Saxophone Forum


by johnsonfromwisconsin
(767 posts)
10 years ago

My $75 saxophone

not an inquiry, just a topic that my warrant discussion. I bought a saxophone from a private person via a sort of non-music oriented online trade forum. Total cost for the horn was $75. It's a Yamaha YAS-23. I bought it despite the pics he sent showing a decent amount of patina on the bow, lower parts of the keywork, and especially around the Eb tonehole. In fact, I thought I was taking the risk of getting a horn with the tonehole wall completely rotted through, thereby making it scrap. Luckily, the brass is still there in sufficient quantity and the corrosion to the rest of the body keys is quite superficial. Mechanically, there is nothing wrong with the instrument, and there are virtually no dents. It doesn't strike me as horn that was beat up by an indifferent Jr. High miscreant; rather, it looks like it was played for a year, was reasonably well taken care of, put down afterwords, and then either kept in a damp crypt for a time or used to row a boat in the Dead Sea. The pads seal decently enough to play, but virtually every one could use replacing. The case isn't the original, rather it's for an 'Armstrong' horn, but it works. The horn plays well and the mechanism is far more fluid than what you'd find on an old Bundy. It's sound is rather comparable to my A880 in timbre, though not as resonant. It does play rather consistantly in sound throughout it's range! Much better than I'd expect out of a 'student' horn. I could probably sell it as 'playable' for more that I bought it for, or I could try my hand in repair. It needs a complete overhaul. I'm considering doing nothing to the body as it just isn't worth a relaquer, however, I think I'll go ahead and soak the keys in metal polish to remove the patina from them, repad using either flat metal resos, selmer-style nylon domes (which is what they have now), or perhaps Noyeks. Any comments, thoughts?

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  1. by NeedAFix
    (6 posts)

    10 years ago

    Re: My $75 saxophone

    Are you a repair technician???? I would NOT recommend soaking the keys and repadding on your own without proper experience. I've seen repads on saxophones done "at-home" and they aren't the types of repads that will allow the instrument to play reliably or well. As far as comparting the YAS-23 to the Bundy, the Yamahas are WAY more superior. The mechanism is much more stable, it is a great student horn. The YAS-23 is definitely worth more than $75, a great price, but overhauls need more than just pads. All the corks will need to be adjusted, etc... I am a repair technician, let me know if you need any help.

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    1. by golferguy675
      (600 posts)

      10 years ago

      Re: My $75 saxophone

      Saxman, I realize this post was done a while ago, but I want you to do something for me. Re-read that first post you made. Now, I want you to give me one instance in that post where you actually helped contribute to the discussion, and aided john in his question. Your ENTIRE post, was nothing but putting people down, trying to make johnson look like and idiot, and being a total jackass.

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  2. by sax_maniac
    (984 posts)

    10 years ago

    Re: My $75 saxophone

    SWEET! For $75, and considering it's the summer time, I'd go for it on your own. Refurbing a horn is not rocket science, but it does take some skill and finesse. Plenty of horrible mistakes to be made, but if you take your time with it, you can pull it off. And it's fun! (Sort of). There's lots of good advice on the internet - some here - much more elsewhere. And there's books on the subject. I started cuttin' my refurb chops 15 years ago on my Bundy II - 10 years after having "the shop" do everything for me. The horn shows it's battle scars, but still plays like a dream - though not as wet a one as my III provides. Email me if you feel like going at it on your own. I'd be happy to help you along the way if you've got questions. After all, it's just a YAS-23 and it cost you only $75. Unless there's major dent removal involved, I'll bet you can refurb that horn for less than $200 - including tools.

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    1. by johnsonfromwisconsin
      (767 posts)

      10 years ago

      Re: My $75 saxophone

      Thanks for the responses. I'm not a woodwind/brass technician nor do I really wish to be a technician. I look forward to instrument repair as a potential hobby. I have worked on horns before with replacing snap-in pads, and adjusting mechanisms. I do consider this Yamaha to be a good find at $75 (including shipping) as it will spare my good horns from my ineptness and horns like this command $300 or more on Ebay. I plan on doing the whole overhaul on this thing: replace al corks, felts, pads, align cups, key-heights, lubricate pivots, clean keys, etc. $200 sounds about what I was thinking this project was going to cost. Most of which will involve tools and supplies that can carry over. thanks

