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I think what you've got there may be nickel plate rather than silver. You can polish them up with Simichrome, but you'll have to take them all off.

If it were me I'd be trying to figure out what's going on to cause that level of corrosion on a fairly new horn. I've got horns 100 years old that don't have that much corrosion.
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
I think what you've got there may be nickel plate rather than silver. You can polish them up with Simichrome, but you'll have to take them all off.

If it were me I'd be trying to figure out what's going on to cause that level of corrosion on a fairly new horn. I've got horns 100 years old that don't have that much corrosion.
Thanks so much. I live in the Caribbean and I’ve had the horn for about 6/7 years. I sought advice on cleaning and even preventative measures during the early stages but the effect was minimal if anything at all. I’ve been using it for weekly beachside gigs now for almost 2 and that’s where the rapid deterioration stemmed from.
Any advice on preventative measures once it’s cleaned? Or just clean often thereafter?
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Wow. Yeah, that looks pretty severe. That is going to require some hand work!
Yeah it really is. Been looking for solutions for quite a while now. Many have advised that I just get a new horn but I’d much rather clean this one up. Also, with the venues that I often play the same result is bound to appear on a new horn if I don’t know how to manage it.
 

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Get some wax on there. Folks say nice things about Renaissance Wax.
I am not that fancy. I like Meguiar's. Protects and makes it easier to clean. Yeah, I know. Car wax.

Add: Just saw new post. No need to get a new horn. And yes, same result expected.
You need something designed for protection against outdoor weather.
I had one of my saxes apart for cleaning and to replace a few pads once, and it had gotten pretty dirty.
Looked around the compound for something I could use. I just randomly tried car wax. All I had handy.
Somebody will probably have bad things to say about it, and maybe there are good reasons not to use it on a sax.

But I have been doin it for a while now, and nothing is on fire or falling off. SO FAR.
 

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I don't think wax is gonna do the trick if 7 years in the salt air did that.

I'd say take the whole thing apart, polish the keywork down, and shoot it with clear epoxy. I note that the black nickel plate on the body still looks pretty good, so maybe it is silver after all.

The nuclear option would be to do a complete disassembly, send the keys to a plating shop, and have them strip what's on there now and replate with electroless nickel. It would probably cost more than replacing the horn.
 

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It appears to me that there is a good deal of "pitting" in the surface. If that is the case just polishing the metal won't be a great improvement. Buffing would be more effective, but even then it's not going to look like new. Whatever you do: DO NOT USE PASTE POLISH --- ESPECIALLY WITH THE KEYS ON THE HORN. I just spent several hours cleaning up a vintage Conn alto that an older gentleman and his wife tried to polish that way. It was a real mess with dried polish all over the pads and everywhere. It cleaned up quite nice, but I never want to do that again. :eek:
 

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+1 for Meguiars to slow the pitting, but that’s going to happen in your environment.

I’d go with silver plate instead of nickel, but most new horns have very thin silver plating, so even that is no guarantee.
 

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“Any advice on preventative measures once it’s cleaned?”, he said. Once its cleaned.
Meaning that it has already, you lnow, cleaned up.
That was the immediate previous question.
Hence the wax reply. Not to clean it up.
Do please read the thread if you wish to criticise.
 

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Is this a Cannonball ? Interesting how the nickle on the body looks great. The (?) plating on the keys is gone. Like they didn’t plate it adequately. If this is a cannonball I would send them an email.
 

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Any type of wax is gonna' offer some protection. Personally I use Autosol....


...which cleans and polishes quite well and leaves a protective residue behind to offer additional protection. Your first step to to clean everything. Second step is to polish (this may happen during the cleaning) and then when your done apply a wax. The Meguiars and or the Renaissance wax mentioned above I would think would be fine. As Saxoclese mentions above - the cleaning and polishing must be done once all the keys have been removed from your now disassembled saxophone. If you ain't comfortable undertaking a disassembly / reassembly find a good technician to do this for you. Its a great shame to see such pitting and if its actually as bad as it appears I reckon it'll take a lot more than elbow grease. IF I were doing beach-side gigs I'd be using a cheap instrument, not a good one.

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What about steel wool for the really rough pieces?
I just tried some steal wool on a Bass Clarinet bell and thumb rest. It had some rough pitted parts inside the bell and on thumb rest and other pieces. Didn't see any scratches after trying the steel wool but the rough pieces were a lot smoother afterwards. :)

Got the idea from the fire service. I've used steel wool to clean / polish chrome pieces on fire trucks and hard water stains on mirrors on my patrol car.
 

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Some 0000 grade steel wool may assist but I'm thinking buffing may be required. The issues with Buffing is that its abrasive and such would need to be undertaken more than judiciously because plating thickness is not significant.
 

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I second the suggestion that you use Simichrome. It goes by several names . The finish does look like nickel.. I see this a lot on clarinets with nickel and chrome keys. I apply a small amount to the key then polish it with a Dremel with a cotton or wool tipped mandrel. Don't press too hard. You'll go through several buffing mandrels but it is much easier than trying to buff it by hand. If you have a bench motor and a buffing wheel, that's even better but be careful with the pads. The Dremel will allow you to control the buffing much more easily.

DO NOT USE TARNEX ! If it is a nickel or chrome finish, it'll darken the keys.
 

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My experience "cleaning and polishing" saxophones is that silver plating and nickel plating require a different process. The discoloration on silver plating is for the most part tarnish which can be removed with a tarnish removing liquid like Empire available from repair supply shops or Tarnex which is sold commercially. Once the tarnish has been removed, the silver then can be "polished" with any number of available silver polish products. I have used Haggerty's for several years as well as the silver polish "ragging cloth" sold by JL Smith and gotten good results. I have recently started using Goddards silver polish foam which shows promise.

Nickle plated keys and bodies of instruments require a different approach. Rather than "tarnish" nickel has a tendency to get a dull or cloudy finish that doesn't respond to tarnish removers or even most hand polishes. The most effective means of restoring the shine to nickel plating or nickel silver keys is to use a soft buffing wheel with "Blue Hubble" buffing compound sold by Music Medic. It is a very light abrasive much like Red Rouge used to finish brass, but it is far less messy. The photos below show a Cannonball Big Bell Global alto in nickel plate that I overhauled for a friend. The keys were buffed using Blue Hubble and the body was buffed and hand ragged with Blue Hubble including some small Dremel buffing wheels to get close to the toneholes and posts.

What is unusual in the photos in this thread is the "verdigris" showing as spots on the surface that looked at first like "pitting" to me. Verdigris can occur when brass is exposed to air and seawater over time. I have never seen it come through an outer layer of nickel plating before. Of course I have never spent time in those environments where than can occur.

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Any type of wax is gonna' offer some protection. Personally I use Autosol....


...which cleans and polishes quite well and leaves a protective residue behind to offer additional protection. Your first step to to clean everything. Second step is to polish (this may happen during the cleaning) and then when your done apply a wax. The Meguiars and or the Renaissance wax mentioned above I would think would be fine. As Saxoclese mentions above - the cleaning and polishing must be done once all the keys have been removed from your now disassembled saxophone. If you ain't comfortable undertaking a disassembly / reassembly find a good technician to do this for you. Its a great shame to see such pitting and if its actually as bad as it appears I reckon it'll take a lot more than elbow grease. IF I were doing beach-side gigs I'd be using a cheap instrument, not a good one.

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I use Wenol for metal polishing, primarily clarinet keywork. Looks like the same type of goop. Works great.
 
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