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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Oboes! Are they Satan’s Instrument? Well, yea!

Here’s one that you don’t see everyday. These photos are of a student model oboe specifically the upper and lower joints of the oboe. I am focusing on the center of the photo where the upper and lower joints come together. The upper photo is a little further away from the oboe. Do you see anything odd or out of the ordinary? Now look at the lower photo. Where the two joints, or sections, meet you will see two rods that have backed out of their designated locations. Still focusing on the center of the photo, the rod on the left is protruding out of the silver plated post on the upper joint. On the right the same thing is happening, the lower joint rod is protruding out of the post. This can cause several problems but the biggest issue is when you put the two joints together these two rods now hit each other. This hinders some keys from lining up properly which means that the keys don’t operate correctly or they don’t operate at all. Needless to say the Satanic instrument will not play the way it should play. Luckily, or maybe not so luckily, this is an easy fix. img_20161012_1347465591img_20161012_1348581

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Seasonal Saxes

As the seasons change so does my Saxophone Yard Art. All summer my trio of green Bundy II alto saxes greeted my clients as they entered my driveway. Now that it’s fall the saxes have changed to reflect the season. As you see the trees and leaves behind the saxes you will notice the yellowish, greenish-brown coloration. Well, these altos have become chameleons as they attempt to blend in with the surrounding flora in the neighborhood.


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Somebody Mugged My Trombone

The continuing Before & After photos. These parts are from the same trombone. Photo 1 is of a dented trombone bell. When the student put the horn in the case he didn’t remove the mouthpiece from the hand slide section of the horn. Consequently, when he closed the case, each and every time, the mouthpiece smashed into the bell and dented it. Obviously he must have played quite a bit. Photo 2 shows the bell de-dented, at least as much as I could de-dent it. Plus, the lacquer finish is badly scratched. Next, the hand slide. Photo 3 is the inner hand slide which has become un-soldered from itself. This shouldn’t happen unless the horn was mistreated. This inner slide section goes into the outer slide. The outer slide is the part of the horn you see the trombonist move back and forth when he is playing. In photo 4 I reassembled and re-soldered the inner slide. Not only does the inner slide have to be attached solidly to itself but it also must be perfectly aligned with the outer slide. Ideally it should move almost effortlessly.


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An Old Red Saxophone. Why is it red?

This is an old Buescher tenor sax that is from one of the local schools. Normally when you see a sax it is a shiny, gold color which is actually brass. The sax is shiny because the brass has been buffed to a high luster and then the brass is covered with a type of lacquer which is either sprayed on or baked on. This lacquer finish keeps the brass looking shiny for many years. The sax in the photo was made in 1928 or 1929, making this an 88 year old instrument. After decades and decades of being handled by a multitude of students, who never wipe off the horn after playing it, the lacquer deteriorates. It wears off or it simply flakes off leaving the raw brass subject to the elements or to the students, which ever get to it first. The reddish color is a chemical reaction called oxidation which primarily affects the surface of the metal. Now, brass is an alloy consisting of copper and zinc. Depending on the proportion of copper to zinc in the brass the oxidation can appear quite different from horn to horn. This one has a lovely reddish patina, however it can also appear as a greenish-yellow or any shade in between. This horn, and many like it which I continue to cobble together, are still being used in all of our local schools. Our students deserve new and better horns. Why are they still playing on instruments that their grandparents most likely played? The budgets allocated to a majority of the local band programs is shameful. Many band programs, especially the high school bands, are relegated to having bake sales or selling fruit or light bulbs or whatever to raise enough money to purchase much needed equipment, music, etc. This has not changed since I was a young, 10 year old beginning player. Music, and the arts in general, have always been treated like the “red-headed stepchild”. After 48 years of playing saxophone and 44 years of repairing band instruments I just haven’t seen that much improvement in what students and band directors have to deal with in the world of music education. More to come.



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You have a dirty, dirty horn!

Once again I present to you some “Before & After” photos. These are the rotors from a Paxman French horn that came into the shop last week. The first photo shows the rotors from a double horn and as you can see there is a significant amount of bluish/green buildup on both the four rotors and the back bearings which are the pieces directly above the rotors. In the second photo, abracadabra, like magic the rotors and back bearings are clean as a whistle. Actually it’s far from magic. The rotors were scoured using a dremel with a small brass brush then they were put into a de-greaser to remove all unwanted sludge & grit and finally they go into a chemical cleaner designed to clean brass parts. The same procedure was also done to the rotor casings which are attached to the French horn itself. Next, I wipe everything down with denatured alcohol and then reassemble the horn. Nothing to it, a piece of cake, etc., etc., etc. The majority of French horns that come into my shop need this same procedure.
Paxman horns are British made and seem to be nice instruments. They are not as common in this country but they do pop up now and then.


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What Happened to my Bass Clarinet?

Before and After pictures. Aren’t they the best? Today you are looking at a Vito bass clarinet which is made of ABS plastic. This bass clarinet has an upper joint & a lower joint just like a regular Bb clarinet but this bass clarinet was designed to stay together, in other words, not to be taken apart. However, someone decided to push this instrument past its physical limits and they broke it right where the two joints meet. My photos are of the low C# or upper G# tone hole, depending on which register you are playing in. Obviously a chunk of plastic was broken out of the aforementioned tone hole. Luckily, as I scoured through the case I found the missing piece, still intact. So, this was a moderately easy fix because I was able to “super-glue” the missing piece back into place. A little bit of clean up where the seams met but that was it. This horn will live for another school year to be mauled by another non-caring, oblivious high school student that doesn’t have to pay for such damage. Oh yeah, this is not a privately owned instrument, this is an instrument that is owned by the school and our tax dollars pay for.


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