing me to perform my best (and what I deem proper) work....if you need to bring it back in for any re-adjusts , that time will be billable. Don't come back here complaining about leaks developing and expecting the re-tweaking to be free of charge."
 
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