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      1. by chiamac
        (586 posts)

        10 years ago

        SaxMan = captian obvious

        [I hope it has became obvious that this guy definately is NOT a tech.] I don't think he ever said he was one... [Two things he said show this.] actually one thing he siad showed this... " or I could try my hand in repair. " [Oh and johnson, 75 bucks for a 23?!? are you kidding me?!? 6 years ago, 2 low A mark VI altos were sold for 75 bucks - they were surplus from the Airforce band, and were both were sold to a local chirstian school. last fall, one was sold for 6 grand. My employer/dealer was the one that bought it, he let me play it, god that was a nice horn, sooooo sweet and warm...] what does this have to do with his horn and his situation? Or are you constintally trying to find a way to gloat about your selmers? ok I'm done.

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      2. by johnsonfromwisconsin
        (767 posts)

        10 years ago

        Re: My $75 saxophone

        Well, finally got time strip the horn down. The pads were a miss-mash of plastic domes , single rivets, and bare pads with pretty much all except the bell pads needing replacement (will likely replace those as well). I've measured all the cups with calipers, wiped the body with windex to remove grime and am working on the keys. There's significant corrosion on the keys and body, which I'm not going to deal much with, though it would be nice to smooth out the patina on the keys with a hand-drill buffing set. I think I'm going to repad with metal dome pads from musicmedic.com and replace all felts and corks.

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        1. by SaxMan
          (559 posts)

          10 years ago

          Re: My $75 saxophone

          be careful, just because a pad says horeve rmany mm doesn't mean it is that size. When I was fitting pads for my true-tone, I pulled open a pad tray that looked like it might have a pad that fits - the pads wer supposedly 32 mm out of curiosity, I measured with my digital calipers, one was 31 mm, one was 34, one was 33.5 one was just ever so slightly over 33...well a quicker way to say it would be was that not a single pad was 32 mm. the best way to do it is to take off all the keys, line them up from smallest to largest, then search through the pad organizer for a pad that fits the cup. The pad should go in with out too much force, and only come out after rapping the key firmly with a rawhide mallet. ( Could use your wrist, but it kind fo hurts after a while.) If there doesn't seem to be a pad that works, the pad can be forced slightly, but if it deforms any more than a quick once over with the pad slick will fix, its too tight. If all are too big, you cna go slightly smaller, it only makes it a little messier to float. (Or can I should say.) Do you ahve a close relationship wiht your dealer? if you do, ask to let you fit some pads - don't let him do it, the seemingly mindless task takes a littel technique - my trueotne took me about 2 hourse to fit pads, size resonators and get them all together. My next sax took me only 1. If you don't have a relationship, talk to curt, see what you can work out.

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        2. by sax_maniac
          (984 posts)

          10 years ago

          Re: My $75 saxophone

          When I clean up a horn, I strip off every key, put the rods back in, and go at it with diluted Mr. Clean in a spray bottle. It does a great job of breaking down the funky goo and smells good. (Just in case Windex doesn't do it for you.) I've used musicmedic standard domed metal resos and they worked out great. I've also used the saxgourmet pads, but you'll want to contact curt and make sure that he's got the sizes you need in stock if you choose to go that way. Those are not your every day pads and he's had some difficulties getting good roo leather due to drought. If you feel like going the extra mile, get yourself some teflon sheets from them, too. I use teflon under flat springs to ensure smooth operation. Also, I'm impressed with the synthetic cork assortment. I don't usually remove a cork intentionally unless it's really mangled or overcompressed. The ones that need replacing generally fall off on their own during the refurb process. Send me some pix! I'd love to see your progress.

