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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
An older player asked me a question. Seems a friend of his does engraving and offered to engrave his plain-Jane Selmer Paris tenor for him, with whatever pattern he wants to provide, for free. Says he’s done saxophones and trumpets before, and it will take him 8-10 hours “to do it right.”

The horn is not a very valuable model (Mark VII), and he’s not concerned about any affect on resale value, anyway. He’s leaning toward having it done, mostly because his friend owes him favor-for-favor and really doesn’t have much other wherewithall.

His question, and now mine is, is engraving an already lacquered horn normally done and are there downsides to doing it?
 

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His question, and now mine is, is engraving an already lacquered horn normally done and are there downsides to doing it?
Yes, I would venture to say that is the norm.

The only downside is if he botches it up, or the design is not good. A bit like having a tat.

(But with less chance of catching hepatitis)
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Thanks, Pete. When I was told he’d be spending all day on it I felt a bit reassured. If it was “it’ll only take a few minutes” my advice would have been to make new friends.
 

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I believe most horns are engraved through (after) the lacquer is applied. As an example if you look at new horns with a darker lacquer, the underlying brass stands out dramatically in contrast to the lacquer. This also true with horns that have a patina applied and then engraved. Some manufacturers might do a clearcoat afterwards to slow down the possibility of tarnish on the lacquer.

Others far more expert than myself can give better information than I can.
 

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I'd be more concerned about the skills of the guy who's offering to engrave it. I wouldn't let someone touch my old Bundy without seeing their other work first.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Thanks again for members who offered advice. I think Pete's comment did it, in that it is normally done. I really did not know (with over 50 years of playing/buying/selling) if engraving a vintage lacquered horn would be problemic. (Does old lacquer shatter or whatever?) Again, the Mark VII is not a real pricey horn. The owner wants to accept a favor. Looks like a deal done.
 

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See posts by SotW member Jason Dumars. He is the resident horn engraver.
 

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See posts by SotW member Jason Dumars. He is the resident horn engraver.
There are a few other notable engravers here, but Jason is certainly a master of his craft. He certainly isn't afraid to try new things, and those things usually look beautiful.
 

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There are a few other notable engravers here, but Jason is certainly a master of his craft. He certainly isn't afraid to try new things, and those things usually look beautiful.
Apologies to any that I failed to cite. Could you list a few?
 

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Yes, I would venture to say that is the norm.

The only downside is if he botches it up, or the design is not good. A bit like having a tat.

(But with less chance of catching hepatitis)
If it’s bad he could do the sax version of tat removal and buff it out. Might as well go whole hog in devaluing the sax
 

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I'd be more concerned about the skills of the guy who's offering to engrave it.
+1. I would absolutely, without question, need to see at least one (preferably several) examples of engraved horns by this guy before I'd let him touch my horn. And, just an aside, but a MkVII is a very good horn.
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
If it’s bad he could do the sax version of tat removal and buff it out. Might as well go whole hog in devaluing the sax

I would not risk it either. I once owned a VII that I practically gave away 18 years ago. It was not as bad as some believe. But his question was whether it was normal procedure, not if it was value diminishing.
 

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But his question was whether it was normal procedure, not if it was value diminishing.
Then the straightforward answer is “Yes”. If you read threads regarding the question of “Is this original lacquer?”, you will see that a strong indicator is whether the engraving is cut through the lacquer, or whether lacquer is sprayed over the engraving.
 

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First of all, a Selmer MK VII is, in fact, a valuable horn - check out current ebay prices.
Secondly, they do play very well.
Thirdly, engraving does not enhance the appearance of the horn or the player, for a lot of people.
Fourth, the artistic merits of any engraving, are subject to a lot of argument.
Fifth, a lot of players buying a used sax, would much prefer a pristine, original example.
You say he is not concerned about resale value, but, eventually, everything he owns, will have to be sold, unless he is putting in a provision in his will that his MK VII is to be buried with him in his casket.

So, bottom line, my advice is to forgetaboutit.
 

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Nah, it's just a horn.

I'd love to see a horn engraved with an image of a basset hound on the bell.
 
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