Superfine Instrument Bags are Available at Buckeye Brass and Winds, but only while they last.

by Lonny Young

April 24, 2024

Buckeye Brass and Winds is proud to announce that we have bought a large amount of the remaining stock of Superfine instrument bags.  These bags come in leather and nylon construction in a variety of colors.  The workmanship and construction of these bags is top-notch.  Check out our Instrument Cases page  to see what we have for you.

If you have any questions, please feel free to send me an email.

Amati and Červený Repair Parts are Available at Buckeye Brass and Winds

by Lonny Young

May 20, 2023

Buckeye Brass and Winds is proud to annouce that we are the exclusive distributor for Amati and Červený repair parts in the United States.  We will keep a selection of commonly requested parts in stock at our store, but will also have the ability to order repair parts that we do not have in stock.  For the parts that we do have in stock, I will be able to give you a price quote quickly for your request and be able to send these parts out, usually within a business day or so.  For parts that we do not keep in stock, I will have to request a price quote directly from Amati/Červený.  Please note that it can take some time for you to receive your parts if I have to order them from Amati/Červený. 

Parts diagrams and our order form can be found at  While we do not have parts diagrams for every instrument (although we have a lot of diagrams), we will work with you and Amati/Červený to get the parts that you need.

Please note that we only sell the parts to repair shops and music stores.  If you need a repair part, and are not a repair tech, please order the parts you need through your repair shop or repair tech.

If you have any questions, please feel free to send me an email.

Rental Program Update for 2023/24 School Year

by Lonny Young

January 6, 2023

For the first time, rental customers with Buckeye Brass and Winds will have the opportunity to rent previously rented instruments from us beginning next school year.  You may be asking "Why would I rent a previously rented instrument if it is the same cost as a new instrument?"  The answer is: because it is actually less money.  New instrument rentals have a 36 month contract.  However, the rental contracts for previously rented instruments is only 24 months.  That works out to a substantial savings for you if your student continues on with Band into high school.

At this point, you are probably wondering "How beat up is this thing going to be?"  The answer to that question is: it's not going to be beat up.  Sure, there might be a few scratches here and there and maybe a small ding, but you will never receive an instrument that is damaged to the point that its playability is diminished.  In fact, every instrument that is returned from being rented is thoroughly checked out by our experienced technicians to make sure that it is clean, repaired, and ready to go again for the next excited beginning band student. 

So, your final question is "How does this work?"  During the rental process, you will be asked to select from three options.  The first option is that you only want a New instrument.  In this case, I (yes, I, as the head of our rental program will be fulfilling your order) I will only pick out a new instrument for you.  The next option is that you PREFER a new instrument.  In this case, I will select a new instrument for you as long as we continue to have new instruments available.  In the event that we only have previously rented instruments available, I will selected one of those.  Your final option is that you PREFER a previously rented instrument.  This works the exact opposite of the previous selection: I will select a previously rented instrument for you as long as we have one available.

So, why don't I have an option for you to only get a previously rented instrument?  Simply, we only have a limited amount of previously rented instruments.  I can always order new instruments, but I can't order ones that have been previously rented.  We hope that the option to rent a previously rented instrument is helpful to you.

If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to send me an email.

Rental Payment Information Update

by Lonny Young

March 24, 2022

Buckeye Brass & Winds is pleased to announce that our rental customer can now update their credit card information through our website.  You can now go to our homepage, log in to your account, click on the "RENTALS" drop down menu, and select "Update Payment Information."  If you have not completed your Online Account Activation form, you will be asked to do so at this time.  Once you have received confirmation that your account has been created, you will have the ability to make rental payments online (if you wish to pay ahead, for example) and change your payment card information.

If you completed your rental application before our current system, you can still take advantage of this new feature.  Simply go to the "Account" link on the top right of the home page, and create an account.  Make sure that you also submit your Online Account Activation form (if you do not get notified to do so, please click here to fill out the form).  Once you receive notification that your account has been activated, you will be able to make payments to your rental account online (your account will still be on autopay, so you do not need to make online payments) and change your payment information.

If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to send me an email.

