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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I just got a Yamaha-made Vito alto off eBay, and overall it's in rather good condition, but the bell has been curled back and poorly repaired:



OK, someone walked into a door or dropped the horn and was too broke to get it fixed. No great mystery there. It's the more subtle bell damage that has me baffled.



What in the world would produce this pattern of damage? It's all in a straight line -- bow-bell brace to bell to low B chimney, back to bell, and across the low Bb chimney as well. However, there are only two dings and they are very shallow. The tone holes do not appear out of round at all, and there is no damage to the key cups or the bow guard. This was a scrape, not a smash, but somehow it got around the guard. The bell-body brace has not been pushed into the bell at all, arguing still further against any significant impact.

Note this is not a gripe-at-eBay thread. I knew it had this damage when I bought it. I'm just trying to figure out what caused it. I spent a couple hours playing this horn tonight, it's got potential. It has some odd differences from a YAS-23. Some (cheaper one-piece bell guard, one-piece front F key, fork-and-pin low C# instead of spring articulated) obviously cut costs. But then they go and fit it with adjustment screws for both stacks!

Also, what kind of cost am I looking at to get the edge of the bell repaired properly? Dent work is not my strong point, so I'll farm this one out.
 

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I can tell you what causes the low B and Bb tone hole damage. The old cases for the YAS-23's didn't adequately hold the neck in place. Since the placement of the neck pouch is parallel to the bell stack along with it's inability to hold the neck in place, it often gets smacked into the tone holes. This is really common with the old Yamaha cases. It's not too hard to fix, but it is a drag.
 

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I have a couple of questions about this since I just recently saw a Yamaha-made Vito. Can you check when was yours from? You can use this chart http://www.doctorsax.biz/vito_7131rk_ser_no.htm

Then what I'm interested to know is how is the alignment of the low B and especially low Bb key cup over tone holes. The one I saw had a big problem with alignment there and it was definitely original from the factory this way. It looks like yours is ok from the photo but not sure.

About your questions, the photos are not completely clear but maybe I'm blind. I see the bell curled in the first photo and some wrinkles, but I don't understand what problem you are referring to in the second photo. I just don't see any dents in the area you mentioned or anywhere else really.
 

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Likewise, in the second photo I cannot tell, with all the reflections, what damage you refer to.

I am assuming the key guard mounts have been pushed into the body, because the venting of the tone holes is so poor, and the right hand guard support has an odd angle in the part soldered on to the body.

If so, a knock to the upper side of the key guard could be responsible.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
About your questions, the photos are not completely clear but maybe I'm blind. I see the bell curled in the first photo and some wrinkles, but I don't understand what problem you are referring to in the second photo. I just don't see any dents in the area you mentioned or anywhere else really.
I mean the scuff damage, and in the area washed out by the flash there are two very small dings that look like they could have been caused by a pointed object. I cannot figure out what could have caused this sort of scuffing, yet not have affected the guard or key cups in any way.

The possibility of the neck getting loose seems to fit with the location of the damage, and that it is angled at about 12 degrees compared to the axis of the horn, but the severity of the damage just seems too great to be explained by this.

I do not believe the bell has ever taken a significant knock to either side, as the pads center out reasonably well. The one on low Bb is a little off center but nothing that can't be explained by the arm of the key being tweaked a tiny bit. They seat correctly front to back, which is usually the first thing to go after a serious knock.
 

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You might think about "school horns" to try to figure out some of the damage. The horn could have ridden to an away game in a car trunk or in the luggage compartment of a bus (without a case and maybe stacked on other horns). It could have been dropped, stepped on, and then fallen under the bleachers. It could have been used as a light saber in some Star Wars horseplay. Anything is possible with kids. Sometimes caring for a horn only happens if the money came out of the player's pocket.

Mark
 

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I mean the scuff damage... I cannot figure out what could have caused this sort of scuffing, yet not have affected the guard or key cups in any way.
You mean the lacquer wearing? That looks like... lacquer wearing. I've seen this type of wear on many instruments and at least in the photo it really doesn't look unusual or even like damage. Though maybe that is because of the photo. I guess it doesn't affect the key and key guard because they are plated and don't have lacquer.

Did you have a chance to check the alignment of the Bb & B I asked about?
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
You might think about "school horns" to try to figure out some of the damage. The horn could have ridden to an away game in a car trunk or in the luggage compartment of a bus (without a case and maybe stacked on other horns). It could have been dropped, stepped on, and then fallen under the bleachers. It could have been used as a light saber in some Star Wars horseplay. Anything is possible with kids. Sometimes caring for a horn only happens if the money came out of the player's pocket.

