Repair Posts

Tips On Oiling Piston Valves

That your valves need oil is not in question. If it moves, it should be lubricated. Today we’re talking about piston valves (like on a trumpet) and the different types of valve oils. Let’s get started.

There are hundreds of brands of valve oil available. Some are synthetic others are petroleum based and each has its own advantages. For many years petroleum based oils were the standard. They smelled bad and stained your clothing, but worked fine. Some were more refined than others and some had added smells – everything from chocolate to cinnamon! Some even had additives to make them smoother and slicker. However, all petroleum based oils have a tendency to dry out and leave the additives behind to foul your valves.

For the majority of our school music instrument repairs we have chosen to use a synthetic oil. It does not smell, does not stain your clothing, is long lasting and works fine. Unlike petroleum products, it comes in thin (for new valves) regular (for student instruments) and heavy for instruments that have worn valves). We think for most players and students that synthetic oil is the best choice. We use Hetman and Accent oils in the shop for this reason and is what is provided in our starter packs.

You might be wondering if there is a right or wrong way to get the oil from the bottle onto the piston. There are many ways to do this: Some right; some not so right.

Generally, the best way to oil your valves without taking the undo risk of dropping them is just to lift them part way out of the casing and apply a liberal amount of oil to the part with the holes in it (called ports). Then you can turn the pistons around a few times and put them gently back into the casings. (See video below) If you are careful, the guide will “click” back into place and you are ready to go. If you were not careful and the valve stays misaligned, air will not go through the horn. If that happens, there is no need to panic. The valves are in the right casings, you just have to turn them half way around and again listen for the “click”. The secret is not to take the pistons out and lay them on a table or you lap. This is when pistons can get damaged or out of order and when re-installed, the instrument will not play.

Our advice is to stick with taking them half way out and applying the oil exactly where it is needed on the pistons and casings.

If you have any questions about caring for your instrument, please call 1-800-382-1099.  We’d be happy to help!

Be Prepared For Cold Weather and Contest Season

We originally posted this article back in November of 2015.  It remains to be good advice to revisit as cold weather approaches.

snow-tubasImage credit: https://www.flickr.com/photos/kenpete/5522933139

In case you haven’t noticed it’s here again. COLD WEATHER! Just a reminder that leaving your instrument out in the cold weather can lead to serious repair problems. Especially with woodwind instruments like wooden clarinets, oboes, bassoons and more. If the temperature gets too low it can actually freeze the moisture in the wood and cause it to crack.

When a cold instrument is taken inside it should not be put together and played right away. A rapid rise in the temperature can cause the wood to crack also. It needs to acclimate to the inside temperature. The body on the instrument should be held in your hands and blow some warm air through the bore for a few minutes before putting it together to play.

Like we mentioned this time last year, string instruments are subject to the same conditions. Cold freezing temperatures can cause the wood to crack and also cause the seams where they are glued together to come apart. Just like the woodwind instruments when taken inside after being out in the cold they need a few minutes to acclimate to the inside temperature before being played.

Also……….In case you haven’t noticed something else is almost here again. CONTEST SEASON! Now that marching band is behind us and all the Holiday Concerts are all scheduled it’s time to remember that contest season starts up in January. So getting your instrument in before time and having it in top playing condition can lead to a more successful and less stressful contest season.

Tips On Caring For Your Saxophone

Daily care and maintenance of your instrument is very important to how well your instrument performs. Watch this quick video below for a few, quick tips on caring for your saxophone.

 

You can find more care and maintenance videos for saxophone by clicking here.

Here We “Grow” Again

The last several years has seen steady growth in our volume and demand for quality string repair. Up to now our string repair crew occupied a small corner in our main repair shop. This is tough to do when you have a couple of basses to repair at the same time!

To remedy that situation we have moved our string repair crew into their very own space. This provides more elbow room with enough space to work on three or four basses if needed! All to meet the growing needs of our string customers and offering quality repairs.

Here’s a little peek at our new string shop!

Quick Look Around

 

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Repair Tip: Proper Saxophone Neck Assembly


This week in the repair shop we had a saxophone that came in with a severely bent neck. While we can usually straighten a bent neck this one is bent so badly it will need to be replaced. This can be a fairly expensive repair if not covered by our service plan. Some necks can cost $300-400 or more.

Basic Tuning Tips for Woodwind Instruments

We’d like to talk about the basics of tuning your woodwind instrument. While this may seem oversimplified there are some important details about the different families and the instruments within that are important to know.

