Eastern Iowa - Lee Stofer
I'm located in north-central Missouri and finding an excellent, reputable, and somewhat local repair guy has been problematical in the 2.5 years I've lived here.
Like everyone else, I'm fussy about who works on my horns. I've had things done to my horns in the past that were inexcusable, so I'm particular these days.
Just recently, I bought a Mirafone 184 three-quarter sized tuba in BBb. I wanted to get the horn checked out, cleaned, etc. And even with my new Sterling Virtuoso euph, there were aspects about the horn (valve caps sans any kind of noise-reducing agent, for example; along with taking a long look at the trigger linkage and trying to figure out a way to ease disassembly (thanks to Fsung for his idea, btw!); and one or two other ideas) that I wanted to discuss with said repairman.
My bass trombone's upper section had never seen the light of day since I bought it slightly used in 2005.
For all these reasons, I needed a good repairman.
Lee Stofer is a retired Army bandsman, as I am. While he and I never served together, we do know many of the same people.
To cut to the chase on this story, let me say that it's my sense that Lee Stofer is a fabulous repairman. Put simply, he cares about the horns he's working on.
The end result is, the tuba I bought turned out to be an excellent buy. Lee gave it the once-over and pronounced it free of red rot and other debilitating problems. He cleaned it, gave it the acid dip, disassembled the valves, lubricated them, removed most of the dents, and otherwise gave me back a horn that'll serve me well for the next couple of years before the next visit.
While I was standing in his shop on a Sunday afternoon (yesterday), Lee addressed my concerns with the Sterling and gave me back a horn with valves that are faster than they've ever been, and quiet. He registered the valves, found them "off" from Sterling's own settings, and put felts and corks where they were needed. He removed a tiny ding in the bottom bow and we made further arrangements for some custom work that I'd like him to do, probably in February or March.
As to the bass trombone, I explained what I was looking for and he'll take a look at it over the next week or so. I have every confidence that he'll deliver a horn that is better than new.
I can't say enough good stuff about Lee Stofer. He's the kind of repair guy we all want to have - and for me, since he's located in NE Iowa, he's relatively close (270 miles, one-way). The drive is a lengthy one and makes for a full day, but I'd rather do that than trust any delivery system.
Lee will get my continued business.
Oh, and he's very, very reasonable with his prices.
Eastern Iowa - Lee Stofer
Lee's website is here:
His shop is north of Davenport, Iowa: