September 21, 2018

Saxquest museum displays more than 100 vintage saxophones

Branford Marsalis, grammy-award winning saxophonist, played a gig at Sheldon Concert Hall in 2012. His saxophone needed some repairs, so he brought it in to Saxquest for Chris Funck and his repair team.

Funck spent over 25 years in the repair business. His repair background led him to Saxquest, where he met famous performers every year.

Jeff Coffin from the Dave Matthews Band, grammy-award winning saxophonist Kirk Whalum, and Bob Sheppard from Steely Dan are just a few of the famous performers Funck has met while at Saxquest.

Funck said customers from all over the world send him instruments to fix. He said not every instrument brought in is an easy fix.

  “[Sometimes] we’re twiddling our thumbs going ‘how are we going to fix this one?’” Funck said.

Funck’s family passed the repair trade down to him. His grandfather owned a repair shop, and his dad and uncle worked in the business as well.

Saxquest currently displays a museum on the second floor of the shop that contains more than 100 vintage saxophones.

Some of the instruments Funck fixes date back to the 1700s and are rare, like the saxophones created by Adolphe Sax. Sax invented the instrument in the 1840s, and some of his creations are featured in the museum.

Mark Overton, owner of Saxquest, started collecting vintage saxophones in his home before he opened the museum. He opened Saxquest to reveal the importance and history of the saxophone.

“The whole goal for the museum is to preserve the past and highlight and showcase the instrument in the present,” Overton said.

Some of the saxophones featured in the museum are over 100 years old and in poor condition. This is where Funck’s skills come in.

“[We’re] bringing stuff back to life that most people think is irreparable,” Funck said.

Funck recently restored a pre-1920 Conn New Wonder saxophone. Charles Gerard Conn invented the Conn New Wonder Saxophone and is a patriarch of musical instrument manufacturing.

“We do a variety of ethnic instruments and oddball stuff that’s museum quality and old,” Funck said.

Funck said the best part about his job is that it is hands on.

“I don’t care if I was fixing this [saxophone] or wrenching a toilet or something,” Funck said.  “I just like repairing stuff.”

Funck said at the end of the day, the bottom line is to put the instruments back in the hands of the owner sounding like new.

Saxquest is located at 2114 Cherokee St in St. Louis.

Read about more places to visit at unchartedstl.com

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