Regional Conference - Australia
Melbourne, VIC - October 23-25, 2015


Updated: October 22, 2015

Advanced Techniques for Diagnosing Pro Sax Problems
Curt Altarac

Over the past couple of years, I've learned to streamline my approach to tuning and toning saxophones. This job used to take me over a week to accomplish. Now it usually takes less than an hour. I am at a point where I can quickly assess problems with the bore, octave pips, neck taper, key heights and toneholes by playing the instrument and developing a plan. Once I have a plan, I use fast and reliable approaches to test the saxophone before implementing methods and get predictable results. Even better, I have trained an apprentice to do the same.

This clinic does not go over the fundamentals of saxophone repair. It deals with advanced techniques and procedures unique to the Sax ProShop that you will be able to apply to your own customer's professional level saxophones and repair work. I'm going to train you like an apprentice, show you quick and reasonable ways to play a saxophone to diagnose the problems with intonation and tone. I will cover every aspect of intonation work that is reasonable and applicable in one and a half hours! When we're done, you will walk away with a fundamental working knowledge of saxophone intonation and tuning.

Curt Altarac is a father of a beautiful little girl, the founder of, an innovative woodwind repair tool and supply company, founder of the Sax ProShop, an assembly line style saxophone overhaul shop and a Pad Maker. As a repairer, he developed the only method for setting saxophone key heights, known as the "Balanced Venting Method", to help him and others set key heights on saxophones effectively during an overhaul. Soon after this, Curt developed a series of methods for tuning saxophones consistently and accurately no matter what the intonation problem is. More recently, Curt has spearheaded a project to design a better playing Bass Saxophone and very recently started the exciting project of making a saxophone from start to finish completely in his shop in Wilmington, NC.

Curt has written hundreds of articles about saxophone repair for his website,, as well as publications such as the NAPBIRT TechniCom and is a columnist for Sax Journal Magazine and Saxophone Today. Curt has given clinics around the US and the world, furthering his goal of bringing the world of instrument repair together through education. Every year, Curt visits and advises repair schools in the US and hopes to use his influence to improve the way instrument repair is taught in the USA.

Curt received his Masters degree in Saxophone Performance at the University of Southern Mississippi, his Bachelors in Music Education from the State University of New York College at Fredonia and his Associates Degree from Onandaga Community College. Curt continues to play his saxophone anywhere they will pay him and his passion for music continues to direct his business.

Everything You Always Wanted to Know About
Repairing Oboes, But Were Afraid to Ask

Richard Craig

This clinic will be a question and answer session with video demos. Topics to include, but not limited to, some or all of the following:
  • Crack repair and replacing toneholes
  • Setting up the feather keys
  • How to make the best fire with only one oboe
  • Pads and materials
  • Oiling the bore - the pros and pros

Richard Craig studied clarinet and composition at the Sydney Conservatorium, graduating as Student of the Year and did postgraduate study at the University of York in the UK, then established himself as a freelance clarinetist and saxophonist in London and the south of England.

He was trained as an instrument repairer at the world famous woodwind maker, TW Howarth and Co, repairing in their London showrooms and later finishing new instruments for their factory in Worthing. Continuing his work with Howarths, he set up his own business in England which he ran for fifteen years, before returning to Australia in 2006. He has customers right across Australia, New Zealand and the UK and is the Australian agent for Howarth oboes and Moosmann bassoons.

Moving Metal
Bret Gustafson

This clinic will look into properties of metal forming and take a closer look at metals of our industry. Tips, tricks, and crossovers from the metalsmithing world will be discussed and demonstrated.

Bret Gustafson studied band instrument repair at Western Iowa Technical College. He then completed 6 years of apprenticeship between Sheldon Kanis at Portman's Music in Savannah, GA and Ted Woehr and Rick Kresic at the Brass and Woodwind Shop in Pittsburgh, PA.

Bret established his own repair shop, Gustafson Music Services, in Philadelphia, PA, from 1995-2007. During this time he focused on saxophone and brass repairs. In 2007, Simon Clarke sponsored Bret to move to Australia and work at Presto Musical Repairs in Adelaide, South Australia.

Bret, again, stepped out on his own starting Gustafson Custom Horns in the heart of Adelaide in 2012 to present focusing on building custom instruments and parts as well as modifications. He's been involved in a wide range of metalsmith groups and societies that have expanded his knowledge of metals and techniques that could be transferred into our industry.

Bret's clients include institutions such as the Library of Congress and the Metropolitan Museum of Art's Instrument Collections as well as major orchestras and musicians in the Americas, Europe, Malaysia and Australia.

From Parts to Performance:
The Complete Assembly of a Trombone Slide

Scott Mandeville

In this clinic, we will explore the requirements for parts selection, tolerances, and assembly techniques used in fabricating a complete hand slide. We will discuss solder techniques and choices to best accommodate the materials as well as thermodynamic considerations while maintaining extreme tolerances. We will discuss how to apply this information in your everyday bench work and use the concepts to further all of your brass work. The goal is to wind up with a complete hand slide when we are finished.

