All profit supporting special needs music education and Help Musicians
PPT Mouthpieces

Overhaul work flow

Figaro

Member
Messages
40
While I'm sitting here at my work bench waiting for some adhesive to set on some key felts I thought I'd start a discussion about work flow when overhauling a saxophone.

I'm only on my fourth sax, but I've developed a work flow order that works well for me and I'll share it here and ask that any techs that feel so inclined to also share how they go about the process.

Here's mine:
  • Initially give the whole horn a good inspection making notes of problems or issues, missing or broken parts.
  • Disassemble the entire horn, remove old pads corks and felts, unless any are in acceptable condition and might work such as bumper corks.
  • Clean all key work, neck and body in detergent and water, remove shellac from key cups, clean all screws and hinge rods.
  • On bare brass or silver plate do an initial polish to remove any remaining tarnish.
  • Straighten any bent parts or bent body, perform any solder repairs, remove dents, repair broken or bent springs.
  • Further polish and detail all parts, polish and straighten any bent hinge rods, repair any stripped threads, install hinge rods to check post alignment, straighten as necessary.
  • Assemble entire horn to check inherent key heights from tone holes making any adjustments needed, check spring tensions, check neck tenon.
  • Disassemble horn.
  • Apply shellac to pads, do initial set of pads into key cups by heating center only and pressing in place.
  • Assemble horn, set pads in place with heat gun and leak light.
  • Apply cork as necessary to get proper regulation and key heights.
  • Wedge keys closed for at least one day.
  • Give horn a good play out and make any adjustments needed.
  • Final polish and cleanup.


I find it easier to install corks at a later stage in the process.

Of course these steps will vary depending on the initial condition of the horn.
I seem to be averaging 35 - 40 hours to do all of the steps above on horns that were not in playing condition when I started.
 

jbtsax

Well-Known Member
Subscriber
Messages
8,268
Sounds like a good system. Congratulations. You are on your way to becoming a member of the O.C.D. saxophone repair tech club. ;)

My routing is quite similar with a few differences.
  • Before disassembly I make note of which keys or posts need to be swedged or "peened" to remove play.
  • Before disassembly I measure the opening of the F key.
  • After disassembly, dent work, straightening, etc. all of the toneholes are leveled.
  • Before assembly I install the "buffering material" which is thin synthetic felt to the tops of the key feet on the stack keys, and 1/16" regular cork to the bottoms of the key feet on the stack keys. The rest of the key feet material---tech cork, synthetic felt, etc. is added after the keys are installed.
  • After all the key fitting and key cup alignment is completed I start installing the pads.
    • Each pad is dry fit without shellac first to gauge how much shellac to use.
    • Stack keys are "unregulated" so each pad is "seated" independently of the other keys.
  • After all the stack keys are installed and seated, the keys are regulated by bending the key feet or using the adjusting screws if the saxophone has them.
  • Once regulation is completed, lost motion is removed by sanding the cork on the key feet.
After each pad is adjusted to eclipse the light 360° with the spring attached and using a light touch or soft closing of spring closed keys, I allow the "impression" in the pad to be created naturally by playing the instrument. I do not clamp keys shut to create an impression.
 

PigSquealer

Connoisseur of applesauce
Subscriber
Messages
271
You both left out oil & grease.
I pay close attention to pad installation before disassembly. Regulation cork is second. I don’t like bending things. If the pad is high or low The cork will show this to. The pad wear impression offers some good clues too.
I install all my pads off the sax. If the key fit up was done right the pad should be level in the cup and level on the tone hole within reason. I only wedge stubborn pads. For the most part I avoid leaving a impression. Nothing wrong with that. Just not my style.
I leak check with lighter fluid before the wash on soldered tone holes.
My process is close to both the above mentioned. I just pet the dog a little more.
 

Stephen Howard

Well-Known Member
Messages
2,284
Here's mine - generally. It'll vary at times depending on the job.

Inspect and log problems.
Dismantle.
Do bodywork (dents, bends, bell/pillar alignment, soldering etc.)
Fit crook, lap in.
Precision level toneholes (bell holes with horn in upright position).
Degrease body and keys (don't want any gritty old oil around for the next step).
Tighten action (various methods). Adjust alignment as required.
Wash/clean body. I rarely do any polishing these days - just not interested in it.
Spring replacement (as necessary/requested).
Remove old pads, level key cups, clean keywork, address rollers.
From here on in I work on groups of keys rather than the whole...
Fit and set pads individually and lightly. No wedging/clamping - doesn't work long term.
Remove regulation buffers and replace - set preliminary regulation within stacks.
Remove key height buffers, replace - leave over-thick.
Degrease keywork again, apply two-stage lube and fit.
Leave horn to rest for a day or so.
Check pad seat, adjust/replace if necessary, re-adjust regulation, set key height and spring tension.
Leave for a day or so, repeat.
Play test, adjust key height/spring tension as necessary.
Leave for a day or so - re-check everything, play test and adjust if necessary.
Fit trouser guard, sign off job.
 

rhysonsax

Well-Known Member
Subscriber
Messages
4,729
These workflows are really interesting to me. And I was interested to see the average time stated by @Figaro - presumably techs get a bit quicker with experience, but there must still be quite a lot of variation depending on how much work is required and whether any parts need to be made.