"On the Bench with Terry Staten"

by Terry Staten

March 24, 2022

Buckeye Brass & Winds is always looking for better product to offer our customers. In this video we look at the P. Mauriat 185 student model alto saxophone. Terry Staten takes an in-depth look at the horn and gives a cursory review of build quality and playing quality. We hope the educators and technicians will appreciate the review.

Check out the video here.

"The COA - An Oil Change for Your Saxophone"

by Terry Staten

January 10, 2022

When was the last time you checked the oil in your car? Hopefully it has been fairly recent. If it has been a while since your last oil change, you may notice that the oil is not quite the same color as when you put it in. Perhaps it is much darker than before?

The same thing happens in the mechanics of your saxophone (and all other woodwinds too, but let's just focus on saxophone for now). In this short blog, my primary goal is to share with you the ins and outs of a COA on your saxophone. I'll answer the following:

  • What is a COA?
  • Why is it needed?
  • When is it needed?
  • And who needs it?

Keep in mind that like many things in the repair field, this can be very subjective and there are many individual factors that interplay in all of these questions. You should always consult with your technician with the horn in their hands to find what the best course of action is!


What is a COA?

Clean, Oil, Adjust. It's that simple. For me, the process is this:

  • Disassemble the instrument, all keys, rollers, body sections if applicable, key guards, etc.
  • Throughly clean the body, keys, pads, screws, rods, springs, everything. Keys and their components generally need to be cleaned by hand to remove old oil, dirt, calcium deposits, last week's lunch, you name it. The body can be cleaned various ways pending the circumstances. Most saxophones for me get scrubbed/degreased, ultrasonically cleaned, dipped in an acid-based cleaner, and scrubbed again. Posts are then cleaned by hand.
  • Everything is reassembled one key section at a time, relubricated with the appropriate oil or grease, and adjustments are made as I go. This is by far the most time consuming portion. Any key materials or pads that are worn or incorrect are replaced at this time as well as correcting any reasonable structural issues preventing the instrument from performing up to par. I often spend more of this time correcting or adjusting pad work that was done poorly or has shifted/settled in than anything else.
  • Last is the play test and final adjustments. If I did my work well, this generally goes fairly quick. Sometimes it can take longer than I wish for. However, this is the chance for me to find and correct any issues that I may have missed on the horn before you find them. This requires a sensitive touch and ear, as well as patience to find the nuances of that particular instrument and where its deficiencies are.

Why is it needed?

Saxophones are an investment. It is not news to anyone that a quality instrument can be very expensive, oftentimes more than a decent used car. They are also highly intricate mechanical machines that wear down and have imperfections and flaws. One of those imperfections is the pads. You can think of saxophone pads as gaskets for each tonehole. They need to seal perfectly for the instrument to perform properly. Pads are made of leather, felt, and cardboard (most of the time). These materials compress, they get dirty, they wear out, they tear. If you develop a tear in the head gasket of your car, will it still run? Maybe but not for long, and not well. That head gasket needs to be replaced just like saxophone pads do. Fortunately, the cleaning process can eliminate the need for replacing all of those pads, or most of them generally. But, every now and then, there will be some that need to go. 

Where the COA really shines is on the dirty pads. As your body chemistry reacts to the metal and other materials in the saxophone, you will start to see many different… substances... build up on the pads and toneholes. Now, those substances get hard and put an impression into the felt of the pad creating a leak in the "gasket" seal against the tonehole. Many times if it is caught early enough, the pad can be cleaned and adjusted to accommodate. Sometimes, it is too far gone and the pad will need to be replaced. This work is done in tandem with cleaning and treating the toneholes, which get just as dirty!

Remember the dark oil the last time you pulled the dipstick out of your car engine? The same thing happens in saxophone keywork. There are steel rods and screws that the brass or nickel silver keys are in contact with at all times. The key oil or grease helps reduce friction and wear to the metals over time. The absence of this oil or grease means your keys will wear down much quicker. Generally the brass will wear quicker than the steel. As the metal wears down it has to go somewhere so it works itself into the key mechanism and acts as an abrasive, increasing the wear much more. Now, if you simply add oil to this mess without cleaning away the old worn grime first, you've possibly created a bigger problem. The oil will pick up this abrasive and move it further into the key work and fast track the key wear. The more worn out your keys get, the less they will stay in precise adjustment and the instrument will likely need to be overhauled or retired much sooner. It may or may not be an issue you notice short term, but you want this investment to be in good shape for decades. Removing the old oil and grime and putting in new oil is essential to keeping your saxophone around and playing well for your lifetime and generations after you.

