The Cost of Repairing an Instrument verses the Cost of Buying an Instrument!

I know that school has just ended and your aspiring instrumentalist will most likely pitch their instrument in the closet and not think of it until the fall. In actuality we only have about 3 months before school starts again. Whether you will have a new child starting band or they have already played a year or more here are some things to consider. Musical instruments like cars need perodic adjustment/regulation. Your car gets the oil changed, the tires rotated, belts, windshield wipers and lights replaced. I always like the car anology. For some reason it seems less abstract than musical instruments. So, you need a student model, plastic clarinet repaired. These are the least expensive clarinet made. They are made more durable than a professional model instrument because, quite frankly, most kids beat the fire out of instruments. Instruments can come from many different sources: 1) It was yours when you were in school                                                                                              2) It was your parents or grandparents when they were in school                                                 3) You bought it, new or used, for another kid in your family and then they quit playing it  4) You bought it from a neighbor because their kid quit playing                                                 5) You bought it from eBay, Reverb or CraigsList hoping to save some money                      6) You bought it new from a music store or online                                                                   Now it’s late August or early September and you remember that you haven’t gotten little Bobby’s horn fixed for the new school year. By the way, I use the terms “horn” and “instrument” interchangebly. You bring little Bobby’s clarinet to my shop and I look it over in order to give you an accurate estimate of the cost to repair it. And let’s assume that this was your clarinet that you played 20 years ago. You think that it probably won’t cost much to fix it, I mean, it’s just a little horn. How many things can be wrong with something that small. Let’s also assume that for the past 20 years that it has been sitting on a shelf in the basement. Oh yea, it’s also damp in the basement. Now, after carefully looking over the instrument I tell you that it needs a complete overhaul and that will cost you $210.00! Why does it need a complete overhaul? Well, all the pads are shot and won’t seal over the tone holes anymore. Plus, the keys are badly tarnished. These are vague, foreign terms that mean nothing to you. Then you say, “I can buy a new instrument for $210.00”. Au contraire! Here is what a complete overhaul is and what $210.00 gets you. I completely disassemble the instrument meaning all the keys are removed from the horn. The old pads are removed from the keys and all the key corks are removed. Corks are on a majority of the keys. You normally don’t notice them. Also there are tenon corks (joint corks) that must be changed. They are the corks that help hold the individual sections of the clarinet body together. After everything is disassembled then everything is washed. If keys are bent then they are straightened. Next we buff all the keys. There are a plethora of other things that could be wrong with the horn but for simplicities sake let’s say nothing catastrophic has happened to it. Now I’m ready to reassemble, repad and re-cork the instrument. Timewise I’ve already got 2, maybe 3 hours of time into the project, referencing the aforementioned disassembly, washing and buffing. Now, the reassembly, repadding, re-corking and adjusting will take about another 4 – 6 hours. So, it takes 7 to maybe as much as 10 hours of work to overhaul a simple clarinet for a cost of $210.00. Listed directly below is pricing that I found on the internet mostly for new instruments and a few used. Keep in mind, used instruments rarely are in good playing condition which means, besides the price you just paid for the instrument you might have to pay as much as $210.00 to get it playing correctly. If someone at eBay, Reverb or CraigsList tells you that their instrument plays like new well, I have a bridge I’d like to sell you. The prices listed below are as of 5/23/17.

Two things to bare in mind, 1) these repair prices are all for student model instruments. The cost to repair intermediate model and professional model instruments is higher, which is a topic for another day, another post. 2) Chinese made instruments, I have a list as long as my arm of horns made in China that are absolutely awful. They start out looking good which I refer to as The High Shine Factor but they go down hill quickly. I’ll re-post that list soon or if you want to see it just e-mail me and I’ll send it to you.

Again, an overhaul on a student model clarinet is $210.00. I also sell instruments. The used/previously owned clarinets that I sell range in price from $275.00 to around $475.00. They all play as good as they did when they were new.

Yamaha YCL-255 Clarinet

Musician’s Friend – $987.00 – new
Music & Arts – $987.00 – new
Woodwind & Brasswind – $987.00 – new
Sam Ash – $987.00 – new
Reverb – $987.00 new to $489.00 – used
eBay – $300.00 – $430.00 – used
Amazon – $620.00 – new

Same scenario with student model flutes. My price to overhaul one is $210.00. Compare that with the cost of new student model flutes. The used/previously owned flutes that I sell range in price from $300.00 to around $575.00.

