Family Music Center

About Family Music Center

We repair all band and orchestra instruments.

Sample rates are $150 for clarinet or flute repads, and $250 for alto sax, usually done within 2 days.

We offer:

* music lessons on any American instrument
* assistance with song writing and recording
* live musicians for live performances
* arrangements made for small groups


4110 SW 9th
Des Moines, IA 50315


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  • 5/5 stars

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Question and answer

Q. What advice do you have for a customer looking to hire a provider like you?

A. If you need band instrument repairs, consider speed, quality, and cost. We can do major repairs in two days, and some minor repairs while you wait. I've been repairing for 40 years, and guarantee my work: no additional charge if your intstrument needs more work (other than from obvious vandalism) within 2 months after a minor repair, or 6 months after a major repair. Customers indicate some of our competition charges up to 50% more and takes 10 times longer.
Interested in lessons? Dave and Dorothy Leach have music degrees and have taught for 40 years on all instruments.

Q. If you were a customer, what do you wish you knew about your trade? Any inside secrets to share?

A. Unlike electronics, band and orchestra instruments have not changed significantly over the past century. There are a few interesting but minor improvements. There are also new ways to cut corners. Therefore, there are many old American made instruments that out-perform new instruments made in Taiwan or Japan, not to mention Korea or China, besides being much cheaper. However, a well repaired Chinese instrument will out-perform a poorly maintained American instrument, and $200 put into a great reed mouthpiece will probably improve your tone more than $4,000 put into the rest of the instrument. (Of course you will benefit from all three, but that is the most economical and effective order to follow.) An example of corner cutting in Chinese instruments: clarinets usually come with a single skin pad, instead of the normal double skin. This means the pads will wear out twice as fast, and it will grieve you to spend, on the repair, almost the cost of a new instrument. On trumpets, the valves aren't plated as well. They attract sludge faster and have to be repaired more often.

Q. What questions should a consumer ask to hire the right service professional?

A. Repairs: Ask about cost, guarantees, speed, experience. Lessons: decide what instrument you want to learn, how good you would like to become, and how much you are willing to practice to reach your goal. What is the picture in your mind of where you want to be, doing what? Do you want to play in the school band? Church? A stage surrounded by screaming fans? What styles of music do you want to play? Are you willing to learn all styles? Would you love to play in any group which will welcome your playing, regardless of style? Or do you want to stick to one or two styles? In the very beginning, of course, you won't have enough control over your instrument to sound like you are playing different styles. But as you improve, a clear vision of where you want to go will help guide you to the teacher best able to take you there.