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A thank you!

Another couple of satisfied customers in the BrassWindFix workshop!thank you

“Thanks so much for the wonderful service that you’ve just done on my tenor. It has never sounded so good. And I can get the low notes so easily. You are brilliant!

Many thanks, Annie”

 

“I thought I would drop you note to thank you for the superb work you did in repairing my trumpet, what you have done is truly incredible. All the dents of time have gone, not just the ones that occurred when I dropped it, the slides have never worked so well and the general service you did in replacing pads, corks and springs is amazing.

I did a gig on Saturday and it was like playing a new instrument, no clattering valves and rough slides – brilliant.

I certainly won’t hesitate to recommend your services. Many thanks Ducan.”

 

“Thanks again for repairing my tenor sax in time for my band practice this evening.  I have tried it out and it is better than before the accident. Regards Rob”

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National Saxophone Choir

BrassWindFix came across this little gem on YouTube recently – the National Saxophone Choir of GB performing Queen’s Bohemian Rhapsody at the Arts Fest in 2009 and thought we would share it with all our Saxophone clients!

Click here to hear and see them in action!  There are other videos on YouTube showing some of their repertoire – Bach Tocatta and Crazy Rag being pretty awesome performances too!

The National Saxophone Choir of Great Britain is a lively, talented and enterprising ensemble of saxophonists committed to presenting challenging but accessible music to as wide an audience as possible.  The NSC was founded by Nigel Wood in 2003. It has already made a big impact on the saxophonic world and currently attracts players and guest conductors from all over the country to its monthly rehearsals in Birmingham. Standards are rigorously maintained by audition but the ethos is friendly, co-operative and adventurous.

It’s nearly the season for – dare we say it – Christmas Concerts.  If you have a diary full of bookings for the season ahead then don’t forget that your saxophone needs some TLC to keep it in tip-top condition.  BrassWindFix offer a basic service right through to the monster of all services!  Now taking bookings for October onwards and don’t forget that we can also supply you with Rico and Vandoren reeds and accessories too!  Pop into the workshop and see us or order your accessories from our on-line shop.

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Back to School

Instruments-BrassWindFixWell the summer is nearly over and its nearly time for parents all over the country to start frantically buying everything needed for the new school term starting in September.

The list of items needed for the new school term is never-ending!  Not to mention frustrating!  What used to be the simple buying of standard school uniforms from Marks & Spencer now seems to be impeded with current fashions and teenage cries of  “There’s no way I’m wearing THAT skirt/top/coat”” combined with hours and hours spent trapsing round the shops searching for the right school bag and what seems like a suitcase full of contents.

Your child may be considering taking up a new musical instrument, or already have music lessons,  and be looking forward to returning to a term of  exams and the endless list of Christmas concerts.  Over the summer, with all the excitement of holidays and excursions, it’s easy to forget that your brass and woodwind instruments need regular maintenance to keep them in the best condition and be ready for the hours of playing ahead.

It may be that you’ve been super organised and had this instrument serviced or repaired over the summer months.  However, it is something that many parents and students forget or don’t consider.  Keeping your woodwind and brass instrument in the best possible condition and regularly serviced means it’s always ready for the most challenging of playing and won’t let you down in an exam or that all-important solo performance.  If you haven’t thought about servicing any woodwind or brass instrument over the summer then please think about booking it in now!  BrassWindFix offer an excellent service and repair service at highly competitive prices and excellent workmanship is always guaranteed.  Although BrassWindFix are currently booked up solid in the diary for the next six weeks so if you want your instrument serviced or repaired before the Christmas Concerts begin then ring to book it in the diary NOW!

You may have totally forgotten to buy new saxophone reeds or clarinet reeds?  Do you need bore oil to keep your wooden clarinet lubricated? Do you need a new silver cloth to keep the keywork clean on your flutes or clarinets?  For all your woodwind and brass accessories please visit our online shop where all these items are available.  They can be posted out to you the next day to ensure receipt in time for the new school term.

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Congratulations!

fingers-crossedBest of luck to everyone opening their exam results today! BrassWindFix hope that you all had the results you wanted and will be jumping up and down with joy!  If you didn’t quite get there then don’t dispair!

Some exams can be re-taken and it’s pleasing to know that a lot of the most successful businessmen and women in the world failed miserably in their final exams too!  Check out this link: http://www.thegrindstone.com/2013/03/13/work-life-balance/successful-college-dropouts/

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My milkshake brings all the boys to the yard

“My milkshake brings all the boys to the yard johnny bruce

And they’re like, it’s better than yours

Damn right, it’s better than your’s

I could teach you but I have to charge”

Ok, BrassWindFix doesn’t actually sell milkshakes – these lyrics are of course from the hit single by Kelis in 2003 called “The Milkshake Song”.  Why are we quoting them you ask? Well…. this week Justin had to repair the trumpet owned by the now famous Jonny Bruce who was playing with Kelis at the Lovebox Festivo recently.

