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Need for adjustments following a full service/overhaul - is this normal?

bobcat

New Member
Messages
1
Locality
Glasgow
Hi all,

I recently had my horn (Series III tenor) fully serviced (including strip-down, clean and rebuild) for the first time in several years. I noticed a huge improvement immediately after the service but it's now around 3 weeks later and, while I can't point to any specific technical issues, I feel as though the effects of the service have "worn off" and the sax is playing more or less as it did beforehand.

My teacher (who can't try the horn himself as I see him over Skype) tells me it's normal to require some adjustments a few weeks after a full overhaul, as some playing time is needed before things "settle in". He's a very experienced pro player so I don't doubt him, but my question is - is the need for some subsequent tweaks something that is generally accepted by all experienced technicians, and if so, is this something they would expect to be paid for, or should it be covered by the cost of the service?

(To be honest I would have no problem paying, my main concern is that I might offend the tech by implying there was something wrong with their previous work, without being able to point to any specific problems with the sax.)

Grateful for any advice folks
 

Jimmymack

Member
Messages
959
Locality
London
Give your tech a call and talk it through, no need to feel bad, if there’s a problem most likely they’ll say drop it in and then do any adjustments it needs in a few minutes.
 
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SaxBoss

Member
Messages
50
Locality
Australia
All new pads need to bed in. Even on a brand new saxophone. This 100% normal in my view.

From a tech perspective, I welcome customers that have a reasonable request like this. It shows me two things.
1. That the client is proactive in caring for their own instrument that I have spent many pain staking hours to repair and,
2. A happy customer is a walking advertisement for more work - word of mouth. It's hard for clients to find techs that deliver Quality workmanship, but is even harder to deliver that perfect workmanship in the first place. If you get a few referrals, this is the best thank-you one can receive from a happy client.

Go visit him once you have made an appointment so he can give you his undivided attention.

@Stephen Howard should have more to add?
 
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Colin the Bear

Well-Known Member
Messages
15,207
Locality
Burnley bb9 9dn
Sometimes mine needs a tweak after an in and out of the case, with extreme care. Pads settle, cork shrinks, metal relaxes.
Stupid instrument. Should have been a drummer. :cool:
A minor tweak is a 5 or 10 minute job. Not a problem. Take it back.
 

Stephen Howard

Well-Known Member
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3,160
Locality
UK
Gonna have to disagree and pads bedding in...mostly.
New pads should not need to bed in - it's the job of the repairer to do that.
There are lots of steps to be taken when fitting and setting a new pad - but even once you've got everything level, applied the shellac and fitted the pad in place and set it...the job still isn't done. The pad and key cup will cool, and unless you're very lucky (it happens sometimes) the pad will need some adjustments. After and hour or so it may well need some more adjustments - and it's pretty fair bet that coming back to that pad the next day will show that a few more tweaks are necessary.
Now, you can bung a pad in - set it and hand it back to the client. We sometimes have to do that (rush or on-the-spot jobs), but it's more than likely that the pad will move a little over the next day or so. Might not matter on a palm key or a low Eb...but if a G# or a low C throws a leak, it's going to make a difference.

I go through the process of setting and adjusting pads over a couple of days with each job - if time allows - and follow it up with play-testing and further tweaking. Not only does this allow me to find on the 'bugs' in the pad seating, it also tests the stability of the regulation. Once it's passed the test it gets handed to the client. It shouldn't need any further adjustment for quite some time. Sure, every once in a while the odd pad or cork throws a wobbly - but if it's more than every once in a while it probably means your technique or materials need looking at.
That said, horns aren't exactly precision instruments - and what with pads and corks being 'organic' it can all get a bit approximate at times. The skill in repairing is to do as much as you can to ensure that if there's going to be any settling in, it will do so evenly (flat key cups, flat pads, flat toneholes - and careful selection of regulation materials).

For a freshly serviced horn to return to lacklustre performance after just three weeks points to problems with the workmanship. Potentially.
A G# adjuster cork/felt that's compressed will knacker the low notes - but may only require a tweak of an adjusting screw to correct. An Auxiliary B pad that blown (swollen up) will also affect the horns performance - and may require a reset or a replacement.
Or it might be a whole bunch of problems.
I've got a Yani tenor in at the moment that's recently had £400's worth of work done to it. It barely works at all - and there's a humdinger of a bodge on one of the toneholes (huge burr where someone's attempted, and failed, to file the thing flat).
And I did a service to a horn last year that had been back to the repairer three times...before the client was told to 'press harder on the keys'.

So yeah, take it back and say that you're having problems. No decent repairer should mind. What they should do next is put the horn on the bench and inspect it...with you present. You want to see them put a leak light down the horn, and you want to be able to see that there are no leaks...with just a gentle pressure applied to the keys.
If someone brings a horn back to me with a problem I like to show the client exactly what the problem is, and explain how it happened....and apologise for the inconvenience.
There should certainly be no charge for this.
 

griff136

Well-Known Member
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1,064
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I live in Exmouth Devon.
I agree with Stephen on this one.

