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My Repair is HOW MUCH? (A Repair Estimate Analysis)

A behind-the-scenes look into the mind of a repair technician

 

When an instrument comes to the shop here at David French Music, we genuinely care about the quality of the repair performed, the cost to the client, and the longevity of the instrument’s mechanics once the repair has been completed. As an active professional musician who also fixes many other instruments, I enjoy being able to see the repair experience from both sides of the field.

Now, what’s really going on when a repair comes in for a cork or a spring and we end up calling with a $300 quote and a long list of things we recommend addressing?  Is it a scam? Are the mark-ups for labor too high, or are we selling you something you don’t need? Never! Being a technician gives me a more in depth knowledge of problems commonly found with each instrument, especially when it doesn’t come in for regular service. Here are the four main aspects I think about when contacting a client with an estimate:
 
1) Time
How many hours of labor will need to go into this instrument, and will the number of hours balance out with the given estimate? Unlike an ultrasonic cleaning or a clean oil and adjust (COA), repairs without a set rate typically have more gray area when it comes to the needs of the instrument and required time. This is where I try and find a balance between the two elements. Our goal is that the client leaves with a fair rate and our business can sustain itself.
Additionally, this estimate gives me a great gauge on how quickly I can get the instrument back to you. I understand what it feels like to have an instrument break the day before a big concert, and will always keep a timely repair in mind when working on getting the instrument back to you!
 

2) Value
Is this service going to address the needs of the instrument without exceeding its actual value when the service is completed? I often receive older instruments that a client doesn’t know much about, but would like working again. The unfortunate reality is that the longer an instrument sits in it’s case, the more work it will need.
This is where complete mechanical restorations (CMR) come into play and they aren’t always financially worth the endeavor but they certainly can be, especially with Instruments that have sentimental or high retail values.
I try and inform the customer of the theoretical cost of the job and how much their instrument is worth altogether. They can then leave informed and with a new rental or repaired instrument. Regardless, the goal is to help them find the best solution with the budget they are working with.


3) Longevity
When a client believes that only one spring, cork, or pad needs to be changed it can open the door of speculation if the estimate doesn’t reflect the cost of the job they had in mind. Sometimes, customers are spot on and we just have to adjust a small part of the instrument. In that case, I usually welcome them to our shop and take care of the instrument at no cost to them.

The flip side of the coin is when an instrument needs more work than the client expects. For example: it’s difficult to watch a client decline an ultrasonic cleaning (a procedure that improves the functionality of all of the slides, valves, and alleviates internal build-up) when a sticking valve is the only perceived issue.  It may not seem like it, but the two are closely related.  In this case a thorough cleaning is not only the solution to that specific problem, but also fixes future issues caused by a dirty instrument.  This rift can create problems for the client and strain the relationship with the technicians.

We are always happy to work within our client’s budget, but when we make these kind of recommendations, it’s with consideration towards enabling the client to make music without mechanical hindrances for as long as possible.


4) Honesty
The old belief that all mechanics and technicians are crooks fades at the door of our shop here at David French Music. Our primary policy is honesty, and we try to inform each customer about the current state/value of their instrument, the service it needs, and how its servicing will suit them moving forward. Buying an instrument is a serious financial commitment. It’s our job to make sure your investment stays maintained and that you are satisfied with my colleagues and I from drop-off to completion.

  • I believe these aspects set us apart from similar operations and I’m always here to speak to you about any musical concerns. My colleagues and I are excited to work with you!

  • Written by Adam Mejaour

 

© 2011-2016 David French Music Co. | 53B Otis St. | Westborough, MA 01581 | 508-366-5994 |

Your Rent to Own Contract: What does it mean?

As Summer approaches, it’s time to start thinking about September again! If your child is going to keep playing their musical instrument next year, you should continue with your instrument rental. Why? It’s Rent to Own!

school childrenA Rent to Own contract means that 100% of your principal payment goes towards ownership. The only part of your monthly rental that does not go towards ownership is our Repair & Replacement Coverage. There are no interest charges or finance fees with any of our rentals.

