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Hey Guys,

I’ve not been able to play sax since Monday I have a nasty lip infection and even with antibiotics looks like it’s not going away anytime soon. :cry:

I’d still like to do something to keep my mind active so I thought I may teach myself how to take the sax apart clean it properly then reassemble it and oil the keys (hopefully without making a complete pigs ear of it).

So I’d like to know where to begin! What equipment would I need, would I need to purchase a book on the subject or seek professional advice? If anybody has detailed instructions/pictures of the process or just their own knowledge, or where I can find the info, help would be greatly appreciated!!:D

Also do you think I shouldget a piece of junk from china to start with? I don't exactly want to ruin my only horn!

- Jay
 

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Sacrilicious said:
Also do you think I shouldget a piece of junk from china to start with? I don't exactly want to ruin my only horn!

- Jay
Right idea wrong choice. A new cheap chinese horn should be complete, but it might not be playable. As such it may demoralize you if you take it apart and reassemble it only to find it doesn't play. I'd look for a cheap horn locally - a Bundy or a Vito. Something every shop has seen hundreds of.

Try ebay for a cheap tired sticky pad one and have a try at cleaning and maybe replacing a pad or two. A dirty horn is "easier" to clean than a clean one - :? - you can see where you have cleaned and what is yet to be done.

For the cost of a chinese sax you may end up with a playable backup horn and a few tools in addition to a better knowledge of how a sax works.
 

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I don't think any such maintenance is necessary. Leave the horn alone and just play it. If you detect a leak, fix the leak (or have a tech do it); if the mechanism is rough, lubricate those parts. But the LAST thing I'd do is disassemble the saxophone. In my 50 years of playing, the only times I've had that done was when a technician did it - for an overhaul.

Have I removed some parts in my lifetime? Yes, but not for pulling maintenance (like a motor pool assignment in the Army). I did it to put more tension on a spring or clean some really awful gunk off a tonehole.

However, if you insist on doing this, make sure you have a large, clean, free area where you can spread everything out and keep it in order. Think about how it is going to look when disassmebled and design your lay-out area so it all goes back together and is not disturbed while it is all loose. DAVE
 

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Dave Dolson said:
...
However, if you insist on doing this, make sure you have a large, clean, free area where you can spread everything out and keep it in order. Think about how it is going to look when disassmebled and design your lay-out area so it all goes back together and is not disturbed while it is all loose. DAVE
This is an ideal use for a digital camera. Take many shots of the assembled horn before disassembly with good closeups.
 

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A few suggestions from a former do-it-yourself repairman who through an apprenticeship now repairs full time.

1. Be careful not to force or bend anything. If any rod or screw is really stuck take it to a tech.
2. If you don't have excellent screwdrivers in exactly the right size, buy them before you begin.
3. Remove the keys that work independently first, then the bell keys, then the upper stack and lower stack.
(It's a good idea to unhook the needle springs before removing a key.)
4. If the key has pivot screws, leave them in the posts.
5. If the key has a pivot rod, insert it back into the key when you remove it.
6. When the "stack keys" are removed place the keys in the same order on your bench. Set the long rods on a paper towel.
7. Oftentimes the bell keys (and levers) need to come off and go on in a certain order. Keep notes here.
8. Once the body is cleaned, reassemble the sax in the reverse order---usually lower stack & G#, upper stack, bell keys, independent keys.
9. Clean each hinge tube key with a soft pipecleaner and each rod with a paper towel as you reassemble.
10. With a NEEDLE NOSE OILER place a drop or two of oil inside the hinge tube at the end the rod will go back in when you install the keys.
11. For keys that have pivot screws, put a tiny dab of tuning slide grease in the hole at each end of the key. Wipe the excess as the screws are tightened.
12. Make sure the key still moves freely when you have tightened the pivot screws. If the key binds, back the screw(s) out very slightly. You may need to add a dab of clear nail polish the keep the screw in this position.
13. If any corks or felts come off as you work, stop and reglue with contact cement while you still remember where they go.
14. When all is back together, reattach all the needle springs and give it a play test.
15. Then reattach the needle springs you missed and play test again. ;)
16. Be careful working on saxophones can become an addictive habit that is hard to break. :) Good luck.

John
 

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griff136 said:
I have to agree with Carl H re not getting a chinese horn and getting a "tired" bundy/vito from ebay.
I'm not familiar with Vito, but almsot every Chinese sax I've work on, no matter how crappy it was (and some were REALLY crappy), I'd take it any day over the Bundy II I just had here a couple of weeks ago.
 

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If you are hell bent on this as a learning exercise, rather than because it is necessary, just 2 tips, even though you probably need a hundred more:

1. Mount the octave mechanism on the instrument before you mount the G key and thumb lever.

2. For a first time, you will be lucky if you go through with this project without knocking off a few key corks, distorting or breaking the odd spring, and maybe bending a key or two out of adjustment. This job is likely to quickly grow into something a lot bigger. If this is what you want, then go for it.

3. It may be a relatively straight forward project with a high quality instrument in good order. But if you buy a new Chinese one, or a student dunger, there is a reasonable chance you will be launching into significant repair work. Take two very simple examples: 1. You give a screw rod half a turn to undo it, and it totally jams the pivot for one reason or another. 2. you begin to undo a screw rod which unbeknown to you is rusty, and you break the head off the screw in the attempt.

