I’ve been bashing away at my clarinet and quite enjoying it.
I made it Covid friendly, in case I need in real life lessons.
It has a nice sound and you need to hold good embouchure and remember proper fingering. So all good practice. But obviously what I really want is a sax. I’ve been trying to force myself to learn time. How hard can it be? 1, 2, 3, 1, 2, 3, or 1, 2, 3, 4, 1, 2, 3, 4? So, so hard. My brain refuses to multitask. I can either read the notes, count the time, or do the tonguing. As soon as do one I lose the other two. But I am persevering with a bloody minded determination. When it finally clicks I’ll have this cracked.
I’ve been keeping an eye on the second hand sites for Bauhaus Walstein sax’s. They are a Chinese copy of a much better brand and they punch well above their weight and price tag. The thing with the Bauhaus has always been quality control. You just don’t know if you’re going to get one like I had, which was superb, or a Friday afternoon job from a different factory, but still with the Bauhaus name. There have been several (ranging from £375 to £575) listed but none were quite right for me. For about £800 I could get a nearly new, bottom of the range, student Yamaha sax, but then you are looking at upgrading at some point. And to be honest, the reviews haven’t been that great. Which is something of a shock, as Yamaha is a benchmark.
Then I came across an odd one on Gumtree. A Grassi alto sax. I’m not sure why I paid it any attention at first because I’d never heard of them. I did some research. They were an Italian brand, some say this particular model was the best they did, and on a sax forum someone was asking whether to get a decent model, second hand Yamaha or the Grassi, and it was a landslide for the Grassi. I looked some more and apparently it’s “based” (cloned shamelessly) on a top of the range Selmer saxophone. Those go for about £6,000. This particular one was listed for £450! I looked on eBay and there are three of them listed, the cheapest is £1,200.
I MUST HAVE IT!
It’s nearly my birthday so I treated myself.
Don’t I deserve love?
Obviously it was for sale in the back end of beyond. At the bottom of the Brecon Beacons, South Wales. I’d just fitted a new back tyre (which you are supposed to run in for 100 miles before you start throwing the bike about as the oil has to scrub off the tyre) so I thought I’d kill two birds with one stone and ride down there.
3½ hours down there, got my sax, 3½ hours back. 380 miles round trip. And off course, as soon as I hit Wales it started chucking it down. I’m glad it didn’t rain before as I’m not sure I’d have kept the bike upright, it was squirming around in the dry on straights. Too much power for an oily tyre. The thing is I had to have the new tyre. The old tyre had loads of tread, it looked almost new, but it had a slow puncture. I think that was what was causing half of the handling issues. I was thinking about trying to mend it, but the liquid patches stuff said don’t do it. The final straw was when I realised it was the wrong size! Well, duh! There’s my handling problem! I’ve not taken it for a run in the dry since I scrubbed it in, but I’m hoping that’s my bike sorted. Certainly looks the business!
I digress. Saxy goodness! The geezer said he’d been playing it professionally until a medical condition, and that it had just been serviced. Given everything I’d read I was willing to take a chance. It’s a professional level sax, with a gorgeous sound. Buy one, have it spruced up, and that will do for the rest of my life, however good I might get.
It’s 41 years old so it’s a bit worn, but that’s fine.
I got it home and knocked out a few notes from the bottom keys, it sounded amazing! My memory is terrible, but from what I recall it sounded better than my Bauhaus tenor, or the brand new Yamaha alto I bought. As I moved up the keys I was having trouble getting any notes. I had a closer look and one of the pads was loose. Basically just placed in the cup, not attached.
I took it in to the nearest decent sax shop (Dawsons in Warrington has closed down, Wendy says) which was Curly Woodwind in Liverpool. Which is where I got my first sax, the Bauhaus, as it happens.
“Recently serviced” HAH!
The guy said it was a decent sax, with a lovely sound when set up right, and rated by those in the know, but this one had ancient pads. As he was handling it the loose pad fell out. He said that really it needs a total re-pad. The pads are the things that seal the air holes on the sax when the flaps shut. Just to state the obvious.
The orange thing, arrowed.
A set of pads alone is £120- £160, he said, but to get at them you have to strip all the key mechanism. So it’s a complete overhaul. Everything stripped, cleaned, polished, new pads fitted, oiled and rebuilt. Basically when I get it back it will be playing as good as new.
