I'm still not buying into this. I do get the fact that if you're using higher cost materials, there should be aa higher charge and that's it.
If a tech is going to charge me more and the ONLY difference is that he considers my horn "professional" so repairs should cost more, I'm looking for a different tech. Also, if the tech is not going to do an as-good job on my YBS-52 JUST because it isn't a pro horn, I'm going to look for a different tech.
I'm afraid I haven't communicated very well, if that is your interpretation. Let me try another way to describe the way repair techs approach high end instruments vs student horns.
First of all we are talking about repads/mechanical overhauls, not replacing the palm key pads. In these instances the tech is given a clean canvas, so to speak, to create his/her art.
The first step is dent work and body or bell straightening. The student instrument is done to the point that it looks very good. The pro instrument is worked painstakingly to the point where it looks as if it just came from the factory. This often involves removing (unsoldering?) the entire bell section to insert a tapered mandrel into the body to roll the dents out.
The next step is the leveling of the toneholes. All of the toneholes on the student instrument are leveled with diamond rotary files. Only the very worst ones have the low spots raised before filing. On the pro horn, all of the low areas of the toneholes are painstakingly raised so that only the very smallest amount of filing is required to bring them to perfection.
Key fitting follows. The very loose keys on the student sax that prevent good regulation are addressed. On the pro horn, every key, regardless of its function is painstakingly swedged to fit as snug as humanly possible without any friction whatsoever. Usually the rods and the inside of the hinge tubes are polished using special techniques to insure lightning fast movement of the keys.
Pad installation is next. The student sax gets slightly softer felt pads that are slightly more forgiving to imperfections in the tone holes. These are seated to close airtight with medium light finger pressure. The pro sax gets the best quality pads available with slightly firmer felt for a more positive feel to the key closing. These are painstakingly seated so that just gravity closing the key makes a perfect 360 degree seal around the tonehole.
Key opening (venting) and spring tension is next. The keys on the student sax are adjusted so that there are no unusually stuffy notes for that make and model, and the springs are set to be close to uniform throughout. On the pro sax, the venting of each key is carefully checked and adjusted to try to match the timbre and projection of the adjacent notes. Intonation issues are addressed using crescents in the tone holes, changing the key heights of the entire stacks, and other advanced techniques. Each key spring tension is painstakingly set to match the player's specifications, and to be as uniform throughout as possible.
Play testing and final adjustment. On the student sax, the instrument is played to insure it is air tight, all the notes are speaking and venting properly. If it doesn't feel right, it will be checked again with the leaklight to see if something has changed. On the pro sax, it is played extensively, sometimes hours making small adjustments along the way. After sitting a day or two, it is checked again with the leak light, adjusted if necessary, and then played again. Depending on how big a hurry the customer is in, this process may be repeated over several days as things settle in.
Obviously one sax is repadded/overhauled to a higher level than the other. The student repad is very good for that level of instrument---often better than when it left the factory with better fitting keys and level toneholes. The professional repad/overhaul is simply done to a higher standard. The "bench time" which is the measure of how much is charged the customer is considerably less for the work put into the student sax. In our shop it is a very modest $40 per hour.
If you brought me your YBS 52 for an overhaul, I would give you the choice. I would recommend the top of the line overhaul with all the bells and whistles, but if you said you were on a budget, I would do as much as possible according to what you were willing to pay.
Craftsmen and women and artisans work to a given standard and then stop. That standard can be higher or lower depending upon the needs and resources of the customer, or the quality and value of the item being worked on. Band instrument repair is no different.