Saxophone/Blessing Tenor Saxophone
Hello, I just bought a used Blessing Tenor Sax on Craig's List. On the bell it is simply stamped BLESSING and on the body are the serial numbers 0810 and underneath that it says 2310279. What I most want to know is if there is whether there is a relatively inexpensive pad set I can buy for this instrument without having to measure all of the cups. If possible, I would also like to know when and who made it, and if there is anyplace I can order parts (a key guard, for example). Thank you for your help.
Unfortunately the best answer I can give you to all your questions is no. Blessing discontinued production of saxophones in their American factory sometime in the 1990's. After that all student model woodwind production went to China. The horn you have is a Chinese made saxophone. I'm not even sure which factory in China was producing them. After moving the woodwind production to China, Blessing focused strictly on brass instruments (trumpet, trombones, etc) at the American plant. Around 2008 they were bought out by the Powell company (known for making flutes) and completely discontinued the import off all woodwind instruments. From 2008 until 2014 they only produced brass instruments. Sometime in Early 2015, the Blessing company and all their properties, designs, logos, etc were sold to St. Louis Music. To my knowledge there are no products currently being manufactured under the Blessing label. I've yet to hear what St. Louis Music has planned for the Blessing label. St Louis Music is the manufacture and distributor for P. Mauriat saxophones so I don't see them using the Blessing label name for saxophone production in the future. Likely it will be for a propriety line of brass instruments and accessories.
Any Blessing parts are now considered "new old stock". Only brass parts are currently available and are being depleted quickly. I have carried the Blessing brass mouthpieces and other "accessories" in my store since 2009. Currently they are not available and I'm looking for a low cost equivalent as the cost of the Bach mouthpieces are a bit pricey for my customer base.
The only way you are going to get a pad set for that horn is to either take it to a technician, like myself, who keeps all the pad sizes in stock or take the horn apart remove the pads and then measure the pad cup with a set of calipers. Musicmedic.com will sell you a pad set if you tell them what size pads you need. They also sell pre-sized sets but they don't list them for Blessing. What I have done when I order sets is use a set of digital calipers to measure the cups and round to the closest .5 mm. If it looks like I might be in between sizes, I'll order both. Rarely do I need to re-order but sometimes it's necessary. You are looking between $65 to $150 depending on the pads and the resonators you want to have installed. If you need to get a set of digital calipers, Home Depot sells a really great set for around $35.
Also if you have never re-padded a saxophone in the past, I would highly recommend you find someone who can do it for you, or consider this horn a "learning" project. Re-padding a saxophone correctly is not an easy or quick thing to do. When you replace the pads, you have to completely re-regulate the entire instrument, thus every cork, felt, silencer, etc will have to be replaced, every chimney will have to be checked and leveled etc. I've been doing this for over 20 years and it takes me about 6 to 8 man hours just to get a saxophone cleaned and re-padded. If the horn needs prep work due to damage that can increase the time. There are many videos and other tutorials on YouTube and the web to help you learn to do this. However if it's your first horn you have ever re-padded expect to spend about $800 in tools and about 30 hours of work in order to do it right.
Several years ago I had a discussion with the father of a high school girl who owned an old Conn 10M Naked Lady that needed a new set of pads. He told me he didn't think it would be that hard to do and I warned him its not as easy as it looks. About 2 weeks later he came into my store with the horn all torn apart, a set of pads he ordered from Ebay (only about 1/3 of them fit correctly) and the horn was a mess... He told me to just fix it, the price didn't matter, and under no conditions was I to say anything about it to his wife.
So I don't want to dis-courage you from repadding the horn if you really want to do it. This is how many techs I know got in to the business. However it's a very long and difficult learning curve and takes years to get really good at it. I would recommend you find someone willing to take on an apprentice or consider a repair school such as Redwing tech.... at http://www.redwingmusicrepair.org/
If you have any other questions of concerns, please feel free to contact me and I'll do what ever I can to help you. My personal e-mail is firstname.lastname@example.org
I hope this helps.