Roger Price Woodwind & Saxophone Repairs

        Chirk, Wrexham

        UK

        Tel: 01691 774350

        Email: info@rogerprice.co.uk  (will need to be copied manually)

                  

 

 

 

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Interesting Projects......

(or an instrument repairer's blog)

(Please note that most of the pictures on this page have now been reduced to thumbnails so they will download more quickly - just click on any of the thumbnails to enlarge them and then use your browser buttons to return when needed).

 

This page is for a bit of fun and interest. Like most repairers I take a few 'before & after' pictures when I get involved in something special, sadly often I don't realise just how special the repair is until its halfway through and then its too late to take the 'before pictures'. But I have still captured some interesting images that I thought it would be nice to share. These images are copyrighted and if you should seek to use copies of them elsewhere you do need to seek my permission, which will usually be granted.

Quite a number of the repairs were brass repairs from my time when I repaired both woodwind and brass instruments. Although I no longer do brass repairs (except for saxophones of course which are classed as woodwind instruments because they are reed instruments) these were interesting projects that others may be interested in.

Absences and presences of grey hairs give a clue to the age of some of the photos and proof of just how long I have been in the trade!

 


Damage to crook on Vintage Buescher Alto Saxophone ......

Its surprising how many crooks get damaged on saxophones and even more surprising is the unawareness of many players to the effect any damage to the crook can have upon the playing characteristics of the saxophone. Manufacturers put enormous effort into developing the optimum profile along the whole length of the crook so that all notes speak as well as possible with the required tonal qualities.

One of the more common causes of damage to the crook is when the crook is dropped and just happens to land on the top of the octave key, pushing the octave key saddle into crook. I am always stressing the importance of taking your time when getting your instrument out of its case (and putting it away) and assembling it - no matter how much of a rush you are in, just take a few extra seconds, calm down and handle things carefully! 5 seconds either way can make a big difference to the health of your instrument (and your own health!!).

The next few pictures are of a typical repair job to a crook to correct this type of damage. Compared with some damaged crooks  the damage was relatively minor but any damage to a saxophone crook is bad news as it can affect everything about how a sax plays. The first picture is of the crook with the octave key removed but the saddle still in place and initially if you are not sure exactly what to look for all may seek OK. But the next picture shows what things look like with the saddle unsoldered and its a lot easier to see how the saddle has dented the crook by being pushed into it. The final picture shows things after the dent has been removed and the saddle carefully re-soldered to produce minimal damage to the silver plating. Unfortunately when this sort of damage occurs it is almost always necessary to unsolder the saddle to achieve accurate restoration of the crook profile.

 

Damaged crook of vintage Buescher alto saxophone

Damaged crook with saddle unsoldered and dent a lot more visible

Buescher alto sax crook after dent removed and saddle re-soldered

 

 

 

 

 

 


 

Crack Pinning in Wooden Clarinets and oboes ........

Until the last few years I didn't usually photograph my crack pinning work because its simply not very photogenic. But for the last few years I have been photographing all my crack pinning work to keep a record of the position of the pins. This is because I have had a few instruments to pin that have already had some pins fitted and it struck me it would be very useful to know the exact position of the existing pins. Over the last 25 years or so there have been big improvements in the 'invisibility' of crack pinning as the materials and techniques used have been improved. Someone skilled in this type of work can now pin cracked wooden clarinets and oboes so neatly that the work is almost invisible even to the trained eye. Hence a few years ago I started photographing all my pinned work at the stage where the holes had been drilled but before the pins had been fitted, but just for the photos I push a bit of something white through the holes so that their position can be easily seen. The owner of the instrument gets a copy of the photo of the pin locations and I retain a copy in my files. If any further pinning work needs to be done on the instrument it makes the repairer's life a lot easier if they know exactly where the existing pins are when drilling new pin holes - one of the last things you want to happen is for the drill to crash into an existing pin!

The first two photos below show the drilled pin locations across a crack at the top end of a B & H Edgware clarinet and also after the pins have been fitted, crack sealed and ends of pin holes filled. Compared to some pinning jobs I have done this was a very simple one but useful to show the reason for photographing all my pinning work. The next two are of pin locations in an oboe and a Yamaha clarinet.

