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Hello all,

I have a silver plated (presumably) Steve Goodson tenor saxophone. I originally bought the horn cheap on eBay as a kind of toss around horn for marching band/pep band and situations where I don't want my Custom Z to get in harms way.

The finish on the horn is a little cheap and the lacquer is already flaking in areas. My goal is to remove the keys and guards (to be kept safe and shiny) and somehow buff/grind/ or otherwise modify (maybe chemically) the silver (shiny) finish into a silver (matte) finish. (Excluding the inside of the bell as well.)

I was wondering if it is possible to obtain this look with a silver plate already intact? Or if it is a completely different process to begin with? Does anybody have experience with modifying the finish on silver plate horns?

Thanks,
Jojo
 

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If the silver plate is sound a matte finish can be achieved quite simply. The "grinding/buffing" bit horrified me a little! just use a fine 'Gariflex' block or fine steel wool 1200 grade at least and use soapy water as a lubricant Preferably remove the springs and make a note exactly where each spring goes and the angle of the spring in relation to the post.Very light even rubbing will achieve a 'flat finish'.
Remember this is not the same as a beadblast or sandblast finish --which is done before plating.
 

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That's right - blasting old plating can only be done if you're replating, because it takes off plating.
 

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I like to use 3M Scotch Brite synthetic pads. The light grey ultra fine gives a nice finish to brass. I would assume it would do the same on silver plating. Pictured below is an example of the finish of a saxophone which had the lacquer removed, the body and keys hand polished and given a matte finish using the Scotch Brite grey ultra fine pads. For an even finish it is important to rub in the same direction.

 

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The Scotch-brite pads will work as JBT has advertised; I used them for years for motocycle tank, fender/ windscreen effects. The "go all in the same direction" advice is critical as well; it'll come out as really amateur hour if you don't heed this.

Unlike most other silver plated horns, the Goodson's are clear lacquered over the silver. Having seen several I understand why you'd want to address it since the clear lacquer does indeed flake off and the silver finish under the clear coat frequently starts to tarnish in areas.

Right up front you're going to have to- as I assume you know- completely remove the clear lacquer in order to have this come out halfway decent. There are two considerations; the silver plate is likely to be pretty thin on these models and if you wear through it it'll really look shoddy (go slow with the pads), and once removed the silver will tarnish. Unlike the popular patina on brass, tarnished silver generally simply looks sort of shoddy to one degree or another and most eventually address it through a variety of polishing/ cleaning strategies. It may turn out to be quite the pain to keep up with if you've microscratched your way to a brushed finish.

Good luck and keep us posted.
 

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The Scotch-brite pads will work as JBT has advertised; I used them for years for motocycle tank, fender/ windscreen effects. The "go all in the same direction" advice is critical as well; it'll come out as really amateur hour if you don't heed this.
[...] Unlike the popular patina on brass, tarnished silver generally simply looks sort of shoddy to one degree or another and most eventually address it through a variety of polishing/ cleaning strategies. It may turn out to be quite the pain to keep up with if you've microscratched your way to a brushed finish.
This is true because anything that takes away tarnish will also polish to a degree of brightness. The area will then need to be re-roughed to look decent. (I've had this trouble with a brushed brass 1932 Buescher, which developed red-brown spotting over time.)
 
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