Full Woodwind Mechanical Overhauls: Using the repair industry’s newest and best materials in combination with experience and meticulous accuracy, we can offer our customers better than factory-new mechanical overhauls.
When is it time for a full mechanical Overhaul? Usually most instruments only need a few pads replaced to get them back into playing condition but when all the pads need to be replaced we offer our customers full mechanical overhauls. Horns that have been sitting in attics or garages for many years usually fall under this category. An instrument’s need to be overhauled can also be attributed to mold, pad mites, moth larvae, or seven outdoor sets at Disney seven days a week for a year. No matter what the reason is that your instrument needs an overhaul, we can get it back into excellent playing condition.
What our Overhauls entail: After disassembling the instrument, all old pads, felts and corks are removed. The body and keys are then sonically cleaned removing years of accumulated oxidization, grease and other foreign entities.
Each key is then checked and any keys that are loose are swedged. The swedging process helps keys to stay within tolerances and prevents newly installed pads from unseating. Loose mechanisms on new imports and well-used older horns are often the culprit of recurring leaks and can severely shorten the lifespan of newly installed pads. Fully committing to the swedging process on every professional overhaul is why our pad jobs have the reputation of lasting longer and sealing more consistently.
After the entire horn has been swedged, correctly-sized thin pads are fitted to each pad-cup and each pad is then given a hollywood brass resonator. We install each resonator with a special backing that significantly decreases the likelihood of a resonator pulling through. The black kangaroo pads that we use don’t cut through as easily as traditional cow leather pads and are the thinnest pads you can buy from suppliers. All too often an overhaul done with thick pads can ruin a potentially excellent horn by stuffing it up.
The body of the horn is then prepped for pad installation by leveling and truing the tone-holes. Tone holes often become unleveled after many years of use or in the case of some newer horns if they were never leveled at the factory. Additionally, during the re-lacquering process buffing of the tone holes can cause them to become unleveled. Many speculate that unleveled tone holes created by over-buffing is why re-lacquered horns have gotten such a bad reputation and thusly why a re-lacquered horn is worth less than an original. Because of this, our philosophy is to try to alter the horn in the least possible way and keep it as original as possible. That’s why we don’t offer re-lacquering and don’t encourage it. In keeping to our philosophy, our tone-hole files are of a lesser grit and we never use power tools during the process. All of our leveling is done by hand with a special method that reduces the amount of metal that leaves the horn.
After leveling the tone holes, each pad is individually dry-fitted and then seated. In keeping true to our philosophy, pads are seated without bending the pad-cups. Too often a weekend garage-tinkerer pad job comes to us with bent pad-cups. This seriously affects the integrity of the metal and is an improper way of installing pads. It also devalues the horn and creates angst for future repair techs. After pad-cups have been bent, the likelihood of the cup ever being put back into factory tolerances is minimal so please don’t let that weekend garage-tinkerer work on your vintage Mark VI!
Once the horn receives new felts and corks, the key heights are adjusted to find the proper balance between venting and tuning. The instrument is then left on clamps for a solid seating and play-tested before pickup.
A lawyer’s time and knowledge are his stock in trade.
~ Abraham Lincoln
And that’s also true of master craftsmen and artisans. Gary, Maureen, Sheila and David will give your instruments the attention they need and their years of experience and study to do it right.