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        3. by SaxMan
          (559 posts)

          10 years ago

          Re: My $75 saxophone

          Don't you work at a shop maniac? why don't you chem clean it? - sax takes surprisingly short, as long as you don't have to worry about needle springs, whihc on a yamaha, you wouldn't

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        4. by sax_maniac
          (984 posts)

          10 years ago

          Re: My $75 saxophone

          My home is my shop. I don't know what is used for "chem cleaning". I use standard household cleaners and vinegar for the most part. Once the keys are off, it takes me all of about 10 minutes to clean and rinse the body. I've seen horns with a mixed bag of blue and stainless springs - all depends on their service history

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        5. by SaxMan
          (559 posts)

          10 years ago

          Re: My $75 saxophone

          oh ok. Chem cleaning is done with this green stufft thats mildly acidic, cleans really good, and thats all that I know as far as composition. I have been really surprised with it... I have cleaned probably 150 horns in the last couple months, and some were just raunchy, and everyone cleaned up. it also works surprisingly good on calcium deposits. wont take major deposits off, but will do some pretty substantial ones. The thing with it though, is that you would probably need at least 40 or 50 gallons of this otherwise it would get all nasty really fast. ill ask what it is tomorrow.

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        6. by SaxMan
          (559 posts)

          10 years ago

          Re: My $75 saxophone

          I found out that its a coctail of a bunch of chemical cleaning solutions mixed together...or at least ours is. you might be able to find something at the napbirt site about it...

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        7. by johnsonfromwisconsin
          (767 posts)

          10 years ago

          Re: My $75 saxophone

          Update: I ordered a repair kit from MusicMedic and a repad assortment for this Yamaha. I just assumed that Curt knew how to work a gauge better than I do and that the Yas has had little variance in cup size (though I have allready found the low B to be the wrong size, luckily enough, an extra pad that came with the repair kit seems to want to fit the cup perfectly.) The repair kit includes everything on the site, which consists of a lot of cheap stuff, but I wanted to make sure I had everything in one place to start with. I can see right off I'll need more shellac to finish the repad. I've allready installed two palm key pads, but need to work out an appropriate workspace before continuing. I'll try getting a hold of a digicam for pictures.

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        8. by johnsonfromwisconsin
          (767 posts)

          10 years ago

          Re: My $75 saxophone

          Well, my repair enthusiasm has outstripped my patience waiting to borrow a suitable camera. Last night, I removed and replaced pads to the entire upper stack except for the G# key (kinda forgot about that one. oops.). I'll have to remove the stack again to replace and seat that pad, meanwhile I wedged the cups closed (on the G, I use a rubber band wound around the key and one of the alt-c posts). They all seat relatively well, and it didn't take that much time (most of which was spent trying to remember how things go back together. The only problem is, I couldnt' avoid melting the pearls! Ack! Any tips on how to avoid this? I did try melting the shellac in the far corner of the cup and spread it out, but I still had a hard time with not damaging the pearls. I'm glad I have this junker and didn't do this to my Yani :)

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        9. by sax_maniac
          (984 posts)

          10 years ago

          Re: My $75 saxophone

          If you have to do only one pad, sometimes you can heat it up, remove it and replace it without removing the key from the horn. It's tricky to do with the upper stack as there's so much overlap and the pads so small, but you should have sufficient access to pull it off with the G#. The trick to pearls is to either stay away from them - heat up the other side of the pad cup - or remove them prior to torching them. They are generally glued in similar to pads. Vintage pearlies seem to have a higher heat tolerance. Modern plasticy ones melt if your house thermostat is set too high. I've never done this, but have thought it would be kind of neat to replace pearls with colored epoxy (sort of like the Keilwerth Shadow). You could actually form them to the shape of your finger tip and they would wear well and withstand heat better. Not to mention your fingerprints would be literally all over the horn in the event it got stolen. Maybe a little ugly, but talk about ergonomic and personalized!

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        10. by SaxMan
          (559 posts)

          10 years ago

          Re: My $75 saxophone

          I think yanagisawa might still do real pearls...none of this cheap plastic garbage that even selmer usa has dropped to. (on their student horns anyway.) Vintage pearls are real pearl, I don't think that the new things should be called pearl because they're friken plastic. and glued in? did a jeweler screw me on putting new pearls in on my conn? babbled on enough now....

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        11. by johnsonfromwisconsin
          (767 posts)

          10 years ago

          Re: My $75 saxophone

          Onto a worse crisis: I screwed up in removing the pointed pivot screws from their holes. Now I can't find the one that fits in one of the posts. To make it worse, I've destroyed one of the screws trying to screw it in and upon examining the post, it looks like it's cross threaded! The destroyed screw is missing an 'ear' to the screwdriver slot. I'm trying to think of what I should do. I could take it to my tech (who is overloaded with work) and see if he could remove and fix the post and replace the screw. Until then, I'm stuck! crap!

