Monday, September 14, 2009

Atkinson Brass Valve Repair

In my opinion, the greatest damage done to my HF Knopf horn is what has been done to the change valve. Just look at this video taken shortly after receiving my horn back from Atkinson Brass for the second time after they botched the first repair job.

Here's a photo of the change valve out of the horn.

Again, if anyone from Atkinson is reading this, this is what I want repaired. It may have looked ok "using fiber optics with monitor" but when the valve is depressed, it often binds up making the change to the Bb side impossible.

Dealing with Atkinson Brass by Email, Email #2

Again, I have deleted the email addresses.

From Atkinson (in reply)

Hi Chris,

Thank you for your letter. I understand your feelings and I am truly sorry
for your inconvenience. Actually your screw bell job was the hardest that
we have ever done and we have done thousands through our repair dept. over
the years in business.
Your bell was indeed quite elliptical and we spent many hours trying to
round it out to give you the best fit possible and considering this
we thought it came out well. The worker that did your valve job is no
longer with us and I want to correct any possible problem you want.
Just send the horn body back to me. I will personally do the best that I

Yours Truly, Mark Atkinson

> Date: 7/14/2005 1:58:29 AM
> Subject: RE: knopf double
> Dear Mark,
> I have been looking the horn over some more, and I've decided that I
> want to send the horn back to you. There are too many sloppy mistakes and
> don't want to risk having the same, or more made as I attempt to get the
> previous ones corrected. And for every one, I can send as many pictures
> you want so that you can verify that the work was indeed done incorrectly.
> For example,
> I was charged an extra $95 because my bell was far from round as you
> in a previous email.
> According to your website:
> # Screw Bell Conversion:
> Your bell is disassembled and if necessary is rounded at the point of
> cutting. This is important for older horns that have elliptical bells.
> bell ring is installed using our own rings ( compatible with Alexander
> Lawson ) and the precision cut is made. After installation your bell is
> polished and reassembled. If necessary spot lacquering is done for
> appearance.
> Price : $450.00 un lacquered horn
> $525.00 lacquered horn
> The $450 I paid should include this rounding, however, I know my bell was
> little crushed under the brace so I agreed to the $95... What your shop
> actually did is cut my bell and fill the low spots in with solder rather
> than make the bell round. Because of this my flare doesn't match up with
> tail. Next, the solder work was terrible. There isn't just excess solder
> around the joints, but drips of solder on the screw ring and on the
> of the new slide sections that you made.
> I also don't think that the 2nd valve slide on the F side wasn't
> I picked your shop because on your website you stated that you loved old
> horns. And while I realize that I did not purchase a new horn from you
> that I am not a professional horn player (although I once was, I chose a
> family over the life) I did spend nearly $2000 on having some work done
> an instrument that provides me some measure of relaxation and that I
> enjoy playing on. Likewise, I never once sent an email asking when the
> would be completed because I didn't want anyone to rush through the
> work on my horn. Whoever did the work on my horn is simply wanting a
> paycheck and could care less about my instrument.
> I certainly hope that we can come to an agreement on how to continue
> this situation because otherwise I will have to dispute the charges with
> credit card company.
> Sincerely,
> Chris

Atkinson Brass Horn Repair

The following picture is one of several braces that had to be re-soldered after having the bell cut. I think the picture speaks for itself:

Now I'm not a horn repair technician but I have replace copper plumbing in my home as well as other kinds of soldering and I've never done anything that bad.

Here's the photo of the main bell brace.

That's a piece of paper I'm inserting under the brace which wasn't completely soldered. I'm guessing the extra solder needed to fill the gap between the brace and the tail was used to make those extra glops of solder in the first photo. After getting the horn back, I took the horn to a local repair shop that fixes high-school band instruments. They did a better job.

Dealing with Atkinson Brass by Email, Email #1

What follows is the first of my emails with Mark Atkinson where I express disappointment about the repairs done to my horn. Two edits have been made: I deleted both email addresses and in line two of my email, I changed my wife's name to "My wife."

From Atkinson (in reply):

Hi Chris,

Thank you for your email. You are of course indeed correct. The water keys
were not put on and
evidently our worker forgot this and I unfortunately missed this. My
We can issue a check for the amount that we owe you. According to our
records you wanted on water key on the mouthpipe and one water key on the
3rd Bb slide. Total $135.00. Please reconfirm your mailing address.
I believe this is the first time that this has happened in 35 years and I
am very
dismayed at the worker for overlooking this.
Please let me know your thoughts and again my apologies for this

Sincerely, Mark

> Date: 6/27/2005 6:42:22 AM
> Subject: RE: knopf double
> Dear Mark,
> This is Chris, I recently had an old Knopf in for valve job and bell cut.
> My wife just brought the horn this evening back to Japan this evening. At
> time I had also wanted to have water keys put on the horn which I paid
> but they didn't get installed. I had asked for 3. One on each main tuning
> slide and one on the 3rd Bb valve slide. I also noticed that not all the
> corks as well as the vavle springs for the main valves weren't replaced.
> Anyways, the cut bell and the new slide sections look nice.
> Sincerely,
> Chris

Atkinson Brass Invoices for French Horn Repair Services

So I guess before, I start a website, slamming a company like Atkinson for incompetent repairs on my horn and overall customer dissatisfaction, I should at least prove that I did partake of their services. Here are both the invoices. The first invoice, is related to the valve re-plating. The second is in relation to having the bell cut which I called in while they had the horn the first time. Note, I blacked out my shipping information. I also apologize for the poor quality of the scans. This weekend, I'll dig the invoices out again and rescan them.

The first invoice:

Here is the second invoice for having the bell cut:

Atkinson Brass Sucks

Ok this first post on Atkinson Brass French Horns Suck Blog is the proverbial hello world post. Basically, I sent a very old HF Knopf that I had been using for years to Atkinson's repair shop in Burbank, California. Their website waxed poetic about their love of old horns and I had had terrible luck with repair shops in the area where I was living and so I sent my horn. Their first attempt to do what I wanted with my horn ended up botched horribly. Their second attempt was only slightly better than the first. This blog stands as a warning to anyone, Don't send or buy a horn from Atkinson Brass until you've read all of the information on this site and have decided that you like to take risks about the quality you'll receive. BTW I would be happy to talk about my experience with anyone so give me an email at osakochris [at] hotmail [dot] com with out all the spaces and brackets.