A bit of a dull post, but I do try and make it interesting, but the answers are:
I have thousands of spare parts in stock, because it can take months for things to come from manufacturers even if they are available. I don’t have months, I want to start and finish an instrument in one go, not strip it down, order the parts, store the instrument in pieces waiting for the parts to arrive, inevitably get sent the wrong thing because the distributors generally are not as familiar with the instruments as I am, blah, blah, blah! Instead I just go the shelf and pick the parts I need to fix that vibraphone, timpani or whatever.
However if I can make the parts cheaper, quicker and better than the manufacturers then that is obviously what I do. My job is to improve instruments or resolve problems, so most of the time I am redesigning components and fitting my alternatives to the instruments that I work on. These are generally not like for like substitutions and require modifications to be made to the rest of the instrument which is beyond the skills of mere mortals, so these parts are only available if I fit them to the instrument.
Be precise, I need to know what the instrument is and the part you require. The best way to do this is with photos which can be emailed them to me directly, you will find my address on the contact page. I normally answer emails the following morning, so if weeks have gone by then something has gone wrong, so you might have to pick up the phone. It is surprising how many people misspell their own email address.
My time is best spent in the workshop where I can earn my humble living and always have too much to do as opposed to being sat in front of my computer which for me is a necessary evil. Therefore I like to keep administration to a minimum, so please include the address of where you want the parts to go as well as details of who will be paying so that I can generate the invoice and packing note all at the same time. This is private information so only send it via email, certainly do not put personal details in the comments boxes at the bottom of these blog posts because they are in the public domain and only attached to the corresponding post. If you require or could require a few parts, then please make a list and email me once; it is a complete waste of my time to make me generate the same paperwork but with one more part added over and over again, furthermore this drives me up the wall!
When taking your photos make sure that they are good quality; I have too many blurry, dark and unrecognisable photos. I shouldn’t have to guess the part you require, I want to see immediately what instrument and exactly what component you need so that I can answer your question without a long series of emails. This is especially important if the parts are small, so please apply a little thought and a little bit of effort and use something to point or mark the component and thereby ensuring that there is no confusion about what you want.
Those of you who actually read my blog posts as well as watching the telly bit will realise that I am actually a person, a human being just like you, and as such I have my own little quirks – for instance I like good manners. If you want me to climb a ladder to the mezzanine, rummage through a box, generate all the paperwork and invoice, mess around with PayPal, package things so they don’t get damaged and finally carry them up the hill to the post office to generate myself £2 of profit; you could start emails with, “Hi Paul” and “Please can you” or other such respectful and soothing sentiments. If you expect the things tomorrow exceptional manners is your only chance. This may be like teaching most of you to suck eggs, but in this internet age it is just too easy to send an email via your smart phone whenever the mood takes and a lot of those emails that I receive are direct, shall we say, some borderline rude, and it sometimes takes a great deal of restraint not to just bin them immediately. So I thought that I would just put my feelings out there and tell you how I expect to be treated, after all manners cost nothing and a please and a thank you in my experience pretty much guarantee a happy transaction and good service which is surely what we all want.
If you have got this far, thank you for reading.