Are there any differences to workflow (e.g. in order or additional steps) for the different sizes of saxophone (SATB) or for different makes/models/vintages ?

Rhys

PS Except Grafton !
 

Stephen Howard

Well-Known Member
Messages
2,284
The size of the horn shouldn't make much, if any, difference to the workflow.
The design of the horn can effect the workflow, depending on what special features it may have.
It's not a rigid guide - but for me the levelling of the tonehole is the break point. Once done, there should be no further work that may affect them.
 

jbtsax

Well-Known Member
Subscriber
Messages
8,268
Regulation cork is second. I don’t like bending things.
I have found that using any material that is thick or will compress to regulate keys like traditional cork increases the likelihood that the regulation will not be as stable and will change over time as the material compresses. Also using different thicknesses of "buffering material" on the keys makes the next overhaul more time consuming. During final adjustments keys are "bent" at the factory all the time. Using the correct tool(s) and techniques of course are important.
My process is close to both the above mentioned. I just pet the dog a little more.
My "puppy" Arabella, Bella for short who is close to turning two years old still lacks the "impulse control" be anywhere near my shop. I hope someday she will become a faithful "shop dog" like the last one.

IMG_0082.JPG
 

Stephen Howard

Well-Known Member
Messages
2,284
During final adjustments keys are "bent" at the factory all the time. Using the correct tool(s) and techniques of course are important.
Yep, bending is common during manufacturing assembly - and much of it's to do with having preset buffer corks/felts. Much faster to make the keys 'fit' a set thickness rather than fiddle about with sanding them down.
If you look at a brand new horn you'll often see that the key feet cork meet the body at an angle rather than having been sanded to match the curvature of the body. It's especially true of cylindrical buffers.
 

PigSquealer

Connoisseur of applesauce
Subscriber
Messages
271
Yep, bending is common during manufacturing assembly - and much of it's to do with having preset buffer corks/felts. Much faster to make the keys 'fit' a set thickness rather than fiddle about with sanding them down.
If you look at a brand new horn you'll often see that the key feet cork meet the body at an angle rather than having been sanded to match the curvature of the body. It's especially true of cylindrical buffers.
And exactly why I look at the corks. Have they been sanded, paper shims,felt foot added. Clues to previous work done. I don’t like bending keys doesn‘t mean I don’t. I’m just not a key bending monkey from poor prep in other areas. That’s as bad as being a pad floating monkey.
As you know, it’s a judgment thing. Get it close for the next step. Gentle finesse would be my best words.
 

PigSquealer

Connoisseur of applesauce
Subscriber
Messages
271
I have found that using any material that is thick or will compress to regulate keys like traditional cork increases the likelihood that the regulation will not be as stable and will change over time as the material compresses. Also using different thicknesses of "buffering material" on the keys makes the next overhaul more time consuming. During final adjustments keys are "bent" at the factory all the time. Using the correct tool(s) and techniques of course are important.

My "puppy" Arabella, Bella for short who is close to turning two years old still lacks the "impulse control" be anywhere near my shop. I hope someday she will become a faithful "shop dog" like the last one.

View attachment 16767
Very normal for cork or soft materials to compress with age if loaded. Still it reasonably easy to see what thickness should be in a given position. Zero cork under a bent F/G finger is not good.
Ever notice how few videos exist on sax finishing. As it is the general population does’t understand a hammer..... they bent my new sax for whaaatt :eek:

Happy pooch ; )
 

jbtsax

Well-Known Member
Subscriber
Messages
8,268
Zero cork under a bent F/G finger is not good.
I'm not sure I understand. :confused2:
Ever notice how few videos exist on sax finishing. As it is the general population does’t understand a hammer..... they bent my new sax for whaaatt :eek:
If you ask real nice, I will tell you how I use a hammer to regulate the keys. ;)
Happy pooch ; )
Thank you. Having a co-dependent relationship with a Springer Spaniel puppy is interesting, to say the least. :)
 
Top Bottom