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World Class Instrument Builders Locate in Iowa

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Courtesy of Tenor Madness
Doug Lawrence, a featured solosit in the Count Basie Orchestra, playing a TM Custom, made in Cedar Falls, Iowa.

Iowa’s music scene is known for names like Glenn Miller, Slipknot, and Greg Brown, but we don’t often don’t think of the people who make their careers possible: the instrument builders.

People come to my shop, and then they tell other musicians about me. Word of mouth is powerful. - Jim Reck

Randy Jones founded Tenor Madness, a saxophone repair shop in Cedar Falls, nearly 30 years ago. Since then, jazz greats like Sonny Rollins and Doug Lawrence, a featured soloist in the Count Basie Orchestra, have traveled to Iowa to visit his shop. In the past year, he’s started selling his own brand of saxophone, a TM Custom, and now there are musicians all over the world playing saxophones assembled in Iowa.

During this Talk of Iowa interview, Charity Nebbe talks with Lawrence. We also hear from Lynn Dobson, who founded Dobson Pipe Organ Builders in Lake City, Ia., and Jim Reck, who builds custom violins for professional musicians all over the world. 

Lindsey Moon is IPR's Digital Producer
Charity Nebbe is the host of IPR's Talk of Iowa