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        12. by johnsonfromwisconsin
          (767 posts)

          10 years ago

          Re: My $75 saxophone

          Okay, it gets even worse. Turns out, the real issue is that I was being stupid. That post wasn't made to take a pivot screw, it was meant to take a rod! Trouble is, I had dissasembled this horn more than a month ago and was relying on written notes and I had made an error in marking what this particular rod was for. The good news is that the post still recieves the rod, but I'll need to get a new pivot screw. I'm making a note to myself not to try repair after 11PM.

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        13. by SaxMan
          (559 posts)

          10 years ago

          Re: My $75 saxophone

          hehe. Point screws for yamahas are expesnive and hard ot get cause they use this non standard garbage that no one in the world uses - not even helmke or band now uses thos screws. if your tech is a yamaha dealer he should have some, if not it might be hard to get a replacement.

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        14. by sax_maniac
          (984 posts)

          10 years ago

          Re: My $75 saxophone

          My advice here is a little late, but I may have mentioned before that I leave all rods and screws in place when I disassemble and clean a horn. I take out the rod/screw, remove the key, then immediately put it back in. The real danger with rods using my technique is that if mishandled, you could bend the rod, which basically sucks and takes considerable time and/or the right tools to fix even a slight boo boo. You can also leave the screws in and the rods out as the rods are easier to sort out and harder to lose.

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        15. by johnsonfromwisconsin
          (767 posts)

          10 years ago

          Re: My $75 saxophone

          yeah, in hindsight, it would have been very easy to leave the screws in. I completely removed them for cleaning and because I was considering some way of cleaning the bore, which I never did. Live and learn.

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        16. by johnsonfromwisconsin
          (767 posts)

          10 years ago

          Re: My $75 saxophone

          I do have several avenues to explore concerning this, but Saxman might be right. Try doing a google search for availablility reveals nothing but advertisements and nothing comes up. I'll check first with my local guy and perhaps another larger store in the area that is a Yamaha dealer. Or I could drop Curt Altrac a line and see if he can get me anything. If all else fails, it should be possible to find a screw with the same teething and bore and grind/polish it into the proper shape. Strangely enough, the gaurd screws seem to fit the pivot screw posts perfectly, but just aren't long enough.

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        17. by SaxMan
          (559 posts)

          10 years ago

          Re: My $75 saxophone

          I wouldnt leave the rods in - the rods rust very easily. As for the point screws - you dont need to keep track of those - they are all EXACTLY the same, or if not, there is a big enough difference to tell which goes where. Only maybe in some VERY old saxes will the point screws be different. Getting the rods straight isn't hard at all - All you have to do is stick it in a drill press spin it and pull it with a piece of cloth or something non abraisive - though dont try to do it too fast or youll screw up the rod possibly do to it spinning in the chuck. If you really cant find the proper screw, find one that is really close, the retap the post - its kind of , but it will do if you cant get a proper point screw.

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        18. by sax_maniac
          (984 posts)

          10 years ago

          Re: My $75 saxophone

          SaxMan - Good point about rusting rods. I failed to elaborate that everything gets immediately dried and oiled once it's been cleaned. I reassemble everything right after I clean the body, so I've never had to be concerned about rusting rods. Cool trick with the drill press. Rolling it between 2 jeweler's anvils is a bit safer and won't mangle the end of the rod like a drill press could.

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        19. by sax_maniac
          (984 posts)

          10 years ago

          Re: My $75 saxophone

          Call Ferree's at 800.253.2261. They might have some available, though their history revolves around American horns. If they don;t have them, they can surely find them.

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        20. by chiamac
          (586 posts)

          10 years ago

          Re: My $75 saxophone

          a good way to get rods straight... put the rod down on a hard flat surface, then put a hard board on top of it, and roll the rod with the board.

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        21. by johnsonfromwisconsin
          (767 posts)

          10 years ago

          Re: My $75 saxophone

          I talked with my local tech guy, and he can easily get the parts through allied supply. He said he thought it best to purchase a number of these and sell them to me individually at $2.00 each (I'll probably take six). He's a real good guy! I finished the neck out with a new cork and octave pad last night. All I need to do now is seat some pads, replace a few felts, polish the keys, and replace those pivots and it will be ready.