Call your tech and explain what the problem is and let them sort it for you.
If I had done a strip down service of a horn and It came back after 3 weeks ( sometimes they do although rarely) I wouldn't have the neck to charge the customer* - I'd be apologetic and rectify the problem at my earliest convenience.
 

Dr G

Member
Messages
575
Locality
Northern California
Hi all,

I recently had my horn (Series III tenor) fully serviced (including strip-down, clean and rebuild) for the first time in several years. I noticed a huge improvement immediately after the service but it's now around 3 weeks later and, while I can't point to any specific technical issues, I feel as though the effects of the service have "worn off" and the sax is playing more or less as it did beforehand.
Was it a rush job that you demanded to be returned in a couple of days?

Otherwise, the horn should be overhauled, set up, allowed to rest/settle, then checked again before return to the customer.

I have had a couple of tenors overhauled and shipped 1000+ miles, and they are both stable with regard to regulation. I do not have the patience for making several return trips until the repairman gets it right. I've been down that path before with a different tech and stopped using that repair shop.
 

jbtsax

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Café Supporter
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8,831
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Beautiful Springville, Utah USA
Not knowing the quality of the work, the techniques used, the attention to detail, and choice of materials makes this a hard question to answer. The variables are countless including how the player presses the keys and handles the instrument! Even top quality work as others have said needs to be played and adjusted several times before it leaves the shop for maximum stability and dependability. That said, I always encourage my customers to bring in an overhaul after about 4 weeks, so any minor tweaks can be made and more importantly so I can get feedback on my techniques and materials.
 

PigSquealer

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Los Angeles
I’ve never had anything come back for adjustments. The weather recently is challenging to get stability. One day it’s 40° the next day at 70°. Two weeks ago it was 60° and raining. The humidity was 85% Today it was 72° and 16% humidity. One of my altos I finished up last week…..I did adjustments on last night. This afternoon it leaked like a strainer. Blowing warm moist air into it sealed it up. A horn put together during the warm summer months stabilizes quickly. It’s solid year round. All the same materials. Quality goods. I don’t get it grrr.
 

Stephen Howard

Well-Known Member
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3,160
Locality
UK
That said, I always encourage my customers to bring in an overhaul after about 4 weeks, so any minor tweaks can be made and more importantly so I can get feedback on my techniques and materials.
Do many of your clients come back after four weeks?
I used to say much the same thing - bring the horn back after a few weeks for a post-service checkover - but hardly anyone did. They must have been happy with the work because I'd see them again a few years later.
These days I simply say "Any problems - let me know!".
 

thomsax

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4,555
Locality
Sweden
Most techs are doing fine works. But of course I was disappointed when I gor back a Martin from a tech and it was a complete different horn. Too thick pads and the key heights were too high as well. I wouldn't say I was bad job but the Martin feeling was lost .... .
 

Stephen Howard

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3,160
Locality
UK
Most techs are doing fine works.
Are they though?
These last couple of years have been quite eye-opening for me. I've been working flat out through the pandemic - and because many other repairers were either unable or unwilling to work, I got a whole bunch of new clients in.
This gave me an unprecedented chance to see what others were doing to horns - and on the whole it wasn't good.
Added quite a few names to my 'little black book'.

Here's a fairly typical example that I'm currently working on. It's an SA80 bari - client says it's rather weak down the lower end. It's been looked at in the past, but whoever looked at it ignored a crack in the crook socket and a split in the pigtail tube. I can tell they ignored it because the pigtail had been taken off and refitted...with hot melt glue, some of which had found its way into the split. They had to have been staring right at this crack when they refitted the tube. Why not fix it?

sa80 bari cracked tube small.jpg
 

Pete Thomas

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St. Mary's
Adjust after a few weeks due to "pads bedding in" makes no sense to me. Surely if they bed in over time, then that must actually improve the seal. I would expect the pad seal not to get worse, unless it is due corks getting compressed or adjusting screws shifting a bit.
 

Colin the Bear

Well-Known Member
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15,207
Locality
Burnley bb9 9dn
If a pad settles it can throw the regulation out. An eigth of a turn of a screw can be all that's required.
I sometimes feel like taking a hammer to mine.
 

turf3

Member
Messages
612
Locality
Earth
Another reason why adjusting screws are so good. 5 minutes with a leak light and a small screwdriver, versus however long it takes you to fiddly-dick around sanding down corks or gluing little pieces of paper.

And yet flute manufacturers continue to hype the lack of adjusting screws as a supposedly "more professional" construction, while their colleagues over in sax-land are busy adding them.
 

jbtsax

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Beautiful Springville, Utah USA
Do many of your clients come back after four weeks?
I used to say much the same thing - bring the horn back after a few weeks for a post-service checkover - but hardly anyone did. They must have been happy with the work because I'd see them again a few years later.
These days I simply say "Any problems - let me know!".
No, but it's the thought that counts. :cool:
 
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