Ask a Saxophone Repairman: Relaquering, Finding a Repair Person, Neck Cork, and More

Ask a Saxophone RepairmanThis post is part of a special column titled “Ask a Saxophone Repairman” with answers supplied by our resident repair whiz, Matt Stohrer of Stohrer Music.

Disclaimer: Saxophone repair is a complicated business, depending not only on the skill of the repairer but on the reality of the situation at hand. The advice given here is given without your horn in my hands, so take everything I say with a grain of salt, and take it upon yourself to get more opinions and form your own conclusions. This column is not a substitute for finding a great saxophone repairman and building a relationship- instead it should be viewed as a resource to be used so that you can know more about your horn and become a smarter consumer and a better saxophonist.

Hey everyone! Its been a little while since I wrote on here, but I’ve been busy moving to a new house and welcoming our first child into the world. Now I’ve got my head screwed on (mostly) straight again and back here on Best. Saxophone. Website. Ever. Keep your questions coming!

My name is Ashley and I play alto saxophone in my high school marching and concert band. My horn needs to be re-lacquered and i have no idea where to get that done. I live in North Alabama and if you could recommend a business or repairman i can contact that might do that i’d really appreciate it. Thanks!


Do not relacquer your horn. It is an abrasive process and causes more problems than it fixes (which is none other than appearance).

(Quick breakdown of why relacquering is bad- see below for help on finding a saxophone repairman in your area)

Relacquering involves buffing, and buffing is an abrasive process.  During buffing, metal is removed from bearing surfaces- the ends of hinge tubes, posts, toneholes… and you end up with slop in your mechanism and unlevel toneholes. And it’s not like they purposefully try to buff these places – look at this video of how it is done! It is an extremely imprecise abrasive operation on a precision instrument. Clearly the skill of the individual doing the work can make it less bad and refitting the keys and leveling the toneholes can fix much of the damage. If the relacquering is done by a chemical strip and then hand-polished, that will make matters better as well.

But in reality, the way most relacquers were done (because not many people do it anymore – it used to be a matter of course during overhauls back in the day) was fast and furious, usually by the lowest man on the totem pole in the shop because the job itself is dirty, dangerous, and all-around sucks to do. Now not many folks do it, and even less folks do it well.

(back to how to find a repairman)

I do not have a specific recommendation, but here is a saxophone forum where you can find them – this particular link is the “evaluations” subforum. It is helpful to do a search inside this subforum for your area and see if anyone else is talking about it. Note that this is a public forum, so make sure you take everything said there with a grain of salt (you’ll notice a lot of the content is guys yelling at each other about stuff they don’t know much about, but there is also some really great info and advice there if you dig through.. kind of like real life). Also there is a dealer directory by state on the same forum here.

Another good way to find a good repairman in your area is call the local college saxophone instructors and ask where they go for repairs. If there is a consensus, then its a good bet.

Good evening Matt,

I have 2 quick questions if you don’t mind please…

The first, is there an easy repair for an Otto Link ligature? The facing that rests against the reed has come loose on my soprano mouthpiece.

Secondly, do you know anything about tenor saxes designed or created by Dick Rumore? Our bassist works in a local music store and wants me to check one out they have for sale but I personally haven’t heard about the line of horns and all I could find was that they’re based in Tampa obviously from the bari saxophonist Rumore. I’ve tried looking for some sort of reviews to no avail. I’d like to get some idea of the quality of horn it is in terms of intermediate or professional level as well as durability in the long haul especially where having repairs and all are concerned, and lastly the look of the horn being pleasing to the eye.

I presently play a Beuscher 400 US made from the 60’s and would love to upgrade to a more professional horn at some point reasonably priced. However, I’m not at the point of getting a Keilwerth yet…lol! But if I can get a good quality horn for the money, even if it’s a good used one, it would be nice. Just curious on the specs about this one before even taking the time to play it and see how it feels and sounds.

Thanks for your time and consideration of these two questions are greatly appreciated. I just found this site tonight looking for reviews about the Rumore tenor horn.

No quick fix! You can take it to a repairman and they might be able to work with it, but its most likely going to involve soldering and/or metalworking a bit.

As far as the Rumore horn, I have not heard of it before. But unless its a vintage stencil instrument, it is going to be a new East Asian import (the kind I wrote about here) and will not be what I would consider a professional sax. In fact, your 400 is a great horn – up until 1960-ish, they are professional horns. Even the later ones are very nice and you would need to either buy a vintage pro horn or a brand new top-end horn to beat it. And really you might not ever need to if you just base your opinion on the sound rather than what the 2nd chair sax player says (you are first chair… right?? :-)).

Check out this list here to figure out which kind you have. All of them are great horns when in good shape (Have you considered a pro overhaul? It can make a big difference!), and even the later ones are really great horns though they don’t get much respect. I made a video about a 1959 Buescher 400 a little while ago, watch it here. Good luck and if you are still puzzled, send me some photos and I can help you out.

Hi Matt,

I’m Austin, a high school student. I recently stumbled upon your website (which is very nice, by the way), and your repairman page.

So if you could spare a little time to give me a little advice, I would really appreciate it.

The cork on my Alto Sax neck is peeling off, where the mouthpiece goes. The bottom side of the cork tube has patches where the cork is completely gone and is showing the metal. Currently, I am using folded paper to cover up the empty patches, but I noticed that my playing quality has decreased because of it.

Is it at all possible to repair the cork or replace it? If not, how much would a whole low to medium quality Alto Sax neck cost roughly?

Thanks in advance,

Austin, yes this is a totally normal repair and super easy. Its called replacing your neck cork. It usually costs $15-$25 to get it done, and usually while you wait, about 20 minutes or so, most of which is watching contact cement dry.  If you are feeling adventurous and would like to learn to do a common repair that will come up again and again in your saxophonic life, google “how to replace saxophone neck cork”- there are dozens of pages and even a few videos.  Watch/read a few of them to find one that makes sense to you- not all of them are equal in value.