2014 Review Part 1 – The Gear

It’s been a long tough slog through this year following my wife’s illness and subsequent passing last year and I really haven’t kept up on things the way I was. ¬†I’m hoping to be able to change that and I’m starting up front of the New Year so it’s not just another silly resolution. ūüôā This update will concentrate on some new gear that went into steady use this year in the form of some mini reviews. The next one will focus on some of the projects I have had going this year as well as some plans for the near future.

Phil-Tone Equinox/Eclipse Hybrid

If you spend any time reading this blog you’ll see a lot of reviews of Phil’s stuff and you would think that I’m some kind of paid spokesman but the truth of the matter is I’ve just in found Phil someone who makes the kind of mouthpieces I like as well as someone who is open to sending mouthpieces out on pass around for people to try. Phil is also an awesome guy and a great craftsman.

Phil came out with an Equinox mouthpiece a couple years ago and it really sounded like something I would like but I was pretty comfortable with my Eclipse (the first piece I ever got from Phil not including his cleanup and refurb of my Otto Link Florida STM). I finally decided to pull the trigger and get one and you know what? I absolutely hated it! Well, hate is a strong word but it wasn’t what I thought I was going to get at all. I talked to Phil and he said to send it back and he would fix it for me…he had made it a little brighter than usual and that’s part of what I didn’t like. In the back and forth while he was fixing it he offered to undercut the table and open out the chamber in what he called an Equinox/Eclipse Hybrid. That sounded great so I went with that.

When I got it back I was absolutely thrilled and this has become my main piece after many years on the Eclipse. It’s a 7* (105) while my old Eclipse is an 8 (110). It’s a little easier to play because of the opening but the undercut table does require a little more air. This is something that may or may not be on Phil’s website but it’s something he can easily do and something he’s happy to provide. The lesson here is that by being open and communicating with him I was able to turn something that didn’t fit me at all into something I love.

Phil Tone Rift (alto)

I was playing on another of Phil’s alto pieces called an Aurora I think and it was good but I wanted something with a little more drive. It’s funny but on tenor I’m moving a little darker but on alto and bari I’m embracing the cut and edge. Phil had a sale on Sax on the Web Forum and one of the pieces was an unbranded Rift prototype.

The Rift is something that I think is rather unique to Phil. It has an interesting double baffle that looks a little like a clamshell. He used to make the baffle completely by hand but he recently started having blanks made to this new spec. This is one of those prototypes but I think it is very similar to the branded production models if not identical. This mouthpiece is a screamer that never loses it’s core…it’s like the best of both worlds and it’s probably the most fun I’ve ever had on alto. I’m using it with Van Doren Java 3 (green box) and they seem to be perfect for me. I’ll try to post an audio sample soon but it may be an edit after the first of the year.

Phil Barone customized Otto Link Tone Edge (bari)

Phil Barone is the other Phil I love to work with. He’s an amazing mouthpiece make and refacer. I started talking to him several years ago about doing the “Ronnie Cuber” treatment to a Tone Edge – apparently Phil did the work on Ronnie’s TE back early in his career…a sound I love. Now I know that a mouthpiece is not the ticket to sounding like someone but I also felt like it would at least have some of the characteristics I was looking for and I could handle the rest.

Phil did a reface with a new facing curve and he cleaned up the tip and rails extensively. The magic, though, is in the baffle work in my opinion. Phil takes out the rollover baffle and then adds a step baffle later in the chamber. The end result is a screamer that is both easy to play while allowing a ton of nuance and color. I don’t play nearly as much bari as I used to but this mouthpiece has replaced my Lawton which I’ve had for over 20 years. I think the mouthpiece I sent him was an 8 but I think the one I got back is more like a 7*.

I use Rico Select Jazz 3 Unfiled (at Phil’s suggestion) and they seem to match it really well. This is not something you’re going to be able to find easily and I doubt you will be able to get one from Phil. The baffle work is very labor-intensive and he told me he really didn’t want to mess with these any more. I’m just glad I was able to get one before he decided to stop. You can still get his regular pieces from him and he will do other refaces. He also sells amazing horns for great prices so he’s definitely someone to keep on your radar.

