Woodwind repairs

Quinta Justa - Saxophone

Basic setting

Quinta Justa - Piccolo

Full adjustment

Quinta Justa - Soprano Saxophone


Quinta Justa - Clarinet

Bumps or Dents

Quinta Justa - icon: bassoon


Basic setting

In this type of repair, the instrument undergoes a thorough inspection in which the proper functioning of the instrument is checked and regulated. For this, several verification methods are used.

In the case of the saxophone, a point of light is introduced inside the instrument to, one by one, check that all the pads make an adequate seal, since these tend to deform, move or even break. They are also cleaned and hydrated to increase their useful life. Later we will talk about them and their composition. And if necessary, any that are in poor condition are changed. In the case of the other instruments, their verification is carried out by introducing a thin piece of paper that will give us information on whether or not the shoes have any leaks or deformation when passing it over different points of the shoe.

All correspondences are also adjusted, since almost all the mechanisms that we activate have a “reflective” effect on other keys of the instrument. Any play that may exist in the mechanism, such as the double action effect, is also reviewed and eliminated. which usually occurs in instruments. And finally, all moving points are greased to prevent rust and annoying noises.

This type of repair is for instruments that have annual maintenance or that were repaired a short time ago and only need to check certain critical points.


Full adjustment

This repair is similar to that of the basic adjustment, with the difference that here the instrument is previously completely disassembled, so that we can better access all the pads and corners of the instrument. This is more laborious and all the moving parts that were previously lubricated in a superficial way, this time are thoroughly oiled and the shoes can be cleaned and moisturized in a more optimal way.

Also in this type of repair there is the possibility, if the client wishes, of carrying out a deep cleaning of their instrument. Thus eliminating traces of dust, dirt, saliva, germs and bacteria. And if the instrument or its mechanism is silver-plated, it is manually polished to recover its original shine.
If necessary, in the complete adjustment it is quite common that some of the instrument's pads have to be changed. Normally between 1 and 5 maximum.
In the case of the Clarinet, Oboe and Bassoon, if its body is made of wood, it is cleaned and hydrated with special oil for use, to avoid wear on it or possible breaks.

This type of repair is indicated for the most demanding musicians and for instruments that have not been in the workshop for a long time and need an in-depth inspection.


This process is one of the most complex and laborious. It is performed on instruments that have reached the end of their shoe life or have been stored for a long time, for which a Basic or Full Adjustment would not be sufficient.
To do this, we first carry out the complete disassembly of the instrument. Next we remove all the slippers and corks, since all of this will be renewed. And then a thorough cleaning is carried out in which, first, the metal parts are introduced for a short time in a solution of water and Sulfuric Acid (100 parts to 1) to eliminate germs, bacteria, remains of saliva and oxidation of the metal, which is normally Brass, Alpaca or Silver. Next, everything is brushed with degreasing soap thoroughly and in all the gaps and corners. Finishing off thus eliminating any superficial dirt that the instrument may bring. Finally, rinse everything well with water and dry thoroughly to avoid the appearance of new oxidation.

In the event that the complete instrument or its mechanism is silver-plated, as we have mentioned previously, it is manually and delicately polished to bring out the maximum possible shine. This process is not necessary for lacquered instruments.
In the case of instruments whose body is made of wood, as we have commented in the Complete Adjustment, it is cleaned and hydrated.

Next we proceed to renew all the corks and felts. These are placed carefully and respecting specific thicknesses according to the needs of each key. For this process, natural cork, agglomerated synthetic cork and pressed felt are used. All of this in various thicknesses. From 0.5 millimeters to 6.4mm.



Next step, it's the sneakers' turn. These are made to measure according to the need of the instrument or you can use previously purchased slippers in standard measurements, which

streamlines the process. Measurements are taken from all the cups of the instrument and the corresponding pads are manufactured or located. They are then glued to the key with two types of glues; Shellack or Shellac (https://es.wikipedia.org/wiki/Goma_lacquer) or Japanese glue or Transparent Sealing Wax.
Shellac is purchased in flakes and a small mixture of different thicknesses is formed with them to facilitate its application when gluing the sneakers. These also usually have resonators when their size is a certain size. They can be metal, plastic or mere rivets. Or if the client wanted, they could be made of corrugated brass or any shape they want to give it.

Once we have the keys ready to assemble, we go to the body of the instrument, where we check the chimneys, which must be completely flat to provide a good seal. We also check that there are no bumps or dents and remove them if there are any.
After all this, it is time to start assembly. Each key is greased and assembled individually. Once assembled, the seal is checked, either with a light bulb inside the instrument, or with the thin paper as mentioned above.

Since the shoes are new, all of them have to undergo this process. To do this, we heat the bowl on the opposite side of the shoe to slightly "soften" the glue so that, with special plates, we can place the shoe in the position or inclination we want.
In the case of instruments such as the flute, the slippers are not glued, but are held by a resonator as a washer and a screw. And to regulate its height or position, paper rings of different thicknesses and sizes are used. These combine to achieve the perfect seal required.
Once we have all the shoes individually adjusted, the adjustment process begins. This is when we make all the correspondences work perfectly. And it is here that all the springs perform their function correctly. If not, they can be modified or directly changed, in a completely manual process with special pliers.

Each shoe must have a specific height and we must eliminate any slack or double steps. It is a laborious process that must be checked for several days afterwards, since the shoes may suffer a small deformation after the process, or the metal may give way and return to its original state.


Bumps or Dents

Typically, instruments suffer falls and accidents that cause damage of greater or lesser caliber. Many of them only involve a key being slightly bent, preventing proper operation. But in many other cases, considerable dents, broken parts, unwelding of pillars or, in the case of wooden bodies, cracks, splits or scratches of considerable depth occur.
Dents in metal are treated with different molds and tools manufactured for such use. Some purchased from specialized suppliers in the USA or Germany. And others made to measure personally. This is also how the chimneys are ground in metal body instruments so that they are completely flat. As you can see in the images, it is always a manual process, without industrial machinery.
In the case of instruments with wooden bodies, there are several ways to cover scratches or cracks. Mainly a paste made from sawdust of the same wood is used, which is then reduced until it is at the level of the original wood and is not noticeable. Carbon rings can also be made at certain points so that the crack does not follow its natural path and the instrument has much longer useful life.
In these instruments, the chimneys are ground with special tools and burs.
Another work derived from blows is welding. Many times the blow is received by a pillar and it does not resist the force and ends up breaking loose.
Once the dent is removed, the pillar is delicately soldered with tin or silver.

In the event that a key or protector breaks completely, a silver solder can be made to restore its condition or a key can be made directly from scratch.


Sneakers are mainly made up of three components: cardboard or cardboard, pressed felt and leather (natural or synthetic). You can also add a metal, plastic resonator or a simple rivet if it is not large.
To manufacture them we must take into account the size of the instrument's bowl. Once measured, we proceed to cut the cardboard and felt, a few millimeters less than the size of the bowl. And we also cut the skin a few more millimeters from the bowl.

Now the felt is placed on the cardboard and the whole thing is wrapped with the skin. Starting with the felt and gluing the excess, as a seal, to the cardboard part.
Once done, the hole can be made to insert the rivet or resonator if necessary.

In the case of the saxophone, the bassoon and some clarinets and oboes, the leather of the shoes is cow or kangaroo. Previously treated and dyed in orange, brown, black or white.
Flutes, other clarinets and oboes have a thinner skin, called Fish Skin, since in the past they were made with fish skin. Currently the skin film resulting from the Cow's appendage is used. Treated and tinted in white or yellow.

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