Meet the Sax ProShop Techs

Though the Sax ProShop began as a one-man shop in a garage, it has grown exponentially in recent years with extremely specialized technicians from around the country. Founder Curt Altarac set out on his mission to offer the finest saxophone overhaul on earth in 2001. More than a decade later, his shop is internationally known for its meticulous, innovative, and excellent work.

Curt Altarac

Curt Altarac is a saxophonist, teacher, saxophone repair specialist, clinician, and the owner of Curt founded while teaching public school in Virginia. He studied under Dr. Wyman at Fredonia before going on to teach middle school. Later Curt went back to school and earned a masters degree in saxophone performance with Dr. Lawrence Gwozdz where he worked as the teaching assistant. During graduate school, he continued repairing and practicing repair, leaving time to travel four hours to study sax repair every weekend with Steve Goodson. Curt’s obvious passion for instrument repair soon became an obsession and flourished.

After graduating with a masters degree in saxophone performance, Curt continued to improve the tone, response, and intonation of many saxophones through innovative custom key work improvements, neck modifications and bore alterations. Curt’s repair techniques are unique in that they are born from a player’s perspective. Long before he was repairing saxophones, he was playing them. To the global music community, Curt is famous for his meticulous overhauls and unparalleled tuning and toning work. The repair community knows Curt as a knowledgeable technician anxious to share ideas and improve his craft. Knowing this, Curt has been invited to give repair clinics at many NAPBIRT conventions, colleges, and universities throughout the US and abroad. He performed at the World Saxophone Congress in Scotland in July 2012 and serves as a counsel for saxophone manufacturers, saxophone importers, repair facilities, and colleges interested in teaching or starting instrument repair.

Curt’s goal is to improve on each overhaul and take woodwind repair to the next level, completely bridging the gap between musicians and their instruments. Surrounding himself with hard workers and great musicians, Curt and the team at are quickly becoming worldwide leaders in woodwind instrument repair. Curt and his team are known as innovators, creators, and craftsman.

When Curt is not changing the face of instrument repair, he can usually be found playing classical and jazz music, mountain biking, or running.

Credentials: Curt received his Master’s degree in Saxophone performance at the University of Southern Mississippi, his Bachelors in Music Education from the State University of New York College at Fredonia, and his Associates Degree from Onondaga Community College. Curt has studied Saxophone with Harwood Strobeck, Dr. David Abrams, Dr. Laurence Wyman, Dr. Lawrence Gwozdz, and Larry Panella. Curt has shared the stage with players such as Ellis Marsalis, Ken Coon (Rascher Saxophone Quartet), Don Menza, Cab Calloway, Wayne Newton, and many others.

Curt has offered clinics on various topics ranging from Circular Breathing, Advanced Techniques for Saxophone Overhauls, and Tuning and Toning at: Florida State University, University of North Texas, The University of Florida, The University of North Carolina at Wilmington, Georgia Southern University, Augusta State University, The University of Georgia, State University of New York College at Fredonia, The University of Southern Mississippi, UNC Chapel Hill, Central Washington University, UNC Greensboro, Amsterdam Conservatory, Renton Technical College, Texas Christian University, various High Schools including his Alma Mater in Cambridge NY, The US Navy Saxophone Symposium, the Rascher Saxophone workshop, and regional as well as national NAPBIRT Conventions (National Association of Professional Band Instrument Repair Technicians). In 2006 Curt was the winner of the Dick Rusch Memorial Award (to the outstanding clinician) for his clinic on Saxophone Tuning and Toning at the National NAPBIRT convention.

As a teacher and musician, Curt is very active with both classical and jazz saxophone. Former students of Curt’s are working musicians throughout the US. Focusing on the Baritone and Bass Saxophones, Curt plays in Renegade Classical, a saxophone quartet, a Saxophone trio, a 10 piece Jazz Combo, as well as several big bands, and works as freelance musician.

Ryan Walker

Way back in 2001, saxophonist Ryan Walker was attending the Navy Saxophone Symposium and stumbled upon the booth. Ryan was starting a career as a player, teacher, and technician and was interested in sax repair as well. Ryan had a lot of repair questions and we answered them. Pretty soon nearly 5 hours had passed and Ryan was still asking questions. His thirst for knowledge was outstanding. Every year we talked to Ryan at the Symposium and soon asked him how he would approach problems.

RyanWWhen the time came to add a new member to the shop, the choice was clear. Ryan’s amazing abilities as a saxophonist, technician, and teacher are matched only by his love for vintage Saxophones. With a collection of saxophones (no one knows exactly how many saxophones he has) and mouthpieces great enough to start a museum, Ryan is truly a vintage saxophone guru.

When he’s not dreaming about vintage saxophones, teaching the next generation, or playing a gig, Ryan’s hands perform their magic at the dry-fitting bench, making great saxophones even greater. Ryan is lightning fast with pinpoint accuracy.

