There is a phrase used in repair shops all around the country. This phrase makes the customer cringe. It damages their faith in the instrument that they are playing on. These 3 little words are the worst thing that a customer can hear when they are talking about their horn...
"No Parts Available"
But what does this REALLY mean? Sadly, there is no clear cut answer to this. However, there are a few things that it could mean.
Typically, repair technicians use this statement when working on non "name brand" horns. They tell the customer that since the instrument is not a major brand, there are no parts available and therefore, they cannot repair it for you, the paying customer.
Well, this phrase can also apply to vintage older horns. Say for instance, a Buescher 400 "Top Hat & Cane" model made in 1940 - which is a very good professional vintage horn worth thousands of dollars. Are there "parts" still being made for this horn?
No, the "parts" are not made for this vintage horn any longer. So does that mean that the technician cannot work on it either? Not at all! In fact, technicians work on those type of horns all the time.
So why then can they not work on your "non name brand" horn?
The fact is this: In many cases, they can actually work on the horn, they just may not want to or may not be allowed to for one reason or another.
One of these reasons could be that in fact, the instrument is of poor quality. Working on a horn or instrument built poorly or of poor materials, could lead to problems for the technician. For instance, if the metal is so soft there is a chance that when they are trying to service it, that typical repair techniques could damage the instrument, which would then make them liable for it.
So they could decide not to work on it as protection for themselves.
At the store that I work with, we have our own brand of saxophones under the name Kessler Custom Las Vegas. They are great intermediate saxes. There have been numerous reviews through the internet praising the value that these horns offer. Even with our horns, there are no "parts" available through the major parts suppliers. We stock parts and have them available for customers or repair stores upon request.
However, the truth of the matter is this: The large majority of "parts" used in repair of a woodwind instrument are pads, corks & felts... which are all universal parts used in all brands.
So when a technician tells you that "parts" are not available, they could be telling you the truth, but they could also be telling you that they simply will not work on it. Now if you have a broken metal part, something that was made at the factory, then you may have an issue. However, many good technicians can still repair that broken part.
Sadly, you as the customer may not be able to tell what is really being said with that phrase. So if you are ever unsure, get a second opinion. Worst case scenario, call the person you purchased it from or call the business that sells them brand new. Don't just assume that you have a bad instrument that "cannot be serviced". Many times this is just not the case.
The opinions offered in this blog do not necessarily reflect those of Kessler & Sons Music, it's officers, owners or employees.