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A Reader's Poll

jbtsax

Distinguished Member
Distinguished Member
so we are back to the question of whether the Conn 6m was going to be used in a student or pro setting ....
It was for a high school sophomore who got the sax from his grandfather. I think he was currently playing a YAS 23. He is not a great player (yet?), but he is motivated and is taking lessons from a good teacher.
 

pete

Brassica Oleracea
Staff member
Administrator
I'm still not buying into this. I do get the fact that if you're using higher cost materials, there should be a higher charge and that's it.
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.
Emphasis mine, of course.

Those highlighted points are exactly what I'm getting at.

If you start by saying that a -- and I'm using worldwidesax.com's pricing and terminology -- "vintage standard" rebuild for my Keilwerth-made Bundy bari is $1299 and you detail exactly what's going to be done, that's exactly what I should expect. If you say that you can do some extra stuff for extra cash, that's great and I can choose that or not. However, your statement says that if a horn is considered to be a "student instrument" that you're just going to put in enough work to make it "very good."

Let me try another analogy.

I'm a computer tech. You tell me that you got infected with the Zbot virus. At this point, I can tell you that I can run three or four AV/AS programs (and do a couple other things) that'd probably repair all the damage and it'll take me five hours -- but there are no guarantees that the infection has been completely healed. Or I can rebuild your computer from scratch, then scan and transfer your data files and that will fix all your problems, but it'll take me at least eight hours, possibly more (depending on your configuration); you can make the choice. I don't care if the computer is responsible for running a multimillion-dollar measuring device or if it's a $300 netbook. You've got the two choices: a 5 hour repair or an at least 8 hour repair.*

I don't see anywhere that you're even offering the choice to the player. That leads one to say, "Ah. If they determine it's a student horn, they're not going to do as good a job." That's my problem.

===========

* Where I work, we have a standard software build for all of our computers that includes an operating system (OS) and standardized software (i.e. "everyone gets this installed, even if he only uses it once"). This is called an "image." If a user does come up to me with a virus infected computer, I have the choice of running my fancy programs or rebuilding from the image. The only time I won't choose "reinstall the image" is if the user has had installed a bunch of esoteric applications or the applications he had are difficult to install/configure. Why? I can reimage a computer in less than an hour and have it all set up for you (transfer your data, configure your applications, etc.) in two more. In other words, a lot quicker than that 8 hour number. You also get the side effect of a fresh install: your computer will run faster than before.

Another way of thinking about it is that if I think that the fix to your problem would take me more than about three hours, I'm just reimaging you. And probably locking down your computer so tight that you'll have to call me if you want to play "Minesweeper."
 

jbtsax

Distinguished Member
Distinguished Member
A "student" saxophone to me is a Bundy II, a Nogales Conn, a Yamaha YAS 23, an Armstrong, a Selmer USA Buescher, etc. None of these saxophones would be worth a $900 - $1200 top of the line professional overhaul. You can't make a silk purse out of a sow's ear. None of these brands and models would be worth even close to the cost of the overhaul when finished. They could get a new saxophone for that price that has new pads, tight keys, and is cosmetically perfect. Any player who plays well enough to recognize or benefit from the extras that go into a pro overhaul is not going to be performing on one of these makes and models in the first place.

I could certainly offer the parents of a student with an old beat up Bundy II a $1000 complete repad and mechanical restoration, and tell them that it will be worth about $400 when it is finished. Or, I could say that for this sax, I recommend the $350 - $400 repad that will keep the sax going another 10 to 15 years depending on how it maintained.

I see where you are coming from Pete with the computer analogy, but you haven't yet convinced me that we are comparing "apples to apples". From this excellent discussion, I have come around to believing that who is playing the saxophone, and how it is going to be used is perhaps more important than what name is engraved on the bell. Thanks to everybody who responded.
 
Let me try another way to describe the way repair techs approach high end instruments vs student horns.
I could certainly offer the parents of a student with an old beat up Bundy II a $1000 complete repad and mechanical restoration, and tell them that it will be worth about $400 when it is finished. Or, I could say that for this sax, I recommend the $350 - $400 repad that will keep the sax going another 10 to 15 years depending on how it maintained.
I guess it also depends on the instruments you see, economics of an country/area, etc. I can't do what I consider a good full repad for around $400. Just impossible to stay in this work doing that. Not only that, every student model like that I've seen would actually cost more to do a full repad than a good model (it would be more work because of worse original manufacturing). In addition, it is extremely rare that anyone is willing to invest about $400 for a model like this. I've done only two full repads on a student model, both were Yamaha 23s. I don't remember the first, but the second should have cost about $900. I charged about $600 and if I did this often I would have to quit. So I deal with problems as much as possible but the "student repad" doesn't really exist for me.
 
Package pricing of repads reminds me of the by-the-book pricing of auto repairs. "The Book" says it takes x minutes to do a particular job, therefore the customers is charged the book time, no matter how long the job actually takes.