Yamaha YFL222 Flute

Musician’s Friend – $923.00 – new
Music & Arts – $923.00
Woodwind & Brasswind – $923.00 – new
Sam Ash – $943.00
Reverb – $943.00 – new
eBay – $467.00 – $489.00 – (These appear to be new and also knock-offs from Seoul, South Korea)
Amazon – $449.00 (This is probably a Chinese or Korean knock-off version meaning not a real Yamaha)

 

Student model trumpet repairs vary in price from $60.00 to $200.00 or more. It’s not the same as with woodwind instruments like clarinets, flutes and saxes. I sell Student model trumpets from $250.00 to around $450.00. Noticably less expensive than buying a new horn.

Yamaha YTR-2335 Trumpet

Musician’s Friend – $1233.00 – new
Music & Arts – $1233.00
Woodwind & Brasswind – $1,233.00 – $1,383.00 – new
Sam Ash – $1233.00 – new
Reverb – $1233.00 – new
– $499.00 – $750.00 – used
eBay – $350.00 – $650.00 – used

 

Student model trombone repairs vary in price from $60.00 to $200.00 or more. It’s not the same as with woodwind instruments like clarinets, flutes and saxes. I sell Student model trombones from $250.00 to around $450.00. Noticably less expensive than buying a new horn.

Yamaha YSL-354 Trombone

Musician’s Friend – $1,233.00 – $1,461.00 – new
Music & Arts – $1,233.00 – $1,538.00 – new
Woodwind & Brasswind – $1233.00 – new
Sam Ash – $699.99 to $859.99 – new & used I assume.
Reverb – $1197.00 – new
eBay – $199.00 – $380.00 – used

 

Student model alto saxophone complete repad is $550.00. The horn is disassembled, washed, all pads and corks are replaced, the sax is adjusted and regulated. It should play as good as when it was new. If there are other problems like dents in the body, the neck is bent, the body is bent or posts are knocked off and need resoldering, etc., etc, then there would be additional charges. I normally sell alto saxes that I have overhaulled for $650.00 to $900.00. Quite a difference than the prices listed below. Feel free to Google your heart away and verify these prices.

Yamaha YAS-26 Alto Sax
Musician’s Friend – $2124.00 – new
Music & Arts – $2,080.00 – $2,256.00 – new
Woodwind Brasswind – $2124.00 – new
Amazon – $1788.00 – new
– $1610.00 – used
Reverb – $885.00 – used
eBay – $700.00 – $1400.00 – used

 

Student model tenor saxophone complete repad is $650.00. The horn is disassembled, washed, all pads and corks are replaced, the sax is adjusted and regulated. It should play as good as when it was new. If there are other problems like dents in the body, the neck is bent, the body is bent or posts are knocked off and need resoldering, etc., etc, then there would be additional charges. I normally sell alto saxes that I have overhaulled for $1475.00 to $1800.00. Quite a difference than the prices listed below. Feel free to Google your heart away and verify these prices.

Yamaha YTS-26 Tenor Sax

Musician’s Friend – $2680.00 – new
Music & Arts – $2,630.00 – $2,886.00 – new
Sam Ash – $2680.00 – new
Woodwind Brasswind – $2,680.00 – $2,886.00 – new
Reverb – $1795.00 + $60.00 shipping – new
eBay – $1100.00 – $1300.00 – used
Amazon – $2499.00 – new
– $2200.00 – used
eBay – $1100.00 – $1300.00 – used

I’m sure that I haven’t covered every possible scenario of acquiring new and used instruments for your child. Plus, I’ve only mentioned clarinets, flutes, trumpets, trombones, alto and tenor saxes. There are certainly other instruments in a beginning band program so the details and cost can vary depending on the instrument. Again, call me if you have questions, 434-973-4299, and I do mean call me. Trying to answer these type of questions via email is way too cumbersome and time consuming.

 

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Mary Baldwin University 175th Commencement Ceremony

Last Sunday I was asked to play baritone sax with the Stonewall Brigade Band, in Staunton, VA, for the Mary Baldwin University 175th Commencement ceremony. We played a variety of marches and ceremonial music. I mean, how often do you get to play with the 2nd oldest community band in the country? Thanks Director Bob Moody for asking me to participate.

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Why a beginning player needs a perfect playing instrument!

