Can you take a sax apart and put it all back together again with confidence?
If you can do that, and remove all the springs then use paint stripper on it and then polish up the silver after all the lacquer/stripper has been thoroughly washed off. Then replace the springs and the keywork (having replaced all the pads, key corks and felts that needed doing).
Do you have any more photos? Maybe what you have is gold plating, not lacquer. Gold plate is applied over silver plating because it won't adhere directly to brass. If it's gold-plated, I can't see why you'd want to remove it.
Cranky Bear, I couldn't access those photos. It's hard to tell from a photo, but seeing more of the horn might help. Gold plate has a certain look--well, it looks like gold! Based on the one earlier photo, I'd say it's a good chance it is gold plate. Also, I think it very unlikely that anyone would put a lacquer coat over silver plating. Are there other areas where the silver is showing through? Wherever the gold plate has worn off, you should see silver underneath, assuming it is gold plate.
I'm no expert, but I'd think a gold-plated Martin would be rather rare (and very nice to have!).
there is a bit of silver showing on some spots on the neck..and there are other areas with some wear, but the wear isn't quite silver, and isn't quite gold...maybe the wear isn't very deep or something...
Looks like lacquer over brass to me - I wouldn't mess with it. If it's original lacquer (and it looks like it might be) you will devalue the horn by stripping it. If you do strip it - the brass with tarnish (patina) - and although it may look "cool" and worn - it will fetch much less if you were to sell it.
FWIW I don't think Martin plated many horns from this era (unlike in the 1920's) - so it was unlikely to be plated from the get go (IMO).
If it's lacquer over brass, then why is there silver showing in some spots... the camera pics dont really show it well, but it looks like theres three shades, the silver, then a light gold, then a dark gold.....man im confused....oh well, it plays amazing!
If it is gold plate, then an electrical conductivity test is easy to carry out with a battery, some wire and a lightbulb.
If you can complete a circuit to make the bulb light up by touching the end of the bulb from one terminal against the surface and the end of the wire from the other terminal on an area nearby, then you have gold plate. If there is no circuit, then it's lacquer.
Now raid your house for batteries, bits of wire and small lightbulbs.
terminal? sorry, I dont really understand....slept through science class too much! are you sure running an electrical current through a metal saxophone is the greatest idea....i'd be scared to pick it up the next time I was going to practice!
I had a Martin Comm II tenor that I too thought was gold lacquer over silver-it turned out that it had been clear lacquered over the goldplate.(I sold this horn to Sarge at World Wide Sax) he has pics of it stripped of the lacquer on his site. It is a beauty-almost a rose gold. Your horn does look like lacquer though and as you suspect it might be lacquered over silverplate.
I'd say to not mess with the finish, but for those of you who won't listen, here's my secret method of removing lacquer.
1.Take horn apart.
2. Remove all pads/felts/cork
3.Fill large tub with hot water and dishsoap - please do not use bathtub.
4. Place all metal saxophone parts into hot water tub.
5. When the water has cooled, remove horn.
6. Lightly scrub horn and parts with extra soft bristle brush.
7. When done, horn should be bare brass.
8. Please dispose of lacquer water safely and environmentally.
9. Replace every pad, felt, and cork you didn't remove.
10. Reassemble saxophone.
11. Play, enjoy, and complain that your hands always smell like coins/housekeys...
Yeah, those photos do look like lacquer. Sorry if I led you on a wild goose chase about gold plate. I don't understand why there is silver involved, though. In any case, the horn looks great. If it plays great, I wouldn't mess with it.
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