Services and Pricing
With over 40 years of experience, I have serviced and restored almost every type and era of woodwind instrument in regular use. The spectrum I have covered has ranged from an original early Selmer Model 22 alto sax and Buffet clarinets from the 1890's, to valuable hand-made flutes, saxes and clarinets of the modern era. Between these is a wealth of experience looking after the standard instruments that most of us play. As, primarily, a clarinetist, I have had much experience working on all the instruments of the clarinet family, from contra's both BBb and EEb, through basses, altos, basset-horns and basset-clarinets, to piccolo D, Eb's, and Ab's. My broader knowledge and experience does also extend to all members of the woodwind family.
There is no charge for bringing your instrument to me for inspection and a chat, over a cup of coffee if desired, to work out the appropriate, and sometimes the most economically justified, level of service.
As is common to most workshops there are three levels of service usually discussed.
This is the most economical service offered, often sufficient for nearly new instruments, or instruments given little use, perhaps by a student just starting. In essence, this entails a visual inspection of each component part. The pads, corks, springs etc. are checked, replacing only those showing sufficient wear to cause a deterioration in the performance of the instrument. Finally, all adjustments are checked and re-set as needed and the instrument is play-tested.
This approach is particularly relevant in two instances. Larger instruments like bass clarinets, saxophones and bassoons, where the more thorough process of dismantling and re-assembling is lengthy, and might not be cost effective if only a few minor adjustments are required, to have the instrument working at its best. This is also appropriate for nearly new flutes and clarinets, requiring only re-regulation. For more used instruments, a check- down level of service on, particularly, flutes and clarinets can be a false economy, as the few extra minutes required to dismantle these, enabling the technician to more carefully inspect all components, can usually be justified, as all issues would then be found and corrected.
- Routine service
This is the most common form of servicing and entails fully dismantling the instrument, enabling a thorough cleaning of the body, keys, tone-holes and rods. A partial re-pad is probable and would have been discussed with the customer when giving an estimate, and corks and springs will be replaced as necessary. On re-assembly, the fitting of the keys is checked. To remove any slack and rattles key-barrels will be swaged, alongside re-setting the point screws in the pillars. Other pads are checked for seating and alignment, and re-set if necessary, all rods and screws lubricated, and venting and regulation adjusted as necessary. If required, spring tensions and the balance of the action can be re-set. A further option of polishing the key-work, and, in the case of flutes, the body, can also be discussed.
- Full overhaul
This is required when the instrument is showing signs of particularly heavy use, or has had prolonged use since the last service, if there ever was one! This would encompass all of the above, but with the expectation of replacing all of the pads and corks. On agreement with the owner, polishing plated keys, pillars, and in the case of flutes, the body as well, is usually carried out, both silver or nickel plating accepted. Minor, worn areas of plating can be touched-up with spot-brush plating techniques. Tenon-corks are replaced if required, springs re-tensioned and also replaced if necessary. (Springs will often last longer than several sets of pads).
Finally, all instruments are play tested. For intermediate and professional quality clarinets, I also offer a re-tuning facility.
When it comes to pricing, it is virtually impossible to give blanket prices for servicing procedures, as each instrument will be different. When giving an estimate for a service, I will advise which service procedure might best be required, or give options appropriate to the value of the instrument and the requirement of the customer.
Above are the three main grades of service that generally apply, although the customer might have a list of specific issues to be addressed only.
Despite these defined categories, it is quite common for a service to be made up of elements of both a routine and full service, i.e. fit a complete new set of pads without re-polishing the key-work, or give the keys a "light" buffing without replacing all of the pads. This is why it is I am more than happy for customers to pop in and discuss the options, rather than attempt an estimate to be given over the phone, or via emails.