Re: Sax Overhauling for Dummies
Overhauling a saxophone requires a lot of skill and precision. It's something I recommend MOST people do not try to do themselves. If you decide to try to overhaul it yourself, my advice is to talk to a repair tech first. Just explain that you want to do the overhaul yourself, and ask if he can offer any advice. I would also ask if he would be willing to help you make adjustments and set up the horn once you're done. The point is, you're probably going to need some help, and you'll want to have someone to call! I'm speaking from experience here!
If you're brave enough to tackle this job, you should start by removing the keys. Before attempting to do so, I would spray all of the little screws and rods with WD 40 or Liquid Wrench. If the screws are badly corroded or rusted, and if any of the action is not free, you'll need to buy a rubbermade container big enough to set the horn in and soak it in kerosene for a couple weeks. This will help free up the action and the screws. It will also help remove some of the tarnish. You'll need a small slotted screwdriver. Go to some place like Sears and get their Craftsman screwdrivers. The tips on some of the cheaper screwdrivers break and bend really easy and they can damage the heads of the screws. You'll want to put the keys either in the case or in a box. I'd put the rods and screws back in the posts where they belong. Be careful not to lose any of the rods or screws because they can be very difficult to replace!
Once you have the instrument apart, I'd start by cleaning the body. First with the Tarn X, like I suggested. Pour a little into a small cup that you can dip a toothbrush into and brush it on. for some of the tight places around the tone holes, you may want to try a paint brush. You'll be amazed at how easily the Tarn X will remove the tarnish. Once you've cleaned away most of the tarnish, rinse the horn good with hot water. Dry it off with a towel and now use the Wrights silver cream. Use it sparingly. It doesn't take much. When it starts to chalk u, buff it off with a towel. If you've applied too much of the silver cream, you may need to rinse it again and dry it off with a towel. Now the keys. The first thing you want to do is remove all the old pads. I use a knife, and just carefully press the knife between the key cup and the pad, and they should pop right off. Use the Tarn X and Wrights to clean and polish the keys.
You may want to have a tech install your pads and reassemble the horn. Installing the pads and seating them properly can be difficult. I would strongly advise NOT doing this yourself. Have a tech install the pads and set up the horn.
Just in case you're bullheaded like my girlfriend Stephanie and you're convinced you can do EVERYTHING by yourself (Who am I to argue?!?) I can give you a few pointers for changing pads. I've seen pad sets online for certain horns. This takes away a lot of the guess work. If you can find a pad set for a Buescher True Tone, that would definately be your best bet. You'll want to try the pads in the different keys to get the best fit. The pad should just fit inside of the key cup. You shouldn't have to force it. If you do, it's too big. Once the pad is in the cup, smooth it over with your finger. I put ALL of the pads into the key cups before gluing a single one of them. When I have determined that I have all the right pads, then I start gluing them on one by one with a hot glue. Press the pads into the key cups with your fingers, smoothing them out.
Once all of the new pads are installed, you'll want to replace the corks and felts and all that before putting the keys back on the horn. This can be a pain in the ass! sometimes these little pieces of cork stick everywhere but where they're supposed to! There are some spots that you won't be able to cork until you have the keys on the body, but I try to get as many as I can before. You'll want to replace any broken springs now too. If you need to have springs replaced, take it to a tech.
Reattaching the springs can also be very difficult. They make a tool for doing so, and you can order one through www.wwbw.com. The keys have little hooks that the needle springs fit into. You'll see where they're supposed to go. At this point, I'd finish putting the keys back on the body where they belong and let a tech hook the springs, adjust the key height and take it from here. If you make it this far, pat yourself on the back and I'm proud of ya!!!