EWI 5000

I’ve mentioned before that I’ve been an EWI guy for many years (probably more than 20). I’ve had pretty much every model since the 3020/3030 came out. My primary EWI for the last few years has been the 4000s but I didn’t ever use any of the internal sounds except maybe at rehearsal when I was being lazy. Instead I just used it as a driver for my virtual rack in my laptop. The 5000 was announced over a year ago I believe and I knew as soon as I saw the announcement I was going to have one. As it got closer to shipping I went ahead and pre-ordered one from Patchman Music.

The key selling points of the 5000 over previous versions are an enhanced synth engine with real samples (the 4000s was virtual analog), rechargeable internal batteries, and built-in wireless audio. I’ve had mine for ¬†couple months now and I really like it a lot. It was instantly comfortable because it feels just like my 4000s. The sounds are a mixed bag. There are definitely some much better sounds but they require a lot of tweaking (especiialy the overuse of effects) and there are WAY too many saxophone patches while there are absolutely no strings either solo or ensemble…that’s strange. I haven’t had a chance to use the wireless but I’m told it works as expected.

NOTE: Many people are confused about this but it is wireless audio only…Midi is NOT wireless in the 5000 but you can order wireless midi from Patchman. I really like the rechargeable internal batteries and I love that it hooks right up to the computer with the included USB cable. It’s like the best of the 4000s and the EWI USB all in one. All in all I’m pretty happy with this but I’m waiting for the Patchman patches that will make things even better.

Cannonball Big Bell Stone Series Tenor

I really need to post an actual review of this horn. I actually bought this horn over two years ago and it has been my main horn ever since. I love how it feels and people love how it sounds. I also love the way mine looks. So nothing actually new here but I just wanted to put that out there.

Crack the Sky and Getting Ready For New Stuff

Last night the Crack Pack horns (same as the Retox Horns – Dave Makowiecki, Jim McFalls, and me) played with Crack the Sky at Ram’s Head Live in Baltimore. The place was absolutely packed and we had a great time. We played two of the songs we recorded for the most recent CD, Ostrich, as well as the “usual suspects” of Skin Deep, She’s a Dancer, Mind Baby, and I Am the Walrus from the Beatles (always the closer). I once again played the Cannonball Raven tenor because it’s really tight and the intonation is pretty well locked in. I am still having trouble with a sticky G# key that is really getting on my nerves but I’m getting better at prepping the horn to limit it as much as possible. I’m mostly annoyed because I took it back where I bought it to have them look at it, it took them ten days to get it done, and it’s still exactly the way it was. I’m going to take it to my regular tech soon.

I’m also getting ready to play some high-profile gigs with Jr. Cline and the Recliners. The first one is in two weeks at the Bethesda Jazz and Blues Supper Club in Bethesda, MD. I’ve played with Daryl before but it was with the smaller club band, This gig is the first of a series with a ten-piece group (three horns) and I’ll most likely be playing alto and bari (bari for sure but it looks like alto will be a double). I’m pretty much caught up to where I was years ago on the bari with the possible exception of some endurance but I’ve been practicing a decent amount on alto to make sure that’s up to speed as well. I was playing alto in New Monopoly but only on a couple of tunes a night. I’m liking it more and more. I just had my horn (Buffet 400) in to the shop for some adjustment and it feels awesome. I’m also really happy with the Phil-Tone Custom (now called an Aurora) that has been my main piece for a couple of years.