If you have a Violin, Viola, Cell or Bass rental, your contract may be a little different. You are paying each month towards owning a Full-Size instrument. Most students are ready for a full-size in middle school, or early high school, and when they are ready all your principal payments from each smaller size is applied to your account as equity.

Still not sure?

I don’t think they will practice it over the summer.
That’s ok, we understand. But if you return the rental, you will lose any equity you have accumulated on your account. We can’t hold an instrument over the summer for you, or temporarily pause your account.

I don’t plan on owning an instrument.
Depending on your contract, you may already be most of the way through your rental! Ask us how much is left before you would own the instrument. You may be surprised.


We want to buy them an instrument instead of renting.

Since you’ve paid for at least this school year, you’ve already made an investment. If you want to buy your rental you get 30% off the remaining balance, at anytime! Keep in mind that if you have a String Instrument, your child will outgrow the instrument if you choose to buy. We recommend staying on the Rental Program until they are ready for a Full-Size instrument. You still get 30% off your Full-Size!

Lesson Teacher Spotlight: Bonnie Cochran

Bonnie Cochran:  Flute & Piccolo Teacher

Flute Teacher Bonnie CochranFlute teacher Ms. Cochran has been teaching music for 25 years, ages ranging from 7 all the way to adults. She earned her Master’s Degree in Flute Performance from Boston Conservatory and also holds a BA in Music and Religious Studies from Agnes Scott College.  Among her teachers were Linda Toote, Elinor Preble and Paul Brittan.

Bonnie is a Boston area flutist, composer, and teacher. As a flutist, she performs regularly throughout the Boston area. An avid chamber musician, Bonnie founded The Amaryllis Chamber Ensemble in 2000 and performs regularly with that ensemble. She has also performed with the New Bedford Symphony, Willow Flute Ensemble, Boston Civic Symphony Orchestra, Metrowest Symphony, the National Flute Association (NFA) Professional Flute Choir and in musical theater productions with Boston Theatre Works, Bay Colony Productions, Turtle Lane Players, and Wellesley Players.

Bonnie was a 2004 winner of the NFA’s Convention Performer Competition, where she performed the newly rediscovered CPE Bach Concerto in D Major. Other solo appearances include a performance of the Bach Brandenburg Concerto No. 2 with the Waldorf School Orchestra (March 2006) and Chaminade’s Concertino with the Agnes Scott College Orchestra (1998).

(more…)

Bassoon Bell Repair

Repair Tech Rich Graiko

Ever wonder what happens when a unique repair request comes into the store? Our trained techs pull out their critical thinking caps.

Recently a school brought in a King Bassoon that needed some adjustments and a replacement bell. When we realized that the bell was not a stock size, we decided to fabricate one using “alternative ivory”, a synthetic material that mimics the grain in real ivory. Our tech Rich Graiko took us through the process of creating a synthetic bassoon bell.

Check out more blog posts from our Repair Shop and follow us on facebook or youtube for videos, repair tips and more.

Band Basics: What is a Reed?

As a parent we know it’s important to you to understand what your little musician is doing, and what they need. Our “Band Basics” series will explore the basics of music that your students are learning, so that you can learn with them. 

The most common question we get from would be Woodwind parents and students alike is “What is a Reed?”

“A reed is a thin strip of material which vibrates to produce a sound on a musical instrument. The reeds of most woodwind instruments are made from Arundo donax (“Giant cane”) or occasionally a synthetic material.” Reed

All Saxophones and Clarinets require a Reed, which is attached to the mouthpiece with a small metal piece called a ligature.

Oboe, Bassoon & English Horn require double reeds, which are used instead of a mouthpiece.

 

Without a working reed, no amount of air or effort will produce a sound on your instrument.

