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Hi everyone -- I'm new to the forum and have been reading through the archives -- a bit overwhelmed by all the options.

I have a 1932 Selmer Super Sax (Tenor) which I've been playing off-and-on since the 1990s. I love the warm, dark tone and tend to play with a mellow Al Cohn / Zoot Sims sort of sound.

The horn's finish looks like death and I'm wondering what my best options are for making it look nicer without messing too much with the a.) tone, b.) "vintage" appearance," and c.) value (not that I'd ever sell it). Yes, I've read the controversial re-lacquer threads.

Frankly I've always been proud of its junky appearance but I'm afraid that the sound seems to be losing warmth over time and growing more dull and tinny (this could be my imagination/paranoia) -- could this be a result of metal corrosion and/or lacquer wear?

If there are good options for beautifying it (somewhat) and saving the tone before it gets worse, I'd consider them. What would you do? Lacquer, plating, a simple polish, other?

Thanks
 

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Take it to the shop for a tune up.
More than likely the loss of tone quality is due to it needing a few adjustments/felt compression/few bad pads.....

I've got a couple of vintage saxes that look like death warmed over that haven't lost anything in the sound quality department.
Making it look pretty ain't gonna help it sound pretty unless you have someone do a complete overhaul which would include all new pads, corks, felts, and an adjustment, along with making it all shiny.
 

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Hi everyone -- I'm new to the forum and have been reading through the archives -- a bit overwhelmed by all the options.

I have a 1932 Selmer Super Sax (Tenor) which I've been playing off-and-on since the 1990s. I love the warm, dark tone and tend to play with a mellow Al Cohn / Zoot Sims sort of sound.

The horn's finish looks like death and I'm wondering what my best options are for making it look nicer without messing too much with the a.) tone, b.) "vintage" appearance," and c.) value (not that I'd ever sell it). Yes, I've read the controversial re-lacquer threads.

Frankly I've always been proud of its junky appearance but I'm afraid that the sound seems to be losing warmth over time and growing more dull and tinny (this could be my imagination/paranoia) -- could this be a result of metal corrosion and/or lacquer wear?

If there are good options for beautifying it (somewhat) and saving the tone before it gets worse, I'd consider them. What would you do? Lacquer, plating, a simple polish, other?

Thanks
Whatever you do, do NOT have that horn refinished. The tenors are going for as high as 4K in original state (even if most of the lacquer is gone); and even old relacquers are selling for over 3K. I know because I've owned 3 of the tenors and just sold one for over 3K. Also two other relac'd tenors recently sold on ebay for over 3K. If it's already been relacquered once, you could destroy the value of that horn by doing it a second time.

Yes, I would take it to a shop with a reputable technician and find out if it's already been relacquered once in the past. It's hard to tell with these 80-year-old horns sometimes as it could have been done 40 or 50 years ago.

Plus if you ever go resell, those who play these like them to have a patina. Ever see pics of Zoot's?
 

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If the saxophone is very dirty, maybe with lumps of dust, etc. then washing it can already improve the way it looks. Those dust lumps are usually tucked under a lot of keys, especially like to get near posts and springs and sometimes hard/impossible to get to easily. There is usually a lot of oily dirt too on random places on the saxophone. That would mean disassembling the saxophone, washing the body with soap, wipe all the keys (possibly with a degreaser - careful not to damage the pads and corks) and reassemble. Though this won't improve the way the lacquer looks or remove any corrosion.

Re that it plays worse than before, the most common reason for this is because it slowly develops leaks and gets out of adjustment. Another reason is a player gets used to the sax and doesn't feel the excitement they once felt with the sax (also common). This can happen even after years/decades of playing a saxophone.
 

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Maybe a nice body wash with new felts, corks and pads helps, along with a new mpc or a reface?
 

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selmer 26 nino, 22 curved sop, super alto, King Super 20 and Martin tenors, Stowasser tartogatos
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The sound will not change due to outside corrosion or lacquer wear, but if you are building up junk inside the horn that could affect the sound. Keep the bore clean, definitely including the inside of the neck!

Personally, I seriously doubt that buffing, even heavy buffing, has any perceptible effect on the sound, but OTOH why take metal off the machine? One option would be to chemically strip the lacquer and then simply polish the horn. Of course it will tarnish, and you would have to be ready for that. Buffing is usually done to remove surface scratches prior to a relacquer, because scratches under a nice new coat look really strange. If you don't relacquer there is no need to buff, however either option will probably send the resale value south.

Plating, too, would usually call for the body to be buffed.

BTW I have a '33 Super alto, which I love as much as you love your tenor, and for the same reasons. It also has the lacquer at around 50%, but I'm not going to touch it.

Toby
 
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