All set to go on stage, waiting in the wings Jonny, was eager to get started and perform in front of the heaving masses who’d turned up to listen to an amazing performance by the band.  Unfortunately, right at that moment, Jonny dropped his third slide from his trumpet and it not only dented from the impact,  it created a sizeable hole!  Scrabbling around in every musician’s first aid kit Johnny found the essential item he was looking for: gaffa tape to “plug” the hole to see him through to the end.  Ever the professional, he then performed the entire set with his trumpet in that condition!  That takes some skill – and also a fair bit of ongoing repairs with constant gaffa tape replacement due to it getting soggy.   Awesome stuff!

So this week he popped in to see Justin and left his trumpet for an emergency overnight repair so that his pride and joy would be ready for this weekends events.

Justin had to fit a strengthening patch and an Amado waterkey to the third slide.  Here are some pictures of the trumpet to show the repairs that Justin carried out.

 

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Verdigris build up – brass instruments

Never a brass banddull day at BrassWindFix as yesterday Justin was working on a Besson Sovereign Baritone Horn.

This instrument had a few valve issues which entailed the valves being completely removed and then expertly refitted.

As any brass player will know that valves are used to change the length of the tubing of a brass instrument, allowing the player to reach the desired notes.  Each valve pressed diverts the air stream through the additional tubing.  This lengthens the vibrating air colum in turn lowering the tone produced by the instrument.  As such, valves require regular maintenance and lubrication to ensure a fast and reliable movement.

On this particular instrument there was a small verdigris  build up  inside the valves.  Every brass instrument needs to be wiped off regularly but, even the most lovingly cared for instrument will show signs of this greenish/white verdigris build up.  Sadly, once it builds up it can be a little like cement in consistency and therefore difficult to remove.

The client on collecting the instrument asked: “Is it ok to clean the instrument occasionally with home kitchen products? Would this help with reducing the verdigris building up?”

This is difficult to comment on but BrassWindFix would not recommend the use of kitchen products in this way.  Purely because the product has not been specifically designed for use in this way for brass instrument cleaning.

BrassWindFix Advice

Some instrument valves are made of stainless steel, others of monel (a mix of nickle, copper, iron and other trace elements).  The stainless steel may well withstand the kitchen cleaning product but the monel definitely would not.  In addition, any cleaning products designed for use on stainless steel may escape and go onto the brass of the instrument and this could cause damage to the brass on the instrument.

BrassWindFix Tip

To be sure that you don’t damage your instrument, and to help keep verdigris at bay/building up quickly, the best way to clean your valves would be to wipe them off regularly with a kitchen towel or a cloth made from lint free material ie cotton.

Best to leave the heavy duty cleaning and removal of this substance to a trained professional when you have your brass instrument serviced.

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Today’s Brass Instrument

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In the hottest summer since 2006 Justin Pavey from BrassWindFix is working today in the coolness of the workshop.  A cool workshop in this heat we hear you cry? How so?  Well…it’s cooler because the door is wide open and a gentle breeze from the industrial aeroplane sized electric fan is blowing around the room! No natural breeze today but let’s not complain – this heatwave may not be around long!

Today Justin is giving a full service to today’s brass instrument – an Alexander French Horn – lucky french horn!  In addition there is a little bit of soldering work needing to be done but this instrument will be in optimum playing condition once it leaves the workshop.

Interesting Fact Alert:

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Alexander – or “Alex” – horns are a popular choice with professional players. Probably the best-known Alex horn is that played by Dennis Brain in his near-legendary recordings of the Mozart horn concertos with the Philharmonia Orchestra. His instrument was badly damaged in a crash which killed Brain, but the instrument was restored and is now on display in the Royal Academy of Music museum.

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Meet Justin Pavey

Today Justin Pavey is working on a classic old Besson Sovereign Cornet and is thoroughly enjoying the experience!  It’s nice to be able to work on old instruments that have been lovingly cared for by its owner over the years and the quality of the original workmanship of this cornet is wonderful – they certainly made them to last!   This particular Besson Cornet is the pride and joy of a regular BrassWindFix customer who performs in a brass band and this Besson Sovereign Cornet has a warm, full sound when played.

However, the original lacquer is now looking a little sorry for itself so today Justin is overhauling the cornet and preparing it ready to be silver plated.   This will mean that the cornet will be more hard wearing and will also look like a brand new instrument once finished.  Call it cosmetic surgery for brass instruments!