When it’s time to buy Reeds, keep these 4 things in mind:

1. Strength: Reeds are categorized by strength (1.0-5.0) and the Strength you need is dependent on your student. Beginners start on a 2.0, which is soft and easy to play. By the end of their first year, they should be up to a 2.5, which is stiffer but will also last longer. As your child progresses musically, they will be able to move up in sizes. Higher strength reeds are more difficult to play, but they produce a better sound.

Pro Tip: If your student is suddenly squeaking or squawking, try a new reed. Still squeaking? Try the next strength higher reed – they produce a higher quality sound, and last longer. If it’s still a problem, you may need a repair.

2. Quantity: Rico reeds come in a 3-pack, 10-pack or 25-pack. The more you buy at a time, the less per reed they are.

Pro Tip: Keep the box of reeds at home, and ration them out. This will keep your young musician from sharing, and you’ll always know when it’s time to buy more.

3. Brand: The brand of reed you decide to buy is personal preference. Your child’s teacher may have a specific brand requirement, and you should always follow their recommendations. DFMC carries many brand names, including Rico, Rico Royal, Vandoren, Mitchell Lurie, Juno, and more.

Pro Tip: Advanced students may want to try out a few different kids, but this gets expensive fast. Try a Jazz Mix Pack from Vandoren instead!

4. We Deliver! Order your reeds with us today and we’ll deliver them, right to your child’s school. Our friendly staff can help you decide which reeds are right for your student and schedule a delivery to the school.

Order Online Today!

Rico Alto Sax Reeds

Rico Clarinet Reeds

Rico Clarinet Reeds

Vandoren Reeds

Vandoren Reeds

Our Biggest Sale of the Year

Our Biggest Sale of the Year!

It’s Our Biggest Sale of the Year!
December 10th     9:00am – 4:00pm

Check off your Christmas list at David French Music this year with up to 30% off all the biggest name brands: Yamaha, Bach, Selmer, and more. Every Pro Horn purchase comes with a FREE 1 Year Service Warranty, 20% off Repairs for Life, and a $50 Instant Rebate for any in-stock horn. You won’t find that online anywhere!

December 10th Only you can get DOUBLE the Rebate on any Yamaha Horn, up to $200 in savings.

Not sure which horn is the perfect fit for you? Try at At Home Trial for up to 5 days for Free! DFMC  is committed to helping you find the right horn to take your sound to the next level. See what we have in stock today or check out our online pro shop to see what we can offer.

Aask-about-financing-optionssk us today how to get 0% Financing for up to 18 Months. Subject to credit approval.

See you December 10th!

DFMC is now a Shokunin Select Dealer

Shokunin Select Dealer Logo

DFMC Is now a Yamaha Shokunin Select Dealer!

What’s a Shokunin Dealer?

Shokunin Select Dealer LogoShokunin Select Dealers are guaranteed to have a generous inventory of Yamaha Intermediate, Professional, and Custom level Brass and Woodwind instruments at all times. Additionally, the highly trained staff at Shokunin Select Dealer locations have the product knowledge and technical skill necessary to help you understand your Yamaha instrument inside and out. From your first step in the door, your Shokunin Select Dealer is there to guide you towards achieving your highest musical potential.

DFMC is committed to making buying a new instrument an exciting experience for every musician. Our trained staff can help you make decisions, and choose an instrument that is going to help take your playing to the next level. You can even try any instrument in the store at home for up to 5 days before buying just to make sure it’s the perfect fit for you. All our horns are serviced and setup to your specifications in house. Why waste your time online? Don’t buy before you try, visit DFMC instead.

 

SHOKUNIN

( SHO • KU • NIN )

The Japanese word SHOKUNIN refers to an individual who has achieved balance in providing the highest level of quality and dedication to their craft with an unwavering commitment to uplifting the lives of those around them. We could think of no better word to describe these Yamaha dealers, who tirelessly commit themselves to serving the musicians of their communities.

yamaha-shokunin-white-on-black

Protecting your investment and your child’s musical future: The importance of routine instrument maintenance

Getting your child started with a new instrument can feel overwhelming.  Buying or renting an instrument is just the beginning.  We then have to schedule lessons with a new teacher, order books and materials, work with them on new assignments and coordinate after school practices and concerts. With all these sudden changes it isn’t surprising how the practice of regular instrument maintenance can slip entirely off of the radar.

