my friend david bought a really expensive curved soprano saxophone on ebay recently — like $1200 expensive — because it had been “cleaned up and completely repadded” by… um… someone.

then he contacted me to find out if he had actually gotten a good deal or not.

on the surface, it appeared that he had paid a little too much, but not anything that couldn’t be fixed with $200 or so of competent repair work. he informed the seller, and actually got $250 back, making the instrument worth $950… still a bit too much, but it appeared that it could be rescued, so i took on the job.

140424 curved soprano saxophone

the first thing i did was remove all the keys… which is the first thing you do when you get a sax that needs to be put back into playing condition. i quickly discovered that all the keys had not been removed when it was “cleaned up and completely repadded”.

140424 curved soprano saxophone140424 curved soprano saxophone

in fact, on top of the 4 keys that i knew about that were composition cork (instead of the standard leather that most saxes have), i found two pads that were so poorly installed that they probably can’t be rescued. on top of that, i found two springs that were installed in a “haphazard” way (they were installed backwards), one of the clothes guards is missing and another one only has two of its three solder points made solid, and the neck cork needs to be replaced. also, because of the fact that it’s an old curved soprano it has D auxilliary key (modern ones don’t have it), and because of the fact that modern ones don’t have it, people who don’t know any better will block the key closed, so that they don’t have to regulate it… but that also has the unfortunate side effect of making the instrument play out of tune… which is exactly what happened in this case.

which drives the “fixing it” estimate up to $500 or so… and that’s not to mention the two top tone-holes which have been drilled out and replaced with brass tubing…

140424 curved soprano saxophone

this is why you have to be REALLY careful about buying old curved soprano saxophones off of ebay… he could have bought a brand-new, FUNCTIONAL curved soprano sax for $800… and he probably will do that once he decides what to do with his $1200 instrument that needs $500 worth of repair before it can even be played.