Crack at top of wooden clarinet after holes drilled for pins

Crack after pins fitted, crack sealed and ends of holes for pins filled

Drilled pin holes across crack in oboe Drilled holes for pin across cracks at top of Yamaha clarinet

 

 

 

 

 

 


 

Dent  Removal on  a Nearly New Selmer Super Action 80 Series 3 Tenor Saxophone......

I am always saying to customers that the only instruments that never get damaged are the ones that never get played. Surprisingly often its not even the players fault that an instrument goes literally flying across a stage thanks to another player. This is just what had happened to this tenor saxophone. The dilemma when this happens to a nearly new instrument is whether or not to fit a complete new section or remove the damage and re-lacquer the existing section or just remove the damage and hope that the finish is not too badly spoiled in the process. Because the response of an instrument is such a personal issue to the player then changing a complete bell or body section or even re-lacquering either of these carries the risk of changing the response of the instrument. Often the answer is to remove the damage and see just how much the finish has been spoiled as a result. Then its down to the player whether they would rather accept the loss in cosmetic appearance or have it re-finished with the playing risks involved. Most players prefer to keep their instruments looking as nice as possible (with just a few exceptions where something that looks a bit more used is preferred!) but I have yet to meet a player who is willing to sacrifice the response of their instrument to improve its appearance. So, coming back to the particular sax in question, this is what the damage looked like to start with:

 Bad dent on bottom bow of Selmer SA80 series 3 tenor saxophoneDents near top end of Selmer SA80 series III tenor saxophone

 

 

 

 

I must add that its the dents you should be looking at. The damage had not been so bad as to knock the bell section off the rest of the body - I had already removed it to start on the dent removal work before I decided to take some photos! Thank you Monsieur Selmer for introducing detachable bells, 90% of the time you have made life a lot easier for us repairers. 10% of the time life can be more complicated because of leaks at the joint and/or the bell section is not secured enough to withstand normal handling - but this is normally only a problem on the cheaper brands of saxes.

The next two pictures show the same areas on the saxophone after the dents had been removed. Both the player and myself were very pleased with the outcome and it was an easy decision to decide against any re-lacquering.

Top end of Selmer SA80 series III tenor saxophone after dents removed Bottom bow of Selmer SA80 series 3 tenor sax after dent removed

 

 

 

 

These photos do flatter the work done to some extent as 'in the flesh' some crazing of the lacquer is more visible but the outcome was still very good. A great testament to the durability of modern lacquers - with the older cellulose lacquers the amount of lacquer damage would have been far worse.

 

 

 


 

Tone Hole Damage to Vintage Buescher  Alto Saxophone......

 

An all too common problem with vintage saxes is that a bad knock on the bell pushes the brace between the bell and the body into the body  and as this brace is mounted between the F and F# tone holes these tone holes get distorted. The result is that any notes lower than G#  just won't speak properly if at all. When this sort of thing happens the player may at first think that not much damage has been done by the knock but discovers otherwise when they next go to play it. Its an especially common problem with saxes carried in poor gig bags when even putting the bag down a bit 'firmly' is enough to do the damage!

The sax involved here was a very nice 1950 Buescher Aristocrat alto and the damage had actually been caused during transit to its new owner who fortunately had enough experience to recognise the fault immediately. This is what the damage looked like with all the keywork still in place:

Damage to F and F# tone holes on Buescher Aristocrat alto saxophone

 

 

 

Unless you know exactly what to look for its not easy to see just how much damage has been caused. The next picture is with the keywork removed and the damage is now easy to see:

Buescher Aristocrat alto sax with keywork removed to show extent of damage to F and F# tone hole chimneys

 

 

 

You can see how the foot of the brace has been pushed into the body and distorted the tone hole chimneys so the tops of the tone holes are no longer level and unable to form an airtight seal with a pad. Sometimes this distortion can be corrected without unsoldering the brace and bell section but when its this bad you always get a better end result if the bell is unsoldered which is what I did next. So the next picture shows the full extent of the damage without the plate at the end of the brace hiding any of the damage:

Bell brace unsoldered on Buescher alto showing full extent of damage to F and F# chimneys

 

 

 

 

The damage was corrected and the next two photos show things immediately after the body has been trued up and the tone hole chimneys made level and  after the bell has been re-soldered and everything cleaned up again ready for re-fitting all of the keywork (including new pads to all the keys in the damaged area as when this sort of damage happens there is zero chance of getting a prefect re-alignment of the old pads):

After body trued up and tone hole chimneys levelled

After bell brace re-soldered and everything cleaned up. 