Chances are that you recognize the importance of regular oil changes, tire rotation and other routine maintenance on your vehicle because you have repeatedly been warned that terrible things will happen if you fail to.  Well musical instruments are no different.. They are delicate machines with lots of moving parts and tight tolerances that require regular attention if they are expected to perform as well as they were designed to.

Unfortunately this fact has eluded many parents and students alike, but don’t blame yourself!  Education on the subject is scarce, often times buried in the fine print of a manufacturer’s welcome pamphlet or rental contract.

As a repair tech here at David French Music who’s primary focus it is to repair and restore rental stock and other student level instruments, I see it all; routine dings, missing parts, crushed bells, sat-on trumpets, bubble gum in the valves, flutes that had been functioning as ‘bat’ in a game of band-room softball.  I’ve even come across instruments with smaller instruments stuck inside of them.

crusty valves crusty valve in casing crushed case crushed trumpet

If you can imagine it we have seen it, but the overwhelming majority of what comes into the shop is maintenance related.  For example, about 90 percent of the trumpets that come in with “valve issues” are just lacking oil and dirty.  We run them through the ultrasonic tank, snake them out with dish soap, clean the slides, lube them up and put them back together.

Like a car, the instrument will start to function less smoothly after lubricant wears away and becomes dirty. In brass instruments, the valves or rotors will get rough, and slides may start slow down and eventually freeze in place.  In woodwinds keys could get sluggish or sticky. This often leads to makeshift repairs which can result in further damage. Before you even realize there is a problem the moving parts of an instrument can become frozen and unusable and the student, discouraged and unwilling to practice. Would you be motivated to get in your car if your doors no longer opened?  Since there is little education on the subject, parents and students just chalk it up to music not being theirthing and eventually drop it all together. Of course this is the worst case scenario, but it happens more than you would think!

IMG_5829Thankfully there are hundreds of blogs, articles, video tutorials, even pinterest pages, on how to clean musical instruments, so getting that information should be a breeze. Here are a few online resources to get you going:

sink snake picA monthly tub cleaning and re-lube should be enough to keep your instrument out of the shop and in your child’s hands.  We also recommend a routine shop cleaning once or twice per year depending on your level of use.  This will remove mineral deposits and everything else that builds up in the harder to reach parts of the instrument.  It will also give us the chance to inspect the instrument thoroughly and make certain that every part of it is working as intended by the manufacturer.

In some ways having a properly functioning instrument is even more important for beginning students than it is for more advanced players. Experienced musicians have the ability to discern when something is amiss, but beginners can become discouraged with their progress, never realizing that the cause of their frustration is mechanical.

The process of learning an instrument for the first time can feel daunting, even when everything is working properly.  Let’s work together to give our children and students the opportunity to progress without the burden of unnecessary obstacles.

 

– Article by Rich Graiko, David French Music Co. repair technician, trumpet player, and music lover

Protecting your investment and your child’s musical future: The importance of routine instrument maintenance

Getting your child started with a new instrument can feel overwhelming.  Buying or renting an instrument is just the beginning.  We then have to schedule lessons with a new teacher, order books and materials, work with them on new assignments and coordinate after school practices and concerts. With all these sudden changes it isn’t surprising how the practice of regular instrument maintenance can slip entirely off of the radar.

Chances are that you recognize the importance of regular oil changes, tire rotation and other routine maintenance on your vehicle because you have repeatedly been warned that terrible things will happen if you fail to.  Well musical instruments are no different.. They are delicate machines with lots of moving parts and tight tolerances that require regular attention if they are expected to perform as well as they were designed to.

