Sunday, June 19, 2016

Long Time, No Posts.

Hey! It's been a while since I wrote anything here. I've been slacking big-time on the blog front, so here's some of what I've been up to. This will be quick! I will have some more detailed posts up about specific projects soon.

So, since August of 2014 I've been working at Twin Cities Instrument Repair in Edina, MN. It's a 3-person shop with kind of a unique division of labor. Here, I work on all the horns (French horns), saxophones, and bass/contrabass clarinets. Numbers-wise, it ends up being mostly saxophones because they are by far the most numerous of the three amongst the population. Runner-up in numbers are the horns--my favorite, of course! Followed by the low clarinets which are big, sometimes weird, and a lot of fun to play test. We are a pretty high-volume shop, and see a lot of student, rental, and school instruments. I've lately been seeing a few more professional horns, which is great! A lot of college students plus a few freelancers and former teachers. The Twin Cities has a great community of horn players, and it's a ton of fun to work on their stuff! I've got at least one ambitious project for the summer, so there will be more on that to come, for sure.

During the past almost-two-years I've learned a lot of idiosyncrasies of  the instruments we see the most of. As you might expect, this comes in handy, and is a big part of why I'm much faster at repairs. That and all the straight-up repetition of the individual tasks involved in have been huge in picking up speed. I'm also happy to say I've learned how to cut a bell! That was a fun skill to learn, and I look forward to doing it many more times. I plan on spending some more time outside the daily shop hours to start fabricating some custom parts for horns!

Here's a few pictures with captions to catch you up on the past several months:

Made a few cork pads for a local bass-clarinet player. Someone had made several a while back, and they were starting to fall apart. When I took out the old pads, they were mostly glue! Yikes. So I made some more solid, less grainy, less glue-y ones.

Close-up once I got the hole filled and pad planed as level as possible.

Glued a sheet of cross-grain cork on the surface to make sure it was smooth and free of any knots or divots which could lead to leaks later.

Blam! Home-made pad. Not the fastest way, but we couldn't find any quickly enough that were large enough. It was a huge step-up from the ones that were in there, and the customer was super happy, so I was pretty satisfied with how it turned out. So, putzy, kind of a fun thing to make!

I overhauled a couple of old Conn saxes in a row.  Probably about a year ago, now. Both had the end of the microtuner neck crushed in like this. So I machined some new rings for both and repaired the crunched-in part.
The After shot: beauty!

I've removed and  re-aligned a few sax bells, never missing the opportunity to briefly be a praying mantis.

Minka gets to be shop dog, which is a wonderful thing :)
Usually this is her M.O. at work... laying on the floor.

I keep in touch with fellow technicians at other shops. Networking is a great thing! Sometimes, via hand-delivered post-it. Shoutout to Ginny for this lovely note.

I've fixed a handful of these beasties, and even learned to make some noise on em.
Can you feel that b-a-s-s BASS? They're fun to play.

Pulled a few reallllly stuck tuning slides. Yum.

So, yeah. That was a quick random overview of the last couple years. More to come soon about cutting a bell and other stuff I've done and seen and learned. Keep checking in, and I'll try to get some nice spam on Facebook about it too. Peace.