Tuesday, June 21, 2011, 02:48 PM
A little while back, my very good friend, baritone sax hero, and RooPad endorser, played a concert and mentioned RooPads and MusicMedic.com in his program. We are all more than honored to have Kenneth Coon of the Rascher Saxophone Quartet on our side, using our products and playing instruments that we have worked on.
Check out Ken's program that he presented to me at the Musik Messe in Frankfurt, Germany this year. The piece, "Double Concerto for Baritone Saxophone, Percussion, and Orchestra", was composed by Mathew Rosenbaum and commissioned by the Fromm Music Foundation specifically for Ken Coon and the Boston Modern Orchestra Project. What an honor and pleasure to know Ken! This might be the first time that a Pad was mentioned in a program! Congratulations Ken, for being so great and congratulations RooPads for being great enough to be on Ken's program!
To learn more about Kenneth Coon and his quartet, the Rascher Saxophone Quartet, check out their site:
Thanks again Ken-- you're THE BEST!
Monday, June 20, 2011, 04:01 PM
The Sax ProShop just had a great visit from Saxophone Soloist Cole Belt, who is finishing his studies at Northern Arizona University this year with Jonathan Bergeron. We were honored that Cole would hop on a plane and fly across the country to the Sax ProShop to work with us. Cole has amazing tone and facility on the saxophone and working with him was a treat.
There are now a couple of Sax ProShop horns at NAU and we're really honored. Cole's Keilwerth SX90R alto is now quiet and fast and will soon be put through its paces! In the coming months, Cole will be auditioning at various graduate schools for a masters degree in saxophone performance. He will also be performing in a number of solo competitions, including MTNA Solo Division, Redlands Solo Competition in California, NAU (Northern Arizona University) Concerto Competition and, TSO (Tucson Symphony Orchestra) Solo Competition.
Cole, it was great to have you here! Everyone in the Sax ProShop is really glad to have met you and we can't wait for your next visit! Good luck on your upcoming competitions and performances!
Curt, Matt, Dan, Kellie.
Monday, June 13, 2011, 01:44 PM
For many years now, I have been repairing saxophones. From the very beginning of my days working on saxophones, I would look over the work I was doing and make theories about what "should happen", and then compare that to what actually happens in practice. Very often in the beginning, my theories would not actually relate to my experiences in practice. Some examples of this include: the results when dry-fitting pads were not as good as I thought they should be. My theory that every pad should install the same as the previous pad did not always work out. The theory that fitting keys should always be the same procedure every time yielded varying results. The interesting thing about this is that over time, I continually found that it was my practice and not my theory which needed improvement.
As I have improved my practice, my theories have often proven to be correct (and since most are based on very fundamental logic, it is no surprise) and they usually result in both a job that is better and processes that are more consistent and predictable. Over the past couple of years, I'm beginning to see enough evidence to prove a theory I felt was true for many years now:
When properly fit, Saxophone keys don't wear. (or not much, anyway)
In my experience of working on saxophones, I always noted the very light friction between keys. I had wondered how Brass (which gets harder as it is worked) could wear between two keys when the keys barely press against one another. When they do press against each other with some friction, the brass faces of these keys should get a little work hardened, unless there is an abrasive at work.
Also, I've noticed that vintage horns often have a good deal of play in the mechanisms, yet the hinge tube ends and post faces almost always show no sign of actual wear. That is, when the keys are removed from the instrument, the ends of the keys and the contacting surface on the posts often have their original plating or lacquer on them. If the very thin coating of plating or the relatively soft lacquer is not wearing off, where is all the key play coming from? And, why is the plating not wearing off the key ends?
Recently at the Musik Messe in Frankfurt, I was talking to a tech about this and he, like most, looked at me like I'm crazy. "Of course keys wear," he said. "If they didn't, why do we swedge them?" -That's a good question. After we discussed it, I pointed to a 1925 Buescher True Tone Alto that I was using at the booth to show tone holes tools. I said, “Certainly the keys on this instrument should be worn, right?” He agreed that this old horn had wear on the pearls and had been played a lot. Also, it had a good deal of play in the mechanism. So, on a whim, I took it apart to check the key ends and posts. All of the key ends and posts had their original silver plating on them. These keys had never even worn through the thin layer of silver.