 

 

I should add that on more modern saxophones this type of damage is much less common as the bell brace is now usually mounted onto the body via quite a substantial plate which is mounted well to the side of the main body and not sitting between any of the tone holes.

 

 


 

 

New Undersize Bottom Caps for a Besson Sovereign  Eb Tuba Repair......

Towards the bottom of this page there is the story of a very major repair carried out to the bottom caps of a quite an old Boosey & Hawkes Imperial Eb Tuba. The current repair was less involved but very interesting because the tuba involved was only a few years old and one of the Besson Sovereign BE981 Eb tubas. The serial number was 901xxx indicating it was probably one of the last few to come out of the Watford assembly plant. There is a lot I could say about the whole Boosey & Hawkes/Besson story but this is not the place for it, except to say I was fortunate enough to have visited the original Edgware factory on several occasions and visited the Watford plant. The amazing thing about this particular Sovereign was that on first impressions the threads on the bottoms of the main valve cluster (ie valves 1,2 & 3) had been stripped/worn away so badly that the caps would no longer stay on so that an otherwise excellent Sovereign Eb tuba was useless! Closer inspection revealed that although a certain amount of over-polishing of the bottom threads during manufacture had removed the top of the thread profile in some areas this was not bad enough to have caused the failed thread caps. The main cause of the loose bottom caps was that during manufacture the threads at the bottom of the valve cluster had been machined to too small a diameter. All the caps fitted securely on the 4th valve casing, which on the Sovereign tubas is normally the same diameter as those on the main cluster. Careful measurements of the thread sizes on the main cluster in areas where the thread form was complete showed them to be undersize. So the repair for this tuba involved making three new bottom valve caps with the diameter of the threads being machined undersize to match the undersize threads on the valve casings. I was careful to match the external appearance of the new caps with the old caps so that not only was the instrument made playable again with a normal life expectancy of many decades but its aesthetics (and value of course!) were not altered. Pictures below show the 3 new caps off the instrument and in position.

 

3 new caps made for Besson Sovereign 981 tuba with special undersize threads to fit securely

Underside of 3 new bottom valve caps made undersize to fit undersize threads on Besson Sovereign 981 Eb tuba valves

  New undersize bottom caps fitted to Besson Sovereign 981 tuba with undersize threads on valve casings

 

 

 


 

Adding mother of pearl risers to a Selmer Reference 54 Humming Bird Alto Saxophone ......

Everybody's hands are a bit different and repairers are often asked to do some customisation of woodwind instruments to suit players with small or large hands. Sometimes it may just be one finger that is a little too short or too long or maybe getting a little stiff to comfortably reach a key. In which case the answer can be to modify the keywork in some way so that the key is moved nearer to the finger etc. With saxophones this is often a problem the left hand palm keys (ie high F, D# and D) and various 'risers' can be bought which slip over the tops of these keys so they can be reached more easily though they are not always that nice to use as many are made of rubber which stops the hand sliding so easily over them. Often the player himself or a repairer will have glued some cork on to the tops of these keys which if well shaped can do the  job very nicely though don't always look all that good. When a Selmer Reference 54 'Humming Bird' alto saxophone repair came in needing some risers I was very concerned not spoil the appearance of such an attractive instrument and after some discussion it was decided to make up some risers from mother of pearl for the D and D# keys so that not only would they meet the functional needs but would also look good and hopefully further enhance the appearance of this beautiful sax. Also because of the slippery feel of the mother of pearl the palms would slide very easily over them with a nice feel. The player had also commented that the position of the thumb octave plate key was a little low for his hands and so we also decided to build this up with a mother of pearl overlay. We were both very pleased with the final outcome. I have also included a few pictures of the 'humming bird' engraving on the bell because not many players will have had the opportunity to see this excellent engraving work that Selmer Paris have produced and for which they are to be congratulated.