There has been a lot of debate over the years as to whether instruments should be lacquered, silver plated, gold plated or left as they are.  Many musicians are concerned that this process may affect the sound of the instrument slightly afterwards; making them sound slightly brighter or slightly darker.  However, if you decide to have your brass instrument re-lacquered or silver/gold plated then, as with major repairs or servicing, the instrument would need to be completely taken apart, overhauled and dents/dinks removed first.  Any work on a brass instrument could therefore essentially affect the overall sound afterwards – in Justin’s expert hands – the overall playability and sound is always for the better!

We can’t wait to see this one when it’s finished and it’s great to see someone so happy in their work!

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How to choose a Woodwind or Brass Instrument for my Child

L&HChildren are fickle.  They like the latest craze, fad or gadget going.  However, if they see and hear you playing a musical instrument from a young age you are more likely to pique their interest and desire into learning an instrument.  Music is fun, requires concentration, determination, perseverance, dexterity and it has been proven that children who play an instrument are more confident, more mature (yes even for a musician!) and playing an instrument apparently make them smarter! What’s not to like?

Choosing an instrument for your child is difficult.  So how do you choose a woodwind or brass instrument for your child? More importantly, it shouldn’t be the parent who chooses the instrument – it should be the child.  If you have any musical talent yourself then play your instrument in front of your child, let them hold it, try and get a note out of it, listen to and feel it. They will ask lots of questions so answer them all and be encouraging.  Talk about your experiences and how much fun you’ve had playing with other musicians and experimenting with different music.  Try and play recorded music around the home as much as possible of all different genres.  Ask them what instrument they are interested in, if they don’t know, a visit to a music shop would be a good idea so they can see the range of different instruments on offer.

Don’t make the mistake of buying the most expensive instrument in that particular range – they may not like it!  But equally don’t buy the cheapest on offer as the quality and playability will be more difficult and the child will lose interest quicker.  Most music shops offer a rental scheme whereby you can try the instrument for a short time and see how your child gets on, how committed they are to practising and whether they like it.  Some rental schemes will take off the monthly payments from the final purchase price if you wish to proceed.

Great starter instruments are: FLUTES: fairly easy to learn once the technique is in place. RECORDERS: buy a plastic one to begin with as professional wooden recorders can be expensive. CLARINET: a little bigger to hold but once mastered other options are available such as bass clarinet, bassoon or oboe. SAXOPHONE: normally start with an Alto saxophone as they are the most common saxophone. If they like it they can change to a tenor sax, bari sax or the smaller soprano sax. TRUMPET / CORNET: smaller children are best learning the cornet first as the bell is less heavy and easier to hold but older children can start on the trumpet. TROMBONE: this is a slightly different brass instrument as it has a “slide” to obtain notes rather than rely on valves.

Whatever woodwind or brass instrument your child chooses, encourage them!  They will need to spend a lot of time practising and the early days will often sound like a cat being strangled but it does get better!  Being part of a team in an orchestra or band when they are older will be well worth all the hours spent practising and learning to read music!  There’s no better feeling than playing music and, if they are good enough, it could well be a fulltime or part-time career for them in the future, taking them all over the world and meeting some amazing people!

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Dent Removal

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“It must have got dented in the case”Phone pics 150509 297

“The music stand just fell on it”

“I only put it on the floor for a second”

Minor dents and dings happen and are inevitable with brass instruments.  A few minor dents won’t seriously affect or change the overall sound Phone pics 150509 292or playability of your brass instrument,Phone pics 150509 296 however, if there are too many, or if the dent protrudes inwards more than 1/3 the diameter then this could cause a change in pitch, stability, tone and general playability.  Ideally there should not be any dents in brass instruments at all but that would be extremely unrealistic for both students and professional brass players.

If there are any dents in the mouthpiece shank, leadpipe or initial bore then these dents will affect the brass instrument considerably and will need to be repaired by a dent removal expert  to get the best out of your instrument and improve your personal performance. With trombone handslides both the inner and outer slides are easily bent so if you feel any dents at all whilst playing then this will need repairing to improve the performance of your brass instrument.

Many people try to remove dents and dings themselves but, if you don’t really know what  you are doing, dent removal yourself can cause further damage to the brass instrument and will require even more expert repair work and be more expensive.  Most dent repair work can be done easily and inexpensively – if caught early.

BrassWindFix have over 15 years experience of specialist dent removal and would be pleased to quote for any work required.

Specialist Dent removal of all brass instruments including: Trombones, Tenor Trombone, Bass Trombone, Alto Trombone, French Horn, Lower Brass, Upper Brass, Saxophone, Alto Saxophone, Bari Saxophone, Soprano Saxophone, Trumpets, Bb Trumpet, Piccolo Trumpet, Eb/D Trumpet, Baroque Trumpet, C  Trumpet, Contrabass Trumpet, Cornet, Soprano Cornet, Bb Cornet, Bb Soprano Cornet

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We'd love to hear from you, call us on 01934 861226

Alternatively email... repairs@brasswindfix.co.uk