Rheuben Allen Saxophones Interview | Music Company


Rheuben Allen is a contributing writer on Teen Jazz

Shannon (SK): I’m Shannon Kennedy with Teen Jazz Radio and today on the show we are continuing the Careers in Music Series and I have with me Rheuben Allen. Hi Rheuben.

Rheuben (RA): Hi Shannon, how are you today?

SK: I’m good and how are you?

RA: Pretty good.

SK: We haven’t quite decided what we’re going to talk about yet but I think you said something about saxophone repair?

RA: We could talk about saxophone repair. Anything in particular you want to talk about?

SK: Maybe something like tips for doing sax repair on the go?

RA: Okay, we can do some things, like we can talk about what you can do on the road or if you’re in a place where you have a concert and something happens. The main things to keep with you all the time of course are a screwdriver so you can put screws back in if they get loose. Rubberbands of different strengths and saran wrap.

Now, suppose a pad falls out or you get a rip in a pad, you can put saran wrap around the pad and then a rubber band on the top of that and then that will hold you until you can get to a repairman. It’s not the greatest fix in the world, but it will actually work. And rubberbands of different strengths are also good for if a spring breaks. You can find a way to hook the rubberband to the key to make the key operate.


SK: Rheuben has done a lot of different things in the music industry – everything from performance to playing in military bands to saxophone repair and even owning his own company that makes saxophones and saxophone accessories and actually, not just saxophones. You’ve done guitars and string instruments and brass as well?

RA: I’ve done quite a bit of things. I am kind of coming back to just doing saxophones and things I really know, like clarinets and flutes. In the guitar world I wasn’t that “swift.” So I wasn’t a big hit.

The thing I’m concentrating on for the next year, I have a couple of new saxophone models on the market. My newest one has 14k gold lacquer and it’s an alto and it comes with two necks, one of which is my latest neck. My latest neck looks like this (shows neck).

Now what it does is that it has weights in these holes and the holes originally come, the neck comes like this (shows another neck). See there are holes in the neck. There are two kinds of braces. The one that Shannon has up close. This one, the brace is sautered the entire length of the neck. The one I have in my hand is only sautered on two points, leaving this piece free and what that does is it allows the neck to vibrate a little more by having that space. Now the strength of the neck is in the sauter like this, it’s very difficult to bend this neck down because of the way it’s sautered together.

You can take the weights out of the neck and put them in many different configurations. This is an alto neck that Shannon’s holding now with two weights in it. Each position of the weights changes the way the neck plays because it changes the response of the instrument. I find that tenor players have recently liked either just the first weight or the one and two weights or no weights in the neck. You can play it without the weights in the neck and it responds very well.

SK: So this is the alto neck with two weights and I am currently removing one of the weights so you can see exactly what the weight looks like and this is actually the way that I play my alto (showing neck with only the back weight). I have the third weight in the back and mine is silver, so it’s quite like this.

This is what the weight looks like (showing weight) – the weighted piece and the opposite end and it just basically screws together like this and that’s how you can remove it or add it and do whatever you want.

So what other cool things do you have to show us?

RA: I have thumbrests. They’re designed so that when you put your thumb underneath it, you can’t bend your thumb. When you bend your thumb around the thumb rest, it puts tension in your hand. With this being straight when you play, the hand is more relaxed and you can’t tense up as much. So it does help in preventing long term hand injury and that sort of thing.

I make clarinet tuning rings and soprano/clarinet/flute pegs. You can see all my accessories on rheubenallen.com. All of my saxophone necks feature this cordura neck case and that allows you to carry the extra necks. Also, if you have a valuable neck, you can buy the case separately and carry the necks in the case. It’s a very good product for keeping your necks safe.

SK: Teen Jazz Radio is so super freaking awesome that not only do we have one guest, but we have two!

RA: Now I’d like to bring in Ted Yamada. Now Ted manufactures the t-shirts and things that I sell on my web site. He has a music company called KDIMusic.com. That’s Ted back there. Say hi Ted.

Ted (TY): Hello.

SK: Ted wants to talk about his festival that he is holding in August.

TY: I have a festival, August 13th and 14th, it’s Nisei Week Japanese festival, plaza festival and one of the acts will be Shannon Kennedy Band. So we’ll keep you up to date on when she will perform. We also have a Nisei Week Japanese Festival Marching Band and one of the sponsors is here (touches Rhueben’s shoulder). You can come out and support the Nisei Week festival. It will be held August 13th/14th. As part of the plaza festival we’ll have unique food, merchandise and entertainment.

SK: PS. Little Tokyo Los Angeles is…

RA: the location for the Nisei Week Japanese Festival. You can email Ted, he also has Facebook and how’s your Facebook listed?

TY: KDI Music

RA: We hope you enjoy visiting all the web sites and seeing all the strange stuff and things like that!

-And of course, don’t forget to enjoy the bloopers at the end of the video!-

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Published by Shannon Kennedy

Shannon Kennedy is a vocalist and saxophonist living in Southern California. She is author of "The Album Checklist" and the founder of Teen Jazz. She has been contributing articles to music magaizines and websites since 2004.