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Starting to Learn Sax Maintenance - direction needed please!

Tobes

Member
Messages
174
Hi 'yall,

Can people provide a list of useful tools, materials, techniques for restoring and maintaining saxophones. I have a great little work shop space in garage, and a bit of spare time, so thought I'd start leaning the art of saxophone maintenance :) To date, I've just stripped down, cleaned, oiled and reassembled a sax, but appreciate there is a lot more to it than this...

So far I'm just planning to get the 'Haynes Saxophone Manual' - does this cover everything? Or are there other useful techniques, tools etc. not covered, that would be useful to know....?

Many thanks!
 

johnboy

Senior Member
Messages
1,179
Hi Tobes,
Dont plan to get it, GET IT!!!
You'll find just about everything you need to know within it's pages. Stephen has done a very comprehensive job, and I think it should be in every saxist's library :welldone

John.
 

Nick Wyver

noisy
Subscriber
Messages
5,949
The problems begin when you've got to start reseating/replacing pads and all those fiddly little bits of cork. I used to do some work with Rupert Noble when he was in Nottingham. Typically, I'd take a sax apart, clean it, repad it and reassemble it. Then I'd give it to Rupert to make it work. That's the really hard part. If you've got a repairer near you go and have a chat.

Good repairers are few and far between. There's a reason for that. It's not easy.
 
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Tobes

Member
Messages
174
Yep, I will order Haynes Manual tomorrow. Thanks!

Yeah I hear you Nick, getting it to actually work is the real trick, but I guess where there's a will there is a way. I have two saxes that are set up perfectly so have something of a benchmark to compare with. Trouble with speaking to local repairer is guy that I need my right arm to play - getting info is like trying to get blood out of a stone :-(
 

kevgermany

ex Landrover Nut
Subscriber
Messages
21,947
All you need is in Steven's book, and on the web.

Couple of good sites for info/articles(some of which isn't in Steven's book):
Musicmedic.com
cybersax.com

I don't quite agree with Nick here - it isn't that complicated... But you must do things in order and be prepared for a lot of assembly/reassembly. Patience and an ability to work to fine tolerances are important. Time is a factor. If you factor in the cost of your time, it's cheaper to give it to a professional. Their skill & experience means that they make fewer mistakes, and can do things right first time, when you or I may take a few goes....

You particularly need to how the interlinked keys (such as RH D, E, F) are adjusted together.

There's a really good discussion on setting the lower stack/Bb linkage on cybersax.

Sanding the wrong cork is a very good way to drive yourself nuts, as it leads to confusion and eventually realisation, but by then there's no alternative but to replace the cork... And although newer saes have lots of adjuting screws, older ones rely on corks and felts for adjustment.

Cheapos from ebay are good candidates to practice your butchery on (and turn it into repair skills).

Specialist tools are relatively few - leak light, cigarette papers, pad slicks, pricker, good quality, fine screwdrivers, round nose pliers, spring removal pliers, and a spirit or gas burner. And digital calipers for measuring the cups. Other things you'll probably have already.

If you need to remove play from the rods (and you should) then swedging pliers as well. But for a quick replacement/reseat of a couple of pads or a regulation job you'll probably not go that far.

Watch out for some of the old Bueschers and Conn's, they may have non-standard pads and Conns have lock screws on the posts.

Having said all that, there's something really rewarding about spending some time on an instrument, getting it to play well, with all the pads sealing properly at the first touch, all the keys adjusted to open/close together, all the key heights set right and no lost motion and all the springs at the same balanced tension.
 

Nick Wyver

noisy
Subscriber
Messages
5,949
If it's not that complicated, why are there so few good repairers about?

I suppose I could get a sax working from scratch (after a considerable time) but I'd still want to take it to a decent repairer to get it absolutely perfect.

But, have a go Tobes. S'good fun - if you're into fiddly stuff.
 

Tobes

Member
Messages
174
Cheers guys, that's excellent. I'm not the most patient, practically capable person in the world, but I guess at the end of the day it just boils down to plain physics, which I do understand, plus having the mind to want to do it and do a good job. I'll start with some more modern saxes first methinks...
 

kevgermany

ex Landrover Nut
Subscriber
Messages
21,947
If it's not that complicated, why are there so few good repairers about?
Good question. no idea. I also wonder why there so few good car repairers about?

Maybe the majority aren't prepared/able to spend the time to do it properly, cos of time/cost pressure. Seems to be a lot of skill/knowledge involved to get it right quickly...
 

kevgermany

ex Landrover Nut
Subscriber
Messages
21,947
Cheers guys, that's excellent. I'm not the most patient, practically capable person in the world, but I guess at the end of the day it just boils down to plain physics, which I do understand, plus having the mind to want to do it and do a good job. I'll start with some more modern saxes first methinks...
You'll either develop the patience or kill someone...

If you're going to start twiddling screws, make a note of where it is, and how much your adjustment is (in quarter turns), then you can always put it back where it was....

And the newer saxes still have some corks for adjustment...
 

Tobes

Member
Messages
174
Manual arrive today! Very impressed - I feel like I am reading the "Saxophone Gospel according to St. Stephen Howard" lol! Looking forward to stripping down and overhauling my fantastic YAS62. Anyone got any old useless saxes, they can throw my way to experiment on in the new workshop, please feel free :) :) might come back sounding better than before..you never know??
 

johnboy

Senior Member
Messages
1,179
Hi Tobes,
Before you start stripping a sax, it might be a good idea to take close-up picks of the areas involved and use some tie on labels for the parts. It might save some head scratching.

John.
 

Tobes

Member
Messages
174
SDC10906.jpg
Hi Tobes,
Before you start stripping a sax, it might be a good idea to take close-up picks of the areas involved and use some tie on labels for the parts. It might save some head scratching.

John.
Hey John, good call. Actually I have already restored (striped, cleaned and oiled) an old 1920s silver plated Hawkes & Son alto (see attached final result) about 8 months ago. It was that project that got me into playing! I basically ensured all the parts remained in stack positions so was not too difficult to reassemble - bit of trail and error in places, like doing jigsaw puzzle actually - :welldone great fun, and really pleasing final result.
 
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