Last weekend we had a big ol’ snowstorm, over two feet in 24 hours. Clearing out was just fine. We went out Saturday just before dark, with about a foot on the ground, and cleared the front steps and a narrow path down the driveway to the street. Sunday morning it stopped snowing. The snowblower started on the first pull and took less than two hours to clear everything out. It immediately got warm after that, up above freezing every day, with some days in the 40’s or 50’s. Even though it’s been melting fast there’s still plenty of snow on the ground.
Toward the end of the week I finally had the chance to take my Mark VII tenor to my repair guy. His name is Virgil Scott and lives in Yonkers and works out of his house. He’s fixed everyone’s horn from Michael Brecker on down, and also runs one of the few remaining swing big bands on the scene. Been playing sax for over sixty years! So you know he knows what he’s doing.
My man replaced all the pads on the upper stack, plus a couple more on some side keys. Now pretty much the whole horn has new pads. He also replaced a few random bits of felt and cork, and made some adjustments. He even knocked out a couple of minor dents. I had thought he would need to take apart the horn at the bow to do this, but since the last time I visited him, he invented a special tool that goes in thru the neck.
After I got the horn home I took it pretty much all the way apart, cleaned and polished and oiled everything, and put it back together. Along the way I put on a few more bits of felt and cork, and got rid of the last of the clacking. It’s never looked nicer, shiny but well worn like C3PO. It plays much better too, especially in the low end of the range.
One or more of the new pads in the upper stack – I think it’s the B – may not be closing fully on all combinations of notes. Virgil says this is to be expected, as there’s lot of mutually interdependent things to adjust, and that I should bring it back in a couple weeks, after I’ve played on it a few times and it’s had a chance to break in, for him to give it a final once-over. Meanwhile, I clamped those keys shut before I put the horn away so as to give them a chance to seat better. I’ll bring the horn to jazz this week and see how it goes.