I have been writing a lot of charts to get ready for the gig because there is no Eb book and it’s just too mind-bendingly hard to sight transpose the Bb book for me. I am still using Muse Score for this because it’s both free and (at least for me) very easy to use. I like the fact that I can enter everything ¬†need with the computer keyboard and a mouse so I can work on charts wherever I have access to a computer. I’ve achieved a great comfort level with this entry method and can get through several tunes an hour if I’m not too distracted. I don’t even bother printing them out because I read everything from my iPad these days. I just export as a PDF, upload them to my Dropbox folder as a backup and then grab them from the pad. If I was doing more charts I would probably consider going for Sibelius but for my purposes, this free program does everything I need.

 

Busy Weekend

Friday night I got to do one of my favorite things. I played with Technicolor Motor Home at Ram’s Head On Stage in Annapolis. It’s the second time we’ve been there and the second time we’ve sold the place out. It’s not a huge venue but it has a great vibe and thee have been some amazing acts on that stage so it just feels great to be up there. It’s always a great time when I play with these guys especially playing with my partners in horn section crime, Dave Makowiecki and Jim McFalls. It was a great night and here are some samples:

Last song of the night after over 2 hours of playing..still a lot of energy going on:

http://barrycaudill.com/blog/wp-content/uploads/FM.mp3

A little EWI action on this one.  The chromatic harmonica patch was a free download from EWI Reason Sounds.  It was a melodica on the original recording but this gets the job done.

http://barrycaudill.com/blog/wp-content/uploads/Hey-Nineteen.mp3

Some horn section goodness and some wonderful guitar work by Ben Sherman:

http://barrycaudill.com/blog/wp-content/uploads/My-Old-School.mp3

I played the Cannonball Raven on this gig with my Phil Barone Super New York mouthpiece and Rigotti Gold 3 1/2 M reeds. It was a struggle because I was still having a devil of a time with the G# key sticking. ¬†I made it through the night but it drove me crazy the whole time and I had a really hard time feeling settled. ¬†I took the horn to L&L Music in Gaithersburg where I bought it and they are looking it over and adjusting it as a warranty repair so I’m hopeful that it will be great when I get it back. With the exception of the sticking key (which could be attributed to a bunch of things) the horn felt absolutely awesome…very tight and punchy and it just looks awesome.

This week I’m playing a LOT of bari in a big band setting. Every year a local private high school called Archbishop Curley has a night of jazz featuring their students and an alumni band along with a guest act. I didn’t go to Curley but I have a few friends there and I’ve subbed with the alumni band numerous times including every chair in the sax section at one time or another. I think this will be my third concert with them and the first for me on bari. We had a rather long rehearsal this evening and we will have two more before the concert on Saturday night. I’m playing on my Selmer bari with my Lawton 8*B mouthpiece and it’s really starting to feel a lot more comfortable…maybe I don’t need to get some mouthpieces refaced after all. Oh well, I already sent one off to Mojo (Keith Bradbury) so it’s a done deal anyway. I’m also using an inexpensive reed alternative – Woodwind brand from the Woodwind and the Brasswind. I ordered the jazz cut in a 3 and they are playing really well for me right now. I also have some La Voz MH that I have prepared in the rotation as well. We’re only doing 5 tunes for the concert but it looks like it will be a lot of fun. I think there are a few tickets available for “All That Curley Jazz” but it appears to be another sellout this week. ūüôā

The Dreaded Sticky G# Key

The G# Key

The G# Key

I had a rehearsal on Saturday and I was having a devil of a time with a sticky G# key. ¬†I’ve had similar issues over the years but never to the extent I had on Saturday. ¬†It definitely didn’t help that it was the Steely Dan tribute band I play in and all of the songs practically required a G#…especially the ones I solo in. ¬†Even when it was opening it was delayed so it was very trying. ¬†None of the tricks I have used in the past worked so I learned a few new ones that I will explain here.

In the past, I have always had luck using the “dollar bill trick”. ¬†You take a dollar bill and place it between the pad and the tone hole, apply gentle pressure on the pad cup and then slide the bill out. ¬†The paper of the bill helps soak up moisture and clean the parts and the oils of all of the people’s hands that have handled the bill (GROSS!) helps keep it from being sticky. ¬†The problem was, I really couldn’t get in there with the bill to clean it.

