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Saxophone/Yanigasawa baritone sax repair


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?


You seem to have an interesting problem. Although you gave me a number of details, you didn't give me quite enough to say what the problem might be. I've never encountered a saxophone that was completely unplayable unless there was damage in the neck area. What I would recommend you do is to use the mouthpiece you are the most comfortable with and start by diagnosing the instrument with just the neck. If the mouthpiece and neck produces a good "duck" like tone than you know that the mouthpiece, cork and neck are not the issue. Then play the instruments starting with the highest note (high F or F#) and then play down chromatically long tones until you encounter problems. Likely the first note that is not playing correctly will have a leak in one of the surrounding pads. As you play down the horn notice what seems to have issues and write it down. (i.e. the G sounds sharp or funny, but the F# is just fine, etc). As you figure out which notes are not speaking correctly you will likely find the leak or leaks. Also I would like to continue this conversation and if possible please contact me by e-mail or phone. Both contacts are listed below.

Charles Harris  


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Charles Harris


questions regarding equipment, performance, repairs, lessons, etc. Almost all saxophone related questions.


I am a professional member of N.A.P.B.I.R.T (National Association of Professional Band Instruments Repair Technicians). I have been repairing saxophones, flutes, clarinets, and brass instruments since 1993. I perform in several professional groups covering genres form classical, jazz, and rock.

N.A.P.B.I.R.T (National Association of Professional Band Instrument Repair Technicians

St. Petersburg Junior College (AA) University of South Florida.

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