Posted on March 26, 2015
Selmer Radio Improved Baritone Saxophone (After)
So this horn ended up being quite challenging and quite rewarding. It was an awful lot of work, but at the end of it all, out came a truly excellent playing baritone. The action was light and fast and easy, the intonation was pretty good, the tone was excellent and the horn was a lot of fun to play. On any horn this is a good result- especially a baritone pushing 80 years old, but on a saxophone of this level of rarity (less than two dozen of this type were ever made), it was quite a rush to put a mouthpiece on it and be greeted with not only a work of art but just a damn great horn.
The twisted and dented top turn ended up excellent, if I do say so myself. I was given instructions by the owner to avoid unsoldering the joints, and so I did not. Confined by requirement, I ended up tackling this problem by staring at the horn for about two hours from all angles trying to figure out what exact combination of forces had caused the initial twist and denting and distorting of the toneholes for the E and F, and then manually trying to do the exact same in reverse. I made a little jig to help me apply these forces- one part was a flat padded bar and another was a plug I put in the tenon- and then I just took a deep breath- if I do this wrong, I’ll be up the proverbial creek, and the stakes are pretty high- and cranked it by hand in the exact combination of twist and pull that I thought it needed. Pop! The top turn went right back into place so well I surprised myself. Even the toneholes became perfectly round without needing any further massaging. I later joked to the owner that this was dent reversal rather than dent removal.
Here are a few photos of the straightened out top turn:
Pretty nice to live in the universe where that worked out, right? I was riding high on getting that right for quite a few days.
The neck, which had been dappled and ridged by previous dentwork, also turned out well. And the horn itself was one of the dirtiest I had worked on in a while, but a few hundred q-tips and pipe cleaners later it was squeaky clean inside and out. And of course it being a Selmer, once the preparatory work such as cleaning and dentwork and body straightening and post straightening and so forth had been worked out, the mechanical rebuild of the keywork was straightforward and even relaxing to do. All in all, quite a horn to get to work on and quite a lot of challenges in the job and everything ended up about as well as I’ve ever done. Onward!