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"Minimum" tools a technician may use

Ne0Wolf7

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Hello everyone,
For my birthday early next month, I am considering purchasing a beat up sax off of eBay or the likes and using it as a learning device to further my potential journey into musicianship and/or either way do something cool (and get a sax out of the deal). I know this has been done before, and this particular question probably asked before (although I failed to find it), but what do you suppose the "minimum" tools and materials to get started would be? (Maybe get started is a bad phrase, I'm basically looking to overhaul.) I know there really isn't such a thing as a bare minimum as each job is different, so perhaps my experiment won't be too far gone to begin, but I'd like to hear what kind of stuff it takes (I already have the clean underwear) to do this kind of work. There's also a book that's constantly recommended here for so many reasons I'm not sure the search button revealed the right one... Does Larry Teal's "The Saxophonist's Workbook" sound right?
Anyhow, that's whats on my mind. I'd appreciate any help I can get, there's so much info out there I'm not sure which lot of it is true.
 

kevgermany

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Don't know the book you mention, but an excellent intro is provided by one of our members, @Stephen Howard in his Haynes Saxophone Manual. This is a must.

For tools for basic work, surprisingly little.

Leak light
Good quality screwdrivers with long shafts, smaller tips. Although sometimes short ones are needed as well.
Larger screwdrivers.
Tweezers
Spring hook (make your own)
Pliers with non-scratch jaws
Round nose pliers
Oiler - use a needle and small cup at first.
Sharp cutter - old fashioned razor blades or exactly type knife.

For changing/adjusting pads,
Small controllable gas burner
Tone hole files
Pad slicks - semi optional, most of the time not needed.
Vernier calipers.
Pad pricker, but you can get away with a fine jewellers screwdriver - or make your own from mounting a needle in a pencil sized stick of wood.

If you're going with a beater, swedging tools to take the play out of the keys/rods are needed, as is a file, but misuse will mark the keys badly. Also dent removal, but this should be left a lot later.

I might have missed something, but others will add.

The most important thing is to think and understand - it's not rocket science, but linkages, key interactions, pad seating, key heights, play are critical to getting a sax playing well. Start simple - learn to strip/reassemble and lube/adjust. Learn to replace corks. Learn to get pads sealing instantly with very light finger pressure. Learn to adjust and balance spring tension. Learn the spring relationships around G#. Learn the octave mech mechanism. Learn the upper stack/lower stack relationship, especially the BB linkage.
 

Ne0Wolf7

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That's a great list, thank you, and I'll be sure to pick up that book.
I guess I've got some shopping to do!
 

thomsax

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I bought Erick Brand's book "Band Repairing Manual". (Ferree's Tools). Old-fashioned but most of my saxes are from 30's -50's. I'm just working on my old saxes. And I just buy saxes in good condition. No machines and equipment for metal works. Notice that a saxophone repair shop should be able to do "lacuering saxophone". This was before the free blowing vintage look/sound was invented.
brand.JPG
 

altissimo

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Lots of grainy photos of brass brutalized with burnishers and dent balls

I think I'd rather go to the dentist
I hardly think that 'brutalised' is the correct term to describe the great skill involved in removing dents.
And how do you think they make saxophones, with fairy dust and unicorn fluff? There's a lot of hammering and burnishing gone on before it ever reaches your hands
 

Ne0Wolf7

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Does it really matter that the caliper is from vernier?
I have a digital one lying around thats not verneir, and wouldn't mind a few bucks, alhtough I do like to be able to just read the ruler portion as well.
 

kevgermany

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Digital ones are perfect. Main use is measuring pads and cups to half millimetre accuracy.
 

Ne0Wolf7

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I poked around the music medic website and there seems to be an awful lot of different pliers buy and wow are tone hole files expensive! Is it a cardnal sin now-a-days to use hand files for leveling (at least before I consider myself worthy of a more than $300 investment)?
 

kevgermany

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You can file tone holes with a hand file, but unless your filing skills are well honed, it's a long job and you're more likely to make it worse or wreck the sax.

You can make your own by mounting a flat disk on a rod and sticking wet and dry to them. You'll need a range of sizes.

But... Don't use them on a sax with rolled tone holes. It's a one way trip to destroying the rolled ring. Look on YouTube for sax works Denmark to see how to do it non destructively. I've never tried. And some/many techs do file them.
 

Stephen Howard

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You can file tone holes with a hand file, but unless your filing skills are well honed, it's a long job and you're more likely to make it worse or wreck the sax.

You can make your own by mounting a flat disk on a rod and sticking wet and dry to them. You'll need a range of sizes.

But... Don't use them on a sax with rolled tone holes. It's a one way trip to destroying the rolled ring. Look on YouTube for sax works Denmark to see how to do it non destructively. I've never tried. And some/many techs do file them.

I do all my tonehole levelling with a hand file.

If you place a disc-shaped file on a tonehole it needs to find three points of contact in order to file evenly. Most warped toneholes have just two raised points...which means the file will have to contact a lower point as well as the two raised points. The only way around this is to mount the horn in some kind of vice and bring the file down pefectly perpendicular to the rim of the tonehole...and, frankly, it ain't gonna happen.
So you have it at it with the disc file - but it will rock in use, which means that it's likely to take material off the opposing low point as well. By the time you've brough down the high points you've also taken material off the low points...quite unnecessarily.

I use a flat standard (a disc of known flatness) to test the tonehole and spot the high points. These can then be tackled individually, so that they're brought down to the level of the low points without removing any more material than is necessary.
Yes, it takes a lot longer than having at the toneholes with a disc file - but it's less invasive and far, far more precise.

Granted, it takes a bit of skill - but it's not 'voodoo' skill...and with the aid of a piece of plastic drainpipe, a glass coaster, a torch and a medium grade file you can figure out what's what in about half an hour.
Thereafter you'll need some flat standards and a decent smooth-cut half-round file (Valorbe No.4...about a tenner).

A rolling blog of everyday life on and around the workbench

And yeah, you can use this method on rolled toneholes...but only as a final 'dressing' - you still have to do the majority of the levelling by working the bore with dent bars
 

Ne0Wolf7

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I actually have a real old sax (20's low pitch alto) from my grandfather and on e if the specific problems it has is that the solder that holds the tone holes to the bell has degraded to the point you can see through it in places. I don't think this falls in the scope of basic work or a repad. Besides skill, what does it take to tackle a problem like that?
 

Stephen Howard

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I actually have a real old sax (20's low pitch alto) from my grandfather and on e if the specific problems it has is that the solder that holds the tone holes to the bell has degraded to the point you can see through it in places. I don't think this falls in the scope of basic work or a repad. Besides skill, what does it take to tackle a problem like that?

In simple terms - the tonehole will have to be unsoldered and removed, the base of the tonehole will have to be cleaned - as will the mounting surface on the horn. Some adjustments maybe necessary to both the tonehole and the body to ensure everything lines up and is more or less level , and then the tonehole will have to be fitted and held in position and re-soldered.
At the minimum you'll need a gas soldering torch, a scraper of some description, some soft solder and suitable flux...and some soft iron wire (for securing the tonehole in place while resoldering it).

You might think it's worth just trying to resolder the parted section, but this seldom works...and doing it 'properly' often takes longer than whipping the tonehole off and resoldering it.

If it's just a beater horn, or the gap is less than a quarter of the tonehole's circumference, you can make quite an effective repair with some JB Weld (epoxy glue/filler). Doesn't need to be plastered on...just pushed into the gap.
However - if there's one parted tonehole, you can be pretty sure there'll be others.
 

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