“Just Saxes” began as “just me,” and has at some times included supporting employees and at others returned to one man operation. After Katrina, I was a little too busy rescuing a house I bought just before the storm to continue with full scale JS operations, so retail went on the back burner and I slowed the overhaul volume to just one or two a month. In the past few years, though, Just Saxes has gradually returned to full scale operation.
About Me (Palo)
I originally moved to New Orleans to do research for a master’s thesis at NYU. Just Saxes grew naturally, and largely by accident, out of my own search for the perfect saxophone, and a few fortuitous introductions that led to an education in saxophone repair. I was taught the basics of saxophone overhaul and repair by a local repairman named Joe Haddad (in Houma, LA). Joe repairs wind and brass instruments, roughly according to the approaches taught at Allied Music in Elkhart, Indiana, and in the repair manuals by Ronald Saska and Eric Brand. What I learned from Joe has been fortified, and sometimes improved upon, through many conversations with numerous saxophone technicians who have been very generous with their knowledge and time, as well as by hands-on instruction and contact with many horns (and thereby the work of many other repair persons). I will reiterate the one thing I know to be the secret to good repair, as it applies to all crafts trades, and is of some use beyond just the purposes of this (random, for most people, internet) introduction: the quality of craftsmanship one receives in most crafts-oriented trades is mostly determined not by knowledge, but by follow through, and that is a function of intentions. Any one who has been to the better known names and has also had me do work for them knows that I have no cause for shyness in putting my work up against anybody’s for comparison. Being able to do functional work for people whose passion I appreciate — whether beginner or professional — is what is ultimately responsible for the quality of my work.
I have seen bad work from expert hands. I have also seen relatively good work from inexperienced hands. When I was new to this, I did good work — not great work, but better than many — simply as a function of having good intentions and genuine curiosity. Where expert hands do bad work, it is due to a lack of good intentions, and a lack of curiosity. I don’t work on or carry equipment that I know will not be capable of excellent performance; for that reason, every time I take on an overhaul, I am as interested as the owner to see just how good that saxophone can be made to play and respond.
Because hundreds of horns have now come through my hands, and because I’ve had many of the most famous repairmen in the U.S. perform repairs on my horns while living in NYC — e.g. Roberto in NYC, Rod Baltimore at Rod Baltimore’s in NYC, Emilio Lyons at Rayburn in Boston — I’ve been able to observe firsthand many of the strengths and weaknesses of various repair approaches, and am very familiar with “the state of the art.” I’ve also had the work of numerous unknown repairmen pass through my hands, and have taken their work apart and often learned both what to do (and not to do) from examining their work. I’ve had the benefit of reviewing both good work by lesser known techs, and poor work from better known ones, and owe these experiences a great deal, in my own repair education. My greatest thanks, however, go to Joe Haddad, to whom I owe an enormous debt of gratitude, for his willingness in generously, and in the genuine spirit of sharing, imparting his own traditional overhaul techniques with me on my first rebuild. I owe an additional thank you to a fine player, teacher, and repairman in Brooklyn named Martin Krusche. Martin was my first saxophone teacher, and his work on my own horns was the finest I encountered while still receiving repairwork by others; his repair work is widely recognized “on the ground” in NOLA as among the best in the world.
*Thanks, sincerely, for visiting, and for taking time out to read, here*