You may also notice lots of varying colors of patina on your instrument, especially where there is no lacquer or plating. You can see our other blog about "Why is my instrument pink" for more info about some of this. It is highly debated in the saxophone world on what to do with corrosion on the body. I won't get into that here. However, I will say that I at minimum will take care of any oxidation or corrosion that prohibits the mechanics and materials from functioning properly. This is absolutely necessary for the longevity of the horn and even the short term playability.  If you see anything strange on your instrument, the best thing you can do is bring it to us, share your thoughts, and we will give you the best course of action with your wishes and intentions in mind.

Saxophone players are especially notorious for playing through leaks in their horns, many of which develop over time and we don't even notice. The instrument can tolerate a lot of misuse and misalignment before it truly breaks down. As a player, I don't want to have to work hard to play my instrument. I want it to be easy, effortless, and efficient. Having regular adjustments, and a thorough COA, brings the instrument back to square one. You may be surprised how much easier it can be to play afterwards.

When is it needed?

This is where the waters get a little murky. The answer is not the same for everyone or every horn. I will start off by saying you should have your instrument checked over at least once a year. That is a great opportunity to regularly assess the instrument and we can tell if a COA is needed. That being said, I generally recommend a COA every 2-3 years if you are playing regularly. Some may need it more frequently, and that is ok. Generally the ones that need it more are the ones using it more and can/should be able to justify the expense. Here are a couple of signs that you can look for to tell if your instrument needs a COA:

  • Look inside the instrument. Does it look clean? Remember, you're breathing in whatever you see inside of there.
  • Look at the pads. Are they clean and look to be where they should be? I generally look at the palm key pads and the low Eb pad first. These tend to collect the most dirt. If they look dirty or even torn, it's probably time for a COA.
  • Is the keywork noisy? This is a sign that either key materials are worn and need replaced or the oil/grease has evaporated leaving bare metal hitting bare metal. We've already discussed the metal wear component of this, but it also makes for a really noisy gig from your horn.
  • Look at the ends of the keys. Can you see black oil or dirt there that resembles the dipstick you pulled out of your car after 10,000 miles? You probably need a COA.
  • If it has been more than 3 years since you bought the horn or had a COA done, but you don't see any of the signs above, it may be good to bring it in and have us investigate further. You can't always see where your keys are worn.


Who needs it?

This is certainly a case by case answer as well. There are many instruments out there these days that may even cost less than a COA. We are always in the frame of mind of doing what is best for the customer as a whole. If the instrument is either too far gone or it is not cost effective to do a COA, then I won't recommend it. But, if you are playing an instrument that is worth preserving and you want to keep it playing like new, then it would be more worthwhile. Even more so if you play professionally or are a college musician where the horn is in your hands for hours every day.

If your instrument is either new or recently overhauled, both within the past 3 years, then a COA can be like a "factory reset" button. It should feel new; it should play like new - or better. Doing a COA regularly, along with general maintenance, can preserve the life of the pads and the instrument much longer than if you just play it and have something fixed when it breaks down. Do you wait until your car engine starts smoking before you get an oil change? 

Many saxophonists immediately resort to "it just needs an overhaul." That may be true sometimes, but it isn't always. Regular COAs will generally prolong the life of the pads, meaning you will need an overhaul much less often if it was done well to begin with. The best thing you can do is bring it to your trusted technician and see what's needed and what can be done. I always tell my customers - it's a saxophone, there is almost always something that is wrong or that can be better. Why not make your instrument the efficient machine it was designed to be?


