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Should I attempt saxophone repair myself?

Let me start this off by saying I play very little sax, I've just started learning. I recently bought a used saxophone for $100. It needs work, for sure, but I think it just needs the pads replaced. From doing some research, I've seen that a sax repad can cost $400-$600. It just doesn't make sense for me to spend that kind of money on it. I have looked into possibly replacing the pads myself. My main instrument is the flute, and I've done minor repairs on my flute, but never anything this in depth. I've read several articles on how to do it, but I'm still intimidated. Has anyone else tried to replace their own pads, or does anyone know of any places in/near the Youngstown, Ohio area where I could get a very cheap repad done? Any help is very greatly appreciated!

3 Answers

  • Tim
    Lv 7
    5 years ago
    Favorite Answer

    Hi Emily. I like your attitude. Look, you only have a lousy $100 invested. If you get a pad replacement kit and a couple of inexpensive tools (like an alcohol lamp) you can try it yourself. I'm going to tell you a secret the world doesn't want you to know. All those people who charge $600 to put pads on a saxophone started right where you are. A set of sax pads can be as little as $30. The rest of the money is the time and experience of the repair person. If you forget about maybe ruining your $100 sax and use it to learn how to do the repairs you can make a LOT of money.

    There are even professional musicians who are terrified of their own instruments. Sure they are expensive and delicate. But they aren't magical sacred relics. They are machines made by human hands. I you look closely, you'll see that you have human hands too.

    What have you got to lose? A $100 sax is not a Stradivarius violin. It's not even really a saxophone! If you learn the skills for instrument repair you can make a LOT more than $100. Do you think that $600 guy at the music store is any smarter than you? Heck no! He's just done it before and wasn't afraid to try over and over until he got good at it.

    Sure, there's more to it than just sticking pads in the cups, but you learn the other skills too. When I was in music school I studied the pipe organ. Part of my education was tuning and maintaining the instruments. I remember thinking "This thing is worth millions of dollars and you want ME to mess with it?" But I learned the skills. If I can fix a pipe organ you can fix a saxophone. Go for it!

  • 5 years ago

    How did you get a sax for $100!? Wow!

    So, here's the thing. If you somehow acquired a used sax that was originally valued at $2000 for $100, yes, get it professionally worked on.

    If you bought the thing new for $100, I have a question and a comment:

    1) Is it made of plastic?

    2) Yes, just go ahead and repad it yourself. If nothing else, you'll have some practice for if you decide to work on a nicer instrument of yours when the time comes.

    • ...Show all comments
    • Tim
      Lv 7
      5 years agoReport

      Silvertone is the cheap beginner brand that Sears and Roebuck sold in their Christmas catalog in the 1960s and 1970s. Use it to learn the repair skills.

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  • Not unless you know what you're doing. There's more to it than sticking the pads in the cups. It's difficult to make sure they're seated properly to seal the holes, and that's assuming the keys are in alignment. Then the keys have to be regulated, meaning each one has to be adjusted to open/close in tandem with those it's connected to.

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