A parent or grandparent walks into my shop and is interested in purchasing an instrument for a student to play. The first thing they say is, “I looking for an instrument for my son/daughter for band. It doesn’t have to be too good, just something they can start on”. Wrong, Wrong, Wrong! As a professional musician, who has played for 49 years, I can play past problems on an instrument because I know how to compensate, use alternate fingerings, alter my breath support, etc. Also, as an instrument repairman for 45 years I have seen this situation from the repair side. Beginning students have none of this knowledge which means, They Need An Instrument That Plays Perfectly! I can’t stress that enough, notice the bold lettering. Would you send your 16 year old, who just got their drivers license, out to drive in a vehicle that’s on the verge of breaking down? Do the books they read not need all the pages? These beginners are having enough to contend with when learning how to play an instrument for the very first time meaning:                       1) they are just learning to read music                                                                                             2) they are just learning the fingerings for each note on their instrument                               3) they are learning proper breath support, blowing a horn isn’t like the way you breathe when you run                                                                                                                                         4) using the correct embrochure, this is the way your mouth interfaces with the mouthpiece                                                                                                                                             5) the best way to hold the instrument, hopefully not slamming it into chairs, tables, etc. There are a plethora of things a young player must deal with everytime they pick up their horn so, they don’t need to additionally battle an instrument that is not playing correctly. I always have a number of used/pre-owned instruments for sale. They are all brand name and good quality instruments so, please come see me. If you have a old instrument in a closet or under the bed that hasn’t been played in a long time simply bring it to me. Let me see it and give you an honest evaluation of its condition. Maybe your Uncle Bob or your neighbor has an instrument they want to sell you again, bring it to me before buying it so I can tell you how much it will cost to get it playing in top notch condition. Plus, if I tell you that it will cost $100.00, $200.00 or whatever the amount to repair the horn, that could be a bargaining chip in your purchase negotiations. Before you buy a used car don’t you take it to your mechanic? I am your musical instrument mechanic. Also, keep in mind, not all old instruments are good instruments. Your grandfather Oscar’s trumpet might have been a respectable instrument in 1929 but by todays standards it may very well be holding you child back in band. Many of todays horns play better in tune and are easier to play than older instruments. I hesitate to make an all encompassing statement like this because there are exceptions to the rule. We come back to, bring it to me so I can give you an honest evaluation of its condition. Besides the instuments “under your bed” or the horns from “Uncle Bob or your neighbor” be cautious of instruments that you might purchase from eBay, Reverb or CraigsList. I have three words for that, “Danger Will Robinson”! I buy instruments from these places quite often and the sellers run the gamut from truthful to blatant liars. Make sure the seller will accept returns if you are not satisfied with the instrument. Even if they do offer a return policy, bring the horn to me as soon as you get so I can tell you how much work it needs. Call me if you have any questions, 434-973-4299.

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Beignets, Cafe Au Lait and the JazzFest

Back from New Orleans baby! Tons of history, boatloads of music and a veritable plethora of food filled our four days in the Crescent City. I played with four different bands during our visit. Each group was dramatically different and very exciting. The photo below is of Jackson Square which is a central spot in the French Quarter. The building in the background is St. Louis Cathedral. All around the perimeter of Jackson Square Park artists sell their art, musicians perform and a variety of wild people hangout. Just as a reference point, behind where I’m taking this photo is the Mississippi River.

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Repaired a Mauriat PMB-300UL Baritone Sax

This past Sunday Kit French was in town playing with Parachute at the Jefferson Theater. Kit does sax, piano and vocals in the band. He brought his Mauriat baritone sax by the shop for a bit of rapid repair work. The brace that connects the top of the main body to the curl had broker loose. I fixed it and had it ready for sound check later that day. Kit gave me a few tickets for the show that night so I took my grandson Shaun and grandaughter Casie. It was Shaun’s first time in a concert setting and I think they both had fun.

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Clean Me Up!

Before and after! This flute is destined to become part of an art project at my house. The top photo is before the flute was cleaned and, of course, the lower photo is after the flute was cleaned. This is the same cleaning procedure used when we do complete repads and overhauls.

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A Saxophone with Issues!

This is a Yamaha YAS-23 alto sax that came in for repair. While I was aligning the bell I noticed something odd about the low B tone hole. After removing the low B & Bb keys I discovered that the low B tone hole had been “Whacked” and obviously knocked out of round. One of these does not look like the other!

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Fallopian Tubas!

My wife, Vanessa, went to the Women’s March in Washington, DC a couple of weeks and this was one of the numerous things that she saw. So very musical, don’t you  think?

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If you play an instrument made of grenadilla wood (Clarinet, Oboe an English horn)

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Looking for an Instrument?

If you are on the hunt for a instrument for yourself or your student, well, I might have what you seek. First, check my list of instruments which is to the right of this post. Piccolos, flutes, clarinets, bass clarinets, oboes, bassoons, saxes of all kinds, trumpets, flugelhorns, trombones, French horns, euphoniums and tubas. At one time or another I have all of these horns available. If you check the list and don’t see what you’re looking for just call the shop, 434-973-4299. I might very well be in the middle of fixing up the horn that you want and just haven’t gotten it on the website yet. Also, if I know what you’re looking for I can be on the hunt for it. Call me and let’s talk.

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