All brass and woodwind instruments are designed around the A440/A442 pitch and can be adjusted higher (sharper) or lower (flatter) to a certain extent. Adjusting too far either way will affect the scale of the instrument and can actually cause playing problems.

On this blog we will start with the woodwinds.


Flute/Piccolo-Where the head joint tenon fits into the  receiver at the top of the main body tube is where the tuning is done. You would normally start by inserting the tenon all the way in and then pulling it out about 1/8-3/16 inch to start tuning. Then you would push in more to raise the pitch or pull it out to lower. Never use the head crown assembly for general tuning. For more info about the head crown assembly see our post titled "There’s A Cork In My Flute. What Does It Do?".

 

Bb-Eb Clarinets-Where the barrel fits onto the top of the upper joint is where the primary tuning is done. After assembling the clarinet pull the barrel out about 1/8-3/16 inch to start. Then you can push on further to raise or pull out to lower the pitch. The mouthpiece should always be all the way into the barrel.

 

Alto/Bass Clarinets-These depend somewhat on the make and model of the instrument. Basically the tuning is done by adjusting the way the neck fits into the receiver. Out if it is sharp or in if flat. On pro models the neck is usually in two pieces with a slide attachment to do the same.

 

Saxophones-All the saxophones have a cork on the neck that the mouthpiece fits onto and the mouthpiece itself can be adjusted on further to raise and pull out to lower the pitch. An alto sax mouthpiece should go on about ¾ inch to start with and tenor/baritone sax about 1inch.

 

On clarinets and saxophones the mouthpiece itself can affect the tuning also. Different brands have different lengths so if you are having an extreme problem being too flat or sharp to begin with a different mouthpiece can help out.


Oboe-Oboes have a cork tube that is part of the reed. This can then be adjusted in or out of the reed receiver at the top. Different brands of reeds also have varying overall lengths which can make a difference.

 

Bassoon-Bassoons have a little bit of adjustability in or out where the bocal fits into the receiver of the body. However, it is limited because the whisper key on the body must be able to cover the whisper key riser on the bocal.

 

Bocals come in three different lengths to help facilitate tuning. #1 (the shortest), #2 (most common) and #3 (longest).

bassoon-vocals


As I stated in the beginning these are just some basic details about the tuning of your instrument. Nothing is more important than carefully listening and learning “how” to play your instrument in tune with others. It is constantly changing and you must learn how to adapt to your different playing environments.

Meet Taylor Roberts – Repair Department Office Assistant

Position: Repair Department Office Assistant

Start Date: June 2017

Training or Education: Saint Joseph’s College- Bachelor of Arts in Music Education

Where are you from originally: Indianapolis, IN

What instruments do you play: Clarinet, Saxophone, Ukulele

What groups do/did you play with: Indianapolis Symphonic Band

What do you enjoy most about working in the shop: I enjoy being able to help customers who want to give their student a rewarding experience through music. I also think that some of the repairs my coworkers do are amazing and it’s impressive how talented they are at their craft.

What is your most memorable musical experience: When I was at St. Joe our choir was invited to tour in Rome, Italy and sing at many different churches.  One of those included St. Peters Basilica where we sang for the Pope. My favorite band memory would be playing the Star Spangled Banner at ISSMA Marching Band State finals with a brass choir from St. Joe.

Meet Ben Parrott – String Technician at Paige’s Music

Ben Parrott - String Instrument Technician at Paige's Music

We’re very excited to introduce you to the latest addition to our string technician staff in our repair shop, Ben Parrott.  Learn more about him by reading our quick Q&A with him below!

Position: String Instrument Technician

Start Date: June 2017

Training or Education:
Graduated from Indiana University School of Music in 1999 with an A.S. in String Instrument Technology. Worked in Philadelphia at Paul Stevens Violins until 2000. Worked for Casa Del Sol Violins until I started working for myself as a full time violin maker in 2001.

Where are you from originally:
Franklin, IN

What instruments do you play:
Classical guitar, violin and a small amount of cello.

What do you enjoy most about being a technician:
I enjoy helping an instrument play to its full potential which also helps the player reach their musical goals.

What is the most unusual repair you’ve had to deal with:
Most unusual would have to be the 18th century violin that had the top crushed from a falling bottle of water.

What is your most memorable musical experience:
Listening to, and  talking with Janos Starker about his cello in the shop. He also mentioned his classical guitar to me several times that was given to him by Andres Segovia.