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Maybe a stupdid question but I'd still your feedback

MikeMorrell

Netherlands
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In the 20+ years I've been playing tenor sax, I've noticed very few playing problems that (finally) prompted me to take my sax in for checking/adjustment/maintenance. If my sax didn't sound like I really wanted it to, my initial assumption has been that the main cause was probably me (too little practice, too little breath control, voicing, etc.) or a dodgy reed. On the few occasions I've taken the sax in to be checked out, it turned out that some adjustments were necessary (though it's not always been clear which ones ;)). If I'd had my sax checked out more regularly, it probably would have been in better condition more often!

Recently, I've had the feeling that I've had to work harder than usual to hit low notes with a stable tone. Last weekend, while recording for the BOTM, I decided that something was really off. Low F and below were harder to play, required more breath and tended to easily octavate. Switching mpc's and reeds didn't make much difference. So I took in in. Within 2 mins my (new, preferred) local repairer discovered 3 pads that were leaking due to age (cracks) or damage. She's now repairing these and I'm picking up the sax tomorrow. I don't yet know what the bill will be.

My gut feeling is that if these 3 pads are cracked/damaged, others might soon cause similar problems. So - although my budget is tight - I'm considering 'bundling' this quick 'problem repair' with an annual maintenance agreement. This agreement includes cleaning, checking/replacing all pads and making any and all adjustments to keep the sax in 'Top Form' throughout the year.

So my question to you is: does my gut feeling about the general condition of my pads (based on the current 3 replacements) ring true in your experience? I can choose to have pads replaced on a 'problem by problem' basis or - under the maintenance agreement - have my sax checked out from top to bottom and 'pro-actively' prevent problems. With an unlimited budget, I would definately choose the second option. I will of course ask my repairer for her advice (and payment options) but I'd be grateful for your feedback too. Wait until a problem (perhaps) appears from time to time or pay up front for an annual maintentance contract?

For me, my sax is a complicated thing and I much prefer to let 'specialists' fix/adjust things rather than attempt it myself. There may come a day when I'll take a cheap sax apart to figure out how a sax works:).

Mike
 

hedgehog

I love singletrack.
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I think that's a good question! Some folks advise that saxophones do need annual checks such as you describe. I don't know whether that's true (hence, you have a good question!). But regarding the cost of the annual maintenance agreement, look back at what you've spent on as-needed adjustments and figure out a per-year estimate. Include the cost of the current pad replacement! Then compare your annual average cost to the cost of the agreement.

That's simple...unless someone agrees with your feeling that others might be failing. My bet is they won't because some pads have a much harder life than others (looking at you, G#). But many around the cafe would have a better sense of this. Oh...which pads needed replacement?

When I had my horn in for a setup and check, they said they thought the pads would be ok for a couple of years, so it seems like a reasonable think to ask your repairer to look at the other pads. And corks. And springs. And felts. ;)
 

JayeNM

Formerly JayePDX
Messages
1,993
First off...is "Octivate" a real word ?

Because....... it's sorta.....egggggggggselllllent.


Screen Shot 2019-03-12 at 8.27.24 PM.png


Next, so this 'maintenance agreement'. Can you explain ? Is this a rental horn ? If you own it, I have never heard of a maintenance agreement with a tech...all techs I know just fix customers' horns when they need fixing, and charge accordingly. Sorry to be daft on this, maybe I am misunderstanding something....

But those are just asides, really (sorry).

So, IMHO the likelihood is, if all of the pads on there were of the same age, your instinct is probably correct and over the next several months or perhaps a year or (who knows ?) maybe more than a year...others might also start failing, or leaks may develop mechanically, etc.

But typically speaking, in situations where I have taken a horn to a tech for spot repairs due to limited budget, the tech will also note to me what other conditions exist on the horn which will need attending to at some point. I know in the instances where I do spot repairs for someone, I will always take care of the priorities up until the money runs out, then note to them what I couldn't get done given the allotted pay.

So, hopefully she can do that for you.

Always optimal, as you say, to have the entire horn assessed on a regular basis....because sometimes things can slowly start slipping...a failing pad, something going out of regulation, etc....which actually did cause a problem; but the problem was small enough that YOU (unbeknownst to you) are actually compensating in your blowing/embouchure to get the note/notes to speak.

If the assessment comes up with multiple issues, always best to have all of the work on the punch list then done at once; but also as you say, money is an issue oftentimes....so oftentimes a tech will enter into a discussion regarding the priorities.
 
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Tenor Viol

Full of frets in North Shropshire
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5,990
Saxes do need regular attention - they are fairly complex pieces of mechanical engineering which are prone to going out of regulation and also wearing.
 