 

Mother of pearl overlay fitted onto thumbkey of Selmer Reference 54 Humming Bird Alto Saxophone

Mother of pearl risers fitted to Selmer Reference 54 Humming Bird Alto Saxophone

Humming bird engraving on bell of Selmer Paris Reference 54 Humming Bird Alto Saxophone Detail of 'humming bird' engraving on bell of Selmer reference 54 humming bird alto saxophone

 

 

 

 

 


Badly dented bottom bend of trombone slide......

 

Undoubtedly the most common problem that trombone repairers have to cure is that of trombones with a stiff action on the playing slide. This is usually because of some damage to the slide either from dents to the outer slide or it being bent in some way so that the alignment is no longer true. A very common problem is also dents to the bottom bow of the playing slide which are often as not caused by bumping into the music stand or chair of the player in front when going for 6th and 7th positions. A few minor dents make little difference to the playing of the trombone but bad dents such as the one below are a different story. On this slide the damage was bad enough to have also disturbed the alignment of the slide which is common when the damage is so bad. The repair had involved unsoldering the bottom bow, unsoldering the guard and water key assembly, removing the dents from the bottom bow and guard, re-soldering it all together and finally re-aligning both the inner and outer slides. The before and after pictures ........

 

Badly dented bottom bow of trombone slide on arrival in workshop   Bottom bow of trombone slide after dent removal

 

 

 


 

New front F key lever for Buescher Alto Saxophone ......

Sometimes when a piece of keywork is damaged or missing on vintage saxophones the easiest thing for a saxophone repairer to do is set to and make a new piece of keywork. Its not a particularly cheap option as it can be quite time consuming but here is an example of a new 'front F key lever' I made up for a Buescher True Tone alto saxophone. The original was completely absent, probably because when these saxes are being rebuilt after a strip down this key needs to be fitted before any of the L/H stack keywork is fitted and presumably the individual involved had forgotten to do this and rather than stripping it all down again decided to just leave this key off, which had then got separated from the saxophone! Luckily another Buescher True Tone alto was close at hand to get exact measurements from and an idea of the keywork style so that a replica could be made.

Newly made replacement front F keywork for a vintage 1920's Buescher True Tone alto saxophone

 

 

 

 


 

Spike Holder made and soldered to the bell of an Alto Clarinet ......

Although every Bass Clarinet I have ever come across has a spike holder I don't recall ever seeing one fitted to an Alto Clarinet before. This was a special job to make a holder up and solder it to the bell of an alto clarinet. As far as I can see the only drawbacks with having a spike on an alto clarinet is that the spike ends up being rather long and heavy. To minimise the extra weight I made the spike up from some high strength aluminium large section rod which solved the problem of getting a spike that was stiff enough but still fairly light.

 

  Spike holder and screw, made and fitted to the bell of an Alto ClarinetSpike holder made and fitted to the bell of an Alto Clarinet

 

 

 

 


 

Hole in the seam of the bottom bow of a Conn C Melody saxophone ......

 

During the course of a relatively routine overhaul and re-pad on a 1920's Conn C Melody saxophone I was intrigued to discover a hole in the brazed seam on the inside of the bottom bend. From the position of the hole which was just outside of the area covered by the reinforcing strap added during manufacture to seal any holes in this area I presume this hole has been there since it was made and somehow escaped the normal eagle eye of the inspectors. It was a simple matter to seal the hole but unusual to be correcting manufacturing faults from the 1920's! To get a picture of the hole I back lit it with a small bulb so that the hole appears as the pin point of light viewed through the open D# tone hole.

 

Hole in bottom bow seam of Conn C Melody Saxophone

 

 

 

 


 

Presentation plaque for historic tenor horn....

There was an unusual story behind this request to do nothing more than to make and attach a presentation plaque to a an old Besson tenor horn that had certainly seen better days. I cannot vouch for the accuracy of the story, but the story goes that it was the only brass instrument available in Port Stanley during the 1982 Falkland Islands hostilities and been used for some 'rousing' bugle type calls by the Harbour Master to help maintain moral. The horn had been found by the Governor in his attic. At the end of the hostilities it was given to the Harbour Master as a souvenir and my task was simply to add a plaque with the specified engraving.

 

Falklands horn plaque

 

 

 

 


 

Lyre Holder for a curved soprano saxophone......

