FRETS.COM Field Trip

"Uncle Bill" the Horn Doctor
Bill Sveglini
© Frank Ford, 5/10/98; Photos by FF, 5/10/98

Every time I drive the 20 miles to
Bills ABC Music in San Bruno I come back having picked up yet another cool technique or tool idea.

Bill Sveglini is an inventive guy who is routinely called on to work miracles in brass, silver and wood. He's the one who introduced me to the
micro butane torch I use so much.

Here's Uncle Bill with one of his patients:

This baritone sax took a trip all the way down the bleachers and got a dent or bend on every bounce. In a day or so, this horn will be honkin' again!

Bill is as much a tool junkie as I am, so we're always trading ideas and sources. Today he gave me a swell pair of pliers that have brass lined jaws. I'm sure it won't be long before I use them to grip a sensitive metal part on a fretted instrument!

Bill was working as we talked, and I saw him reach for a bottle of carpet cleaner. After we passed the requisite chuckle about doing janitorial duty, he went back to work. This time he attacked a really scummy clarinet case. If you think guitar cases get dirty inside, you ought to see what cork grease does to silk plush!

Bill simply squirts the stain directly:

Check it out, a big mess of suds:

He just rubs the suds and wipes the plush clean. My before and after pictures were a disaster, so you'll have to take my word that this technique worked. I'm going to start using this stuff on cases where the string grunge stains the plush in the lid over the fingerboard. If you try using this stuff, remember that Bill says to test it first inside the string pocket so you'll be sure of the results. . .

Hey, here's Bill with another cute tool:

I hadn't seen one of these before today. It's a cordless sander/filer made by Wahl. It has replaceable files and sanding tips in a variety of shapes. Bill says he can file easily in the very tightest little holes without jamming the teeny rat tail file. Because the reciprocating in and out action is so rapid, the file cuts very smoothly without much pressure.

Here's Bill truing up the edge of a mother of pearl inlay:

Be sure to visit
Bill's website if you have any questions about horn or woodwind service. He's always good for a quick word or two.

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