Aiding a Child's Artistic Creativity


Aug. 28, 2021


Kie Watkins wrote:

Every year, for about 27 years, parents asked if their child should take music lessons. It doesn’t matter what instrument, as it all goes to the same second-layer question: will putting my child in an artistic private study provide a benefit, or is it just something parents feel obligated to do today?

As a commercial musician, my response is often different than my colleagues who perform, or used to perform in different mediums, but here is my very long answer:

Does your child like to sing? Do they like to draw or paint? Do they like to take Lego sets apart and make something new? Do they take their toys apart and try to put them back together in a new way? Are they constantly asking you to take pictures/videos of things? Do they like to dance? Do they like to write/tell their own stories?

If no to all, figure out why, because something’s not right. Children are naturally expressive and inquisitive from birth. Yes…every child.

Have you noticed they like to do one of these things more than the other things? Ask them. Would they like to know how to do that thing better, or do they just want to do it alone?

If they want to take dance lessons because their friend is taking lessons, get out the checkbook. It might last, and it might not. Does it matter? Your job is to fuel interest. If it fades, it fades.

Some children are tinkerers, which is a different way to say kinesthetic learners. They have to do to understand. These children need general guidance, not lessons. They’ll eventually figure it out on their own anyways.

Your child may find traditional lessons suffocating. Do you have a family member who does what your child wants to explore for a while? A few Saturday mornings may be perfect to get the child pointed in a creative direction. 

My point? Every child needs an outlet to express themselves. It doesn’t have to be their “all”, but something needs to be there where they can express themselves freely. If they want private lessons, get private lessons. If not, get out of the way and let the child make some art.

Google the number of famous art makers that had no formal training. Prince is on the list. So is Eric Clapton, Vincent Van Gogh, Jimi Hendrix, and Charles Dickens.

Lastly, should my child play sport? I have no idea why people ask me this question, but the answer is always the same: YES!! Every season. As long as possible. Sport teaches a child more than any book or lecture, because in sport, you find your physical and mental potential. Children need to be active and engaged, and sport provides that regardless of perceived ability. Who knows? Maybe that sport can provide a creative outlet!



Welcome to the NEW Buckeye Brass and Winds Website

by Lonny Young

June 24, 2021


After months of work, we at Buckeye Brass and Winds are happy to have launched our new website.  Not only does this new website have a new look and feel to it, it is far more functional and useful to you, our customer.  As you can see, our new site has more to offer than before.  Below, I have highlighted some of our new features.

Shopping Experience:

  • It is now easier than before to find the merchandise you are looking for.  Navigation has been drastically improved and more logically organized.  The check out process is also easy and secure.  We have also added the ability to have in-store pickup during regular business hours.


  • Our new website has added the ability for our rental process to be more streamlined.  You can now easily create a rental agreement through our website, including your payment information - there is no longer a need to stop in or call us with additional information.  You also have the ability to make rental payments before your automatic payment comes out, safely and securely though our website.  The process is fast and easy.


  • The Resources tab contains a wealth of information that we believe the music community will find helpful.  In addition to a link to our YouTube channel, where you can find some useful tips, we have also included fingering charts for beginning and advanced students.  You will also find links and information on many different Central Ohio groups that perform instrumental music.  We have also included links to our vendors and several fine retailers from Central Ohio.

We hope that you find our new website as useful and easy to use as we do.  We will be adding new features and products in the future, so check back often to see what's new.



Why is My Instrument Pink?


by Korey Saunders

May 13, 2021


I get asked this question after customers come and pick up their instruments from being cleaned.  In order to understand why instruments turn pink, we first must understand what happens when instruments turn green.

We have all been there; we take out the main tuning slide and see just how green and gross our instrument is inside.  This sludge is the result of all the leftover soda, lunch, and candy that gets consumed before we play our horns.  It is a combination of corrosion and calcium deposits on the inside of the tubing from the brass reacting to all of the sugar and food as well as our own body chemistries. 

