Stan Garber, Selmer
(Foreword by Paul: Stan Garber, Marketing
Manager of Band Instruments at Selmer, is our first guest columnist. Stan
attends all of the trade shows and clinics... go by and meet him at the
Most people donít realize that the saxophone is
really a very complex instrument, consisting of 500 parts and pieces and
some 3,000 different labor operations. For example, a single key can
consist of a hinge rod, cup arm, cup, lever, spatula (touch plate), and
spring hook Ė all of which must be formed, processed, soldered, polished,
lacquered, and assembled.
Within the Elkhart, Indiana factory Selmer
makes nine different models of saxophones (not including models from Selmer
Paris). Multiply that by the number of parts and labor operations and you
begin to have an understanding of the operationís complexity. In order to
keep track of it all Selmer uses an IBM AS400 computer that records the
movements of every single part.
The manufacturing process itself has even
become more high tech. For example, tone hole pulling is now automated.
Previously workers loaded pulling balls into a steel mandrel and slipped on
the brass body tube. A specially modified drill press was manually lowered,
threading into the pulling ball through a hole that was pierced into the
tube. Raising the drill press pulled or extruded the metal upwards,
creating the tone hole chimney. The process was repeated for each tone
hole. Now a machine, loaded with several body tubes, automatically extrudes
and machinery can never replace the human element. Each Selmer saxophone is
individually hand assembled. Finally, every saxophone is play tested before
leaving the factory.