In which case, although expensive, the following book will be money well spent:

THE COMPLETE WOODWIND REPAIR MANUAL - by Reg Thorp, available from http://www.napbirt.org/
 

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clarnibass said:
I'm not familiar with Vito, but almsot every Chinese sax I've work on, no matter how crappy it was (and some were REALLY crappy), I'd take it any day over the Bundy II I just had here a couple of weeks ago.
I find your comment interesting. What did you find so bad about the Bundy II?

John
 

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jbtsax said:
I find your comment interesting. What did you find so bad about the Bundy II?
Everything ;)

I didn't like its sound and keys but mainly it was designed very bad for adjustment and repair, for example similar things took longer to repair, and a lot more problems too. I remember I had a Chinese sax without even a brand name on it at the same time and it was better in every way, and cheaper.
 

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You're probably correct (although I don't find the old Bundys so bad) except for a few important things. If you find you need to bend a key, the metal in the Bundy keywork is real forged stock. Many of the chinese horns are unworked, unannealed castings of low quality and can be quite brittle. After one instance where a key broke for me under very small stress (and couldn't be repaired...I ended up giving the customer an old, overhauled YAS23) I will not work on unknown-brand foreign horns any longer. Someone recently came in with a noname horn that had been knocked off a chair in the bandroom. Three keys were actually broken!!! Any real horn would just have some bent parts that would be easily remedied. They got real mad when I suggested they should just put it in their recycle bin...and buy an actual metal saxophone...I don't understand the attraction, when you can buy a very serviceable Yas23 or YTS23 for $300-500 off craigslist in almost every town in the US.
 

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Clarnibass, I agree with your comments about the disgusting way that Bundy II is made.

However I think you cannot yet have met a really nasty Chinese instrument. Some are satisfactory to quite good. For others, every other thing you touch needs major attention. However most of the faults are not immediately obvious visually, so it is difficult to tell in advance which ones should be trashed.

Cost of servicing to a reasonable standard can easily come to more than what the instrument cost.
 

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I agree that there are design elements that make the Bundy II frustrating like the fact that the high E key cannot be removed without taking off the upper stack and the ridiculous number of keys they put on one hinge rod.

That said, I can't agree that it is a bad instrument for a young player. I regularly do "play conditions" on a pool of about 80 of these Bundys for our store rentals each season. Once they are set-up and made leak free (especially the necks), they really play quite well. There is good projection and an even tone quality going from one register to the next and most important good intonation for a student instrument. Of course the key placement and ergonomics are awkward for an adult's hands. It certainly doesn't feel like a Selmer or Selmer copy (Yamaha), but pound for pound it is a reliable workhorse in our local band programs. They are virtually indestructible, with many being rented 10 times or more! Many of the students who start on the Bundys move up to a Yamaha, Keilwerth, or Cannonball at our store. I didn't like them at first either, but I have grown to see they have a useful place in the big picture. Just another opinion.

John
 

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Maybe I should clarify. I did see some "really nasty" (like Gordon said) Chinese instruments that were worse than the Bundy, maybe much worse. These were not instruments I would recommend to anyone either. Maybe I exaggerated a bit with "almost every..." (though it was definitely most) but I meant some Chinese saxes are better (IMO) than the Bundy II and cheaper, and I would recommend these over a Bundy II for a student. By the way I've never seen a Bundy that wasn't a II so I don't know anything about them (but I've heard they are better).

For more about the better Chinese instruments:

http://www.shwoodwind.co.uk/Reviews/Ultra_Cheap_horns.htm

http://www.shwoodwind.co.uk/Reviews/Saxes/Alto/Chinese_alto.htm
 
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clarnibass said:
... but I meant some Chinese saxes are better (IMO) than the Bundy II and cheaper, ...
I'm no big fan of the Bundy II either, but you can find tons of Bundy II's
for next to nothing on Ebay. Much cheaper than ANY of the Chinese horns being sold on Ebay .
 

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The trouble is that for a beginner at working on a sax, they would be about the most nasty, IMO.
 

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Gordon (NZ) said:
The trouble is that for a beginner at working on a sax, they would be about the most nasty, IMO.
That's what I meant :)

About the eBay example, the good Chinese saxophones are cheaper if they are in same condition and from similar source as Bundy II, and they are much better imo.
 

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clarnibass said:
That's what I meant :)

About the eBay example, the good Chinese saxophones are cheaper if they are in same condition and from similar source as Bundy II, and they are much better imo.
This begs the question, "Which are the good chinese saxophones?"

If you go back to my first post which started the derailing I said Bundy, not Bundy II.

Maybe I should have said Armstrong and we could have kept on topic. My point was unknown horns are a crapshoot. If it is a poor quality horn he will most likely end up with a box of sax type parts and not a workable horn as most techs won't touch a complete unknown Chinese horn, let alone a box full of Chinese parts. They might be clean parts, but they are still worthless.

I thing that we at least agree the original poster shouldn't take his horn apart just to clean it. Don't we?
 
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