The otherwise truly excellent Yanagisawa curved soprano saxophones do not have a lyre box and I was asked if I could make an adaptor for one of these saxes to hold a music lyre. As the particular instrument was almost new I didn't want to spoil the finish by soldering a traditional lyre box on to it and there was no obvious place to fit one where it would not be too visually distracting. A modified bell rim type of lyre like that is sometimes used on trumpets, flugel horns and trombones was considered but decided against because I was afraid it would not be secure enough unless being very tight which might then mark the bell rim. The answer I came up with was a clamping system across the top of the bell which produced a very secure fixing without excessive tightening and no damage to the bell. The presence of the single thin strut across the bell made negligible difference to the playing tone - especially bearing in mind this was being played 'on the march'!

 

Custom made music lyre holder to fit bell of Yanagisawa curved soprano saxophone

Custom made music lyre holder for curved Yanagisawa soprano saxophone

 

 

 


Straightening the bell of a Bach Omega trumpet........

Removing dents and straightening trumpet bells is fairly regular work for most trumpet repairers and I certainly do my fair share of them. This particular crumpled trumpet bell repair sticks in the mind for a few reasons. Firstly the instrument had been like new until it was sat on whilst in a gig bag. Actually most repairers love gig bags because this give us so much work! There are very few gig bags that I would ever recommend and with the introduction of modern lightweight hard shell cases there seems little justification for ever using them. The other reason for this repair being particularly notable was despite the quite severe damage I was able to achieve a virtually invisible repair without needing to have the instrument re-plated and despite quite a lot of unsoldering and re-soldering during the  course of the repair. Unsoldering and re-soldering often leaves a few marks and its usual for brass repairers to warn customers about the finish being spoilt where this has to be done. Its almost impossible to judge beforehand just how much damage to the finish will be done because it depends upon several things including how well the joints were fitted when made, the quality of the silver plating or lacquer finish and how steady the repairer's hand is feeling on the day! The end result on this trumpet was especially pleasing.

On arrival in the workshop:

Bent trumpet bell on arrival in workshop

Bent Bach Omega trumpet bell on arrival in workshop

 

 

 

After repair:

 

Same Bach Omega trumpet after bell staightened and resoldered

Straightened and resoldered bell section of Vincent Bach Omega trumpet

 

 

 

 


 

Making and fitting a thumb trigger to an Imperial Euphonium to adjust the main tuning slide......

This came about as the result of request from a customer who wanted the facility found on the modern Besson Prestige and York euphoniums etc to be able to move the main tuning slide at will during playing to help intonation in the higher register on her much loved and otherwise excellent Imperial euphonium. This developed into a challenging but very interesting project with a very satisfactory end result. Challenging not just to make something that functioned satisfactorily but was also in keeping with the general appearance of the instrument and sufficiently robustly made to withstand normal usage - so no plastic guards here!

The first two pictures show the thumb lever itself which was carefully positioned and pivoted so as to be very comfortable in use when operated with the thumb of the left hand - on these 4 valve euphoniums the 4th valve is usually operated by the 1st finger of the left hand (though a few players sometimes find it more comfortable to use the 2nd finger) which leaves the thumb free for this type of trigger. Thought and experimentation went into deciding upon shape/position/pivot locations etc to get a good ergonomic design that would be comfortable and easy to use. I fitted a lockable adjusting screw so that the height of the trigger in the 'free' position could be adjusted to suit the player. The position of the main tuning slide was also adjustable from a second adjustment in the linkage to enable complete freedom to adjust the 'free' tuning whatever 'free' height the trigger was set at. The overall pitch of the instrument being flattened by pressing the thumb lever in, which was made with a spring return so that when the thumb is raised off the trigger the slide (and hence the pitch) returns to its original setting.

 Trigger for main slide of Imperial euphonium operated by left hand thumbTrigger for left hand thumb to enable tuning slide of Boosey & Hawkes Imperial Euphonium to be adjusted during playing

 

 

(Remember you can click on any of these thumbnail images to enlarge them)

 

The next two pictures show the reverse side of the instrument and the guard fitted to protect the main tuning slide assembly. The successful operation of such a large trigger operated tuning slides on euphoniums depends very much on the accuracy of the alignment of the main slide assembly and the guard therefore has a dual function. Not just to prevent the players clothing from fouling the slide movement as the player cuddles the euphonium but also to protect the main slide assembly from accidental damage.

