Re: Hello, Saxophone.org!
Kelsey is absolutely correct. A good repairman will always find work. However, the key is "good" repairman. It takes a certain mindset to be a good repairman. It’s definitely not a profession for everyone. Not to scare you off, it’s not that its brain surgery or anything, but you have to have a certain temperament and be mechanically oriented to be good at repair. You also need to be organized and have a good memory and really be “into it”. Lots of people slog through repair in shops all over the country, but the really good techs seek knowledge and retain what they learn and truly enjoy what they do!
First, every good repair person that I know loves to tinker and love to figure out how and why things work. They're also good with their hands and have a huge tolerance for methodical and maniacal work. Trust me, the majority of what you do as a repair tech is not glamorous. At the same time, you also have to be willing to NOT back down from a challenge when it presents itself and push through without taking short cuts when problems arise.
As for how to get started, well, it’s not easy. You could start by taking the courses at either Red Wind or Western Iowa Tech. But honestly, these programs teach you only the basics. There’s only so much you can absorb in such a short time frame. The real learning happens on the job. If you’re fortunate enough to live in an area that has an experienced tech, try getting a job at that store, even if it’s not in the repair shop and take as much opportunity to learn from this person as possible without being an annoyance. If you have the right mind-set and you show initiative (and respect), most experienced repair techs will at least give you the time of day, especially if you’re already an employee of the store. Also, set up your own shop at home and learn by trial and error. Buy a $100-$200 c-melody on eBay (be sure to get one that doesn’t need much dent work, that’s a whole other learning curve). You can purchase most of what you need in terms of repair supplies at Allied Supply, Votaw Tools, Ferree’s Tools, and Music Medic.
Anyway, the art of repair is definitely not dead! There are plenty of great repair techs all over the country. Some are as good as any of the old timers from back in the days of Erick Brand (if not better). I know many of them! Some work for larger companies while many own one-man shops. Anyway, I encourage you to pursue it if it’s a passion of yours. Go for it! But don’t jump in lightly and don’t expect it to be easy or a fast learning curve. Best of Luck!!!