What I have done instead is clean the pad and tone hole more completely. ¬†I asked several repair guys including my regular guy Lee Lachman and my internet acquaintance Stephen Howard. ¬†Both had similar solutions involving the use of a mild solvent. ¬†Lee suggested a product called Goo Gone that he’s had a lot of luck with and Stephen suggested simple lighter fluid like you would use in a Zippo lighter. ¬†I think the key is a light solvent that doesn’t have a lot of other stuff mixed in to muck things up. I ended up finding the lighter fluid quicker (at a local drug store next the the Chinese restaurant where I was getting take out) and it was pretty inexpensive so I gave it a try. I put a little bit on the end of a Q-tip and lightly scrubbed all around the areas where the pad and tone hole come into contact. ¬†The effect was immediate. ¬†No more sticky pad.

I also learned a trick that’s been around for years, but had somehow eluded me, for letting the pads dry out without contacting the tone hole. ¬†If you take a business card or a lightly folded piece of paper and stick it under the low C# key it also slightly opens the G# key. In this fashion the G# pad can dry out without creating a seal. ¬†It seems to work like a charm and I believe it’s perfectly safe.

Of course, I also swab the horn every time I use it and I use a pad saver as well. One thing I also learned in the last year is to open the case and leave it open overnight after getting home from a gig (removing the pad saver). ¬†It seems like a lot of moisture remains trapped in the case even after swabbing if you don’t do this.

My How Far We’ve Come

Closeup of original Adolphe Sax alto

Closeup of original Adolphe Sax alto

I wanted to take a break from the recording stuff for a little bit but don’t worry I’ll get back to it soon – assuming you’re a fan of course. If you’re not a fan of the recording posts it’s more like, “Oh geez, he’s going to write more of that nonsense?”. But I digress.

A good buddy of mine and an excellent sax player named Scott Paddock posted this video on my Facebook wall a while back. It’s a quick overview of an original Adolphe Sax alto and it’s absolutely fascinating. I mean I’ve seen a lot of vintage horns in my day and some of them had some pretty interesting key work but this is just so bare bones. It only goes down to low B instead of Bb but it does go all the way up to F above the staff. There are far fewer linkages and rods – the left and right hand stacks don’t interact whatsoever. One of the most mind-blowing things is the two octave keys. We actually have two octave keys on modern horns but we access them through the same mechanism and the horn automatically makes the switch for us. On the original horn there is one octave key for D to G# and then another for A and up. I’m sure it’s something you could get used to but it makes me glad for my modern horn.

One of the BIG changes is weight because of the major difference in the amount of keys, posts, and ribs. ¬†I imagine this horn is maybe half the weight of a modern one..especially something like my Buffet or a Keilwerth. I’m also a big fan of the very simple G# mechanism because that’s one of the keys that seems to always stick with the modern mechanism.

When I look at this video I find it fascinating but I also find myself really appreciating all of the advancements that help me play with more facility and probably more in tune. I have an old college buddy named Ellery Eskelin, though, who has made a career out of studying old horns and adjusting his approach to try to make the most out of them – I think his current main horn is from the 1920’s. He posted on my Facebook page about how much he would love to try it and I think he would probably make it sound awesome.

I’ll get back to the recording stuff soon with a discussion of the actual software you can use. I’m also looking forward to some fun shows in February after a very empty January. I have gigs with both Technicolor Motor Home and Jr. Cline and the Recliners and I also am meeting with some great musicians and good friends about starting a recording project that could also turn into a live band. Wish me luck.

Crack the Sky CD Release Party

Friday night we had the CD release party for the new Crack the Sky CD called Ostrich. I mentioned before that my usual horn section, The Retox Horns, is also the Crack Pack Horns when we play with Crack the Sky.  We were able to record three songs for this CD and two of them were in the set for this show along with 4 other songs from the usual rotation.  The gig was at Club 66 in Edgewood, MD and we played to a packed house of very excited people. Harford County, MD is my old stomping grounds so there were a lot of people I knew there.

