Alexei Zoubov,head with saxophone
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        Zen and The Art Of Saxophone Maintenance.

        November 20th, 2010 by Alexei Zoubov

        I”ve kinda borrowed the idea of the title from the book by Robert Pirsig “Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance”. You’ve probably read it, and if not – I highly recommend it to anybody.

        I’ll give you some hints here and in my future posts without going into a lot of details. There is so much information about all aspects of it on the Internet, there is no need to add more.

        My and many other players’ experience shows that just a little attention to the needs of your instrument on a regular basis will save you money and trouble, often a lot of money and trouble.

        After working at The Horn Connection music shop in Los Angeles for close to five years, I’ve accumulated a lot of observations on the ways musicians habitually waste their money.

        Manny, the owner of The Horn Connection shop is an amazing repairman. I’ve seen him done things I didn’t believe could be done, like restoring a flute that was chewed by the dog. He is also deservingly expensive. And he is also a businessman, which means he has to care about the bottom line.

        Complete overhaul of a saxophone is time consuming and precision requiring job. Depending on the horn, it goes from $600 to $900 and more. Not exactly a lunch money for a struggling musician.

        I’ve seen people bringing their saxophone for complete overhaul every 2-3 years, and most of the time they could have easily avoided that expense, while keeping their horn in perfect working condition.

        I had my tenor for 16 or more years now. The number of overhauls during this time – zero! It doesn’t leak, period. True, I’ve learned some about small and “intermediate” sax repairs, but only in the last few years I figured out how, say, to change springs or fix small dents.

        There is no big secret, it is just that you have to inspect your horn regularly, may be not as often as practicing it.

        Top side keys pads get hard or break more often than any other – that’s where some portion of your lunch or dinner goes. Changing these pads without even taking off the keys is pretty easy, and installing the replacements is easy too, but you need some tools and supplies for that.

        Here is the link I’ve found to be the most useful for buying supplies and learning what to do:
        http://musicmedic.com

        Here are the absolute necessities for making small repairs;

        This is all you need to change the pads on palm keys. The torch is for heating the key to melt the glue and then taking the pad off. Then you apply some melted glue (shellac) to the back of the new pad, put it in place and heat the key again to set the pad in place.

        It sounds and is simple. Nevertheless I’ve wasted some pads and overheated some keys before it became really easy to me.

        There is more if you want to change other pads or do other  maintenance work. Things like a set of small flat screwdrivers, small jeweler type pliers, etc. Music Medic has it all, but most of these supplies (except pads) could be found in local hardware stores.

        Well, if you are in Los Angeles area and don’t want to do small repairs yourself, call me, Alexei Zoubov, at 323-462-8121 and I’ll do it for you much cheaper than any dedicated repair man – and on the same quality level!

        Clean Pads Last Longer!

        Using Pad Saver to get out moisture after playing  helps a lot, just don’t leave your wet Pad Saver inside the saxophone – let it and pads dry out.

        Inspect you pads often, don’t let the dirt accumulate on them. I use Mineral spirits (available at any hardware store) to dissolve the accumulated dirt and slime, using a cloth or a piece of a card soaked in spirits to take the deposits off the pad.

        Thanks to this procedure, most of my pads (excluding the palm keys pads that go faster) lasted more than 10 years!

        I will be placing more hints, if you have any questions, post you comments or call me at 323-462-8121.

        And, once more, if you are around LA, I can help you for next to nothing.

        Posted in Music, Saxophone, Thoughts