Leveraging Technology for "Green" and Safe Precision Clean Instruments
Scott Mandeville / Chris Sperry
(Sponsored by Ultrasonic Power Corp)

In this interactive clinic, learn the facts and dispel the myths about using ultrasonic technology. In this 90 minute session we will examine:
  • About the Technology
  • Cleaning Tank selection, space considerations, setup and more
  • Electrical and Plumbing needs
  • Cleaning detergents and how to choose
  • To use heat or no heat
  • When to pre clean / degrease
  • Cleaning Tank time
  • Post cleaning
  • Benefits
  • Health and Safety Considerations
  • Focus on the money - Cost analysis
Not only will you discover the many benefits of this cleaning process, but also how it can boost your business and deliver a superior clean instrument.

Scott Mandeville is the owner and operator of Tim's Music Service in Sacramento, CA. After graduating from Allied, Scott spent 24 years managing a shop before he opened his own store. Scott is a Past President of NAPBIRT and has given many clinics throughout the United States for NAPBIRT and other Educational Organizations on topics including repair and maintenance, business and music education opportunities.

Chris Sperry is the Global Sales Manager at Ultrasonic Power Corporation, a 43 year old manufacturer of precision industrial ultrasonic cleaning and liquid processing equipment located in Freeport, IL.

With an extensive professional background in the manufacturing and engineering industries, Chris has held numerous roles including Engineering Manager in 2007, Vice President of Manufacturing in 2011 and General Manager of CLW-Systems from 2012-2014.

In 2001, Chris earned an Applied Science (AAS) in Industrial Manufacturing degree from Highland Community College in Freeport, IL.

Born and raised in Racine, WI, Chris has been married for 24 years and has two kids, who both graduated from college this year. Chris is also an avid runner, who went from weighing 240 pounds in 2008 to competing in many marathons. In 2014, he finished the Boston Marathon in qualifying time.

Bassoon Repair - Looking for Trouble
Chip Owen

A general clinic on repairing bassoons, with emphasis on fundamentals. Topics to be covered will include padding techniques, adjustments, U-tube sealing, body repair, tenons and sockets and the special needs of maple bodied wind instruments. Participants are welcome to bring bassoons with problems for discussion. Be sure to come with questions about these most different of all band instruments.

Chip Owen has been employed at Fox Products since 1968. During that time, his areas of responsibility have included contrabassoon production and customer services. He often gives tours of the Fox factory and is the primary contract at Fox for technical and repair information about the bassoon the contrabassoon.

Among other accomplishments, he has designed special mechanisms for bassoon and especially for contrabassoon. He holds a patent with co-inventor, Arlen Fast, for an advanced register system for contrabassoon.

As a musician, Chip has performed on bassoon and contrabassoon both professionally and in community organizations. He served as a musician in the U.S. Navy from 1965 to 1969. He performed as contrabassoonist in the Fort Wayne Philharmonic for over 23 seasons, retiring from active performing in 2003.

A long time NAPBIRT member, Chip first attended and presented a clinic at the NAPBIRT Annual Conference in 1980 and has attended every Annual Conference since then. He is widely known among bassoon repairers. He can be contacted at Fox:

Professional Flute Overhaul
Frans Philippens

This clinic is geared towards professional flutes. We will discuss and demonstrate the proper precedures to ensure a good-quality overhaul. Items to be covered are:
•  Visual check (dents, keys etc.)
•  Straighten keys, steels
•  Buffing/ cleaning keys and body
•  Ultrasonic cleaning
•  Changing pads
•  Pad sealing/checking
•  Changing cork/felt (materials)
•  Cutting cork/felt
•  Sanding cork/felt
•  Adjustments
•  Final check
•  Play test
•  Case cleaning

By utilizing a well-thought out plan, your end result will be great playing instrument that will make you and your customers very happy.

Frans Philippens has been repairing instruments since 1990. He is the head woodwind technician at Adams Musical Instruments Holland. His training experience includes: Adams Thorn, Selmer Paris, Buffet Crampon Paris, Rigautat Paris, Schreiber Nauheim, Leitner&Kraus Neustadt/Aisch, Brannen Brothers Boston, Nagahara Boston and Powell Flutes Boston.

Frans involvement with NAPBIRT includes being a Director of Region 9 from 2009-2015 and a Past Vice-President.

60 Tips and Tricks
Jeff Smith

In this two-part clinic, Jeff leads the class through a range of useful and brilliant techniques that every shop can immediately benefit from. The methods are time proven in Jeff's shop and can help the technician improve quality, reliability and will ultimately, lead to greater satisfaction from the work and of course, profitability.

Recognized throughout the world as a leading authority on woodwind instruments and band instrument repair, J.L. Smith has been repairing instruments professionally since 1977. He has owned or operated all manner of workshops ranging in scope from single proprietorships to 20-person service departments. Over the course of 36 years, he's trained and supervised many leading repair technicians. J.L. believes very strongly in the value of his craft and takes a keen interest in passing his knowledge to the next generation of technicians and musicians.

He is a frequent teacher and guest lecturer for NAPBIRT at regional and national events and contributes his expertise to numerous other industry organizations. Jeff has also written on repair in his popular technical guides: "Servicing The Flute" and "Servicing The Clarinet". When he's not working to make the world a safer place for wind instruments (and those who play them), he enjoys guitars, sailboats and his dog, Mud.

A life-long musician, Jeff writes, performs and records as Smyth Jeffry. More information is available at: His music can be found on iTunes and CD baby, Spotify and others.