Keep Blowing

Senior Member
Messages
1,701
In the 20+ years I've been playing tenor sax, I've noticed very few playing problems that (finally) prompted me to take my sax in for checking/adjustment/maintenance. If my sax didn't sound like I really wanted it to, my initial assumption has been that the main cause was probably me (too little practice, too little breath control, voicing, etc.) or a dodgy reed. On the few occasions I've taken the sax in to be checked out, it turned out that some adjustments were necessary (though it's not always been clear which ones ;)). If I'd had my sax checked out more regularly, it probably would have been in better condition more often!

Recently, I've had the feeling that I've had to work harder than usual to hit low notes with a stable tone. Last weekend, while recording for the BOTM, I decided that something was really off. Low F and below were harder to play, required more breath and tended to easily octavate. Switching mpc's and reeds didn't make much difference. So I took in in. Within 2 mins my (new, preferred) local repairer discovered 3 pads that were leaking due to age (cracks) or damage. She's now repairing these and I'm picking up the sax tomorrow. I don't yet know what the bill will be.

My gut feeling is that if these 3 pads are cracked/damaged, others might soon cause similar problems. So - although my budget is tight - I'm considering 'bundling' this quick 'problem repair' with an annual maintenance agreement. This agreement includes cleaning, checking/replacing all pads and making any and all adjustments to keep the sax in 'Top Form' throughout the year.

So my question to you is: does my gut feeling about the general condition of my pads (based on the current 3 replacements) ring true in your experience? I can choose to have pads replaced on a 'problem by problem' basis or - under the maintenance agreement - have my sax checked out from top to bottom and 'pro-actively' prevent problems. With an unlimited budget, I would definately choose the second option. I will of course ask my repairer for her advice (and payment options) but I'd be grateful for your feedback too. Wait until a problem (perhaps) appears from time to time or pay up front for an annual maintentance contract?

For me, my sax is a complicated thing and I much prefer to let 'specialists' fix/adjust things rather than attempt it myself. There may come a day when I'll take a cheap sax apart to figure out how a sax works:).

Mike
Rather than pay up front for an annual maintenance agreement, why don't you just take it to your repairer once a year and let her check it over and sort any problems, you obviously think very highly of her and she sounds very genuine.
 

MikeMorrell

Netherlands
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1,469
Thanks for all the replies so far!
@tenorviol: I'm sure you're right, especially as I lug my sax around from/to rehearsals in a gig bag. I did once ask my previous repairer about this and he said that - depending on how much use my sax got - once every 1-2 years should be OK unless I suspected that something might need adjusting.
@hedgehog: good question! until now, I've only needed minor repairs/adjustments so my annual costs have been much lower than the costs of an annual maintenance contract (€ 125). Minor adjustments that take 5-10 mins. are usually not even billed.
@JayeNM: I wondered whether "octavate" was my too literal translation from the equivalent Dutch word! Turns out it's a real word in English too, though probably not used as much as the Dutch one. And no it's not a rental sax. Just as for cars, all instrument repair shops provide 'standard' minor and major maintenance services and call you if replacements are needed to bands, music schools, etc and also to individual customers. The idea is that customers know in advance what their annual maintenance/repair costs are going to be and can budget for these. Annual maintenance always includes cleaning (pads too), oiling, replacement of pads, corks, springs, etc. as necessary, testing and adjustment. Anything else that might need repairing or adjusting during year is done free of charge.
@Keep Blowing: I'm thinking the same way. I just read that an annual maintenance contract is for 3 years (minimum). That's too long for me and will probably work out more expensive than 'regular' checks. Yes, she is very genuine and offers great customer service. I'll ask for her advice this afernoon.

Mike
 

Wonko

Member
Messages
401
When I started playing the saxophone, my teacher told me to get it serviced once a year.
During the periods that I play regularly, I get it serviced about once a year. Could take a little longer, but never more than 2 years between services. The last one was about a year ago, the sax played heavenly after that service. It was as if I just got an upgrade to a sax that was double the price (so to speak). At that point I had resumed playing since about 8 or 9 months, had a break of about 2 or 3 years before that. So the service before that last one must have been 4 or 5 years before.....
 

hedgehog

I love singletrack.
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I was wondering about "octavate" also. It's almost a portmanteau of "octave" and "elevate". For sure, my horn no longer has a an octave key. No. Now it has an octavator!