This is very often the case on instruments that need key fitting. In fact, the most common sign of damage at key ends comes from previous technicians, not just from the saxophone being played.
About a decade ago, when I decided that key fitting must be done to a very high level to produce an instrument that is stable and will function for many years to come, I started fitting keys very well and trying to make all mating surfaces parallel to each other, perpendicular to their rods and tight together. Maybe I went too far, but I started doing about 16-25 hours of key fitting on every saxophone that I overhauled. What I'm finding is that these same instruments on which I so slowly and methodically fit every key to perfection, have no key play when they come in for their yearly maintenance. Further, these instruments are often the primary instrument for professional players who tend to play a lot. When a small amount of key wear is present, after years of use, damage to that area or some small thing that I overlooked is almost always found to be the culprit. It's odd that so little wear is happening on saxophone keys yet so many people are swedging keys over and over.
I suspect that most of the key fitting that is happening in saxophone repair is the result of bent bodies, keys, and misaligned or pushed-in posts. I think we, as technicians, are not all looking for the root of the problem nor are we accepting the fact that keys don't wear and that key play is an indicator of other problems, a symptom, and not a problem in itself.
The good news here is that when we do a great job of fitting all the keys on an instrument (which must involve straightening the body, removing dents, and aligning posts first), this work will be stable for a very long time and will only take the most minor adjustments after that time.
All of this goes to eventually prove a different theory I have been singing for years: When an instrument is not damaged, it should really only need an overhaul once in its life. After that, yearly maintenance (done properly) should keep it playing great for many-many years. But, that's a topic for a different day...
Wednesday, June 8, 2011, 10:07 AM
For years, technicians have been struggling with the inadequacy of blued steel springs that break when tension is put on them. However, many of us continue to struggle with these springs because we just don't like the feel stainless springs on woodwind instruments. MusicMedic.com has solved the problem. Soon, we'll have our great new blued steel springs available on the site. These springs are excellent, hold a bend, don't break, are evenly tempered, and have an excellent machined point. Much like, or better than, those that manufacturers are/were using on new instruments.
When we gave these springs to the Sax ProShop, the guys and gals in the shop not only loved them but found a way to make them even better. They started working to gold plate the springs in house. Gold plating resists rust and give the springs a super high class look.
The gold plating that we were able to do in the shop is not as thick or nice as they can do at the platers. So, we're thinking of sending a batch out to be plated. Since MusicMedic.com's job is to use the coolest new stuff and then get these things in your hands, we're all wondering if you would like us to offer these on our website for you. Of course, they will be more expensive than their blued counterparts, but they will be gold!
For all you players: Would you like gold plated springs on your horn if you were having springs replaced?
For all you Techs out there: Are gold-plated needle springs an upgrade you would like to offer your customers?
Let me know your thoughts!
Friday, June 3, 2011, 01:58 PM
If you've noticed a new voice on the phone lately here at MusicMedic.com, it's because we've got a great new member on our team!
Darrel Brown grew up in Philadelphia and later moved to Wilmington, Delaware. He later attended Delaware State University to study sport science and education. Of course Darrel played saxophone (he played Percussion too but we're not holding that against him).
Darrel has done work for major financial institutions, law firms, and donated his time nearly everywhere, including the Boys and Girls Club. Of course, we're really excited to have him here now but we all agree that he can take a day here or there to volunteer; one of the many things he's very passionate about!
If you're downtown in Wilmington, NC, in the evenings, you might find Darrel shooting pool but be careful, he's a shark! If the weather is good, you might see him playing football (but again, you would be wise to check yourself before you compete with him there either...)
Darrel, we're all really happy to have you and we know the people that call MusicMedic.com are happy to have you helping them in every way you can. We all look forward to working with you for a long time!
Oh yeah, you can call Darrel at MusicMedic.com anytime, just don't call him Darel (Dare-ul).... his name is pronounced Du-rell!
From all of us at MusicMedic.com:
"Welcome to the Team Darrel!"