Untitled Document
     
Advertisement Click to advertise with us!
     

bari sax maintenance question

#1
My 11yo practices a rental bari sax at home. I'm not ready to purchase one yet because he likes variety. He did trombone in 4th grade, and I bought a used trombone for $150 -- that was fine. He played bassoon in 5th grade, with a rental. At the end of the year he felt satisfied and I returned the rental. It's too soon to know if he's going to want to keep going with bari after 6th grade. He plays the school instrument when he's at school.

How do we check the rental instrument to see what maintenance is needed? The rental shop will do a better job with repairs if I give them specific suggestions about what is needed.

I know something is needed because he says he gets better results on the school instrument.

Thank you.
 

saxhound

Moderator
Staff member
CE/Moderator
#2
There are a lot of potential things to check, but a good first step would be to have him slowly play from the bottom of the horn to the top of the horn (or as high as he can play), and take notes on where he has problems getting a specific note to speak clearly without over-blowing or clamping his fingers extra tight on the keys. You might also put your ear close to the horn when he is playing to see if you can hear any air leaks, particularly on the left hand palm keys and the right hand side keys. There is also a delicate adjustment on the G and G# mechanism that cause all sorts of problems if not set up properly.

You could also have him do the play test in front of the repair person if they have time for that. He / she may want to manually hold down various keys to identify leaks.

Other things to check are how the neck fits into the receiver on the horn - can it be tightened so it doesn't move or does it flop around. Is the neck receiver perfectly round where it joins the horn? A small leak there can create havoc. Also check the condition of the neck cork where the mouthpiece is attached. Does it seal tightly? Are there missing chunks of cork?

Is there any difference in how the horn plays when he changes his reed? Kids tend to play reeds long past their useful life because it can be a pain to break in a new one. An old worn out reed will cause squeaks and squawks.

That should get you started.
 

Carl H.

Distinguished Member
Distinguished Member
#4
How do we check the rental instrument to see what maintenance is needed? The rental shop will do a better job with repairs if I give them specific suggestions about what is needed.

I know something is needed because he says he gets better results on the school instrument.
Don't tell them what needs fixing, you are in no position to judge this. Tell them specifically what problems your son is having with this instrument that he does not experience with the school instrument.
 

SOTSDO

Old King Log
Staff member
CE/Moderator
#5
Regardless of what they do, make sure to check the tone hole at the bottom of the horn, the one closed by the key operated by the "C key" touchpiece. On school horns, this hole is notorious for being bashed to death by student users of school horns, and it is very difficult (considering usual school useage) to keep things just right.

(I once had to perform emergency surgery on that tone hole on a Mark VI baritone with a pair of Vicegrip pliers, this when showing up to fill in for a missing pit player when the MD promised that he would show up with a working baritone. Taken from his school's instrument room, the horn was replete with problems, but the only one incapable of solution before downbeat was that tone hole, dented beyond apparent salvation by a decade or more of student attention. I "smoothed" it out as best as I could with the pliers snout (padded with thick paper to prevent serrating the metal), and got through a night of low Cs with careful, heavy pressure on the key.)

Will he have exclusive use of the horn? Very often, with bass instruments like the baritone, multiple levels of students have to use the same instrument. If that is the case, get ready for a very disappointed young bari player, for as soon as the horn is brought into regulation, someone else will be careless and knock it back out.

Back in my teaching days, I used to take new bass clarinet students on with the understanding that their parents would spend the money to get their son or (more usually) daughter their own (student) horn. Once this was done, it was amazing how a formerly marginal student would turn into a superb player - just because they now had use of an undamaged horn. The six to eight hundred dollars that it cost them was well worth the final result.
 

pete

Brassica Oleracea
Staff member
Administrator
#6
Also, rental baritones I've seen are generally a wreck. There are sometimes even mismatched parts from other baris.

Another fundamental question: is he using the same mouthpiece on both the rental and school instrument? It could be as simple as the rental's mouthpiece is cracked.
 

jbtsax

Distinguished Member
Distinguished Member
#7
Most technicians have a check list for going through an instrument. We do diagnostics every day and chase down problems. It is fine that customers point things out, but most often there are other issues that are not obvious to the player. My favorite is the little overachieving flute playing 6th grade girl who meticulously puts small sticky notes on each key that she thinks is not working right as if the tech would otherwise miss the problem.
 
Last edited:

Helen

Content Expert Saxophones
Staff member
Administrator
#8
My favorite is the little overachieving flute playing 6th grade girl who meticulously puts small sticky notes on each key that she thinks is not working right as if the tech would otherwise miss the problem.
Love it! Those must be very small sticky notes. ;)

Seriously, back on topic. FWIW, I tell my tech the problems I'm having, and let him figure out why I'm having them. Unless it's something obvious like a pad fell out, or a cork came off, I leave the diagnostics to David. I don't tell my car mechanic what's wrong with my Volvo, any more than would tell David what's wrong with any of my horns.

That said, as others have pointed out here already, there might be other reasons why your son is having problems going from one horn to another that have nothing to do with a horn in poor repair. Yes, definitely get the horn checked over, but things like one horn being easier to play than the other; mouthpieces; and even reeds can make a big difference.
 

pete

Brassica Oleracea
Staff member
Administrator
#9
IRL, I'm a computer tech. I've said for years that all I want in a ticket is a problem description and a phone number I can reach you at. If you tell me what you want done, that's the only thing I'm going to do. However, if you see an obvious problem, like smoke pouring out of the computer -- or, going with my above post, that the mouthpiece is obviously damaged -- I expect you to tell me.

Oh. I have worked on computers that have had smoke pouring out of them. The last one was yesterday.
 

Carl H.

Distinguished Member
Distinguished Member
#10
Oh. I have worked on computers that have had smoke pouring out of them. The last one was yesterday.
smoke1.jpg

Do you buy it wholesale?
 

Gandalfe

Admin and all around good guy.
Staff member
Administrator
#11
Also, rental baritones I've seen are generally a wreck. There are sometimes even mismatched parts from other baris.

Another fundamental question: is he using the same mouthpiece on both the rental and school instrument? It could be as simple as the rental's mouthpiece is cracked.
It's also getting harder to rent a bari sax and if you do find one they can be wicked expensive to rent as in one year of rental cost pays for 1/2 to 3/4 of the new cost!
 

pete

Brassica Oleracea
Staff member
Administrator
#12
@ Carl H.: Don't let out the magic smoke!
Yesterday's computer had been dropped by the user -- he gets points for admitting that -- and it cracked a chip on the hard drive's circuit board in such a way as to short with the hard drive's case. Wispy smoke. Bad smelling smoke.

Several years ago, I got a ticket for someone for, "I can't connect to e-mail," or something mundane like that. When I got there, the user was telling me about her problem and I looked over her shoulder and said, "Did you not see the smoke pouring out of your computer?" It was a LOT of smoke, too.

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

Approximately 10 years ago was the last time I tried to rent a bari. A formerly decent horn; a Keilwerth-made Bundy. Looked like someone crushed it into a ball then tried to smooth it out. $185 for a month. I didn't rent it.
 
Top