@Wonko I had the same experience the last time I took my sax in for annual service. It was suddenly much easier to play.
 

jbtsax

Well-Known Member
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8,124
In my repair practice a "play condition" includes replacing pads that have worn to the point they no longer effectively seal the tone hole and replacing pads that are getting close enough to that condition that I don't think will last for another year. The cost I quote the customer is generally in the range of $75 - $150. If most of the pads in the upper and lower stacks fall into this category I recommend a repad/overhaul which includes tonehole leveling and keyfitting. This service is generally quoted at $600 to $900 depending upon the dent and mechanical work required, the amount of key fitting, and the general age of the instrument. In my experience "vintage" saxes always entail more work than meets the eye.

I also advise my customers to have their instrument checked at least once a year. If I were to offer a pre-paid maintenance plan it would probably be in the $75 - $150 per year range as well.
 

MikeMorrell

Netherlands
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1,469
A quick update: I just picked up my sax and in the shop, it played fine again. I asked my maintenance lady about my 'gut feeling' and her answer was that there was no basis for this. Her explanation was that top 3 pads get wetter (and need to dry out more) than the pads lower down. This means that they are more vulnerable to cracking and usually need to be replaced sooner than the lower ones .She showed me how the bottom pads were still in almost pristine condition.

She also said that she'd looked the sax over and found nothing else that might need attention. She hadn't got around to making up a bill and said she'd put it in the post when she did (and that it could take a while:)).

Mike
 

MikeMorrell

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1,469
I value your input on this @jbtsax. I agree that annual check-up (even if there are no immediate 'problems') is always worthwhile. Looking back, I've often waited too long - until I'm 95% convinced that it's the sax that might need adjusting and not me. Also good to hear that the maintenance pricing is reasonable.

I can well imagine that maintenance costs for "vintage" (or just "old" saxes can be much higher than for modern ones.


In my repair practice a "play condition" includes replacing pads that have worn to the point they no longer effectively seal the tone hole and replacing pads that are getting close enough to that condition that I don't think will last for another year. The cost I quote the customer is generally in the range of $75 - $150. If most of the pads in the upper and lower stacks fall into this category I recommend a repad/overhaul which includes tonehole leveling and keyfitting. This service is generally quoted at $600 to $900 depending upon the dent and mechanical work required, the amount of key fitting, and the general age of the instrument. In my experience "vintage" saxes always entail more work than meets the eye.

I also advise my customers to have their instrument checked at least once a year. If I were to offer a pre-paid maintenance plan it would probably be in the $75 - $150 per year range as well.
 

Nikki

Formerly SaxyNikki
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972
I can well imagine that maintenance costs for "vintage" (or just "old" saxes can be much higher than for modern ones.
You’ve got that right. My vintage alto ( 65 years ) they want between $750 to $1,000 for maintenance.
 

JayeNM

Formerly JayePDX
Messages
1,993
I can well imagine that maintenance costs for "vintage" (or just "old" saxes can be much higher than for modern ones.
Sorry, folks...this has gotten mentioned TWICE in this thread...I saw it once and was fine with just shutting up; but twice is ONE time too many....

So..... I have to jump in here, because once again if someone stumbles across this they may well walk away thinking "ooooh, a vintage sax is costlier to maintain than a modern one !"

No.

Nyet.

Oxi.

Ní hea.

Nee.

不是.

A vintage sax, having been put or maintained in good working order before coming into the hands of its current owner, is absolutely NO costlier to maintain that a modern horn.
So if an owner has purchased an older horn which has been kept up well, or one which has been properly serviced and attended to prior to sale....there ain't no difference.

It is more the instance where an owner purchases an older horn which, for example, has only received minimal servicings to 'keep it going' over an extended period; thus over the years has had what started as 'lower priority' issues ignored or neglected ....that one gets into this situation. Because such things snowball over time, if left unattended to.

Take any older horn vs. a modern one, start with them in equal tack (all pads sealing, fully regulated, holes level, no key play, body cleaned, rods straight and lubed, etc)...one horn will be no more expensive to service than the other.
Depending on the modern horn, matter o' fact, the latter may require more regular attention.

Point: it isn't by the virtue that the horn is 30-40+ years old that it 'requires' more upkeep....but rather that it is more typical to find in 40+ year old horns certain work has not been attended to over time.

End of digression.


(Interesting concept - the Servicing Plan. None of the techs I have associated with here in US offer this...first time I had heard of it).
 

jbtsax

Well-Known Member
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8,124
The repair shop at the store I used to work offered an add on "service plan" for an added monthly fee in addition to the rent or payment. It covered necessary maintenance and repair "within reason" for the instrument in question. When an instrument's damage was clearly due to careless or deliberate mishandling, the service contract was terminated and the customer was billed the full charge.