Club 66 is a private BYOB club in an old VFW hall next to a working gas station. It’s not very fancy but it’s a very homey and comfortable place to play. They built a special stage just for the horn section with its own entrance from the green room. I call it a loft because it’s way up above the regular stage – even above the PA stacks.¬†Crack the Sky always uses this room to tune up the show before going out to other venues but this weekend the other venue cancelled at the last minute.

Check out Happy, Happy, Happy from the new CD played live. The dude that’s putting his thumb up and pointing is showing you where the horns are.

Two notable things about this show. First, our usual trombone player, Jim McFalls, was unable to attend so we had one of his former students play. ¬†Darius Jones is an excellent up and coming trombonist who is now living in NY where he is getting a graduate degree at NYU He is also an adjunct professor at NYU. He did a great job with very little prep time and this is not an easy book by any stretch of the imagination. It’s a blow especially for brass players and there are some really tricky rhythms to deal with.

Second, I used the Cannonball tenor and it felt absolutely wonderful for this gig. I used the fat neck and the horn felt really big and open which is perfect for a rather loud gig like this one. ¬†Intonation was excellent and the horn felt very comfortable for me – like I’ve had it for years. My partner in crime, Dave Makowiecki (trumpet) said he really liked the sound of it and he’s been pretty vocal in the past if I brought something out that wasn’t cutting it. ¬†I remember an incident years ago where I borrowed a Keilwerth from a friend out to a gig. I played one song on it and Dave just turned to me and said, “No” so I put it away. ūüôā I had no such issues this time around although he did say he missed seeing my old, road-worn Mark VI.

Merry Christmas!

Just a quick post to wish anyone who is reading this a happy and healthy holiday season. It’s always a busy time but I did a really quick and dirty version of Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas playing along with the Aebersold track. It’s just a one-take wonder but you get the idea. I was definitely too close to the microphone but I didn’t want to obsess over it. My buddy Roland Rizzo (an excellent sax player by the way) helped me with the mix by adding a little compression and some high-end rolloff in the EQ. He also gave the whole thing a touch of reverb and made the balance better than what I had.

I am also uploading a big band version of Yo, Tannenbaum from the Gordon Goodwin book. This was done by the Ken Ebo Jazz Orchestra I played with a couple weeks ago but the recording is probably 6 or 7 years old. I hope you find some enjoyment in them and take them in the spirit in which they are given. For the gear heads out there, Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas is My Phil-Tone Eclipse on a Cannonball Big Bell Stone Series with the fat neck. Yo Tannenbaum was most likely a Strathon Adjustotone on my Selmer Mark VI.

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays,
-Barry

http://barrycaudill.com/blog/wp-content/uploads/Have-Yourself-a-Barry-Little-XMas.mp3

http://barrycaudill.com/blog/wp-content/uploads/Yo-Tannenbaum.mp3

Always Leaves Me With a Huge Smile

Poster For This Year's Concert

Poster For This Year’s Concert

Every year for the last ten years I have been lucky enough to be a part of a big band Christmas concert to benefit Toys for Tots.  The band is called the Ken Ebo Big Bop Band and is lead by an incredible musician who both plays trombone and sings.  It features some of the best musicians in the Baltimore area Рsome of which I only get to see for this event.

I first started paying with the band over ten years ago when Ken was briefly out of the Marines and was teaching school in the Baltimore area. ¬†He started having a rehearsal band on Monday nights and his book was outstanding. ¬†That year he hosted the first one of these concerts at his school, Gilman. ¬†As a former Marine (at the time – he has since rejoined, served a term in Iraq, and currently teaches at the school of music) he was well connected with Toys for Tots and it was a perfect fit to have a big band concert featuring all Christmas music with the admission price being simply an unwrapped toy. ¬†The first year we mostly did stuff from the Kenton Christmas album and the big band was augmented with a French horn section as is appropriate for that music – a feature that has continued. ¬†Of course, the first concert was hampered by no one really knowing much about it and it was further hampered by the fact that it snowed…I think there were more people on stage than there were in the audience. ¬†As the years have passed we have gained a following and have increased the size of the venue not once but twice (first at Loch Raven High School and currently at Towson University in the Fine Arts Concert Hall). ¬†I’m one of only a handful of people who have done every single one of these and I’m honored for the opportunity.