With his great knowledge and respect for all things saxophone, Ryan can also be found in the buffing and lacquer booths. Not only can Ryan make a saxophone feel good, he can make it look impeccable. You need only look at the pictures of the saxophones that Ryan has finished on this site to see his flawless work.

When you pick up your saxophone and you notice that it feels smoother and more even than you ever thought possible, you’ll know that Ryan was here. When you look at your Uberhauled saxophone and wonder how we matched the lacquer or the satin finish, or just note how good your saxophone looks, you’ll be glad that Ryan was on your side.

Credentials: Ryan received his double Bachelor’s Degrees in Music Education and Music Performance from Virginia Tech in 2002. Ryan has worked as a band director at Montross Middle School, a store manager, a freelance musician, and a woodwind instructor at various venues. Ryan has studied with: Larry Burke and Dr. David Jacobsen and attended masterclasses by Gary Louie, Eugene Rousseau, Claude Delangle, Kenneth Tse, Philippe Geiss, Eddie Daniels, Chris Potter, Jerry Bergonzi, Branford Marsalis. Ryan received the Louis Armstrong Jazz award in high school, the Four Year Mug for participating in marching band for four continuous years, and the Director’s Cup in college for being part of the marching band and concert band throughout his studies. He was both a rank captain and section leader while a member of Virginia Tech’s Marching Virginians.

He has marched many collegiate and professional stadiums, including Vanderbilt Stadium, Nashville Memorial Stadium, Clemson EverBank Field, Jacksonville Heinz Field, Pittsburgh The Superdome, and New Orleans for the 2000 NCAA national championship. Ryan has performed with the “Marching Virginians” Marching Band, Wind Ensemble, Saxophone Quartet, Clarinet Ensemble, New River Valley Symphony Orchestra/Opera Roanoke, the Baltimore-based funk band “Grilled”, the blues/bluegrass/rock band “Swinging Dick Egmond”, and the experimental Jazz Trio “Frozen Rodents.”

Ryan has taught band music at Montross Middle School and gave private lessons since 2002.


Yanagisawa 992
Mouthpiece: Selmer scroll shank E with Vandoren 3 1/2

SA 80 series 2 with a Selmer Larry Teal with Vandoren 3
King Super 20 with a New York Meyer 9 with Vandoren 2 1/2

King Super 20 Silversonic with 105/2 Berg Larsen 2 1/2 Legere
Selmer Mark VI
Larry Teal mouthpiece with 3 Vandoren

Mark VI with Selmer C* and Vandoren reeds

Sara Sipes

Sara’s keen interest in the mechanical aspect of playing saxophone inspired her career as a repair technician. She was finally able to answer the age-old question, “Is it me or the horn?” It was the horn of course, though after you play the saxophone that Sara has worked on, the answer will likely be “me”!

SaraSAs the shop’s dry-fitter, Sara brings all of the now straight, aligned, and precise elements together. It is at this station that minute adjustments are made to the keywork so that the pads will fit perfectly in their place, and the keys all function together.

With the dry-fitting complete, Sara brings the horn to the pad room. The work of a padding specialist is a battle of light and darkness; a fastidious obsession with making each pad perfectly level. The artistry in Sara’s work comes from her high level of patience and her scrupulous finesse.
Although her academic achievements as a saxophonist are extensive, Sara is most proud the hard work and dedication she gave as a student at the Red Wing Technical college where she received a degree in Band Instrument Repair and was honored with the position of work study.

Sara has given master classes around the US, teaching solo and ensemble techniques as well as music theory to grade school and University students. She is an avid freelance saxophonist and clarinetist who maintains a teaching studio for clarinet and saxophone students in here in Wilmington, North Carolina.

When she’s not playing and repairing, Sara is often outside biking and kayaking.

Credentials: Sara received a Bachelors Degree in Music Performance on Saxophone at Morehead State University, her Master’s Degree at Michigan State in Performance, and her Band Instrument Repair Degree from Minnesota State College-Southeast Technical in Redwing, MN.

Sara has studied with or received master instruction from Nathan Nabb, Joe Lulloff, Travis Bond, Debra Rictmeyer, John Sampen, Jean Michele Goure, Fred Hemke, Anubis Quartet, and the Amythest Quartet.

Throughout her early career as a saxophonist, Sara attended competitions throughout the US both as a soloist and ensemble member. Sara received the USTA Scholarship, the Morehead undergraduate fellowship to study contemporary music, was a semifinalist in Coleman Chamber music competition with the Orpheus Sax Quartet, and the NASA quartet competition 2011 with Helix Quartet. Sara has performed with Morehead Symphony band, Jazz one, Salsa Verde, Ill tempered Sax 4tet, MSU Sax Ensemble, various quartets, ensembles, and an occasional busking duo.


Series 3
S 90 170
Vandoren Blue box 3.5
Vandoren Optimum lig

Series 3
Selmer C*
Vandoren Blue box 3.5
Winslow lig

Series 3
Vandoren T20
Vandoren Blue box 3.5
Vandoren Optimum lig