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Ramsey Lewis

Tales of a Woodwind repairman

I was setting in a club in Chicago many years ago listening to George Shearing… he was great…

The waitress was taking this guy to his table and he stepped on both of my feet… never said anything just walked all over my feet… well I was young and not always that bright, so I was about to get up and say something … when… Mr. Shearing said we have a great artist in the house tonight Ramsey Lewis… well needless-to-say, I have not been able to listen to his music since that foot stomping incident….

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Contra Bass Saxophone




Rick Izumi’s Contra Bass Saxophone features:

The low B-Flat, B, C-Sharp and G-Sharp Keys:  As you can see there is nothing fancy about these keys.
The G-Sharp is just a little round key. There are no rollers. no angles… just keys…  There is also no articulated G-Sharp key… very basic.

Contra Bass Low Keys

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James Moody

James Moody Jazz Legend


I met James through Francois Kloc when I worked at Buffet setting up the Buffet clarinets and Keilworth saxophones. James was a Keilworth artist, so when he would drop by I would check his sax…

He came to several times after I left Buffet and the last time he came in was just great.  I worked on his sax and he started playing and showing me things he had learned that week. “Check out this pattern, look at how many way you can change it around” he would say then play them for me… it was great that a man who could just live on his reputation and just play his old stuff still wanted to learn new things.  He was always one of my favorite players since my sister played me “Last Train from Overbrook”.

James had a special Cologne someone in New York made just for him and if he liked you he would put a little on you and tell you how good you smelled.  He was an inspiration to me as a man besides being the great player.

He will always be remembered.

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Clarinet Reg Key Cork

Clarinet Reg Key Cork: The clarinet register key cork need to be thin.  I see many clarinets with a thick cork under the key. What that does is makes it hard to slide to the register key. The thinner the cork, the lower the key can be set and the easier to slide to the key when playing…
Clarinet Register Key Cork

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Original Sax Pads

Original Sax Pads… I just took these white pads form a very old C-Melody saxophone.  As you can see compared to a modern pad they lacked a little something.
No heavy paper backing.  The glue just went straight to the felt.
No tone booster. Just a little thread in the center of the pad to hold it up. Modern pads have some sort of tone booster to hole them up in the pad cup.
Very little clue.  You can see there is very little glue on the pads.  The glue helps hold the seat of the pad.
Original Saxophone Pads white leather


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Fixing other repairman’s work

Fixing other repairman’s work…

I have had a rash of players having some other repairman overhaul their instruments and then bring them to me to make play right.  They pay the other guy a lot of money and want me to make it work for little to nothing.  As of today if I need to straighten out some other repairman’s overhaul .. it will be at my overhaul price.

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Players are different.

I use to love it when a new client would come into the shop and before he even introduced himself I would hear “I go to the best repairman in the world in New York” my response was… “so go to him”.  Not the way to get the repairman you are talking and want to repair your saxophone on your side. They really should have kept that stuff to themselves.

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Rod & Pivot Screw Storage

Rod & Pivot Screw Storage while doing an overhaul.  While you are doing an overhaul it is important to be able to put the rod or pivot screw back in the same place it came out.  There are several reasons for this: On an older instrument other repairmen have likely worked on them so they might changed the way the screw or rod fits the post.  Even new instruments that have a lot of hand work in putting them together makes a difference.  Just because it is a Selmer Mark VI pivot screw it does not mean it will fit every post on the saxophone.

Many repairmen use boards to put the rods and pivot screw in while doing the overhaul.. These boards can be knocked over spilling everything.  I make boxes to put every screw and rod in, they can sit for a long time and if it gets knocked over the screws will be in the same place.

I make labels, you can call the key anything you like I do…. I use a big box with 24 compartments so there are enough for all the thinks I need and so my big fat hand cam go inside an take the pivot screw out… very important!

This box is for clarinet and has enough compartments to do a Full Boehm clarinet or a Leblanc that has 2 more Rods.