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        22. by johnsonfromwisconsin
          (767 posts)

          10 years ago

          Re: My $75 saxophone

          The Project is basically finished. I picked up the pivot screws, installed them, adjusted the pads and cups for alignment, and then troubleshot some other leaks I thought were fixed. It plays nicely. It's not a bad horn all-in-all, but it's definately not a professional instrument in sound or mechanics. The tone is on the bright side, both clear and thin. It lacks the resonance of my Yani 880 and the richness of the Ref alto. It's projection is quite good. I used to play an old Bundy, but this was before I really became aware of tonal issues, but I do remember the Bundy having a deeper, darker, and more focused sound than the YAS-23 has; however, the keywork on the Yamaha is far more fluid, especially on the LH table than the old bundy. The only exception to the keywork issue is the YAS's insane octave key that hinders fast transfer of the thumb from the rest to working the octave. It rests too high for comfortable use and shows no signs of being bent from it's original shape (it's way to rigid to have become bent without serious signs of it). I added extra cork between the mechanism and the body to raise the octave/neck transfer peg towards the octave sling and to lower the key closer to the body. Total @ cost: Horn: $75 Pad Set: $30 Repair Kit: $80 fuel/polish $10 ---------------- total $195

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        23. by sax_maniac
          (984 posts)

          10 years ago

          Re: My $75 saxophone

          Funny. I just did the same thing to the octave mechanism a week ago to bring it down to be level with the thumb rest. I considered raising the thumbrest as well. Your comparison of the YAS-23/Bundy is spot on with my own observation. The Bundy sounding maybe a little richer, but better keywork on the Yamaha. I'm actually using the Yamaha as my main horn now - while I sell my Selmer III. I'm getting quite good altissimo from the 23. I didn't have to do any work to mine, though - "closet horn" deal. Let's trade horn pix!

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        24. by SaxMan
          (559 posts)

          10 years ago

          Re: My $75 saxophone

          your selling your III? silver right? hjow much?

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        25. by sax_maniac
          (984 posts)

          10 years ago

          Re: My $75 saxophone

          It's in SaxQuest's free trading and it's currently on eBay - do a search on "Selmer Series III Silver"

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        26. by SaxMan
          (559 posts)

          10 years ago

          Re: My $75 saxophone

          out fo curiosity, why are you selling it? surely it isnt money if you could afford it the first place?

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        27. by sax_maniac
          (984 posts)

          10 years ago

          Re: My $75 saxophone

          Actually, I'm looking to use the money for higher priorities. I have other altos that suffice for what I do. If I don't sell it, that's ok, too. I have to say it's tempting to get it out of the case, but I've got it tip-top - saving it for the next lucky owner.

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        28. by SaxMan
          (559 posts)

          10 years ago

          Re: My $75 saxophone

          well, darn I would like it, but having another series III would kind of defeat the prupose of having a cheaper backup sax that I cna leave at school - wouldnt want to leave it there, if I find someone who would be interested, I will have him email you.

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        29. by sax_maniac
          (984 posts)

          10 years ago

          Re: My $75 saxophone

          Well, thanks. It's one of those things where I'll be happy if it sells and happy if it doesn't. I'm actually a little bummed that it looks like my bari is going to sell. I'm not playing it much but will miss it dearly.

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        30. by johnsonfromwisconsin
          (767 posts)

          10 years ago

          Re: My $75 saxophone

          didn't know you were selling a bari. How many horns do you own anyhow?

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        31. by sax_maniac
          (984 posts)

          10 years ago

          Re: My $75 saxophone

          SAAAAAACTB, though one of the altos is about to become a table lamp (figuratively speaking) and one of them is mid-repair (I question counting any horn in one's collection that can't be played from top to bottom). I got rid of two tenors in the past couple of months and donated an alto to a school.

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        32. by sax_maniac
          (984 posts)

          10 years ago

          Re: My $75 saxophone

          Well my III sold, though I'm still waiting for that damned personal check to clear. Oh well. If I'm getting hosed I got two other interested buyers waiting in line... "Papa don't preach... IIIIIIIIIII'M KEEPIN' MY BARI" (I'm gonna keep my bari.. Oooohh Oooohhh)

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