This year we did some of the Kenton Christmas stuff but not as much as years past. ¬†We also did a lot of music from Tom Kubis, Gordon Goodwin, Harry Connick, and even some arrangements from Ken himself. ¬†Ken is an excellent singer and we’ve had the same female vocalist for the entire run, Tammy Temple Testerman. ¬†As a special treat this year we also had Ken’s wife Mary Jo join him for a Steve Lawrence/Edie Gourmet number and Ken’s two young children sang Away in a Manger with the band. ¬†We usually only have two rehearsals to get ready for a rather challenging book and this year I had to miss the dress rehearsal for a memorial service so it was a pretty challenging night for me. ¬†I played the lead tenor chair with some flute and clarinet doubles…I always have to dig out the clarinet and remem,ber how to play it because it seems like this is the only time I ever need it any more.

One cool thing for me was this was the first gig I’ve ever played with my new Cannonball tenor. ¬†It played like a dream. ¬†I used the fat neck because that’s the one that feels the most comfortable to me. ¬†The horn played very evenly throughout the range, the altissimo was practically effortless, and the intonation was spot on once I stopped making my usual unconscious adjustments from my other horn. ¬†I’m really happy with this horn and I’m loving being back on my Phil-Tone Eclipse. ¬†I still need to play out a little more with this setup but I will do full reviews of everything before the end of the year.

We had a nearly packed house and we collected a lot of toys.  We even had a Marine color guard march in the colors and a representative from Toys for Tots spoke and helped give out awards.  I was very excited that I was given a certificate commemorating my ten years of service (signed by a three-star general) as well as a cool personalized Christmas tree ornament.  We always hold the event on the second Sunday of December so save December 8th, 2013 if you want to see a big band Christmas concert and help out children in need at the same time.

News and Reviews in Progress

A couple of things to catch up on:

I’m not quite ready to do a full review on my new Cannonball Big Bell Stone Series tenor but early reports are really good. ¬†I would never want to do a full review without first playing it on the gig since for me nothing I do in the practice room is quite like the way I play live. ¬†I do have a big band gig this weekend and I have a couple of louder concerts later in the month so I will definitely have some opportunities to put it through it’s paces. ¬†I played it in a rehearsal for the big band this past weekend and I tried both necks – fat neck for the first have and the regular neck in the second half. ¬†I tend to like the fat neck better but my wife came to my room to listen and she instantly said she liked the regular neck better…we’ll see how this plays out.

I’ve also been playing on Rigotti Gold reeds for a couple months now and I really like them so far. ¬†The problem is I’ve only tried one box because of the way I break them in and my rotation system. ¬†I would definitely want to check a couple more boxes before being sure about a full review. ¬†I was playing Van Doren Java 3 1/2 and I switched to RG 3 1/2 M…so far I think that was the best choice…I got the comparison from a RG reed chart I think. ¬†One interesting effect of switching reeds is I’m now firmly back on my Phil-Tone Eclipse HR mouthpiece rather than the Phil Barone Super New York I had been playing for the last year or so.

On the EWI front, I just bought a new Refill from Chris Vollstadt at EWI Reason Sounds called Analog Dreams. ¬†I’ve been playing them for a few hours and I’m pretty happy with them so far. ¬†The entire Refill (for Propellerhead’s Reason) is comprised of some emulations of vintage synths and they’re all very tweakable. ¬†This Refill is also a new approach for Chris containing less sounds at a very reasonable price.

