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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I have a couple bare brass saxes. For some reason I got it in my head that the natural oils from my fingers will both help protect the bare brass and help develop a patina. So I rub the less used areas of the horn.

After a month or so of doing this I thought, uh-oh, maybe there are acids in the finger oils, and I'm doing harm in slow motion.

Does anyone know which of these is the case?

Or perhaps I'm way off base either way.

Anyone have and knowledge about this?

(I know that Pledge Wax will protect the brass and help retard patina.)


Distinguished SOTW Technician
2,547 Posts
If you take a piece of brass, polish and degrease it, then press a finger onto it and leave the metal to stand for a few weeks, you'll come back to find your fingerprint etched into the metal.
This is essentially why horns are lacquered (or plated). Brass is quite a reactive metal, and what comes off your fingers is likely to be slightly acidic.
However, in terms of what damage it can do - well, it can certainly dull a piece of shiny brass... but that's about it, realistically.
Some players seem to have more acidic sweat, and can leave a horn looking very shabby in no time at all - so I'd recommend keeping an eye on how things are going. If there's a nice patina developing, leave it alone - if it looks like it's starting to go green, wipe the area over with cigarette lighter fluid to prevent further deterioration.

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