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Instrument Repair

Postby JLSmith97 » Fri Mar 09, 2018 11:41 pm

Hi Everyone,
I am a 20 y/o college student pursuing a degree in instrumental music education and my primary instrument is the tuba. I have been thinking about trying to get into doing some instrument repair in order to make some extra money on the side but I'm not really sure what kinds of supplies i would need to get. Any tips or suggestions on supplies needed and/or where i could also purchase needed supplies would be very helpful. :tuba:
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Re: Instrument Repair

Postby the elephant » Fri Mar 09, 2018 11:55 pm

You really do not need to do this without the needed education. You can easily destroy an instrument or hurt yourself if you are not trained. If you are simply talking about changing felts and corks and unsticking mouthpieces you are good to try and figure it all out. But this is a very specialized and highly skilled field where dangerous tools and chemicals are used.

I would look at taking the short course at Red Wing to get started, but they only teach you how to fix stuff you are told to fix. Diagnostic skills really only come from a full-on apprenticeship at a really good shop. This *normally* takes about two years of full time, daily work.

If you are not prepared to respect the skills enough to learn them you will be doing no one any favors. The people here who do this (even part time) for money took a lot of time from their lives to learn to do it. If you do this on your own you will need to buy some old horns that you can fix, bash up, fix again, etc. Do NOT simply start fooling around with your friends' horns; you will ruin one and lose a friend.

With that in mind, you can purchase from Allied Supply if you are a business, from Ferree's Tools if you set up an account, and Votaw will happily take anyone's money if they have enough. These three sell tools, supplies and parts. Start with them.

If you are serious about this and want to learn what you need to know before trying this, get a copy of the Erick Brand Repair Manual to see how most repairs are done. To do this stuff you must invest heavily in tools and supplies. I have dumped over $20,000 into my home shop and still lack many things I need. My dent machine alone was like $2000 with a few attachments thrown in. This is not really a field you just step into and start figuring stuff out.

Good luck. :tuba:
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Re: Instrument Repair

Postby windshieldbug » Sat Mar 10, 2018 12:52 am

^ this! :shock:
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Re: Instrument Repair

Postby bloke » Sat Mar 10, 2018 9:31 am

Go sell cars or real estate.
Ruin people's lives, and not their instruments.
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Re: Instrument Repair

Postby PMeuph » Sat Mar 10, 2018 9:48 am

There's very little money in repair, the amount of tools needed and the learning curve are way too high. Like The Elephant said above.

If I wanted more pocket money, without spending too much out of pocket, I'd flip thrift store items or sell something that I made.

Check out this reddit forum and look at the related subs.
https://www.reddit.com/r/Flipping/
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Re: Instrument Repair

Postby tubari » Tue Mar 13, 2018 2:16 pm

If you are willing to relocate to Canada, Long & McQuade:


There's a few spots open for learners at Long and McQuade.

Applications are being accepted for band instrument repair apprenticeship positions at our Ajax, Ontario (L004), Halifax Distribution Centre, Nova Scotia (LX54), and our Delta Distribution Centre, BC (LW49) locations. Our goal being to train technicians for woodwind and brass repair positions at our band repair facilities.

Applicants Skills

Working knowledge of woodwind and brass instruments
Mechanically inclined
Good problem solving skills
Enjoy working with their hands
Well organized.
Works well with others
Please send resumes to bflagler@long-mcquade.com
I'll try anything once. Twice if I like it!


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Re: Instrument Repair

Postby Three Valves » Tue Mar 13, 2018 3:08 pm

They actually had a "musical instrument repair 101" course at U of D back in the day...
Who needs four valves??

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Re: Instrument Repair

Postby MaryAnn » Wed Mar 14, 2018 2:22 pm

tubari wrote:If you are willing to relocate to Canada, Long & McQuade:


There's a few spots open for learners at Long and McQuade.



I meet all your requirements and wish I were young enough to apply, because to me this would be the cat's meow. And relocating to Canada would be superb, even if it would freeze my butt off.
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Re: Instrument Repair

Postby Lee Stofer » Wed Mar 14, 2018 4:05 pm

I would suggest that, if you're really interested in instrument repair, start out by getting a summer job cleaning rental returns, etc., at a music store with a reputable shop. If someone there is willing to teach you repair lessons, as it were, take advantage of that. As you do this, you will learn what tools and supplies you need, which will change with your skill level. Music instrument repair is every bit as difficult and demanding as instrumental music performance, and should not be looked upon as, "something to be done on the side." This is a profession, not a side job.

If you are looking for a side job for extra money, there are a number of options. Musical instrument repair is not highly profitable - many months, I would have made more money if I worked at Chick-Fil-A, and had less stress.
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Re: Instrument Repair

Postby roweenie » Wed Mar 14, 2018 5:41 pm

I mess around with tubas for fun as a hobby, but I don't think I'd ever be able to make it profitable, nor do I want the responsibility of messing around with other people's horns (musicians generally tend to be quite discriminating). To set yourself up with the proper equipment you would need to do it correctly is quite considerable, and would likely negate any profit in doing it "on the side".

