Saxophone Overhaul Services

Matterhorn Music has for years been known as a shop that does high quality, reasonably-priced, wind instrument repairs. However, something that a great many people don’t know, is that over the past 10+ years David Gsponer has developed a very solid reputation as a vintage saxophone repair, overhaul, and restoration specialist in the Metro Vancouver region.  

Now Matterhorn Music is pleased to announce that it is accepting saxophone overhaul and restoration work from customers outside Metro Vancouver. Regardless where you are, David would be pleased to make sure your vintage baby plays like new again. This could be especially appealing to our fellow Canadians who likely won’t want to send their saxes Stateside during the current border shutdown. Why not get the work done right here, in Canada?

Who we are

After doing his four-year training as a woodwind and brass wind repair technician in Switzerland, David apprenticed and finished his training in various shops throughout Europe. After moving to Canada, he worked for, and later became the head technician at Northwest Music.

Since starting Matterhorn music in 2000, David has grown his business into a well-respected shop that serves beginners and pros alike.

What we offer

If you have a vintage sax that you want overhauled or restored, David will work with you so that it comes back in exactly the condition you want. We offer all the industry choices in:

  • Pads
  • Resonators
  • Springs

If your sax is missing a part of its mechanics, it may either be sourced, or manufactured onsite—like this octave lever and mechanism was on a customer’s incredibly rare Adolphe Sax C pitched tenor.

All our overhauls include the following

  • Disassembly and cleaning
  • Dent work & body straightening
  • Resolder posts, key guard flanges where necessary
  • Tone hole levelling
  • Post alignment
  • Rod cleaning & straightening (replacement if necessary)
  • Pivot screw & receivers cleaned (screws replaced if necessary)
  • Remove play in mechanism
  • Spring replacement where necessary
  • Key cups aligned & levelled
  • Pads replaced
  • Oiling
  • Replacement of corks & felts
  • Adjust key heights
  • Refit neck to neck receiver
  • Play testing & readjustments

Overhaul prices

Soprano sax $1550 including standard pads 
Alto sax $1750 including standard pads
Tenor sax $1750 including standard pads
Bari sax $1850 including standard pads
Bass sax Call (1-604-596-7616) or email for pricing
Other saxes not listed Call (1-604-596-7616) or email for pricing

Our standard pads are made by Pisoni, and are fastened with shellac. You are given a choice of which type of basic resonator you would like. (Selmer style nylon; flat metal; flat metal with rivet.)

Add-ons

When it comes to overhauls, the following things are available for an extra fee:

  • Dent removal that goes beyond the basics done in a normal overhaul
  • Spring sets
  • Special resonators (which can be reused)
  • Lacquer removal

If you are interested in any of these services, ask David about them when inquiring about your horn’s overhaul. He can give you prices on pad, spring, or reso sets, as well as an estimate on lacquer removal. 

How to find out more, or book an overhaul for your sax

  1. Send an email to David directly. He will answer all your questions himself.
  2. You can phone the shop at: 1-604-596-7616  We are on the West Coast, so we are currently in Pacific Daylight Savings Time. If we are closed, or David is not available when you call, please leave a message and he will return your call ASAP.

A personal story from our Education Rep.

NB: I am not writing this as an employee, but rather as a customer. Although I did start working part time for Matterhorn Music in September 2019, I did so because of David’s skills, expertise, and honesty. If I had just wanted to work 2 days a week in a music store, I could have done this much closer to home. 

In 2004 I moved back to Metro Vancouver after a nearly a decade in NB. I needed a tech for my 8 or so vintage, gigging saxes, which had just survived a 3,000+ mile ride in a moving van from Atlantic Canada. The leader of an R&B band who hired me told me that David was the best, and that he never let anyone else work on his horns. 

 

Fast forward 15 years, and and although my vintage sax family has grown in size (by a lot of horns), to this day, David is still the only tech who works on my horns. He is meticulous, thoughtful, and extremely accurate when it comes to everything from emergency repairs to restorations.

 

I have had him overhaul at least 5 of my saxes, and he has done a full out restoration on an extremely rare, museum quality Olds Super tenor. He even did a mini-overhaul on a Blackgold Couf bari I received just 2 weeks before a jazz festival.

 

While I hung out with him on a Saturday, he took the Couf closet bari apart entirely, and replaced the 50 year old, shriveled corks, greased all the rods, oiled all the mechanisms, and even removed a bit of play on a couple of keys. After reassembly there were no new scratches on this very rare bari sax. Two weeks to the day of this service, that bari had its jazz festival debut in the big band I play with. 

 

In addition to the Couf and the Olds Super, I’ve also had David overhaul my Mark VI bari, Martin Committee III bari, Keilwerth Toneking alto & tenor, and currently, he has my Conn New Wonder Series II C soprano in for an overhaul. 

Each one of these overhauls was done precisely, and to my exacting standards. I picked the pads, resos, and springs where required.  

The other thing that is important to note about David’s work is that lasts. His repairs don’t have you coming back to the shop week after week, or month after month. Once he fixes something, it’s fixed for a long, long time. My main tenor, a King Zephyr, was last in the shop more than 3 years ago, and it gets a lot of rehearsal, practice, a gigging use. 

 

Obviously not all saxophones are going to go 3+ years between services and still be able to subtone down to low Bb, since a great deal will depend on the horn itself, and on how you and others treat it. However, know that if you have David work on your horn, his work does last, and just as importantly, he stands behind it.

 

Helen Kahlke M. Ad. Ed.

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