MIR- Musical Instrument Repair

My first few weeks of in-depth has been Adante. I succeeded in finding a mentor in mid-January but after two meetups, he concluded that his personal life didn’t have the time for a mentorship. I’ve recently contacted Massullo Music and they fortunately agreed to become my new mentor. In October of last year, I interviewed the owner of the shop, Sandro Massulo for LACE. He takes great pride in his work and holds a professional yet fun personality. I look forward to working with him :)

While I haven’t gotten much time to work on my in-depth, I learned a lot from my second meeting with my first mentor. The two hours consisted of:

  • Getting a tour of the Long & McQuade workshop
  • Familiarizing myself with the other technicians
  • Learning about different tools such as steel balls used to remove dents
  • Watched technician assess and diagnose saxophone problems
  • Watched how dents were removed / how a light stick was used to find keys that didn’t seal properly / replacing pads

My main takeaway was getting hands-on experience with cleaning a trumpet. A big part of a repair technicians’ job involves basic cleansing and maintenance of an instrument, especially at Long & McQuade where they provide hundreds of rentals to costumers. I watched a demonstration of the process and repeated it myself with another trumpet. Here’s what I did, step by step.

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I first removed the trumpet from the case and took apart all slides, caps, pistons, and the mouthpiece. The separate pieces went into a blue tray while the instrument case was taken to the vacuum station. The case was thoroughly vacuumed and afterwards, I placed in a bottle of valve oil and a Long & McQuade card inside. The trumpet and blue tray were taken to the ultrasonic cleaner. The ultrasonic cleaner uses ultrasound to agitate a fluid. This allows the solution to easily get into small crevices of instruments.

The trumpet body and blue tray were placed into the cleaner and after 30 seconds, it was lifted out. The trumpet pistons were dunked only halfway (this is explained later). After the ultrasound cleanse, it was put into a warm water and soap solution bath. Using various sponges and scrubs, the inside tubes of the instrument were scrubbed clean. To dry everything, we used compressed air to blow away all the moisture. This required earplugs and the door to be closed. I blasted all the pieces with very loud and powerful air and the instrument was dry and clean.

I also learned how to scan and register trumpet models into Long & McQuade’s system but since I no longer will be going there, I found no point in remembering that information.

Since this blog doesn’t let me upload any photos larger than 1MB, I created a flickr for my in-depth picture journey. Here is album one for Jan 21, 2019, the meeting where I took photos although not many. My albums will continue to grow:

IN-DEPTH FLICKR

Agreeing/Disagreeing/Differences

Since it was my first time working in a repair workshop, I let myself sponge in my surroundings. I would not put my interactions with my mentor into agree or disagree moments. My mentor’s logic bubble was basic knowledge that all technicians have. I didn’t have the experience nor the knowledge to oppose his teachings.

One thing I found interesting is that Long and McQuade’s technicians developed a more efficient way of cleaning trumpet pistons. Instead of taking apart the felt pad, the springs, and everything inside, they keep it together and only submerged the pistons until a certain point before reaching the felt pads. While I did not disagree, I questioned if it was as good of a clean as deconstructing the whole thing and cleaning every little crevice, and they replied that the speed and simplicity make it a lot easier for technicians, especially when they have mountains of instruments waiting to be done.

There is not much to say on this. We only had two meetups where the first was only an “introduce the in-depth project and set up next meeting time” and the second was “follow your mentor and copy the process”. With my mentor switch up, I hope to conduct better and deeper conversations with my next meetings. May this project continue crescendo-ing!