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M/Pieces - Ligs What is refacing

Pete Thomas

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It is something that you need an expert for and involves adjust a mouthpiece facing. Includes possibly widening or reducing the tip opening, the curve of the facing, working on the table and sometimes work on the chamber.

It can be done to restore an old worn or damaged piece to its former glory or can be done to enhance or customise any mouthpiece to fit better with what the player wants. Phil does refacing and will hopefully be along soon...
 

JayeNM

Formerly JayePDX
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New Mexico, US
Aaaand.....Heeeeere's Phil ! (in a sense):

Refacing — Phil-Tone Custom Woodwinds

Generally, a good, precise, professional-quality reface will run between $85-250usd, depending on the mouthpiece, the person doing the work, and your geographic location.

Some repair techs fancy themselves as being able to do mouthpiece work, and they may charge a bit less - and while I have had a couple do fairly adequate work (for what I was asking for).... I have never found one of those folk who come near the cleanliness and precision of a real mouthpiece expert....It's a real discipline, like anything else done well.
 
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Pete Thomas

Chief of Stuff
Cafe Moderator
Messages
12,238
Location
The Blue Ridge Mountains
Some repair techs fancy themselves as being able to do mouthpiece work, and they may charge a bit less - and while I have had a couple do fairly adequate work (for what I was asking for).... I have never found one of those folk who come near the cleanliness and precision of a real mouthpiece expert....It's a real discipline, like anything else done well.
Back in the day in the UK there was Bill Wrathall, an amazing reface sadly gone now. When I visited him last he was moonlighting as a lens movie camera maker/repairer at Ealing Studios. I imagine to do that you know a thing or three about curves.
 

JazzMatt

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Newcastle under Lyme but not of it!
Back in the day in the UK there was Bill Wrathall, an amazing reface sadly gone now. When I visited him last he was moonlighting as a lens movie camera maker/repairer at Ealing Studios. I imagine to do that you know a thing or three about curves.
I know a thing or 3 about curves, but it inevitably ends up with the breakup of a relationship!
 

saxyjt

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I know a thing or 3 about curves, but it inevitably ends up with the breakup of a relationship!
I can't agree more. But it may be worth it. Now like GAS, it's not an exact science...

Now, seriously, I had one of my mouthpieces refaced by @Phil and I'm delighted with the results. He turned a nearly destroyed Brilhard Tonalin into a great mouthpiece. So I highly recommend his work.

Refacing is not a DIY type of work. It requires REAL expertise. You may be lucky once or twice but do NOT kid yourself. It's not a guessing game.
 

Colin the Bear

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Burnley bb9 9dn
Refacing, literally putting a new face on something. On here it usually refers to the shape of the mouthpiece where the reed sits. Sometimes called the lay. The length and shape of the curve can be personalised. Distortions that hard rubber pieces have acquired over time or manufacturing defects can be rectified or it may be the repair of a damaged piece.

Often a narrow piece is opened up.
 

JayeNM

Formerly JayePDX
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Refacing is not a DIY type of work. It requires REAL expertise. You may be lucky once or twice but do NOT kid yourself. It's not a guessing game.
One can buy the Theo Wanne 'kit'. Even professional refacers have suggested to me this is a way of 'getting started'. But, as you say....there's gonna be a steep learning curve there so one may likely waste a good half-dozen or so 'pieces, and then the ones thereafter would never have the precision of finish to match anything a pro who has done it for years and years can produce.
 

Phil

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502
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France
In about 15 years and I continue to strive to improve. I dont try to talk players out of trying to learn. I do give a stern warning not to touch good pieces for a long time. Here is the deal...the facing is the easy part (and its not easy). The thing that separates the "Men from the boys" is chamber work, baffle work and voicing a piece to play even through a scale....and in a way that is pleasing. A good facing is crucial but a well faced piece is far from automatically a good piece. Its extremely difficult to pass on the knowledge in this arena. A curve is math and craft. The other parts are intuition...kind of like informed improvisation. You have to know your scales and the underlying structures but no one can tell you how to build a solo...they can try but its like explaining the color red to a person who was born blind. Over time one just begins to just intuitively know what to do. That comes from years of trial and error and careful attention to the process. You cant get by just get by (IMHO) repairing defective mouthpieces...I mean, they will be ok...but to have a piece that really works required being a maker of musical instruments. A mpc is not an accessory (Ive hade this discussion with many vendors who put a mpc under that title). It is a musical instrument without which the rest of the saxophone is rendered useless.

SO anway...enough esoteric rambling...It can be expensive. My feeling about this...and it continues to floor me, that players will spend hundreds and thousands on a horn and stick a 50 dollar mpc on it....While you dont, spend a fortune some level of quality is called for. Its like buying a really nice car and putting on trash tires.

To answer the OP...refacing can be anything from minor cleanup to major surgery on a piece. It depends on what the player is seeking and the best path to arrive at the destination.
 

Hassles

Member
Messages
40
Location
Australia
sorry guys relative newbie what exactly is refacing and is it expensive..
a great mouthpiece is not as common as one would like. Many "imperfect" mouthpieces can function quite well while the player is oblivious to their potential. A refacer can eliminate these imperfections, restore the potential of the mouthpiece and enhance its playability. The more work requested / required the greater the costs. Not that long ago I stumbled upon an old obscure tenor sax mouthpiece. It played reasonably but the tone was alluring. The table was good but not perfect - eg: not perfectly flat. I took a punt and sent this out to a refacer. My request was - flatten the table and tidy it up a little. His response was wanting to know what I played, how I played etc etc. I told him I wasn't a power-player and just wanted it tidied up. He flattened the table and opened it up "just a little" and this mouthpiece was transformed into some thing I thought I liked into something I loved.
 

Greg Strange

Well-Known Member
a great mouthpiece is not as common as one would like. Many "imperfect" mouthpieces can function quite well while the player is oblivious to their potential. A refacer can eliminate these imperfections, restore the potential of the mouthpiece and enhance its playability. The more work requested / required the greater the costs. Not that long ago I stumbled upon an old obscure tenor sax mouthpiece. It played reasonably but the tone was alluring. The table was good but not perfect - eg: not perfectly flat. I took a punt and sent this out to a refacer. My request was - flatten the table and tidy it up a little. His response was wanting to know what I played, how I played etc etc. I told him I wasn't a power-player and just wanted it tidied up. He flattened the table and opened it up "just a little" and this mouthpiece was transformed into some thing I thought I liked into something I loved.
Was the refacing done in Australia or overseas in the States or Pommyland...?

Cheers,

Greg S.
 

Greg Strange

Well-Known Member
My reface was carried out by Gabriel Vatavu in Brisbane, Australia - www.gabrielvatavurepairs.com
I posted it (with a return postage label) and he sent it back. He called me before he began work to discuss my needs.

Glenn
Thanks for the info - Brisbane reasonably close - as far as I know I don't think anybody does mouthpiece refacing in Kiwiland - it's hard enough trying to find a decent horn repair person in The Land of the Long Dark Shadow who doesn't want to be on the Forbes 500 list...

Cheers,

Greg S.
 

Hassles

Member
Messages
40
Location
Australia
G'day Greg

I am sure there are refacers here - somewhere - in Melbourne but I encountered Gabriel, we communicated and based upon the result of my MP I have no hesitation recommending him. My sax technician was, until recently, a single block detour when I was travelling to my partner's. Now he's relocated about 3 hours drive away. Good luck
 
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