Most of the so called "vintage" saxes that come to my shop have not been well maintained and are in need of an overhaul. That's why they bring them to me in the first place. :)
 

Nikki

Formerly SaxyNikki
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972
Some vintage saxophones may need new little pivot screws and rods which need to be remade, or little hinge assembles that need to be rebuilt. Some have wavy toneholes which require work. Plus many old saxophones have leather pads whereas many newer models have polyester ones which are cheaper.

Yes if a Vintage saxophone hasn’t been looked after, like mine, then it’s going to cost a bit to get an overhaul. Mine hasn’t been serviced in about 20 years but it was put away for a long time and rarely, if ever played. I got married.

This also was the quote from Long & McQuades which charges an outrageous in-house fee which is why I found some independent technicians who I’ve been told will charge me much less. I’ve only recently gotten the number so I’ll be about to tell you the difference. I’ve had this saxophone since 1973 and it needs another complete overhaul. This will be my 3rd overhaul since owning it and I’m the second owner.

I honestly didn’t know saxophones needed yearly repair. It got cleaned after each use and put away. Once I stopped playing it, then it got permanently put away and neglected.

I’d think the biggest difference is that there can’t be a generic fixed price on vintage saxophones like there can be on some modern ones but it’s just my opinion.
 

MikeMorrell

Netherlands
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1,469
A valid point worth making and well taken, @JayeNM!

My sax is almost 60 years old (early 1960's). So by most definitions, it's a 'late vintage'. I think you're right that if a sax (even from the 1920's or earlier) has been well-maintained, there's no reason in principle why it should require any more maintenance than a modern sax. I know absolutely nothing about sax construction/mechanics but just perhaps (due to their construction) older saxes may need more frequent adjustment than newer saxes. I may be completely wrong!

I deliberately bought my 1960's sax through a small shop that makes most of its money on maintenance and repair. They only buy in good quality 2nd hand saxes and they thoroughly check them out and make any necessary repairs/adjustments before selling them on. So their saxes are not as cheap as on E-bay but buyers like me can have confidence that they're buying a good quality, refurbished, well-adjusted and playable sax.

I suspect that the 'nightmare scenario' for some sax players is that they spot a'vintage sax bargain' on (just for example) E-Bay that perhaps initially sounds OK (or not) and that soon requires major maintenance/repair to compensate for a lack of maintenance (or plain defects) in the past. I hope @jbtsax will chip in on this.

Mike

Sorry, folks...this has gotten mentioned TWICE in this thread...I saw it once and was fine with just shutting up; but twice is ONE time too many....

So..... I have to jump in here, because once again if someone stumbles across this they may well walk away thinking "ooooh, a vintage sax is costlier to maintain than a modern one !"

No.

Nyet.

Oxi.

Ní hea.

Nee.

不是.

A vintage sax, having been put or maintained in good working order before coming into the hands of its current owner, is absolutely NO costlier to maintain that a modern horn.
So if an owner has purchased an older horn which has been kept up well, or one which has been properly serviced and attended to prior to sale....there ain't no difference.


It is more the instance where an owner purchases an older horn which, for example, has only received minimal servicings to 'keep it going' over an extended period; thus over the years has had what started as 'lower priority' issues ignored or neglected ....that one gets into this situation. Because such things snowball over time, if left unattended to.

Take any older horn vs. a modern one, start with them in equal tack (all pads sealing, fully regulated, holes level, no key play, body cleaned, rods straight and lubed, etc)...one horn will be no more expensive to service than the other.
Depending on the modern horn, matter o' fact, the latter may require more regular attention.


Point: it isn't by the virtue that the horn is 30-40+ years old that it 'requires' more upkeep....but rather that it is more typical to find in 40+ year old horns certain work has not been attended to over time.

End of digression.

(Interesting concept - the Servicing Plan. None of the techs I have associated with here in US offer this...first time I had heard of it).
 
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Colin the Bear

Well-Known Member
Messages
13,328
Yearly maintenance? I check mine over every time I play them. Cork wears, and screws move.

It's a simple tube with holes to big and numerous for fingers, so it uses flaps of leather and felt to imitate finger pads. The complicated bit is when you press this over here that over there moves and when you press this and that something else moves as well.

It only takes five minutes to shine a torch under the pads to see how they're doing. It takes very little time to check that where two things move, they do it together and in synch. How much is a leak light? Sax LED Leak Light Universal Lamp Woodwind Instrument Accessories Parts | eBay

Every player should know how their horn works. They should know what is a quick tweak and what is beyond them. Although both may give you serious playing problems.
 
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