  Guard protecting main tuning slide on Imperial Euphonium with trigger operated main tuning slideDetail of guard made to protect trigger operated main tuning slide on Boosey & Hawkes Imperial euphonium

 

  

 

Of course although this work was done to fit a trigger to an Imperial euphonium the same design can be used to fit a trigger to a Sovereign euphonium or any similar euphonium.

 

 


Dolnet (Paris) Alto Saxophone Repair.....

Nothing too remarkable here, it was just a full repad/recork and good clean up but these Dolnets are not very common in the UK and this one had some nice 'art decor' style key guards and brace on the crook, so worthy of a few photos. I have been lucky enough to have worked on a few Dolnet saxophones and as these were made literally just down the road from the Selmer and Buffet factories there is a bit of quality about them.

 

Dolnet alto saxophone

 Dolnet alto saxophone 

Bell engraving on Dolnet alto saxophone

 

 

 

 

 

 


Severe top end damage to a Buescher Aristocrat Baritone Saxophone.....

Baritone saxophones seem to acquire more damage than most of the other saxophones put together but the 'top end' damage on this one was especially bad and almost terminal. Quite how it came to be so badly damaged on the 'top end' is a bit of mystery but my guess is that it was in a poor fitting case that was dropped on its 'top end' causing dreadful damage to the high F tone hole and crumpling of the top loop tubing. Pictures 1 and 2 show it in the damaged condition (with the keywork removed so the damage can be seen more clearly), picture 3 with the top bend removed and picture 4 after the damage has been repaired (including polishing and re-lacquering of the top end).

Damaged Buescher baritone saxophone

Damaged Buescher baritone saxophone

damaged top bend of Buescher baritone saxophone

Top end of Buescher baritone saxophone after repair

 

 

 

(Remember you can click on any of these thumbnail images to enlarge them)

 


Fitting lever type triggers to a Getzen cornet......

Many players prefer a lever operated triggers for the 1st and 3rd valve slides rather than the original pusher type of arrangement on these instruments. The picture below shows the cornet after the levers have been fitted.

Getzen cornet after 1st and 3rd slide pusher rings replaced with levers

 

 

 

 


Filling a microphone pick-up hole in a King Super 20 Tenor Saxophone neck ........

Some of the King Super 20 tenor saxes were fitted with microphone pickup in the silver neck (crook). When the pickup is removed a hole is left and in this repair a sterling silver plug has been silver brazed into the neck to fill the hole giving an almost invisible repair. Pictures show before and after fitting the plug.

 

King Super 20 silver crook with microphone pick-up removed  King Super 20 neck with hole fitted with a silver plug

 

 


Converting a British brass band style BBb tubas into a shoulder mounted display marching tubas......

When first asked if I thought this conversion was possible my reaction was 'probably but I won't know all the problems until its tried'. How true this was and we certainly found quite a few unexpected problems to solve but happily found solutions to them all. The 'we' being myself and my colleague, fellow NAMIR member Allen Hughes of Colwyn Bay - these things are not easy to work on single handed and in this project two heads were definitely better than one. A lot of traditional brass bandsmen may not be familiar with this type of instrument and so the first picture is of a USA produced DEG Dynasty marching tuba being modelled in its normal playing position.

 

 

Some may recognise Adam Kennerly of the Kidsgrove Scouts Band doing the modelling work, concern for the light fitting above explains the anxiety on Adam's face!

 

The first of the pictures below is of a British style brass band BBb tuba before conversion and the next two pictures are after conversion.

 

    Bb Brass Band tuba converted for shoulder carried marching use

   

The main problems encountered in the conversion had been concerned with getting the right valve and mouthpiece positions to give a good balance on the shoulder with the mouthpiece in a comfortable playing position whilst keeping the instrument in tune. But it was also important to find new positions for the various tuning slides so that they were within the main wrap of the instrument as much as possible so they were not vulnerable to damage. Suffice to say the end result was good enough to warrant the conversion of another two tubas and so here are the pictures of the Mk 1, 2 and 3 converted tubas.