He said he could do a cheap patch job, stick the pad back in, seat everything again, but it would just be a botch. I think he was suggesting an option if I was just trying to sell it on. If I want to keep it, and play it, it needs the pads.
It will still be a lot cheaper than the others on eBay, and all the sax I’ll ever need, but it’s suddenly a lot dearer than I thought.
The other thing I’ve recently discovered on the sax front, is the Sax Mute One. Some Russian guy has invented basically a soundproof box with hand holes in the side. The sax rests on a stand, which supports the case, the mouthpiece sticks out the top, and you put your hands in the sides.
If it is as effective as it looks, I could actually get decent. Previously I was embarrassed by my crapness, and very conscious of making the neighbours sit through constant repetition of my loud, rubbish play. According to the blurb, and some guy’s blog (which is where I found out about it) it reduces the noise to telly/ office levels.
I don’t know if this has been doctored for sales purposes, but according to the video it sounds quieter than his speaking voice.
If you watch it for a minute from about 2 minutes 50, it seems amazing.
But once I’m set up that is basically it. The sax will always be better than I am and I’m thinking this could be the thing to save my sanity when I rest my foot for possibly a year after the last race of the season.
Talking of money, we had a bit of a scare when it looked like Wendy’s works weren’t paying her. It was just a glitch with bank, the money went in and all was well, but it was a wake up call. I’ve been being lazy, to be honest. If work have only booked me in for 4 shifts, I didn’t want them ‘phoning me on the morning of the fifth and calling me in on zero notice. Now I’ve changed my mind. I’m trying to get a regular 5 shifts/ 6 shifts. I’ll see how this job pans out if you are trying to be money grabbing. So far I’ve been happy on less shifts, it’s still well enough money to keep us ticking over, but from next month Wendy is on half pay. If I’m buying (and re-padding, grrrrr!) sax-s it’s time to stop being lazy. I’ve not been booked in for tomorrow but I’ve put myself as available on the app (agencies have really changed!) so I’ve put my uniform out, and I’ll leave my ‘phone volume on for calls. If they call, I’m on it. If I could get 5 shifts one week 6 the next (the legal maximum) at this job we’d be minted. I also recognise that I crave newness constantly, which often manifests as shopping. This will be a good opportunity to get a grip of that.
The only other big thing of late is I was thinking about the Endure24 race I’ve got in about 5 weeks. Because of my stupid foot I’ve not been able to put in any long endurance runs. I still didn’t even have a strategy for the race. Run until stop then run/ walk? Run/ walk from the start? If so what ratio? No idea. I asked the ultra runners on twitter but didn’t get any sort of answer. Then I found a definitive answer.
I don’t know if it the right answer, but it’s an answer so I’m going with it. I set out to test it out. As it was my first go, and I’ve not been working on my fitness and certainly not my endurance, I was testing the water as I went. At first I was running all apart from uphills, then after about 15 miles or so, I was running 9 minutes, walking 1. As you get tired that is a really great strategy, you don’t have to think of how far it is to go, you just have to run 9 minutes and then rest again. I let the distance and discomfort overwhelm me, to be honest, so cut it short to a 50K (32 miles) but for my first go, I’ll take it. On the day I won’t have anything else to do for 24 hours, so I’m hoping I can go a lot further. I actually took a 20 minute pit stop, (grabbed some grub, had a shower and changed) at 20 miles thinking I was going a lot longer. So it’s not a bad time, considering.
If my foot and mojo hold out I have some slight hope of doing the benchmark 100 miles. We’ll see.
Wendy’s still not right, but still bravely facing her fears. The doctor won’t up her dose until the last increase has had weeks and weeks to kick in.
Oddly, I had an episode. I’ve been getting very anxious at work, almost panicky at the slightest thing, then I was sat at home and work rang me and my anxiety just shot off the scale. I spent the whole evening stressed and looking at my ‘phone, expecting them to call me back. The next day I was fine and I’ve remained so, but that was a nasty reminder of how awful being it is to be like that. You sort of know it was terrible, but not really. Then it hits and OHNONONONONO! Anyway, don’t want any more of that thank you very much.
On to some levity.
Dino has been good.
Oddly some other dino stuff
Some random stuff
Someone went into a sweary rant about the great Covid hoax.
And doggo related content.
And my favourite, cracks me up every time