Mark
While I have certainly witnessed such events (like a bus running over a baritone), this looks to have always been a privately-owned horn. Of course that doesn't mean it wasn't marched, it's EXACTLY the sort of horn I would march with if I had to do it all over again -- and the bent bell rim sure looks like the sort of damage that comes from outdoor use. I'm just mystified how something could scrape up the bell and tone holes that much and not bend anything, and not scrape the pad cups or guard.

It does have the expected minor denting on the bottom of the bow, but far less than the Buescher Aristocrat alto I specifically bought to lend out to a student. It's not nearly as thick as the Buescher either. I can practically roll dents out of the Vito with a socket and finger power. I couldn't beat the dents out of the Buescher with anything I had available.
 

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Wrecking of the lacquer in specific areas can be caused by playing the sax while sitting on a chiar that has metal, even screw heads, on the right hand side of the seat.

Also by rubbing against the rivets associated with the pockets on jeans. This is very common. And some trousers have metal waist adjustment devices at the side.
 

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The wear to the front and the tonehole look like they've been caused by a poorly fitting sax stand.

I've seen similar damage to a 62 alto but the C# tonehole took the brunt of the damage - the owner had a double (alto+tenor) stand made out of solid steel rods all welded together and powdercoated but didn't have protective plastic tips to the ends of the U sections. He bought my double stand (Jupiter type) off me as I never used it.

No YAS-23 I know of (in the UK) has the articulated low C# key and has the same type as this Vito - the articulated low C# came in with the YAS-25 (and also the high F# key).
 

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The following starts with a couple of observations and then jumps to an hypothesis.

The wear pattern isn't random and it wasn't from a single incident (hence no tone hole damage). The tone holes are on the right side of the bell not the left and thus wouldn't be from rubbing against the right side leg of the player.

I like the idea, of some uniform adornment that was flipping back and forth and would happen to hit that spot on the sax. Say as the player was marching.
 

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I like the idea, of some uniform adornment that was flipping back and forth and would happen to hit that spot on the sax. Say as the player was marching.
Not on the front of the bell like that - tunic buttons usually scratch up the back and the left side of the bell, and the wear/damage would be over a much larger area.

The loose crook in the case makes a curved scratch in between the highest keyguard mounting point and below the logo on Yamaha altos - my first 62 case was like this, and the end of the crook had marked the bell when it came loose as it was being carried in the closed case.

The later case inners have a lump of polystyrene to keep the crook in place so the narrow end doesn't damage the bell. The 23 series didn't have a ring soldered on the narrow end of the crook, so the crook cork covered right up to the open end.
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
I'm leaning toward the "bad sax stand" explanation. It does look like it has been lightly scraped by a harder metal, repeatedly, in the same direction. You can see the scratches on the B chimney. The only argument against this is that the scratches are all VERY parallel (implying they happened at the same time), though it is possible the sax settled down onto the stand the same way every single time.

In any case, I played it another couple hours today. It isn't set up for my hands or my desired spring tension so it is not as quick to the touch as either the Jupiter or the Orpheo, but it has a little bit bigger sound than either of them. It's not a lot of difference though. If I still needed a backup alto, I could certainly make this one work -- and it LOVES the Rousseau JDX. The Jupiter and Orpheo both work better with the Meyer.

Unfortunately, the Vito's palm key response is more finicky than the Jupiter's (similar to the Orpheo's) and I can't play it as loud up there. For raw power, neither the Vito nor the Orpheo can touch the Jupiter. I can wail on the Jupe at volume levels that make either of the other two horns clam up. I do not think re-padding the Vito is going to fix this particular problem, but it should help with some others like having to finesse the bottom end more than I would like.

Any idea who in this area can make the bent bell look somewhat normal again, and how much that might cost?
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
I figured it out.

Someone wore cargo pants with a zipper on the pocket. This zipper would be in EXACTLY the right place to do this damage when the horn is rested across the thigh. Being attached to puffy pants allowed it to slip under the guard.

Duh. Seems pretty obvious now.

 

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So far in my nearly 30 year repair career, I have taken dents out of instruments for the following fairly unusual reasons as well as the normal not so unusual reasons: 1) Wife mad at husband and took an axe to the trombone cases. Luckily the hand slides were elsewhere but the bell sections needed lots of help to survive. 2)Sisters sword fighting with flutes and bent one of the flutes in half. 3) Baritone horn playing highschool student counted out his 1000 measures of rest by tapping the mouthpiece on the horn. 4) Mother backed over the baritione while pulling out of the driveway.

In the early 80's I visited the Haynes factory and they had a gold flute they showed me that was bent in half. Suposedly by an upset wife.

So I've pretty much stopped wondering how people cause the damage they do. I just take the dents out and charge them. The dents and wear shown on your horn are pretty typical of what I see in school instruments. FYI another cause of sharp small dents is case hardware installed with screws that are too long.
 
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