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Maybe a stupdid question but I'd still your feedback


Formerly JayePDX
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.

That's exactly it, Mike. Fact is, the majority of Vintage horns out there on the market are not in good tack - they haven't been kept up to speed. They may be closet queens, they may be retired school band instruments, they may just have had 5 or so owners all of whom only were willing or able to pay for what an sax acquaintance of mine dubs " M*A*S*H* Repairs" (just patch 'em up well enough, and send 'em back out into the field). MOST older saxes sold fit somewhere in here.

But all of those things, in and of themselves, are not intrinsic 'attributes' of the vintage instrument. IOW - ain';t because the horn is a '59 Martin. Because a '59 Martin is a phenomenal instrument in construction, playability, and sound. Arguably a significantly superior saxophone than around 75% of available contemporary models. It's because that Martin hasn't been kept up to speed.

A few weeks ago I made this comparison on another thread: 2 horns for sale:

1) "Yamaha YTS 23. Horn has some dents and dings and finish wear, nothing major - is in pretty decent shape overall. Pads still look good. It plays. Comes with original case. $600"

2) "Martin Indiana Tenor Sax, 1959. This horn was overhauled back in 2013 and has received a couple of servicings since. Some dents and dings, lacquer is around 65-70%. Before listing I brought her to my tech who did some servicing so she is playing nicely. Comes with original case. $700"

The 'a vintage sax will cost more to upkeep' argument - which someone who has erroneously bought that argument might apply here - will really likely lead that someone badly astray in such a situation.
One might think they are wily and have done their 'research', leading them to conclude "gotta take the's a widely recommended model and it'll cost less to upkeep than the Martin (because I researched and found out vintage horns are more expensive to service and upkeep), plus the Martin also happens to be more expensive" (then pats themselves on the back)


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The Yama, simply by virtue of it being a 1992 horn....ain't gonna save the new owner any $ in servicing over time; as there's nothing which indicates the horn is really in good, respectable playing shape. It might in fact 'play', but it might have bad pads, unlevel holes, key slop, and be out of regulation....while its counterpart is highly unlikely to have such maladies.

The Martin, simply due to it being a 60-year old horn, does not equate with it being more expensive to upkeep over the next 20 years....

Even if the Yama had been described as equally kept and both horns are at the same 'starting line'...any argument that the Martin would cost more from hereon to a very specious argument to make.
Both horns are reputed brands with solid track records; both horns are being offered in good, serviced, upkept or refurbished condition.

Vintage vs. Modern now has nothing to do with this equation from a servicing standpoint.

Now...are MOST Martins for sale IN that condition ? No...and their prices don't reflect it either. But as you said....some people think they are gonna get something more than their money pays for. And sellers do not help out by giving vague descriptions which often intimate the horn is in playing shape, when it's nowhere near.

Now...WILL most buyers of such horns actually spring for a whole-hog repad/overhaul/refurb of that instrument once they get it ? No, probably not. Most folks would more likelytry to minimize what the 'have' to spend on it to get it 'playing OK'. Then perhaps over the next few years in subsequent tech trips slowly start addressing some of the less 'immediate' issues (maybe - or maybe not).

This has everything to do with the buyer, though. Again, this isn't due to the year of the horn itself.

Now when you get into '20's horns, it is still sort of the same thing...although it's also fair to say the precision of construction of the mechanisms certainly improved between the 20's and 70's. But still....if that splitbellkey Martin or Buescher TT was generally upkept well and had an overhaul or close-to-it in the past 10-12 years, then some tune-ups's likely to be in solid shape still....

Oh...BTW, Mike ...your tech sounds quite 'on top of it'. It's nice to have a relationship with a talented, honest tech who gives her true opinion. Many a tech, when faced with the question "since you had to replace those 3 pads, do you think it'd be a good idea to replace more now since they will probably eventually need it anyway"...might have replied differently. But she seems to have been looking out for you.
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Bob M.

maintenance plans are great for repair people dealing with schools and students and younger people who do some weird things, the general repairs are things like bumpers,cork jobs,a pad replacement, missing or loose screws/keys, etc. many repair services do not even do dent repair they send it out (And with good reason, it can/is a specialist sort of job.) and often they have these plans basically for the same reasons your grocery store often has a customer rewards is really to get you to keep coming back to them specifically, and then when anything happens that isnt under the specific maintenance agreement they get that business. And since you are taking it to them as a repair person...well...perhaps a pad gets replaced slightly earlier than necessary.... perhaps a pad isn;t quite sealing a tone hole to them appropriately, or this or that will need to be repaired.....and maybe they work on it (or maybe not even) and just give you a bill.
My father used to always say...take your car to a rake shop...and chances are they are going to tell you, you need brake repairs.......sure, he died in a auto accident when he lost his brakes...but the point should be well noted imo.
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