Finally, I just took delivery of a mouthpiece to try from Pete Thomas of “Taming the Saxophone”. ¬†It’s a new metal mouthpiece called the PPT he’s been working on and I received it as part of a passaround through Sax on the Web Forum. ¬†I’ve signed up for several passarounds in the past and this is the first time I actually got to play the mouthpiece in question…usually the passaround seems to fall apart I guess because someone buys the mouthpiece and that shuts everything down. ¬†Since this is a first I’m kind of excited to actually get to try something new and comment on it.

Look for these and other reviews along with some audio recordings in the near future.

Review – Haynes Saxophone Manual

The Haynes Saxophone Manual

The Haynes Saxophone Manual

This is a book I had heard about for quite a while but had never taken the time to purchase even though I was very interested in getting it. ¬†A couple months ago while researching for my recent horn purchase I stumbled across Stephen Howard’s website because he had some excellent reviews about some of the horns I was looking at. ¬†The interesting thing about the reviews is they are written both from the perspective of how the horns play as well as his observations of the horn on his repair bench. ¬†You should check them out along with a lot of other great content here but that’s not what I want to talk about today.

I reached out to Steve via email to ask him some more questions and he was very approachable, very knowledgable, and just seemed like a nice guy so I decided right then and there to get his book. ¬†I’m really glad I did because it is an amazing resource.

The book covers the gamut starting with very basic guidelines for beginners regarding things such as what to look for when buying a horn, the differences and relative strengths of buying new vs. used, vintage horns, the big four brands, the new breed of Asian horns, etc. ¬†He gives some great matter-of-fact advice about everything from the effect of finishes on sound to the best beginner choices for mouthpieces and reeds to proper care and preventative maintenance. ¬†If you’re thinking about getting into playing the saxophone you should get this book and really pour through the first couple of chapters to empower yourself to make good decisions. ¬†It’s great for new players (or almost any player who is interested) to have this kind of background information at their fingertips.

Of course, I’ve been playing for a very long time so much of that information was pretty rudimentary for me. ¬†But that’s where the rest of the book takes over. ¬†Starting at chapter 11 the last two thirds of the book is a pretty comprehensive beginning repair guide – something Haynes manuals have been famous for so it’s not surprising. ¬†You can learn tons of great stuff ¬†and you can get about as adventurous as you want with this information. ¬†You can learn how to replace a neck cork or reseat pads but you can also learn about replacing pads and springs. ¬†Steve is very clear about the need for a qualified repairman but if you ever find yourself in an emergency situation this book could be a lifesaver.

On the other hand, if you have an interest in becoming a repairman and you don’t have anyone around to apprentice or study with then this might be one of the best, most approachable ways to get started, ¬†I’ve looked at some other repair guides over the years but they are much drier and harder to read even though they may go into much more depth. ¬†You could always get your feet wet with this book and then move onto more advanced guides if you like it. ¬†I had thought for a long time that I might want to start repairing horns but that ship has probably sailed. ¬†For me, though, this is a book that I find interesting and informative and it’s advanced enough since I don’t intend to get quite as adventurous as the later chapters describe.

One more thing of note is the quality and number of pictures. ¬†This book is a feast for the eyes and a saxophone geeks dream come true. ¬†They are bright, crisp, and colorful and they provide a level of immersion that I have never seen in a repair book before. ¬†It’s just as fun to look at all of the cool pictures as it is to read about regulating a horn. ¬†The copy I got is hardbound and I’m not sure if there’s a paperback version but I find myself wanting to buy an e-book version so I can have it with me on my iPad for emergencies on the gig.

Whether you’re a beginner or a seasoned pro I think there is enough information to keep you happy here. ¬†In another review I saw someone say that this is a book that should come packaged with every saxophone sold and I agree with that wholeheartedly. ¬†I bought my copy from Amazon.com and it was money well spent. ¬†Do yourself a favor and buy this book and check out Steve’s website for more great information as well.