On a scientific level, what is happening is quite interesting.  Yellow brass is an alloy of copper and zinc.  When brass corrodes, the zinc is actually being pulled out of the material and it leaves behind copper, which we all know has a pinkish hue to it.  We do not notice this because it is covered up by the aforementioned green.  However, when our instrument gets cleaned, all of that green stuff is taken away, along with the zinc, and shows up as a general pink cast on the inside of the instrument. The exact amount of pink an instrument will turn once it is cleaned is based on the amount of green it is.  I have cleaned instruments that have had very little to no green inside of them and they just looked like shiny brass on the inside.  On the other hand, there have been entire instruments that I have cleaned turn pink because they were just that dirty.

This variety of pink hue on the inside of an instrument is no real detriment to it.  In fact, by having all of the corrosion removed, you are actually prolonging the life of your instrument.  If not looked after, those green spots will show up as pink spots on the outside of the instrument.  This is what is known in the industry as "red rot". It is also seen as bubbling under the silver on a plated instrument.  This is the result of that corrosion eating away enough of the zinc to show up on the outside and, in many cases, result in a hole or crack in the tubing. 

"So what do I do with all of this information?" you may ask.  The best thing to do is get your instrument professionally cleaned at least once a year.  This can be supplemented with the occasional bath in your own bathtub with some light detergent in lukewarm water.  This will help keep the instrument cleaner and reduce the amount of corrosion/calcium deposits; however, this alone is not enough to clean out all of the green stuff.  The chemistry we use, combined with the ultrasonic tank, is really the best way to clean out all of the green.  There are even some commercially available swabs that can help keep the most immediate parts of your instrument cleaned out and further reduce risk of red rot.

As always, if you have any questions or want more information feel free to ask your local technicians.

We want you to keep making your best music and that is always easier on a well-maintained instrument!



I Can Play That

by Lonny Young

May 1, 2021

I began my life’s journey in music thirty years ago much like any other ten year old; “what instruments would you like to try?”  I decided that I wanted to try percussion, saxophone, and trumpet.  I had fun playing all three instruments.  When it came time to decide which I wanted to play, my band director may have inadvertently set me on a path of musical enjoyment and some frustration: “You are good enough to play any of the instruments.”  As it turned out, we had far too many percussionists as it was and he really wanted me to play trumpet (he was a trumpet player himself), so I played trumpet.  

I stayed with trumpet exclusively (officially anyway) until my sophomore year (I did start messing around with electric bass the year before because the band owned one), when I was asked to play quads in Marching Band.  I knew how to play percussion from messing around and I knew all of the cadences.  Our real quad player quit football after about a week, so I was going to go back to trumpet on his return.  Then, my director asked me to switch to baritone “just for football.”  I reluctantly agreed.  Little did I know that I would never return to playing trumpet as my primary instrument again.  Football season ended and my temporary switch turned into a permanent move for the rest of the year.  During basketball season, I played percussion in Pep Band because only the quad player ever came to games.

The next year, I was asked to move to tuba because our only tuba player quit.  Being a team player, I agreed even though I had never played one and couldn’t read bass clef for tuba.  This same year, my junior, I started playing trombone for amusement’s sake.  I had always liked trombone and wanted to play one.  We had an old Olds Ambassador with an F-attachment that I started playing like a bass trombone.  I was eventually good enough to play trombone in Jazz Band my senior year (I was still playing tuba in Marching and Concert Band and bass for Pep Band and our school’s show choir).  At some point, I learned to play E-flat tuba as well.

I didn’t manage to pick up another instrument until the last quarter of my freshman year at Ohio State.  I didn’t mean to, and I certainly didn’t ask to.  Rather, my director asked me if I knew how to play French Horn.  I answered no, but I would give it a try.  I made it through the quarter lending some extra volume to the other student playing fourth part who actually knew what she was doing.

So, why do I bring up the fact that I have managed to play just about every brass instrument, electric bass (I can also play a really lousy rhythm guitar), and percussion?  It’s not to point out my greatness.  Rather, it’s to point out what will inevitably happen to someone who is more than happy to say “I can play that.”  When I practice for a bit, I am a really good bass player.  I am not a very good trumpet player any more.  I have never performed on horn again and have no plans to.  I am a decent baritone/euphonium player and a decent bass trombone player.  I am pretty good on tuba, but don’t get a lot of practice time.  I can play a lot of instruments, but I never focused on one long enough to get beyond pretty good.  I hear some of the guys play testing instruments in the shop and marvel at how good they are.  I am nowhere near as good as they are on their instruments.  However, despite not having a degree in music education, I can play every part for a brass section reasonably well.  As a gift to the outgoing seniors at my old high school, I was able to record myself playing an all-brass version of our fight song.  At some point in high school, I had actually played all but the horn part.  If I had had access to marching percussion, I could have recorded that as well (I had also played all of those parts).

