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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?

ANSWER: Hello Mike,
If you paid $500, that is almost a total overhaul...."certain pads needed to be replaced and reseated" would only be about $60 to $120....not $500!! You say it was completely unplayable.... Did you have someone else play it too, like a second opinion, to determine it was the horn ,the mouthpiece or just you. The bottom line is.... What  does the leak light say????...Please check your water spit cork, it must seal. Otto links are large chamber, Meyers come in small ,medium and large chamber.  Make sure that nothing has fallen into the bari sax and gotten stuck in the higher part of the horn.(Mouthpiece plastic cap) remember when you look at a sax, the pads that are closed need to be sealed airtight, and the pads that are open need to close air tight. You must inspect the sax and check every key up and down the sax for leakage. (Your repairman should have done that already) You need to have the repairman play the sax....If your tech is baffled, then he sucks as a need to get a better NAPBIRT,(go to webpage)look for the tech locator...punch in your state,and it will list every repairman in your area...
Thanks Grant Koeller

---------- FOLLOW-UP ----------

QUESTION: I got back in touch with my repair technician, and even though I don't like how he says that it's playable for him when the instrument becomes semi-playable for me after a few adjustments are made and then goes out of adjustment as soon as I take it home to try, he agreed to disassemble it and see if he can find any issues inside. He did say that to disassemble it and check and fix some of the pads near the top that the cost would be $150 and could possibly increase from there, depending on what he finds. I didn't return my horn to him yet, but if I consider this option...what worries me is having him do all this work and then presenting me with another expensive bill, because I would really hate to try the horn after all this and it is still a nightmare to play and then have to pay the repair bill because the tech would have "done everything". Is there any way I could go about this with some recourse of getting some money back? What do I do if it's still unplayable and then I have a steep bill to pay after he's done everything? Surely I can't refuse to pay it, can I? Thanks.

If he does all the work and it doesn't play, you can refuse to pay, on only one condition,  You must bring in a third party (a bari sax professional) in order to do the test play in front of yourself and the repair man. What the pro bari sax player say is final. Either the sax is fixed or it is not fixed. If the sax pro finds it doesn't play he can better explain to the repairman what the true problem is. My gut feeling is this, you are having reed and/or mouthpiece problems, or your bari has some bad pads...Remember the leaklight is the way to find the leaks...and when a leak is found,  please let the repairman replace the bad pad.
You say "it goes out of adjustment for you as soon as you take it home to try"? This is a very odd statement. One question... In what way does it go out of adjustment?....Do you have a sax teacher, sax colleague, college sax professoror, or local pro that can test play this bari for you? This whole question is your word against his word...but having a third party will reveal the total truth...Please send me photos...
Grant Koeller


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Grant R. Koeller


I'm a Professional Jazz Saxophone soloist recently retired from 23 years with the USAF Band Of Flight, WPAFB, OHIO, experienced in performance, technique and equipment. I'm not a buyer/seller or dealer. I have 40 years Alto, Tenor, Soprano and Bari Saxophone performance experience with additional years on the Flute, Clarinet, Bass Clarinet, Bass Guitar, Piano, Drum-set, Guitar and Voice. I'm a third generation professional military musician, my father, Bill Koeller(1939-1997) was in the USAF 1958-1962, and played Jazz Hammond B-3 organ from 1957-1997, and my fathers Uncle, Alfred Koeller (1912-1993), was a professional Acoustic Bassist in the Army Air Corps in WWII, and also performed on Jazz Guitar, Hammond organ, Piano and tenor saxophone.


Professional Saxophone Soloist, 23 total years with the USAF Bands, 6 years with the USAF Band of Flight, Wright-Patterson AFB, Ohio, performing on Tenor, Alto, Soprano, Clarinet, and Flute. 4 years in Japan, at Yokota AFB with the USAF Band of the Pacific. An Avid Composer and Arranger for the Night Hawk Protocol Combo. Former Lead Alto Saxophonist with the USAF Night Flight Big Band performing the music of Glenn Miller as well as other hits of the Big Band Era. I collect LP records of Jazz, blue's, classical and rock, and have over 12,000 records.

USAF,Phi MU Alpha Sinfonia, Men's National Music Fraternity, Johnny Mack Super Big Band, Tom Daugherty Orchestra, Kim Kelly Orchestra, Dayton Jazz Orchestra, Eddie Love Big Band, Gem City Big Band, Jazz Central Big Band, Shin Sings Orchestra, Kim Kelly Orchestra,USAF Night Flight Jazz Ensemble, Different Hats Big Band, Jimmy Baker Blues Band, This Side Up, Freelance, KING KOELLER Quartet, Jazz Central Big Band, GB Work, Sax On The Web,

Saxophone On the Web; Anchorage Daily News; All Experts; Augustana College Public Radio, WVIK;

North Texas State University School of Music, Jazz Studies 1982-1986 Lead Alto, Lab bands 1982-83 and small group leader 1983-1984, Jazz Radio Host WVIK 90.1 FM NPR affiliate Rock Island, IL United States Collegiate Wind Band European tour 1980 Augustana College, Rock Island IL, Liberal Arts Music Mentors/Teachers:My father Bill Koeller, a Jazz Hammond B-3 Organist (1939-1997) Great Uncle Alfred Koeller, Acoustic Bass 1912-1993

Awards and Honors
Paul Shartle Musician of the Quarter Spring 2008; Glenn Miller Festival, Clarinda, Iowa featured soloist; McDonald's All-American Band and Jazz Ensemble 1979; US Collegiate Wind Bands,Paul Lavalle Conductor, tour of Europe,1980; John Phillip Sousa Award, 1980 Dimond HS Anchorage, Alaska; USAF National Defense Service Medal with Bronze Star; USAF Achievement Medal with 5 Oak Leaf Clusters; USAF Good Conduct Medal with 6 Oak Leaf Clusters

Past/Present Clients
Performed with, Bob Hope, The Platters, Four Tops, Jimmy Dorsey, Crystal Gail, Helen Ready, James Williams, Dallas Jazz Orchestra, Jack Jones, The Mills Brothers, the G-Clef's, Lionel Hampton at Carnegie Hall, Performed for the King Of Thailand 2005, Tom "Bone's" Malone, Roy Hargrove, Tommy Turrentine, Performed for President Gerald Ford, President George W. Bush, The Maguire Sisters, The USO Girls-Andrew Sisters Tribute, The Four Lads, Lincoln Berry, The Dayton Jazz Orchestra, Louis Bellson, Buddy DeFranco, Walter Bishop Jr, Sadao Watanabe, Bobby Shew, Pete Jolly, Quad City Jazz Ensemble, Augustana College Symphonic Band, Jack Scott, Catfish Jazz Society, Intrigue-Boston Wedding Band, The Mark Herbert Little Big Band, The Pacesetters Big Band, The Ambassadors Jazz Ensemble, Pacific Showcase Big Band, Jimmy Dorsey Big Band under the direction of Lee Castle, Ronny Scott Orchestra, Big Al's Hot Dance Orchestra, The Dayton Sidewinders, Tom Daugherty Orchestra, Johnny Mack Super Big Band, Ken Peplowski, Eddie Daniels, Buddy Guy, Roy Hargrove, Warren Parrish, John OMeara Jr., Dave Holcomb, Albia Silva,Vinnie Demartino, Clon VonFitz, The G Clef's

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