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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
This is a tip for anyone who wants to clean his silver-finished sax before restoration. I explicitly say 'before restoration', because all corks/pads/felts will be destroyed while doing this :D

I bought a '23 Conn New Wonder I alto off eBay. It was complete but not very expensive (especially not considering the price one pays for saxes in Europe), and it looked like it had spent a couple of decades in someone's attic with the lid of the box open.

The silver had gone black everywhere, there were spiderwebs inside the body, and all the (original, white) pads where shot.

Since I already own another one of these, I decided to take it apart entirely: rebuilding would be easy with the example at hand. I would clean it and then have it repadded etc. by a pro. I enjoy tinkering with mechanical stuff and can spare the amount the tech would charge me for cleaning :)

But how to clean the silver plate w/o having to rub endlessly with silver polish?


What you do is take a plastic/glass bowl or box, put aluminum foil on the bottom and then fill it with hot water. Then add a little bit of salt and some backing soda. If you put the keys in there (take of the pads first), the solution starts to bubble and a chemical reaction reverses the oxidation reaction of the silver, removing the silveroxide.

This really works wonders, and it's very cheap. I was careful with those keys that have mother of pearl on them, but the mother of pearl is not affected.

Right now I have the whole sax body in a plastic container with the stuff. It takes some time and a refresh of the solution, but it does a great job.

After soaking in this solution, I still need to polish a little, but after that everything looks like new. Literally!

I'm thrilled by the results, and can't wait till everything has been put together :)

Distinguished SOTW Technician
3,112 Posts
I do a similar thing with tarnished silver plated clarinet or oboe keys - once all the pads, corks and screws (adjusting and flat spring screws) are removed, I boil up some water in a large frying pan, add a squirt of washing up liquid and put the keys in. When it reaches the boil again, add crumpled up tin foil and replace it when it goes black.

Rinse well, polish and serve with fresh corks, pads and a good quality oil.
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