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Saxophone/Yanigasawa baritone sax repair

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Question
Hi,

   I have a vintage Yanagisawa baritone sax that's giving me a lot of problems. About a few weeks ago I got it back from the repair shop after spending about $500 to get it playable again. My tech mentioned that only certain pads needed to be replaced and reseated. When I went to pick it up that first time I forgot my mouthpiece and I ended up play-testing it at home. It was completely unplayable. I took it back to the repair guy and he was shocked because he said that it should be working. I played for him and he said that it was most likely my embouchure or the mouthpiece that I was using, because the Berg Larson I used had a significant taper. He said he would order some mouthpieces for me to try. Last Friday when I brought the horn back again, I tried the mouthpieces, and he made several adjustments...everything was a total failure! I pointed some pads near the top of the instrument, including the one for the register key, that looked pretty dirty and worn, and he said that these should not have an effect on how the bari is performing. I told him that maybe the horn actually needs a complete repad/overhaul (that's actually what the original owner mentioned), and yet my repair tech says that all the other pads are fine. He says that it's most likely an embouchure problem, rather than anything mechanically wrong with the instrument. Anyway my tech threw in the mouthpieces, which are an Otto link and a Meyer (the Meyer is medium chamber, probably the Otto link too), as well as several Rovner ligatures and some 2 1/2 and 3 size Rico reeds. After taking all of this home and trying every combination of this equipment imaginable, the horn is still a nightmare to play.

     Now I also have a Conn baritone sax. I tried all this equipment on my Conn, and even though my Conn does need a little bit of regulating, it is completely playable and plays circles around my Yanni. So it is definitely not an embouchure problem. Obviously I know how to play the bari sax, and I know there is something very wrong with the Yanni, but my tech is completely baffled and tells me that he's tried everything. I really really don't know what to do. Can you help me please?

Answer
Mike - I feel your pain!  I'm not sure I can help...but if it were me, here's what I would do. Find a 2nd opinion tech guy.  It will be worth the search even if you need to drive a little. Just have the 2nd guy put a leak light down the bari - tell him you've had some work done but just need a 2nd opinion....no need to bad mouth your original guy. I will tell you that my gut instincts tell me it's not an 'embouchure' problem.

The fact that the first tech 'threw in' the mouthpieces and ligatures sounds like he's just trying to make amends and wants to be rid of you. Another red flag in my opinion.

Save all your receipts as well as the mouthpieces and ligatures... you may be able to get some of your original $ back. If repair guy #2 doesn't find anything wrong, at least you'll have piece of mind ...sort of!

Good luck Mike - keep me posted.

By the way, you might like this recent post I wrote about the value of a good sax tech :)


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Eugene Cantera

Expertise

I have been a music educator for over 25 years and have taught on many levels from young children and school agers on through to college level, professional players and senior citizens. My main areas of expertise are saxophone(s) though I have taught many instruments including, guitar, bass, piano, oboe and drums to name a few. I have also done research on horns both vintage and new.

Experience

I have been in music education for 25 years and I have written and published in the subject of professional music education.

Publications
The Dallas Morning News, Dallas Business Journal, Marketing and Higher Education Newsletter.

Education/Credentials
Bachelor of Music Education, Hartt School of Music - The University of Hartford.

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