Being a jack of all trades on musical instruments will allow you to play just about anything you want, but the cost is never being great on any one instrument.  I will never be able to play John William’s Concerto for Tuba and Orchestra, but I am probably good enough to sit in for a really desperate orchestra and cover the tuba part for the finale of the 1812 Overture (I’m still intermittently working on the other parts of it).  I never wanted a career as a musician, so having fun playing a variety of instruments has generally brought me more joy than frustration.  Ultimately, the choice between being great on one instrument or being good on many comes down to what you want to do because it is almost impossible to do both.



Instrument Manufacturers are not Reinventing the Wheel (No, really, they aren’t no matter what you heard on your discussion board)


March 16, 2021

by Rob Phillips

When I hear instrumentalists, especially trumpet players talk about instruments like they truly understand how the horn is built, I have to bite my tongue.  Manufacturing musical instruments is a craft.  This craft, be it done by an individual artisan or a large manufacturing company, is relatively the same.  There are no real secrets as to how musical instruments are put together.

Having walked the aisles of manufacturing as a designer, engineer, and musician, I can confidently tell you that how you think instruments are made is generally not true.  The musical instrument industry is not innovative.  Why?  There just isn’t enough capital in the industry to create anything truly new.  Automotive, computer, aerospace (pick your major industry), are vastly different.  These industries have deep revenue streams that allow, promote, and require innovation.  No one’s actual life depends on a musical instrument.  As such, the methods of manufacturing have remained relatively the same for decades.

Tradition in this industry looms large because no one can risk pouring hundreds of thousands of dollars into radically new processes.  A failure to capture a significant market share from that innovation could be the end of that company.  Besides, the characteristics of sounds that we have all come to expect and love are derived from the long rooted traditions of manufacturing; a new process could (and likely would) change the sound of an instrument.  Sure, there are some boutique companies that are making instruments out of carbon fiber and some that are hand-crafting instruments, but their instruments cost exactly what you would expect them to.  The mainstream manufacturers (read those who produce mostly for the education market and weekend warriors without a lot of free money to burn) can’t afford to invest significant amounts of money into a process that they will never be able to see the financial benefits from.  Just like any industry, the big players compete for customers (especially schools and their limited band budgets) on price.  Costs must stay down as much as possible.  

The shrinking of the market for band instruments (and our love of Capitalism) has allowed for, and perhaps actually created, a market space for extremely low-cost, and in some ways, disposable instruments.  That market has largely been filled by Chinese manufacturers, and to a lesser extent, Indian manufacturers.  Some of the instruments coming from these manufacturers are nearly impossible to play and will certainly lead to a young student getting frustrated and deciding to quit Band.  It isn’t hard to find YouTube channels who make a living trying out these terrible instruments.  However, there are some manufacturers who produce instruments of fine quality.  One brand in particular has a growing following among professional tuba players (and their students as a result).  Why?  They produce a musical instrument that is quite good at a much lower cost than European competitors.

Vincent Bach was a true talent.  But many don’t realize he was using what he had available to him.  He didn’t have the luxury in his early days to custom order brass to make his trumpet bells.  He went to the local brass mill in New York and asked what materials they had available that he could afford.  Those unique trumpet bells were unique because that material was left over from some other manufacturer of, say lamps, not wanting the last remaining roll.  Later on, manufacturers would experiment with different formulations of metals, but nothing that was a radical departure from what was already in existence.  The composition of a trumpet bell from 1920 isn’t much different than a trumpet bell today.  The musical instrument industry just doesn’t have the volume of demand for our products to earn a commanding presence in the metals industry for them to cater to musical instrument manufacturers.  If the music industry wants research into different metal compositions for their instruments, they will have to pay for it themselves.

