Instrument repair and Creation, how'd you get into it?

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BigBadandBass
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Instrument repair and Creation, how'd you get into it?

Post by BigBadandBass » Sun Feb 21, 2021 8:53 pm

Alright, long story short, I am applying for grad school for performance and possibly music business. But I do not feel confident about my tapes and auditions, I just wasn't up to snuff and don't feel that great am looking for other possible options for career. I've been super interested in making horns and working on them and am curious, techs and manufacturers on here, how did you get into it? Where did you start and how did you make contacts and get experience? I'm in MN so the redwing school wouldn't be that far away, what's the starting steps and how exactly do you move up in that world? I've done repair stuff before for my colleagues but no real formal education.
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BGuttman
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Re: Instrument repair and Creation, how'd you get into it?

Post by BGuttman » Mon Feb 22, 2021 6:17 am

The Brass and Woodwind Shop has a bunch of videos on YouTube showing different aspects of instrument repair. I think one of the videos shows how he got into the business.

The course at Red Wing (I believe it may have a different name now) is less than a year and gives you the basics. After that you would need to serve as an apprentice at a shop (hopefully with somebody who knows what they are doing and can help you learn).

I'm sure our resident Techs will answer any questions you have.

As to the creation angle, there aren't that many opportunities just because there aren't that many places that would take you on. The larger shops may need someone with a degree or a skill (like tool and diemaker). Small shops are generally guys who went from fixing to making. In fact, a lot of the big names in instruments were started by repairmen who grew the business.
Bruce Guttman
Merrimack Valley Philharmonic Orchestra
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Crazy4Tbone86
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Re: Instrument repair and Creation, how'd you get into it?

Post by Crazy4Tbone86 » Mon Feb 22, 2021 9:05 am

After seeing a tech do some very cool things with my instruments in the early 1990s, I got the bug. I really wanted to be able to do repair/customization work and also experiment with different components on my own instruments. I was considering taking sabbatical for a year from my teaching positions (public schools and small liberal arts college) and enrolling in a program like Red Wing to learn the trade.

While visiting a different technician (a gentleman who retired from heading the repair shop at the Navy School of Music), I mentioned my plan to enroll in a trade school for a year. His response was...."why do that?" He suggested that I work summers and evenings at a local repair shop. He stated... "That way, you can EARN money while learning the trade."

So, I followed his advice. I worked for 13 years at a very busy and well-equipped shop. Logging in about 55 hours per week during the summers and only a few hours per week during most of the school year. I started at minimum wage, but my pay moved up quickly because I worked hard, did quality work and I had high output.

After a few years of working in the shop, I started buying many of my own tools. It took several years to get enough tools to have my own functioning shop. When my kids got to a certain age that they wanted me to be home for summer activities, I quit my summer job at the shop. I was worried about the drop in income, but was pleasantly surprised by how many repair jobs came my way. By the second summer, the repairs I did at home equaled the pay that I had from my grueling summers at the big shop.

If you work at a repair shop that is connected with a retail store, you will be doing mostly "play condition" repairs and the majority of the instruments you repair will be student-level instruments (rental fleet instruments). Why?....that's the majority of the instruments that exist out there and kids tend to really beat up instruments. If you do a repair business on your own, you could see a lot more professional-level instruments and customization projects.
Brian D. Hinkley - Player, Teacher, Technician and Trombone Enthusiast
FOSSIL
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Re: Instrument repair and Creation, how'd you get into it?

Post by FOSSIL » Mon Feb 22, 2021 12:46 pm

Brian has it nailed. I have never wanted to get involved with repairs, though I do get cornered by members of my orchestra from time to time. Custom stuff is the fun...icing on the cake for the full time pro tech, but most of my work as a hobbyist tech. Usually my own projects, but I have done some fun stuff for others. Hard work if you do it full time and you need to be as quick as you are good to support a family with enough cash.
There are far fewer really good techs than there are really good trombonists .

Chris
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Re: Instrument repair and Creation, how'd you get into it?

Post by Posaunus » Mon Feb 22, 2021 6:23 pm

FOSSIL wrote:
Mon Feb 22, 2021 12:46 pm
There are far fewer really good techs than there are really good trombonists .
:good:
Crazy4Tbone86
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Re: Instrument repair and Creation, how'd you get into it?

Post by Crazy4Tbone86 » Tue Feb 23, 2021 4:52 am

I want to point out that, while I was steered away from going to a repair tech school, I know quite a few techs who have gone that direction. They had very good training there and some of them have developed excellent machining skills.
Brian D. Hinkley - Player, Teacher, Technician and Trombone Enthusiast
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harrisonreed
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Re: Instrument repair and Creation, how'd you get into it?

Post by harrisonreed » Tue Feb 23, 2021 5:05 am

Maybe look into CIOMIT?
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