 Although it may not be too clear in the pictures, all three have also been fitted with swivels on the mouthpipes so that the mouthpiece can be adjusted by the player into the most comfortable position when being played and swivelled towards the main instrument body when not being played for its protection.

All 3 conversions were done to ex-Salavtion Army 'Triumphonic' BBb tubas which were well suited for conversion and rare amongst the older 3 valve BBb tubas in having 19inch diameter bells giving a similarly proportioned instruments to the DEG Dynasty tubas. OK, these were not cheap conversions and with so much unsoldering and resoldering work the cosmetics of the instruments were spoiled a bit but the end result was 3 working shoulder mounted tubas produced by recycling 3 redundant tubas at around a quarter of the cost of new ones.

Finally, a few pictures of some of the work in progress:


Before and after of schools tuba bell........

 

School's Sterling Eb Tuba bell before repairSchools Sterling Eb tuba bell after repair

 

 

 

(Remember you can enlarge these images by clicking on them)

 

Just quite how young persons could be allowed to abuse the bell so badly on 2000s worth of tuba defies belief but the amazing thing about this bass tuba repair was not the amount of original damage but that the lacquer pretty well stayed in place during all the reshaping which is a testament to the durability of modern lacquers when they are correctly applied. Typical of a repair on a schools instrument it was done on a 'limited budget' and the challenge was to straighten the bell out as far as practical without soaking up the music department's whole budget for that year. Perfection was never the target but the end result was still very satisfying.

 


Repair to bell rim of Yamaha 668 French Horn......

This Yamaha French horn arrived for repair with a very usual problem at the bell rim. Cracks were spreading inwards from the rim of the bell for about 50% of its circumference with about 6 cracks so far.

Bell rim cracks in Yamaha YHR668 French Horn   Cracks in rim of bell of Yamaha YHR668 French Horn

Bell rim cracks in bell of Yamaha YHR 668 French Horn    Bell rim cracks in bell of Yamaha YHR 668 French Horn

 

 

With the benefit of metallurgical experience it was quite clear that this was a case of the infamous 'season cracking' or 'stress corrosion cracking', something which is not seen so often nowadays in brass alloys as it once was but can be a problem  when brass is exposed to ammonia. I can only speculate that this horn has possibly been left in some ammonia rich cleaning solution at some stage in its life which has caused this problem. Anyway regardless of the original cause, these cracks had already caused the rim to split around the rim wire in places and if left to spread were going to scrap an otherwise very good and quite valuable horn. The common way of repairing a splits in bells, especially in the rim area, is to solder a patch over the split - it doesn't always look very neat but at least makes the instrument playable. Because there were so many cracks I decided not to do it this way but to make up and fit a reinforcing ring around the complete bell rim i.e. a bell garland. Pictures below show some of the stages in making and fitting the garland ring and the end result. Even more pleasing was that the playability of the horn was not noticeably impaired.

 

  Making garland for rim of Yamaha horn    Forming garland ring for bell of Yamaha YHR668 French Horn  First stage of soldering garland rim to Yamaha horn bell rim Yamaha YHR 668 French Horn with finished bell garland ring fiteed to bell rim  Finished garland ring on postion of rim of Yamaha French horn

  


'Stood on' Alto Saxophone before, during and after repair........

Alto sax that has been stood on, picture before repairing

Alto sax partly repaired, damage removed but now needs rebuilding

 

This alto had quite literally been stood on - if you look closely you can nearly make out the boot print, at least a size 8! Not an easy repair to accomplish with quite a bit of unsoldering of pillars, bodywork straightening and then resoldering of pillars.

Alto after rebuilding


Stood on flute before and after repair .......

 

Stood on flute before repair      Stood on flute after repair

Flutes get stood on as well!


 

4 Conn Vintage Soprano Saxes meet again.......

 

This must have been the largest gathering of Conn soprano saxophones this side of the Atlantic since WWII! Those that know me will know I am quite a fan of vintage Conns and as long as you can cope with the top end intonation problems the Conn soprano takes some beating. I don't see too many of them in the workshop but I was amazed back in 2004 to have 3 arrive in the workshop in the same month. Bringing down my wife's Conn sop into the workshop brought four of them together, all made by the same workforce within a few years of each other back in the mid 1920's. A simply amazing coincidence. When I have time I will dig out the serial numbers.

