Healthy Instrument, Happy House (AKA: a list of instrument repair shops) By Sarah Badran
The Trombone was playing ‘okay’, but we took it in for a funny resistance in the slide. It came back better than new.
The saxophone fell on its head, somehow missing the stand. Dents came out, but so did old pads and broken keys, and it was transformed into a musical instrument.
I could go on with stories of aligning trumpet valves, replacing flute pads and re-adjusting oboe keys with weather changes.
We all want our kids to practice, but it is a much happier house when the sounds coming out of the instruments are easy to produce and nice to listen to. A healthy instrument vs. a sick one is the difference between listening to your favorite singer with or without laryngitis.
So I decided to compile a list of instrument repair places that I have had personal experience with. There are many others that may be just as good or better, so please let us know about your experiences so we can continue to look out for each other and make it easier for our kids to make good music.
1. Bruce Belo (714) 637 2824
He can fix woodwind and brass instruments to ‘better than new’ in my experience. I still can’t quite believe that the trombone we got back from him was the same one he took, because it is so much better than new. My sleuthing led me to find that all major trombone manufacturers consult with him on design, and trombone players from throughout the US send him their instruments for care. In my experience, he was very fast, thorough and just a brilliant instrument repair specialist. I’ve since found stories supporting that he can do miracles with saxophones and trumpets also. Call Monday- Friday, 8-12:30 and 1-4:00. (Based in Fullerton)
2. The Horn Connection (323) 876-9662
Manny repairs woodwind and brass instruments. He also sells some pre-owned saxophones, and has a nice assortment of brass and single reed mouthpieces and accessories. He is very pleasant to work with, fast and reliable. He was a miracle worker on our bashed up saxophone. He doesn’t officially repair trombones, but he did a great job re-aligning the slide for us once. Once when the oboe wasn’t working, he took a look at it (no advance notice), telling me first that he wouldn’t be able to fix a crack; then found a little spring that was loose and fixed it at no charge. Address is in down town LA: 1507 N Gardner St Los Angeles, CA 90046
3. Nick Spirito: (562) 433-4555
Nick is another brilliant instrument repairman. I have to warn you that he may strike one as slightly eccentric. You’ll have to sit and wait for the instrument to be repaired in a garage-like space, that has autographs and posters of the most famous names in jazz plastered on the wall, listening to a very old VCR playing black and white PBS recordings of masterpiece theater. It really is all worth it though, as he can fix any wood wind instrument quickly, reliably and at a very reasonable cost. He’s adjusted our oboe, saxophone and clarinet, in addition to our ‘school’ bass clarinet and English horn. By appointment only, situated in Long Beach.
4. RDG woodwinds:(323) 463-4930 this is a store in downtown LA dedicated to single and double reed instruments. They are generally busy selling/ repairing for the LA Phil and other professionals, but are extremely approachable, friendly and nice to work with. If you have a ‘high end’ oboe, bassoon or clarinet, this is the place to go to find the ultimate experts
5. Flutatious! (818) 549-4177
We discovered Flutatious! During an adventure to find a piccolo. They work exclusively on flutes and piccolos, and are an important resource to professional flute and piccolo players, providing expert repairs on high-end instruments as well as being a source to buy a new or pre-owned instrument.