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The John Shinnick Web Site

Shinn the Musician (Prior)

Last update: March 2, 2024

Stax of Wax (and Sax)

It was Wednesday and, as I generally do, I headed toward the restaurant my lunch group had selected for that week, the Himalayan Tandoori Curry House on Solano in Berkeley. I had parked around the corner and between my car and the restaurant was the Wind and Brass store. I was a bit early for lunch, so I poked my head in, hoping to see a bulletin board where I might put up an ad for my tenor sax. It really was time to set it free. There was no bulletin board, but the guy working there told me they sold used instruments on consignment, and that I should discuss my situation with the owner who would return later. Unfortunately, “later” was inconvenient for me. Besides, I figured I should have my sax with me when I did. As it was, I couldn’t even remember what brand it was, though I was remembering Selmer, a well-known maker of decent (though not top-of-the-line) saxophones.


The next day I returned to Wind and Brass. It turned out that my sax was a Buechler, a company that had been bought out by Selmer soon after this particular sax had been made. I showed the owner the sax. Using one of his own mouthpieces, he blew several notes, working his way down to the lowest reaches of the instrument, all of which played just fine. I was guessing that I would ask the $700 that I’d paid for it several years before. After all, it hadn’t been played that much (I was finding alto sax to be more suited to me) and I was remembering that I’d had some general work done on it.


But my memory was wrong. No work had been done on it. If it had, it would have been done at this store, and he had no record of its serial number. The guy wasn’t very optimistic. The big issue was the pads. They were the originals, which meant they were over 50 years old. Though they had performed flawlessly when he had played his test notes, he knew that in the not too distant future they would begin to fail. What surprised me was the labor involved in replacing them, something that should really be done before anyone took the sax. Basically, it would cost more than the sax was worth. Impressed as he was with the mouthpiece and ligature (the device that holds the reed to the mouthpiece) which were new, he said I’d be lucky to get $400, and he couldn’t sell it on consignment. Discouraged, I left.


But I had not only brought my tenor sax. I have a fairly small (5 inches tall when stacked) collection of classical records. While I have found I’m listening to more classical lately than rock and roll or folk, I have no turntable on which to play these. It turns out that there is a small record store just down the street from Wind and Brass called “Strictly Vinyl” which buys used records.


I can’t say for sure, but I suspect most of these are in good condition. I should catalog and at least give them a visual inspection to determine their condition. Before I did that, however, I thought I’d poke my head in and see what the process was for Strictly Vinyl’s purchases. 

Don't these look inviting? Any takers?

I'd gone there after the previous week’s lunch group, but they were unexpectedly closed. I went to their website to see what the problem was, and found that there was some undefined emergency. I checked the following day to find the same thing. There was no post for Friday either way, so I went down again, only to find the store again closed. I called and asked that they call me when they reopened.

Today, however, after my unproductive journey to Wind and Brass, Strictly Vinyl was finally open. I poked my head in only to find the owner didn’t deal in classical records. Damn. He gave me a couple of leads. Down Home Records might be interested. I had used them for some less common CDs I wanted. They also sold Vinyl and might be interested in mine. Also, Amoeba Records in Berkeley also bought and sold used LPs. At the least, I could donate them to Good Will. It would beat sending them to a landfill. 0 for 2.


A perfectly playable saxophone and several nice LPs are still in my possession. Somebody, somewhere must want them. It’s just that it’s not me. But how to find them?

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