Instrument Repair Technician

Patrick Hiatt was among the leaders of band instrument repairmen in the industry. His work spanned several decades and was vital in the formation of NAPBIRT, the National Association of Professional Band Instrument Repair Technicians. Pat served as president of the association beginning in 1979 and...
Pete Valentino noticed that band instrument repairmen often had a difficult task in replacing worn pads on flutes and saxophones. He had burned his hands on many occasions and thought that there must be a better way. He soon made and marketed the Valentino Pad, a replacement product that later...
Vernon Drane played several musical instruments growing up in Tennessee including the trumpet and saxophone. He later studied instrument repair and spent 68 years (!) working with the Amro Music Company in Memphis. Vernon was also a baritone singer who performed in two church choirs for over 60...
Frank Bilz applied his passion for music into the expansion of the Markneukirchen Germany music school programs entitled Musicon Valley. As Marketing Director of the school, which is located in the music-rich village where musical instruments have been handcrafted for hundreds of years, Frank has...
Johnny Thompson had the distinction of being the very first music student of a young steel guitar player named Ernie ball. Back in the early 1950s, before he established a string company, Ernie was a well-known country player in and around the Los Angeles area and taught a few students for extra...
Ron Sadler’s great grandfather settled in Aurora, Illinois, outside of Chicago, to establish Sadler Piano. Over the next 123 years, the company has faced some unique times and made an impact on the music industry. During the Great Depression, Ron’s grandfather discontinued manufacturing pianos to...
Joan Ellman and her husband, Gil, established Ellman’s Music Center in 1958. Five years later the store moved to Naperville, Illinois, where it is located today. Joan kept the books and inventory as well as managing the store when Gil would call on schools and travel for industry meetings. She has...
Gil Ellman grew up in the big band era, loving the sounds of large orchestras. He was motivated to create as many opportunities for students to make music as possible. He studied band instrument repair before opening Ellman’s Music Center in 1958. Soon after the store opened Gil began creating his...
Fred Melk was born the year his father and grandfather (Philip Sr and Jr) opened a small instrument repair shop in Milwaukee, WI. The year was 1956. Fred’s father became one of the country’s foremost authorities on band instruments and repair. In the days before NAPBIRT and other organizations...
Ruth Ann Melk recalled the days when her husband’s father would design specialized tools for the repair of musical instruments, which her husband, Phil Jr, soon developed into a full time job and career. She said he was delighted to quit his day job as milk man and devote his time and energy into...

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