Love and Attention

08 Feb

My Saxophone is a beautiful instrument.  I wrote that without even thinking that I have a large selection of saxes that I play, but my true and only sax is my tenor.


I have owned this sax since I was 18, when I had saved up what to me was a small fortune at the time!  I bought the sax of a lovely old gentleman whose brother had recently passed away and who was hoping to pass the saxophone on to somebody who might use it well.  I knew this was the instrument for me straight away and bought it (after some, what seem now like quite cheeky negotiating) for a bargain price.

The sax is a MKVI Selmer Super Balanced Action sax dating from 1960 and is a completely gorgeous instrument that often I feel I am quite unworthy of playing.  It makes a full rich sound but has its quirky side as all MKVI’s do with its dodgy low notes, and dubious altissimo tuning.  It has a really unusual Nickel plating, which stays flawlessly bright and shiny, but also helps bring out its tone with its original lacquer removed.

I’ve been playing this instrument for 23 years now, and it has been well used, and I don’t take nearly as much care of it as it deserves.  I am a musician who believes that you should be able to take care of your own instruments… however my style of care often involves gaffer tape, elastic bands and always the wrong type of glue…. Much to the amusement of saxophonists who sit in my section in bands!

Anyhow this last summer I got in touch with my long time friend Chris Peryagh to see if he could help my put the instrument in order.  Chris has in the past been a member of my Big Band: Straight No Chaser and is a fabulous bari sax player, but is currently much called upon for his oboe skills.  He also does a great line in marching bass drum playing… (much like myself!)  and inexplicably also plays the harp!  Anyhow apart from all this music making Chris works as an instrument repairer for Howarths and, when asked very nicely, takes on some private repair work too.

I know how much care Chris takes in his repair work, having seen much of his work in the past.  He loves to use the finest quality materials  and really likes things to be done properly or not at all.

I was away for the Summer so I thought this would be a good time for Chris to take the instrument off my hands.  I don’t think he was impressed by the work laid out before him, with years of gigging having taken its toll.  Lots general wear and tear, leaky pads, and the like but also some serious damage to the octave mechanism which somehow I had still managed to keep playing on!

Chris had the sax for several weeks… he insisted on getting authentic Selmer original pads that were a special order from the States.  But the waiting was well worth it.   Suddenly I had a instrument that played easily again, made a massive rich sound, and worked beautifully.  It wasn’t all simple, Chris needed to do a little bit more fettling to get the action working as I needed it, but he was happy to take the time to get things working how I wanted.


Now I have a beautiful instrument that also plays flawlessly!  If something goes wrong I know its my fault now!  Having the sax working again has got my inspired and I’m practising and improving again all the time.   Come and see me playing it at a Straight No Chaser gig soon!


Posted by on February 8, 2015 in Performing


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2 responses to “Love and Attention

  1. bernard alvarez

    May 24, 2015 at 12:44 pm

    Hi Alex,
    I came to the concert at the Unitarian in Brighton to hear the Basie night. It was a great evening of music, thanks for the hard work that you and Mark put in. Do you ever play in smaller bands and if so do you advertise them? would love to hear you play again.
    Bernard .A

    • Alex Bondonno

      May 24, 2015 at 12:49 pm

      Thanks for coming to Listen I’m glad you enjoyed the concert. Yes I do occasionally put out smaller bands. Next gig is sun 31st at Nutfield Priory Farm. If you want to keep posted on the gigs best to join our mailing list at


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