I recently overhauled a 18xxx serial Selmer Super with the geared octave mechanism. It was totally thrashed- three times relacquered, all sorts of problems, resolders, broken keys, repair shortcuts layered over jerry-rig upon patch job. You get the picture.
It took about twice as long as normal to rebuild the mechanics. It was the first horn in long time where I finished it with bruises and blisters on my hands (and I’ve got some pretty good callouses going). It was ugly as sin, too. And all the while I am working on this costly project I am wondering to myself did we make the right choice to rebuild this saxophone? But when I finally got it put together and played it- man, what a beautiful sound. It was even, in-tune, and lush. The name could barely be read on the bell anymore but the sound said everything you needed to know.
It was truly surprising how well it played and all of the difficulty of the overhaul just melted away and was forgotten as I playtested it for hours in my garage with the sound echoing off the high ceiling and spilling out the windows into the woods beyond. In time as I got used to the ergonomics and I got warmed up, playing became effortless and I just listened. The old survivor was thanking me for putting another 40 or so years back on the clock, and it reminded me why I do what I do.