Young man by broken down car on road, arms raised

Unfortunately this fact has eluded many parents and students alike, but don’t blame yourself!  Education on the subject is scarce, often times buried in the fine print of a manufacturer’s welcome pamphlet or rental contract.

As a repair tech here at David French Music who’s primary focus it is to repair and restore rental stock and other student level instruments, I see it all; routine dings, missing parts, crushed bells, sat-on trumpets, bubble gum in the valves, flutes that had been functioning as ‘bat’ in a game of band-room softball.  I’ve even come across instruments with smaller instruments stuck inside of them.

crusty valves crusty valve in casing crushed case crushed trumpet

If you can imagine it we have seen it, but the overwhelming majority of what comes into the shop is maintenance related.  For example, about 90 percent of the trumpets that come in with “valve issues” are just lacking oil and dirty.  We run them through the ultrasonic tank, snake them out with dish soap, clean the slides, lube them up and put them back together.

Like a car, the instrument will start to function less smoothly after lubricant wears away and becomes dirty. In brass instruments, the valves or rotors will get rough, and slides may start slow down and eventually freeze in place.  In woodwinds keys could get sluggish or sticky. This often leads to makeshift repairs which can result in further damage. Before you even realize there is a problem the moving parts of an instrument can become frozen and unusable and the student, discouraged and unwilling to practice. Would you be motivated to get in your car if your doors no longer opened?  Since there is little education on the subject, parents and students just chalk it up to music not being their IMG_5829thing and eventually drop it all together. Of course this is the worst case scenario, but it happens more than you would think!

Thankfully there are hundreds of blogs, articles, video tutorials, even pinterest pages, on how to clean musical instruments, so getting that information should be a breeze. Here are a few online resources to get you going:

  • We recommend buying a cleaning kit for your instrument here.  If you can’t find the right one, a quick google or Amazon search for “instrument cleaning kit” should provide plenty of options.  Be sure to buy one specific for your instrument or instrument family.
  • Here is a basic overview of a bathtub trumpet cleaning by DFM’s own Cheryl Hamel.  How to give your trumpet a bath.
  • This is a great instrument cleaning series from the folks at Conn-Selmer:  Band instrument cleaning tutorials

sink snake picA monthly tub cleaning and re-lube should be enough to keep your instrument out of the shop and in your child’s hands.  We also recommend a routine shop cleaning once or twice per year depending on your level of use.  This will remove mineral deposits and everything else that builds up in the harder to reach parts of the instrument.  It will also give us the chance to inspect the instrument thoroughly and make certain that every part of it is working as intended by the manufacturer.

In some ways having a properly functioning instrument is even more important for beginning students than it is for more advanced players.   Experienced musicians have the ability to discern when something is amiss, but beginners can become discouraged with their progress, never realizing that the cause of their frustration is mechanical.

The process of learning an instrument for the first time can feel daunting, even when everything is working properly.  Let’s work together to give our children and students the opportunity to progress without the burden of unnecessary obstacles.

 

– Article by Rich Graiko, David French Music Co. repair technician, trumpet player, and music lover

Returning Your Rental Made Easy

 

To return your rental, the first step is to Call or Email us. Our representatives visit all our schools every week during the school year, so we can schedule a pick up right from school. If you’d prefer to return it to our store, our hours and address information is on the Contact Us page of our website.

Your teacher is not responsible for contacting us, cancelling your rental, or returning it for you. They already have enough to do!

The 2nd step is to leave your rental in the drop-off point we provide to you, with your students name on the case tag. Please put a note on the outside somewhere that says “Return to David French Music” for easy identification.

Once we’ve closed your account, we’ll send over a confirmation by email if you have provided us an email. If there is a balance due, the balance will be included in the statement. That’s it!

We’re so sad to see you go, but DFMC understands that not every child will stick with music through their school careers. We’ll always be here if they decide to pick it up again!

Not sure what day we visit your school? Check our School Delivery Schedule to find out.
If you need a larger instrument or would like to exchange to another instrument, you may order that through our online store, and we’ll deliver it to the school for you.

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