A Tale of Two Repair Shops…

I have the pleasure of dealing with customers all across the world. It truly is an honor to me to do so. With this service, I also hear a lot of tales of how music shops in other areas of the world take care of their customers, both positively and negatively. Sometimes these stories are whimsical but other times, they are down right sad. This is just one of those tales…

In the Fall of 2013, a customer purchased one of our Solist branded low A baritone saxophones. These instruments are a copy of the Yanagisawa B901 which is one of the best professional bari saxophones on the market today.

In October of this year (2014), I received a phone call from this customer about a tragic event involving their bari sax. It would seem that in an ill-fated marching band rehearsal, the bari sax was placed on the ground and then STEPPED ON (accidentally) by another player. Now as you can imagine, images of a flattened body tube dance in one’s head when you read that statement. Furthermore, the customer went on to describe that she had taken it to her local repair shop for a repair estimate like most would logically do. This is where the story gets interesting…

Our customer was given a repair quote of $700.00 and was told “it isn’t worth repairing”.

Can you imagine the dread that this mother had? She had purchased an instrument for $2,300.00 that was only 1 year old and her repair shop says that it isn’t worth repairing?!

So just how bad was this damage??? Take a look:


Not as bad as you were expecting was it? Granted, that is still a serious repair that requires skill and time from the repairman… but by no means a $700 repair that “isn’t worth” doing on the horn. The repair involves more than just popping the dent out of the body tube. It involves the F# tonehole that was damaged by being pulled down with the body tube damage and realignment of all the keywork associated with the damaged post, all very sensitive repair… but this is not $700.00 worth of repair.

So as you can imagine, the customer was “on the ledge” and for understandable reasons. Even before seeing the damage on the bari, I KNEW that she wasn’t being given a straight answer. In my opinion, these technicians were employing a common sales tactic that I refer to as “No Parts”. This is where a technician intentionally over exaggerates a repair so that they can later attempt to sell the customer a new instrument, one that is “repairable” (I wrote a blog post in 2008 about this). Granted, there are some instruments out there that actually can be damaged so extensively that repairing them simply does not make financial or reasonable sense. Instruments also can truly not have parts available… but neither of these issues are commonly in play when technicians use this tactic (and certainly were not in play in this scenario).

After talking to my customer, I instructed her to pick up the bari from this local shop and instead, I would issue a UPS pickup on my account so that we could repair the instrument. Furthermore, I guaranteed that even after the combined cost of the repair and shipping both ways (the shipping was $75 each way, so $150 in total shipping) that the total cost wouldn’t even be close to their $700 quote.

In the end, the actual repair cost was $120.00 – so combined with shipping, the total was $270.00 and the repair turned out great as you can see below:


We of course also took care of some other things while the bari was here (big dent in the bow, adjustments, etc…).

dent-before dent-after

The instrument played perfectly and our customer was very happy with the outcome with the exception that it took weeks to get it back to her, but that was in shipping. We had the repair done within the weekend that we received it.

I will not name the repair shop that scared this customer. This is just one example of why customers are abandoning their local music stores in favor of internet shops. In a perfect world, businesses and repair people would be honest and have their customers’ best interests in mind… but sadly, that just isn’t the case anymore across much of the USA.