 

4 vintage Conn soprano saxophones in workshop at same time

 

 

 


 

Ophiclide testing..........

 

Ophiclide testing

I see even fewer ophiclides than Conn sopranos, in fact this is only the second one I have ever worked on but it was a great photo opportunity!


 

Tuba bottom valve cap repair........

This was quite a long time ago now, back in the early 90's. A local band had what seemed to be a well used but still useful Imperial  4 valve Eb tuba donated to them. However, when the bottom valve caps were unscrewed from the valve cluster it was discovered that the threads on the bottom of the valve casings were falling apart.

The first photo shows the valve cluster after its removal from the instrument. The newly machined bottom caps and thread inserts have been machined to suit are shown at the bottom of the cluster prior to their installation.

Imperial 4 valve Eb valve cluster after removal

 

 

 

The second photo shows the valve cluster at a critical stage when the bottom of the valve casings were being counter-bored to receive the inserts which were subsequently soldered into place.

Imperial Eb tuba valve cluster being counterbored to receive new thread inserts

 

 

 

Another equally tricky part of this repair was making a new 3rd valve piston as it was also discovered this was in an advanced state of decay. Sadly I never photographed that process but am happy to report the tuba is still in regular service some 22 years later and still with the same band, Band Tref Aberteifi (Cardigan Town Band).

 

 


 

Split tenon on Buffet Crampon Elite Clarinet repair .......

This was definitely one of those 'not for the faint hearted' repairs. A Buffet Elite clarinet (famed for the thin walled body and lack of metal reinforcing rings on the tenons) had developed a crack spreading from the upper tenon (female) on the bottom joint, passing through the area where the inset carbon fibre reinforcing band should have prevented this happening. Close examination of the 'carbon fibre band' revealed there were no reinforcing carbon fibres in the band which was probably why it had not prevented the crack forming. The repair then involved the machining out of the old carbon fibre insert, fitting a new insert made up of a carbon fibre ribbon/epoxy composite and finishing the area where the insert had been fitted to restore its original appearance.

Cracked tenon in Buffet Elite Clarinet before repair The first picture shows the tenon area before the tenon repair (keywork removed). Some of the original 'carbon fibre band' has been removed to see whether or not there was any carbon fibre in it but the crack can be seen running left to right towards the tone hole.

Old insert machined out

The second picture shows the same end after the old insert has been machined out.

 

 

 

 

Crack sealed and new carbon fibre/epoxy composite band fitted  

 

The third picture shows the same end after the crack has been sealed and the new carbon fibre/epoxy composite band has been fitted and finished to blend in with the natural wood finish on the rest of the bottom joint


 

Badly damaged knuckles and mouthpipe etc on Besson Sovereign Euphonium repair.........

 

Just simple before and after pictures which say it all - I should add the picture with the badly dented valve knuckles etc is the 'before picture' and the dent free one is the 'after picture' and these really are of the same euphonium with the same valve cluster!

Damaged Sovereign Euphonium before repair   Same Sovereign Euphonium after repair

 

 

 


Not exactly a repair...........

but my granddaughter Ffion , just happened to be visiting the same time as a new Monnig bass flute was in for a checkover and I could not resist the photo opportunity. It was a few years ago so she is a lot taller now and has front teeth again, but the flute is the same size!

Roger's grandaughter Ffion with Monnig bass flute

 

Ffion with her viola on tour in Germany with the Somerset Youth Orchestra

 

 

And here she is again and a lot older now! Taken on tour in Germany with the Somerset Youth Orchestra in 2010.

 

 

 

 

 

 


 

They don't engrave saxophones like this any more.........

This was a Martin Handcraft alto that came in for some pad work. It was a gold plated model which probably explains why the engraving had survived so well as there had been no need to polish it and re-lacquer etc which would have destroyed the sharpness of the engraving. I have seen some fabulous engraving on Conn altos (including the 'wood lodge scene') and on some British made presentation cornets but the quality of this engraving surpassed anything seen so far especially as  it included this wonderful portrait of another lady. Look at the hair. Must have been a Martin 'Ladyface'!

Martin 'ladyface' alto!

(Click to enlarge)