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list Sat, 5 Dec 1998 Volume 1 : Number 45
In this issue:
- TubaChristmas of Keene
- Re: Sci fi contra - pipe organ
- Re: instruments!
Date: Fri, 4 Dec 1998 22:17:03 -0500
From: email@example.com (Michael J Effenberger)
Subject: TubaChristmas of Keene
Well, I'm happy to say I'm off to the tubachristmas in Keene, MA on
Sunday. Anybody in the area, this promises to be a lot of fun.
Registration is at 12:30, and we play at 2:30. It'll be a bit tiny, so
any support would make it that much better. Hopefully, I'll see one of
ya there. I'll be the 15-year-old playing the absurdly beat-up 3.5-valve
mirafone tuba. Ah yes...
Date: Sat, 5 Dec 1998 00:02:36 -0400
From: Jim Katz <JimKatz@JohnAbbott.qc.ca>
Subject: Re: Sci fi contra - pipe organ
>Who wouldn't love to have a massive church-type pipe organ to play?
It would be great, but I just don't have the lips for it.
Jim it's-tough-enough-to-play-bassoon Katz
Date: Sat, 05 Dec 1998 11:50:11 -0500
From: "farfl's house" <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Do you really find alot of instruments in garage sales and flea markets? You
mentioned sousaphones with logos painted on the bell; how much do these usually go
for? I'm thinking of making a foray into the sousaphone world, but of course I
want to keep it at a minimal investment, as it would only be for a song or two in
our Klezmer Orchestra. Do you ever see any Conns or Yorks?
Date: Sat, 5 Dec 1998 15:22:35 EST
Subject: Re: instruments!
I saw a good but damaged old Conn tuba, probably from the 1920s, in mid-
summer, but typically the big brasses aren't that high quality on the
scavenger's market, and they tend to be very badly beat up, alas. People who
own things that size in good condition usually know enough about them to take
them to music stores, not put them in estate sales or flea markets. (I've
never seen a sousaphone at a yard sale. Flea market dealers get them from
school auctions, I think.) I recently saw a tuba that was literally
flattened, as if a vehicle had backed over it.
US$250-300 is pretty much the going rate for a sousaphone on the bottom-feeder
market around here. $300 may sound like a great deal, but the typical flea
market sousaphone is a student-quality Gentzer, worth maybe up to $1200 in
excellent condition, with what looks to me like about $1000 worth of major
dents and other damage. I'm not going to take the risk with something like
that. With reed instruments, I can trust myself a little better to estimate
the value and the repair cost, so I'll go ahead and pick up a sax cheap even
if it looks awful, if I can tell that everything wrong is fixable. Tenor and
alto saxes are fairly available here, for people who aren't squeamish about
"as is" condition. I've found good ones in estate sales, yard sales, antiques
shops and even flea markets. I've never seen a high-quality baritone sax for
sale in any of those places. Pawn shops, no. The ones around here tend to
have decent student horns, in clean condition, but pawn shop prices here tend
to be about the same as music store prices -- and music stores stand behind
what they sell. I've heard of people making great finds at pawn shops, but
I've never bought anything from one. My bass sax came from a sort of pre-
death estate sale, a sad situation: the owner, who hadn't been able to play in
many years, had to move into a nursing home. His caretaking relatives, a
nephew and niece, handled the sale.
There's loads of low-end student-quality small stuff here at yard sales.
Plastic Bundy clarinets a-go-go. Typically a kid quits after less than a
year, the parents keep the Bundy for a few years until it's clear the kid is
never going to touch it again, then they take it to a music store that offers
$25 for it. The parents remember what they paid, get mad at the low offer,
and sell it themselves for $50. But the trouble with that stuff is that it's
so available. The dealer where I sometimes put things on consignment warned
me never to bring him plastic clarinets, because he can get them for next to
nothing from the schools. So the bottom line is that if you want to find a
good instrument, you have to look at an awful lot of crap first. For most
people, it might actually be cheaper to go to a dealer who's already done the
For me it's different, because I live in an unusually "target-rich
environment." The Washington, D. C. area has a highly-mobile population and a
huge number of bands, including what I believe is the highest concentration of
US military bands anywhere in the world, so I wouldn't say my yard sale and
flea market experience is typical. Probably the only other place that's
comparable would be New York. For every sax I buy, I pass up at least 50 that
either don't interest me (Made in Taiwan...) or would cost more to repair than
they're worth. (I sometimes buy things like old cornets that I don't want to
keep.) Another safety factor for me is a local "buyer beware" auction where
I can get rid of my mistakes, usually for as much as I paid for them. My
husband and I look for more than two dozen different kinds of merch, not just
reed instruments. It's our hobby, or lunatic obsession, or whatever -- we
furnished our house this way and it really doesn't look like the county dump,
honest! On a good weekend in spring, summer or early fall, we hit about 80
yard sales on Saturday morning (we've got the exact route down to a science,
through old but good neighborhoods) and four or five (or more, if we travel
outside our area) flea markets on Sunday morning. We make the rounds of the
storefronts, too, of course. Even so, it can take me a whole season to find
four or five "new"/old instruments; and they're not all ones I want to keep.
So I do recommend scavenging, but only if you enjoy the thrill of the chase
for its own sake and understand that the chances of finding a big bass
instrument this way are pretty poor.
End of list V1 #45
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