Sax on the Web Forum Archive / Alto Saxophone / sax finishes

p
User ID: 9656233
Apr 13th 11:18 PM
does the finish like lacquered and Silver-plated finishes etc affect the sound that is produce ? Which finish is a good choice?
Dr. Ben
User ID: 2804914
Apr 13th 11:32 PM
No discernible difference. It's mostly psychological. All my horns from soprano down to baritone are silverplated and believe me, your mouthpiece and reed setup and your skills as a player will make more difference than the finish ever will.
p
User ID: 9656233
Apr 13th 11:47 PM
thxs, so i guess any finish will do then.
Andy
User ID: 1947624
Apr 13th 11:51 PM
In my experience, the lacquer has effect my sound. I play a Black Lacquered Custom alto. While my horn was in the shop, I played our school's clear lacquared Custom and really could tell a difference. My horn was much darker. I believe that the lacquer can affect the sound greatly. I also have a silver plated tenor but don't hear much of a difference there. Now, the plating might not have much of an effect on the sounds that much
Dr. Ben
User ID: 2804914
Apr 14th 12:08 AM
Your horn was probably leaky. Leaks tend to give horns the "dark", resistant quality. Once you get your horn back from the shop and assuming all the leaks were sealed properly, I'm sure it will play "brighter".

I've been waiting almost 4 months now for my black lacquer Yamaha 855 Custom alto. Yes, an 855 (not 875) - black 855's aren't as readily available as the black 875's. Can't wait to get it! It's due in June. Oh, I chose the black purely based on looks, not the sound.
mostly alto guy
User ID: 7782093
Apr 14th 1:49 AM
The jury will probably always remain hung on the sound of different finishes thing--there are too many variables that come into play. No need to list them, since we all know what they are. The result of the manufacturing process is that(thankfully) no too "identical" horns from the same maker in the same finish sound exactly the same. Some makers (notably Yamaha and Yanagisawa) are reportedly more consistent than others (notably Selmer and Keilwerth). But no two can ever be identical.

So how can you know if a different finish makes a difference in sound or not? How can you say the difference between any two horns isn't caused by something else? The truth is, you can't. You'd have to try gobs of the same horn in different finishes under the same conditions and carefully note the charcteristics of each individual, then compute some sort of average. Over time you might see a trend.

This has been more or less accomplished through the collected experience of players, but that applies more to the general population of ALL horns than to any specific model. Any differences a given player discerns in multiple examples of a GIVEN MODEL may or may not be caused by the finish.

Applying this discussion to different base materials is of course, another matter.

Another possible consideration in choosing a finish is durability. Over time, all lacquer and plating wears, but lacquer appears to wear faster for most players (just take a look at vintage horns for sale and you'll see what I mean). So if you want the horn to LOOK good longer, plating may be a better choice. On the other hand, that will only be true if you take care of that plating, esp silver. It takes a bit more to keep it looking good than it does for lacquer.

Naturally, some readers of this analysis will disagree...
Dr. Ben
User ID: 9308123
Apr 14th 2:02 AM
Well worded, mostly alto guy. And well thought out. I'm in your school of thought when it comes to finishes.
p
User ID: 9656233
Apr 14th 6:01 AM
i have went to scout around abt the finishes and whether it affects sound anot. I found a site saying that lacquer plating and silver plating both affects the sound.

http://www.selmersaxman.com/finishes/finishes.html

He sells sax and most probably tried many many many sax.

Im still kinda confuse.
Andy
User ID: 1947624
Apr 14th 10:08 AM
I don't believe that my horn had leaks at the time. Once I got it back, there was a tremendous difference. I have taken the time to compare my horn to any other Custom alto I could find and have always found a difference. Yes, there are probably some other factors in the change a tone, but you can't rule out lacquer as a factor. So, in this instance I do believe that lacquar effects the over all sound.
Steve Cars
User ID: 2386864
Apr 14th 11:24 AM
Andy,
I think the black lacquered horns may have more lacquer because they are sprayed several coats then engraved, then sprayed again. (though I suppose the total no. of coats may be the same on a clear horn).

p,
Remember the selmersaxman is talking about Selmers. When Selmer silver plates a horn they do NOT lacquer over the silver. I think other manugacturers (e.g. Yanagisawa) do lacquer over their silver - so I would expect the Yani silver to be darker.

My own experience is this. I recently replaced a lacquered Yanagisawa S6 soprano (the Selmer Mark VI copy) with a silver plated Selmer SA80 Serie III. The III plays darker - same mouthpiece and reed. The III is also heavier than the S6 and is supposedly built from a high copper brass. So the material of the horn (even the III bore) may be effecting the tone more than the silver...
Andy
User ID: 1480824
Apr 14th 6:18 PM
I have read some articles written by Miles Osland on the finishes that Selmer does. According to Osland, Selmer puts 3 extra coats of lacquer on the black horns and 5 extra coats on the white horn. These extra coat don't allow the horn to resonate as much and thus produce a darker sound.
s
User ID: 2386864
Apr 14th 6:57 PM
Andy, Thanks for confirming. This is also why some say that the silver plated Selmers are brighter. The silver allows the horn to resonate more than the lacquer. Others say silver is darker, but I really think they are talking about horns that are silver plated but still lacquered over.

My brother has a Selmer Paris radial valve trumpet in silver plate, Selmer lacquered those but not the saxes, curious...
Steve Cars
User ID: 2386864
Apr 14th 7:22 PM
Andy, that last post was from me "Steve Cars". I fat fingered it...