Best Way to Get Your Brass in Gear New York 2009 - Brass Lab
You might say Chuck McAlexander is a bit old-fashioned: Not only does he lack an e-mail address or website, but he doesn't even have an answering machine—it's too bothersome for him. But if you happen to need your horn fixed, you'll want to call him (mornings preferred) to get your instrument in shape at his Brass Lab studio. Open for business since 1985, his workshop is strewn with trumpets, trombones, French horns, sousaphones, and tubas. Since the main culprit for faulty instruments is usually dirt (which eats holes and corrodes), most jobs involve cleaning, but he also uses specialized screwdrivers, pliers, scrapers, and hammers when getting something into shape, especially when there are dents involved. Built exclusively on word of mouth, he has clients at Lincoln Center, Broadway orchestras, the Salvation Army, local schools, and far-off locales in Asia and Europe. Depending on the problem, work can take from a few minutes to several days (for a tuba overhaul) with services costing $100 per hour, though he uses a sliding scale, too.