Hint: it's not in best form to come on a forum where many really good and highly respected technicians meet and ask them how to make "some extra money on the side", in a field where they've devoted their lives and efforts.
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Re: Instrument Repair

Postby Three Valves » Thu Mar 15, 2018 7:49 am

roweenie wrote:Hint: it's not in best form to come on a forum where many really good and highly respected technicians meet and ask them how to make "some extra money on the side", in a field where they've devoted their lives and efforts.


Where is one supposed to ask??

The dog grooming forum??
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Re: Instrument Repair

Postby Tabor » Thu Mar 15, 2018 8:33 am

JLSmith97 wrote:Hi Everyone,
I am a 20 y/o college student pursuing a degree in instrumental music education and my primary instrument is the tuba. I have been thinking about trying to get into doing some instrument repair in order to make some extra money on the side but I'm not really sure what kinds of supplies i would need to get. Any tips or suggestions on supplies needed and/or where i could also purchase needed supplies would be very helpful. :tuba:


I think Lee Stofer has the right idea. Go to a shop and start however you can. (sweep floors, anything) You can learn a lot by observation, and maybe even learn the right way to do it first.
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Re: Instrument Repair

Postby the elephant » Thu Mar 15, 2018 8:43 am

Three Valves wrote:
roweenie wrote:Hint: it's not in best form to come on a forum where many really good and highly respected technicians meet and ask them how to make "some extra money on the side", in a field where they've devoted their lives and efforts.


Where is one supposed to ask??

The dog grooming forum??


roweenie wrote:Hint: it's not in best form to ask them how to make "some extra money on the side", in a field where they've devoted their lives and efforts.


There, I fixed it for you. That is what he meant. Not where we are, but that the question was sort of tacky and insulting.
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Re: Instrument Repair

Postby Three Valves » Thu Mar 15, 2018 8:50 am

bloke wrote:Go sell cars or real estate.
Ruin people's lives, and not their instruments.


You forgot insurance!! :oops:
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Re: Instrument Repair

Postby iiipopes » Thu Mar 15, 2018 9:08 am

I have customized electric guitars beyond all recognition to great results: change wiring, change body contours, etc., reset fingerboard inlays, bridges, etc., on some very expensive instruments.
I have rebuilt Jaguar engines so they run better than new, including the 3-SU-carburetor E-type engine I used to own before the divorce judge decided otherwise.
I have completed so many home repairs that, given a good cement truck, I could almost build a house, from electrical to sweating plumbing joints, studs, siding, all manner of things interior, etc.
I can, even as a city boy, because of Mom's folks, run a farm, as well as all the city jobs I have had.

But...to quote Harry Callahan, "A man's got to know his limitations." No brass.

I send all my brass instrument repair work out. I do not have the tools, the training, the time, nor the inclination to "learn from mistakes," which on a brass instrument can be lethal, both to the horn and the person.

To the OP: make a choice: either go with your current performance curriculum, or drop out, and get into a NAPBIRT education & apprenticeship program. Working on brass instruments and occasionally playing is a good mix to understand how a horn works. Playing brass instruments and occasionally working on them is a recipe for disaster.

What do I do to maintain my own brass instruments: oil, grease, occasional felt/cork job. And this, knowing I can tell by feel to within a 1/1000 of an inch what strings are on an unknown guitar, the complex adjustments to an SU carburetor, fixed tornado damage to a house I used to own to where, when I sold it, the inspector wrote down, "fixed better than new," and so forth -- send everything brass related out.
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Re: Instrument Repair

Postby bloke » Sat Mar 17, 2018 8:31 am

Three Valves wrote:
bloke wrote:Go sell cars or real estate.
Ruin people's lives, and not their instruments.


You forgot insurance!! :oops:


meh...
People aren't stuck with insurance as they are with cars, houses,...and f-ed up instruments.
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Re: Instrument Repair

Postby iiipopes » Mon Mar 19, 2018 11:05 am

bloke wrote:
Three Valves wrote:
bloke wrote:Go sell cars or real estate.
Ruin people's lives, and not their instruments.


You forgot insurance!! :oops:


meh...
People aren't stuck with insurance as they are with cars, houses,...and f-ed up instruments.

Oh yes they are - after a claim is made!
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Re: Instrument Repair

Postby opus37 » Tue Mar 20, 2018 8:23 am

I've spent hours watching pro's like Lee Stofer work. He's right you can lean a lot by jet being in the near vicinity and observing. If you politely and unobtrusively ask questions, you can learn even more. What I learned is I can do a few simple things, but what I really learned is what I can't do. Like any technician, the bulk of your knowledge and skill comes from long hours of doing and seeing a lot of things (aka experience). To be good at this profession, you can't do it part time. I have a repair tech who has retired from his electrical engineering job and then went to the Red Wing, MN repair school for a year of so full time. His house has a shop attached which he has a lot of tools. Instrument repair is his retirement job. He is not in it to make money, he is in it because he enjoys it. He is reasonably good at brass, especially fabricating parts. I wouldn't bring any woodwind to him. After watching watching him and Lee, it is obvious that Lee is much more skilled and efficient. My wife plays flute. She takes her instrument to a repair person who specializes in flute repair. That repair person only accepts instruments that he deems worthy of his skill. My point is, taking an instrument in for repair is like going to a doctor. A GP can do simple stuff, but anything else requires a specialist. You can't do justice to the profession part time, you'll do more harm than good.
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