Saxophone Forum


by saxgourmet
(112 posts)
13 years ago

Overhaul Overview

Overhaul Overview The purpose of this article is not to tell you how to do it, but rather to acquaint you with the various steps that are involved in giving a horn a good overhaul and having the results be better than new. PREPARATION First, apply the best penetrating oil you can find (I use Corrosion Cracker from Ferree Tool) to each and every gap in the keywork, to the tops and bottoms of all screws, and to the base of all needle springs, and let the horn sit for a day or so while the oil does its magic. This will make disassembly much easier and will greatly reduce the chances of damaging the screws as you remove them. While the instrument is still assembled, check all keywork for excess play, and note the relative thickness of all bumpers and key silencers. I go over the entire horn using the saxophone inspection sheet found in the Erik Brand Band Instrument Repair Manual. This helps me plan what repairs will be necessary to each individual part of the horn. DISASSEMBLY AND INSPECTION I start at the top and remove everything that comes off the horn. During this process, I get a chance to look at the mechanism closely and spot trouble. Check the posts for alignment, the existing pads for a “centered” impression from the tonehole, the rods for straightness, As I remove the pivot screws, I closely examine the tips for excessive wear or damage. I place all the screws and rods in a board which enables me to keep them organized, and I stick the needle springs (even though I am not going to recycle them) in a piece of cardboard so I can measure them later for length and diameter. The neck opening and tenon diameter are measured with a digital caliper for roundness and specification. The neck and body octave pips should be removed for cleaning/modification/replacement. As I take the keys off the horn, I note the dentwork to be done and the condition of the toneholes. PREPARATION OF THE MECHANISM Remove the pads, bumpers, and key silencers and any adhesive holding them on. The surfaces must be perfectly clean! Check all rod screws for straightness by rolling them on a perfectly flat surface (I use a granite block accurate to .0015), and recut any damaged screw slots with a jeweler’s saw. Polish all the rod screws with 600 grit emery paper. Clean and smooth the interior of all the tubes with a hinge tube file. Level all of the key cups on your jeweler’s anvil. Swedge the keywork as needed, and even the ends of the tubes with a fine file. Be certain that all of the cup ribs are perpendicular to the tubes. Clean and degrease the keywork, and install the pads and bumpers. It’s a good idea to use sheet teflon on any sliding mechanism. If you’re going to use cork or felt for bumpers or silencers, compress it first with a pair of pliers. GET THE BODY READY I always give the body a good bath before I do anything. If it’s nice and clean, I can more easily see the dents. Straighten the body tube if needed, and remove all of the dents. Get the bent key guards back into alignment, and sight down each line of posts to be certain that they are properly aligned. If you took the bell off, apply a bead of silicone sealer to the joint, and be certain (if it’s a Mk VI) that the bell to body tube ring is perfectly round. J. L. Smith and Company sells a great tool for this essential job. Install the octave pips after you’re satisfied they are clean, straight, and the opening is the diameter you want. Check the neck for roundness, and be certain that the tenon is round (perfectly!) and the opening is correct. Install teflon in all of the flat spring guides and key cradles. PUT IT BACK TOGETHER Reassemble the horn, adjust the action, and deleak. Check your work. Let it sit for a couple of days and check it again. Use a leak light in a dark room and check it again. Remember that if your pads are not seating by gravity alone, you have not done your job correctly! Of course, the adjusting and regulating is the toughest part of the job, and that’s a topic for another day! STEVE GOODSON New Orleans www.saxgourmet.com

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  1. by meprice
    (1 post)

    13 years ago

    Re: Overhaul Overview

    Go Steve! This is not a specific response or question on Steve's article. Just an endorsement with notes. Good info. If you have done a little sax repair, read this article carefully and do what it takes to find out in detail about all the steps recommended. Also I would add; Whenever anyone suggests a procedure for repair/rebuild of a saxophone evaluate whether that procedure is intended to make the horn play as well as possible or to get more horns out the door. As a musician which would you pick? and Obtain or manufacture the right tools for the job. There is nothing as sad as a good horn wrecked by "getting by" on tools or poor repair technique. Watch what folks like Saxgourmet and Tenor Madness are doing with horns. They have worked hard to get these techniques so you probably won't find the info. just anywhere. Whether you repair, play or both you want to know! The saxophone is a remarkable instrument, capable of incredible sounds, appreciate it as a remarkable machine also to get the most.

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  2. by saxjazza22
    (13 posts)

    10 years ago

    Re: Overhaul Overview

    Hey, Im pretty new to the sax; does an overhaul just mean repadding a sax???

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    1. by sax_maniac
      (984 posts)

      10 years ago

      Re: Overhaul Overview

      You have to ask the person specifically what they mean. Overhaul to some may include a relacquer, whereas it may just mean a repad and general cleaning to others. To me, overhaul means "complete teardown, cleaning, repad, replace springs as needed, adjust and tune the action accordingly".

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