Getting back to the beginning of this post, the manufacturing of trumpets, trombones, French horns, and saxophones has never been a very disciplined industry.  Tradition, it’s large presence ever hanging over the industry, saw master craftsmen pass down manufacturing techniques to their apprentices, not in the form of extensive written documentation, but by showing them and having them do it.  As stated, no one’s life depended on a clarinet, so documentation and manufacturing certification has never been a necessity (they aren’t manufacturing parts for a Saturn V or the latest airliner).  The need to trace every facet of a part’s creation and existence simply isn’t needed.  If a cork needs replaced, I just grab one out of the parts bin and move on to the next horn.  When musicians say they want to buy, for example a saxophone, that was built in a certain era, they may get what they want within a couple of years.  The big BATs of yesteryear were far less common than today and they were not manufactured on a regular basis, but rather when ordered.  The quality of tuba you ended up with might depend on which artisan was there that day and made your instrument.  If you got a master with decades of experience, you probably ended up with a great horn.  If the new guy was there and made it, well, who knows what you might end up with.  The point of this little diversion is that even an instrument made at the same plant, the same year, using the same tooling, might be quite different sounding and playing based on who made it, and there is no documentation to say who made it.  This contrasts with, say a bolt on an airplane.  Every single part that goes into an airplane has documentation and can be traced to the hour it was produced and the name of the inspector on that shift.  Your life matters when on an airplane and a parts failure could be your end.  Your life still matters when playing your instrument, but it isn’t going to end if a key breaks during a performance.

The point of this is that musical instruments are products of character.  While manufacturing processes have changed drastically over the years, they have fundamentally stayed very much the same.  The designs of clarinets, flutes, trumpets, and trombones are basically the same as they were 75 years ago.  Who makes them and the character that is creatively incorporated into them is what has changed.  You might think you know everything there is to know about your instrument, but chances are, unless you made it yourself, there is still a lot about your instrument’s creation and life that you don’t know.



Instrument Blueprinting... Is it what you thought it was?


Feb. 3, 2021

by Rob Phillips


When a professional (whether a technician, musician, writer, or even educator) does not put an emphasis on the accuracy of their words, the customer is being done a disservice. And in the case of performance shops advertising “instrument blueprinting“ services to your average performer, at some point it will more than likely lead to miscommunication and disappointment from the owner of the instrument, the repair shop, or both.


A common problem within today’s performance enhancing subculture is that some of the vocabulary being used by the industry no longer accurately reflects the actions behind the word.  This has left many enthusiasts confused and misinformed, with one glaring example being instrument blueprinting.

If you’re an avid brass player, especially trumpet, you’ve more than likely heard the term “instrument blueprinting” thrown around on the web, in the shop, or in the rehearsal room.  Now, it’s important to first point out that the term itself has not lost its meaning to newer technology or instrument assembly practices, and it still has its place in the industry today. Rather, the problem seems to stem from how loosely the term is used by professionals and in how we educate the consumer.

The vocabulary being used by professionals and the education of the consumer is what we need to change as an industry. Without discounting the abilities of the performance shops that advertise this service, but sticking to its literal definition, using the term blueprinting in relation to instrument improvement or enhancement is a dramatic step in the wrong direction. To blueprint an instrument means “to prepare, specify, and document all of the instrument's tolerances, clearances, and materials based on a set standard.” The problem lies in the fact that currently the only standards you will find available to the public are the OE instrument specifications that aren’t even known or available from the manufacturer!

Instrument blueprinting is just showing you how to assemble an instrument, but that’s not the real challenge. The real challenge revolves around the concept of enhancement and improvement and knowing how to make changes and properly evaluate those changes — regardless of whether good or bad — and to be able to continue progressing and moving forward with the development process.

In the end, the important takeaway from this is that blueprinting in the musical instrument industry is a buzz term borrowed from the performance automotive engine building industry. Unless instruments are completely dismantled, accurately measured, documented, and reassembled to the strictest KNOWN standards, this touted process is nothing more than an expensive hunt for manufacturing flaws.