My favorite auto mechanic refused to use book pricing. His theory was that if a driver took care of his car it was much easier to work on; if the car was neglected most jobs took much longer. So book pricing was unfair to the careful car owner but also unfair to the mechanic when working on a poorly maintained car. I would think the same applies to musical instruments.
 

Steve

Clarinet CE/Moderator
Staff member
CE/Moderator
It was for a high school sophomore who got the sax from his grandfather. I think he was currently playing a YAS 23. He is not a great player (yet?), but he is motivated and is taking lessons from a good teacher.
and i had a student who showed up with a dismally, old and mistreated tenor sax that he wanted to use in high school and jsut spend enough to get it "working". It was handed down from his grandpa ...

it was a Selmer SBA .... talk about ripping your heart out.
 

Steve

Clarinet CE/Moderator
Staff member
CE/Moderator
...... should have cost about $900. I charged about $600 and if I did this often I would have to quit. So I deal with problems as much as possible but the "student repad" doesn't really exist for me.
And one wonders how the retail music stores (or individuals) get contracts with schools to repair bulk instruments, with the winner usually the lowest cost bidder.
 
larnib
And one wonders how the retail music stores (or individuals) get contracts with schools to repair bulk instruments, with the winner usually the lowest cost bidder.
Your reply was directly to my quote but I don't understand what you mean, can you explain please?

In this example, it was a private owner. I did it for such a significant discount as an exception for various reasons, but also with the agreement that it would take a very long time, just working on it when I have spare time for it (not delaying any other work). This meant to show how it's not really an option for me to do the "student repad". I've just never had an instrument where a lower standard but full repad would have been a better value to the customer than simply repairing the problems without starting with a "clear canvas". Of course for price comparisons in general, you have to consider local economics. For example in comparison with USA, paychecks here for the same jobs are usually significantly lower, and prices for most things are significantly higher.
 

SOTSDO

Old King Log
Staff member
CE/Moderator
Having a rate book may not be fair in all circumstances, but it does tend to reduce argument on the part of the unreasonable customer. For every twenty customers, for whom a "figure as you go" system will work just fine, there will be one or two who will quibble over everything (once the work is done).

I always ask up front, so as not to be surprised later on. When I moved down here, I had to shop around for a repair person for a couple of years before I discovered one, a guy who (oddly enough) worked for the Brooks-Mays behemoth at the time.

Even though he was working within another company, Fred always did things for me in a gold plated fashion, the same sort of quality that I got from independents up north. Now that the behemoth has been slain, he works for the "reborn" H & H Music, with somewhat lower costs. However, if I have a pad that's not seating right on a sax, he does it for free, this to make up for the other stuff.

And, while I don't tip the mailman, trashman or lawn service folks, I send something Fred's way at most Christmas times.
 

Steve

Clarinet CE/Moderator
Staff member
CE/Moderator
larnib
Your reply was directly to my quote but I don't understand what you mean, can you explain please?

In this example, it was a private owner. I did it for such a significant discount as an exception for various reasons, but also with the agreement that it would take a very long time, just working on it when I have spare time for it (not delaying any other work). This meant to show how it's not really an option for me to do the "student repad". I've just never had an instrument where a lower standard but full repad would have been a better value to the customer than simply repairing the problems without starting with a "clear canvas". Of course for price comparisons in general, you have to consider local economics. For example in comparison with USA, paychecks here for the same jobs are usually significantly lower, and prices for most things are significantly higher.
In the US, the local schools (high school etc) often search for a repair place to fix all of their school instruments - irregardless of whether a student or pro level instrument. They go for the lowest bidder (most of the time).

This puts alot of pressure on the repair person to complete a "fix" of an instrument in a very short amount of time as they have bunches of instruments to do and the contract doesn't pay much.
 

tictactux

Distinguished Member
Distinguished Member
This puts alot of pressure on the repair person to complete a "fix" of an instrument in a very short amount of time as they have bunches of instruments to do and the contract doesn't pay much.
And if there's simply too much work, would they subcontract?
 

pete

Brassica Oleracea
Staff member
Administrator
Package pricing of repads reminds me of the by-the-book pricing of auto repairs. "The Book" says it takes x minutes to do a particular job, therefore the customers is charged the book time, no matter how long the job actually takes.

My favorite auto mechanic refused to use book pricing. His theory was that if a driver took care of his car it was much easier to work on; if the car was neglected most jobs took much longer. So book pricing was unfair to the careful car owner but also unfair to the mechanic when working on a poorly maintained car. I would think the same applies to musical instruments.
Another reason that using "the book" is a bad idea is if you don't have enough experience doing the repair. I remember the first time I had to replace a hard drive on a Snow iBook. On practically any other computer (major exceptions are netbooks), this is a job of maybe two minutes. After doing about a half-dozen iBook HD replacements, I got it down to ... two hours. (You have to almost completely dismantle the machine to get to the drive.)

