***WARNING - Dave Spiegelthal***
I am posting the details of my recent dealings with Dave as a warning to anyone thinking about sending him there instrument(s) for repair / overhaul.
I was looking for a new Bass Clarinet towards the end of last year and after reading many reviews and lots of web searching I came across Dave Spiegelthal in Centreville, VA. Dave had written a fairly comprehensive review of the new Ridenour Bass Clarinet, among others, and his name kept coming up on the Clarinet forum (Clarinet BBoard) as a reputable and knowledgable player and repair tech. I called Dave and we spoke several times about what I needed in an instrument and he recommended picking up an old Kohlert and having him overhaul it and make several modifications to it. I kept my eyes open for one of these horns and Dave ended up e-mailing me a link to an eBay auction which I bid on and won the horn. I shipped the horn out to Dave pretty soon after I received it and once he had opened it, inspected it and played it, he sent me an e-mail detailing the work that he recommended doing (full re-pad, extend & re-angle neck, tone hole venting, install floor peg etc....) amounting to $535 + return shipping. I accepted his recommendations and Dave started to work on my horn.
Dave's communication was very prompt and clear through the whole process and I felt comfortable at this point that I was going to get a great playing horn back from Dave. Dave completed the work in about 6 weeks which was fine with me, I had told him that I was in no great hurry to get this done. I agreed to let Dave keep the old case to refurbish and he shipped the instrument back very well packaged. One the first inspection the instrument looked fine and seemed to play very well, with a nice, big, fat tone and I was very happy. After a little more playing I noticed that the secondary register mechanism wasn't working as it should, once the secondary vent (on the body) had engaged, the primary vent (on the neck) would no longer open fully making the upper register very airy, if it would sound at all. If I manipulated the vent open with my finger it was fine again until the secondary vent was engaged and then the same problem occurred. I e-mailed Dave about this and he got straight back to me suggesting that I loosten the screw on the mechanism slightly and if that didn't work, take it in to my local tech to take a look at. Loosening the screw didn't resolve the problem so I took it to my local teck to fix for me.
When I took it to my local tech, he found that the keys had been swedged so tightly throughout the entire instrument that they were binding and not operating properly. He also found 2 fairly large cracks that Dave had simply put some glue on inside the horn bur hadn't sealed them properly and they were both leaking, one on a tone hole. He showed me at least half a dozen leaks throughout the horn and although Dave had done a full repad as promised, he had use some particularly old pads that were already pretty dried out. Dave had also removed all the adjusting screws throughout the entire instrument in favor of setting the horn up with cork which made it extremely difficult to make the necessary adjustments, in fact, after working on it for almost 3 hours, my tech still couldn't get the register vents operating properly and didn't charge me for the time he spent on the horn. He recommended having the instrument completely stripped down, the cracks properly sealed, maybe the tone hole with the crack on it replaced and then having the entire horn re-built, replacing the adjustment screws if he could even find them. Essentially, doing what I had just paid Dave to do.
I sent Dave an e-mail that evening asking if I could ship the instrument back to him for him to finish the work that I had paid him to do as in its current condition, the instrument is unplayable. I didn't get a reply and since then have sent subsequent e-mails and left message on both his home and cell phones and he will not return any of my correspondence. At this point I have a little over $1300 into a horn that I cannot play.
So, a warning to anyone thinking about sending their instrument for repair, Dave Spiegelthal will not stand behind his work and take care of his customers if you have a problem. I learned this lesson the hard way, there are many other techs out there who will do great work and stand behind it.