Student Saxophone Repairs
The extreme precision demanded by professional musicians is not necessary for students but your instrument does need to play easily without having to blow or squeeze harder. A poorly working instrument can be compared to trying out for basketball in flip-flops. The student can run and jump but will not make the team. Music can be great at building confidence but giving a student an instrument that doesn’t work can do the opposite.
All work is done on site with fast turnaround times and loaners are usually available. Most of the time Chris is in the shop and can give an accurate estimate before the instrument is left. Please bring everything used to play and care for the instrument including the neck, case and mouthpiece.
Minor adjustments (while you hang with us at the shop)
It is important to understand that saxophones do not “either play or not”. The more they leak the more difficult they are to play. If you think you may be playing on a saxophone that is under-repaired we recommend you bring it in and have the sax checked out (even if another technician has already looked at it). We’ll let you know what can be improved, its play-ability and how much it would costs, all while-you-wait.
MINOR ADJUSTMENTS // 50+ PARTS (MIN. CHARGE)
Done while-you-what as time and workload permit
PLAY CONDITION // $50 TO $450 + PARTS
This refers to any repair short of a re-pad or overhaul. I may give you several estimates depending on who is playing the instrument, what it is being used for, what type of sax it is, what your budget is and so on.
DENT WORK // $50 TO $85
While most dents do not significantly change the way your sax plays, keeping the saxophone in good cosmetic condition will encourage the player to care for the sax properly.
SOLDER WORK // $25 FIRST SOLDER POINT / $15 EACH ADD’TL
Saxophones are soft soldered together to allow parts to “break off” rather than causing more damage to the body. Most of the time I can solder parts so you can barely tell anything ever happened.
RE-PAD // $275 TO $400
As the sax is played the leather pads dry out from moister. Eventually all the pads have to be replaced. At Agave Music a re-pad refers to replacing all the pads while replacing only the key silencers that are questionable or missing. This includes removing all keys, straightening bent keys/posts/body/neck, levelling pad cups as needed/levelling tone holes as needed, meticulously levelling and seating all pads, a complete regulation, oiling, play test and so on. (Only available on certain newer saxophones)
At Agave Music a mechanical overhaul refers to all work in a re-pad plus a chemical cleaning, all new key silencers and new neck cork. Mechanically your sax will be better than new. This repair comes with a one year repair and maintenance contract signed by Chris Moller. (All prices are subject to inspection)
Bundy or Yamaha student alto saxophones $615
All other student alto saxophones $750
Bundy, Yamaha or Japanese made Vito tenor saxophones $690
All other student tenor saxophones $ 730
Professional / Vintage
Chris Moller does all repair work on site. You can expect the highest quality repair work available. There is no substitute for talent, tooling, schooling, a six-year apprenticeship, and continued training along with 19 years of experience. When your saxophone is repaired correctly it will play with an extremely light touch and all notes will respond easily. You will also experience a significantly stronger tone, more rich complex sub-tones and the ability to play very softly all the way down to low Bb.
Minor adjustments (while you hang with us at the shop)
Octave Mechanism Overhaul
“G#” spring assist addition
Intonation and tonal work
New professional instrument play condition
Extensive key swedging
ESTIMATES // FREE
Before work is performed an accurate estimate is given. I will tell you what can improve the saxophones’ playability and approximate price.
One of the main advantages of bringing your sax to a fully trained experienced master technician is the knowledge of how well a saxophone can play. Saxophones are powerful instruments and it is possible to play through leaks but it’s a lot more fun playing on a sax that is properly repaired. Chris can look over your entire instrument and discuss options to improve its playability. Then you can decide which options are right based on your own budget, needs and timing.
OCTAVE MECHANISM OVERHAUL
The octave mechanism can easily shut your sax down. This job will disassemble the entire octave mechanism, clean all steels, clean all hinge tubes, straighten all steels, straighten all hinge tubes, replace all key silencers replace oil and regulate. I usually recommend this for vintage/antique saxophones when it is not already being mechanically overhauled.
Many key mods can be made based on your needs and Chris Moller’s extensive training and experience. Common examples are raising palm and side key touch pieces, adding articulated “G#” or forked “F” lever, extending key touch pieces and so on.
This is a technique that requires many years and 1000’s of saxophones to master. The neck receiver is commonly overlooked by other technicians and can greatly improve the strength and response of the instrument. A poorly fit receiver will shut your sax down but it will rob you of response and power. This is one of Chris’s specialties. Many players are very surprised how much better their horn plays after the receiver has been repaired properly. This is very important for vintage saxophones as the receiver wears out over time.
“G#” SPRING ASSIST ADDITION
When done correctly a “G#” spring assist can eliminate the common problem of a sticky “G#” key while not affecting the action of the lower stack.
NEW PROFESSIONAL INSTRUMENT PLAY CONDITION
Even brand new professional instruments can be improved upon dramatically. Especially those instruments that weren’t purchased from a store with a master technician on site to adjust the instrument before it is sold. Chris Moller can evaluate your new professional saxophone and recommend repairs that can improve the instruments performance.
INTONATION AND TONAL WORK
Some notes, even on professional saxes, can be made more in tune or have their tone improved and balanced.
Sometimes the key silencers on a saxophone are still in good shape while the pads are leaking (usually newer Yamaha and Selmer saxophones). In this case it may be advisable to replace all the pads while replacing only the key silencers that are questionable. All keys are removed, the body and keys are washed, tone holes are resurfaced as needed, pads are replaced (your choice of pad and reso) and levelled to the same standard as a mechanical overhaul, old oil is replaced with fresh synthetic oil and the saxophone is regulated and play tested until it reaches Agave Music’s standards.
COMPLETE MECHANICAL OVERHAUL
A complete mechanical overhaul includes a chemical cleaning, tone hole resurfacing, pad cup levelling, refitting the neck receiver, straightening bent keys/posts/bell/body/neck/steels…, choice of pads and resonators, all new key silencers (I use a combination of cork, felt, gummy cork, synthetic cork and Teflon) fresh synthetic oil and a true professional regulation. Additionally a complete mechanical overhaul can include dent work, solder work, full spring replacement and so on.
EXTENSIVE KEY SWEDGING
If keys are loose on the steel (screw) they will not seal consistently. Swedging is the process of tightening the brass hinge tube on to the steel.
Sometimes swedging is not the best solution to tighten the keys. By replacing the steel with a thicker diameter steel the entire length of the hinge tubes are tight and the posts are tight. Also sometimes on vintage/antique saxophone the steel is simply too rusted to reuse. This process can make an old saxophone feel like newer professional saxophones.
For the purpose of this site I am calling saxophones made before 1935 or so antique saxophones. These instruments often have extremely rusted steels and springs, very crude key fitting, worn out neck receivers, awkward ergonomics and they aren’t even worth a whole lot. In addition they have usually been repaired badly by players or under-qualified technicians making players think that new saxophones are easier to play. The advantage is a unique tone that cannot be matched by any modern sax. The idea of spending a lot more money than your sax will be worth to restore it to proper playability can and should be very scary. For this reason choosing the right technician for this job is extremely important. The skills, tools, talent, experience and desire to repair these instruments are very rare and this is one of my specialties. I usually have examples that have been mechanically overhauled already that you are welcome to try. These instruments may be under appreciated but they are not junk. When repaired correctly they are a dream to play.