A "student" saxophone to me is a Bundy II, a Nogales Conn, a Yamaha YAS 23, an Armstrong, a Selmer USA Buescher, etc. None of these saxophones would be worth a $900 - $1200 top of the line professional overhaul.
In your opinion, none of these would be worth the price of the overhaul.

Thing one: my Bundy bari was made by Keilwerth and was significantly nicer than any student horn. Additionally, I paid (in today's money) less than $1500 for the horn. Even if I take Sarge's $1299 overhaul price, $2800 is really, really good for a "step down from pro" -- if I can say that the horn was based on the New King and not a Toneking -- because, an equivalently good "step down from pro" horn, the YBS-52, is $4600.

Additionally, when I bought the horn, I didn't know that it wasn't made by Selmer USA. I thought it was just a nice student horn. I'd be willing to bet you that the majority of repair techs would also look at the name on the bell and say, "Bundy? Student horn." Hey, today's Vito VSP bari is a Yanagisawa -- and the Vito bari I bought from Ed awhile back was a Beaugnier.

Thing two: as SteveSklar mentions, he's seen people walk into his studio with inherited horns. When my grandfather died, I also inherited a horn: a Lyric clarinet. Yes, it's a stencil. Yes, it's not as good as most other clarinets. But what if I wanted to keep playing it because I thought it would have pleased my grandfather? (Horn was stolen a few years ago, so I didn't have to make that decision.)

Thing three: remember the phrase, "The customer is always right." IMO, if you tell the customer that he's got the two options of "student rebuild" or "pro rebuild" -- and you explain the differences between the two -- you've done your job. If the customer picks "pro rebuild," even if the horn's a junky Bundy II, you need to do your job as best as possible per the customer's wishes.

==============

One of the major things I did at saxpics.com and currently do at thesax.info is horn "valuations." I get an awful lot of people with Conn and Buescher horns from the 1920s or Conn and Buescher stencils. Most of these horns aren't valued enough to even break even with a full overhaul. However, you've got to ask yourself if it's worth the overhaul price to have, say, a Conn New Wonder pro model (albeit a 1920's pro model) or if you should just go out and get an overhauled Yamaha 23 for less than half the price. That's sometimes a very difficult decision. IMO, if you're anything but a pro, you're going to want the Yamaha 23 instead.
 

Steve

Clarinet CE/Moderator
Staff member
CE/Moderator
..... Your reply was directly to my quote but I don't understand what you mean, can you explain please?
I wasn't complete in my statement.

In the US there are competitive (low bid) contracts for working on school instruments. This may include working on say a bunch of clarinets for $600, total. I was just thinking that a "bunch" is equivalent to one in this pricing model example. It makes you wonder how many of these retail shops make money on school contracts.

I recall doing an evaluation on one of those internet places advertising a clarinet "repad" for $99. I believe I calculated they would have to spend no more than 50 minutes in the entirety just to break even with consumable and labor costs (with certain assumptions of course).
 

jbtsax

Distinguished Member
Distinguished Member
And if there's simply too much work, would they subcontract?
Yes that is common in our area. We have an independent tech that we sub out repairs to when we can't possibly cover all of the school work by the end of the summer. You have to remember that we have lots of customer work and store rental instruments to get ready for fall as well.
 

jbtsax

Distinguished Member
Distinguished Member
In your opinion, none of these would be worth the price of the overhaul.
My opinion is based upon 50 years of experience playing, teaching, and repairing saxophones. I have never met anyone who would put $1000 into refurbishing a student quality instrument that is worth $400 when finished. I am not talking about the vintage saxes referred to in your posts. Many of these are worth restoring to perfection for family sentimental reasons, as well as the fact that they were the "pro" horns of their day.

If the customer picks "pro rebuild," even if the horn's a junky Bundy II, you need to do your job as best as possible per the customer's wishes.
Actually I would regard that as price gouging, not in the customer's best interest, and I would decline to do that repair as a matter of principle. In the example you gave, the customer could get at least $200 for the Bundy II that needs work on Ebay. They could put that with the $1000 + the pro overhaul would cost and buy a brand new YAS 23, or a Cannonball Alkazar that have much better keywork, intonation, cosmetics, and case.

This is really a moot issue as far as I am concerned, because in my line of work, when faced with these choices, the parents inevitably ask me, "what would you do, if this were your saxophone". I always answer honestly based on my experience as a teacher, player, and repairman. In that situation I am the authority that they have come to for advice. My responsibility is to guide them to make the right choice, not to try to make the greatest amount of money on the sale.

==============

One of the major things I did at saxpics.com and currently do at thesax.info is horn "valuations." I get an awful lot of people with Conn and Buescher horns from the 1920s or Conn and Buescher stencils. Most of these horns aren't valued enough to even break even with a full overhaul. However, you've got to ask yourself if it's worth the overhaul price to have, say, a Conn New Wonder pro model (albeit a 1920's pro model) or if you should just go out and get an overhauled Yamaha 23 for less than half the price. That's sometimes a very difficult decision. IMO, if you're anything but a pro, you're going to want the Yamaha 23 instead.[/QUOTE]
 
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