Category Archives: Uncategorized

National Folk Festival & The Wanton Shillelaghs

We spent the Easter weekend at the National Folk Festival, and while we were there, happened upon The Wanton Shillelaghs, whose flute player had a problem with a couple of loose tenon corks. I hadn’t worked on a wooden flute before, but replacing corks is still the same as any other instrument – she was back up and playing in no time, and was ecstatic that her flute played better than it ever did.

Find them at

Older Evette Alto sax

On the bench today, an older Buffet Evette alto sax. Cosmetically, it looks a bit rough, but actually it’s not in bad condition overall. The Eb tone hole has some green corrosion (as many saxes do), some loose fitting stack keys need to be swedged, and then a general clean-up and adjustment.

A Chinese flute with big feet

I’ve had a Chinese flute come in, with the complaint that the foot tenon is too tight, and the foot won’t go on properly.

Like most technicians, I have a dislike of cheaply made Chinese instruments (otherwise known as FSOs – Flute Shaped Objects), primarily due to the poor materials and quality control. This one is the brand “Largo Australia”.

So, the tenon was too large – I thought, “No problem, I’ll just pop it in a shrinking die.” I did so, and as expected, the foot now fits on easily…. up until the last millimeter. Then, it wouldn’t budge.

“What’s going on here?”, I thought. I decided to measure the tenon and receiver socket, and lo and behold, the tenon is a FULL MILLIMETER longer than the receiving socket. No wonder it wouldn’t go in!

This is one of the amazing examples of the incredibly poor quality control of these Chinese instruments.
Here, you can see the measurements, taken with digital calipers. (The socket is being measured with the depth gauge at the end of the calipers)
Largo flute - foot tenon too long

Vito Bass – The Case of the Elusive Leak

I’ve had a Vito bass clarinet sitting in my cupboard for a number of years – I bought it, and found it barely playable.

I took it to be serviced by another tech, who seemed to do a good job on the pads – the action felt good, and there was no visible leaking with a leak light.
Yet, the sound was weak and pathetic throughout the range of the instrument, and I could not, for the life of me, work out why. It went away in the cupboard, where it was forgotten about for the last 12 months, until a friend phoned me the other day and asked, “Can I borrow your bass?”.

This prompted me to take it out and have another look at it, and this time I found the problem — Not a leaky key, but a tiny hole in the body, just adjacent the register hole!

Once this hole was plugged, it played just fine, and I was a happy man again.
Vito Bass register key leak

Yamaha C100 – What a mess!

Here’s a Yamaha C100 which is a “garage special”. Obviously unplayed for many years, this one is cosmetically a mess, and the pads are all eaten out by bugs.
Yamahas are good, solid, reliable instruments, and after a good scrub-down and re-padding, this one plays just great! (Even if it looks ugly….)
Now for sale!
Ugly C100
Ugly C100

Antigua Curvy Soprano

Here, I’m working on an Antigua curvy soprano sax.
This one was not too bad, but was just having a little difficulty blowing down low.
I found a few tone holes to not be level, so you can see me here, levelling them with a flat diamond file.
Antigua curvy sop levelling tone holes

Amati Eb clarinet

From the big, to the small — I’ve been working on a little Eb clarinet (often nicknamed “eefer”).

This one is an Amati, an ex-school instrument, which sat unloved in the school cupboard for many years before being acquired by a Sydney University Wind Orchestra player.

The leather pads were all completely dried out, so I’ve changed them out for normal skin pads.
The lower four pads also have a lot of play in the rods, so I’ll be counter-boring the screws to try and take up the play.

Amati Eb

Contra-alto overhaul

Tonight, we have on the bench a somewhat rare beast, the contra-alto clarinet (also referred to as the EEb contrabass).

This one has probably only ever had minimal servicing during its life. There’s some serious wear in the rods,  the LH F#/C# lever post has been snapped off, and plenty of tarnish.

This is getting overhauled with Musicmedic Roopads (besides being lovely pads, I love the white colour!).

Here it is, being disassembled (you can see the old pads), in the bath, and the upper section, with pads installed.