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Discussion Starter #1
I have read saxes can contain up to 3% lead, is this true? I have read yellow and red brass can contain even more lead? I have also heard from a well known source that it is illegal to produce a modern sax with the same amount of lead used in vintage saxes! Is this true?
 

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Yes, raw brass can contain lead. Here's some brass alloys. "Pb" = Lead:

C21000
Cu 97.0-98.0
Zn 1.9-3.0
Fe 0.05
Pb 0.02


C22000
Cu 89.0-90.0
Zn 8.9-11.0
Fe 0.05
Pb 0.05

C23000
Cu 84.0-86.0
Zn 13.9-16.0
Fe 0.05
Pb 0.05

C26000
Cu 68.5-71.5
Zn 28.38-31.38
Pb 0.07
Fe 0.05

C86300 (High Strength Yellow Brass)
Cu 60-66
Zn 22-28
Al 5.0-7.5
Mn 2.5-5.0
Fe 2.0-4.0
Ni 1.0
Pb 0.20
Sn 0.20

And, no. There is no federal law in the United States that limits the amount of lead in musical instruments. It is possible that some states have addressed this. But I am not aware of any that have.
 

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3%, it could be true, especially on an older horn, if all the solder joints that might be present were counted,(the solder has a lot more than 3% lead in.)

A Modern 2xxxx series brass body should be largely lead free. Lead is only really added to brass to help machinability and cutting performance in 3xxxx series alloys. Older saxes might not have been subject to the same rigorous production standards. Alloy production has become a lot more scientific, and metallurgists have a lot more control over the elemental makeup of alloys then there ever was in the 20s and 30s, so I would guess that the brass used for some of the classic horns was a lot "dirtier", and also varied from lot to lot by far more than modern production techniques would allow. Still, no one ever admits to having one of the many lousy mk VIs made, do they:) Anyway, dont go eating your sax. As long as you blow and dont suck you will be safe:D


Under the European "RoHS" legislation, Brass has been granted an exemption from the requirement for lead reduction, allowing it to retain up to 4% Pb, so it seems unlikely that its "illegal" to produce modern brass with the same lead levels. Generally though a free cutting brass with lead would only be specified if it was going to be machined, which doesnt really apply to the sheet pressing of a sax body.

True "Red brass" is in fact a gunmetal containing a much higher copper content as well as Tin. Yellow brass is simply a regular 33% Cu / Zn alpha brass alloy. Its the additional copper content in Red Zinc that changes the colour, nothing to do with lead.

Sorry for the science content:)
 

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littlemanbighorn said:
So kids: Quit licking your horns.
Well, quit licking your vintage horns.

A new horn wont have much lead in it.


Probably not a good idea to lick them anyway...have you seen how clean the average band room is:shock:
 

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Discussion Starter #6
Thanks for the info! I was more concerned about my thumb hook, which has no lacquer left where it touches the skin and has a tendency to turn my thumb green.

Canadiain said:
Well, quit licking your vintage horns.

A new horn wont have much lead in it.


Probably not a good idea to lick them anyway...have you seen how clean the average band room is:shock:
 

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coolsax2k7 said:
Thanks for the info! I was more concerned about my thumb hook, which has no lacquer left where it touches the skin and has a tendency to turn my thumb green.
Green Fingers! Cool, I could use you around my yard.:)

Thats the copper, not the lead doing that. With my H&S hat on, adsortption of lead through the skin, say while soldering, is very low. The real danger is ingesting it after handing it and then contaminating food or cigarettes if you dont wash your hands well.

You can always get a can of laquer, mask off the rest of the sax and respray just the hook to stop it happening after you polish the green stuff off. Would be even easier if the hook is removable.

Or just wear a band-aid:)
 

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Discussion Starter #8 (Edited)
Canadiain said:
Green Fingers! Cool, I could use you around my yard.:)

Thats the copper, not the lead doing that. With my H&S hat on, adsortption of lead through the skin, say while soldering, is very low. The real danger is ingesting it after handing it and then contaminating food or cigarettes if you dont wash your hands well.

You can always get a can of lacquer, mask off the rest of the sax and respray just the hook to stop it happening after you polish the green stuff off. Would be even easier if the hook is removable.

Or just wear a band-aid:)
Well since I am a dirty, unhygenic person and never wash at all, and smoke tons of cigarettes constantly, and also always eat with my hands, I guess I'm in the high-risk category? Or is there a lot more lead involved with soldering? I am trying to judge if this the whole spraying of the thumbhook thing is necessary on my 55' Martin Indiana, since it is not removable.

Just kidding about the first part btw, just saying in a worst case scenario of course. :p Once when I was younger I had a hair test thing where a guy claimed I had slightly elevated levels of lead in my body, and sold my parents chelated minerals. But since I currently have good mental function (wha?) and that was 10 or 15 years ago I'm not too worried... it just struck me when I heard that you aren't allowed to build a new sax in Asia with the same levels of lead and whatever else, etc. The person who told me this seemed to think this has to do with the "vintage" tone of old brass.
 

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coolsax2k7 said:
Well since I a dirty, unhygenic person and never wash at all, and smoke tons of cigarettes constantly, and also always eat with my hands, I guess I'm in the high-risk category? Or is there a lot more lead involved with soldering? I am trying to judge if this the whole spraying of the thumbhook thing is necessary on my 55' Martin Indiana, since it is not removable.

Just kidding about the first part btw, just saying in a worst case scenario of course. :p
I really wouldnt loose any sleep over it. Besides, its the mouthpieces you really have to worry about:twisted:
 

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Discussion Starter #10
Canadiain said:
I really wouldnt loose any sleep over it. Besides, its the mouthpieces you really have to worry about:twisted:
Yes, I was just reading about the "silverite" material used to make some mouthpieces. :eek: Thankfully, I am more of a fan of hard rubber, which I assume is ok? :?

on the other hand...walks outside to get into car to go get spray lacquer for thumbhook... accidently get run over by a big rig... hmm, maybe I should have just played my alto...
 

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I'd be more worried about the natural dioxin coming from the soil around your home. and the nasty (natural) chemicals in most fruit & veges. And that terribly corrosive (natural) stuff called oxygen, that makes those free radicals in your body, not to mention the brain frying from your cell phone radiation. and you can get copper poisoning too.
 

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coolsax2k7 said:
The person who told me this seemed to think this has to do with the "vintage" tone of old brass.
Ah, so this really is about the actual concentration of lead in the brass and not about the total amount of lead in the horn (ie, including solder)?
 

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I'm worried about the guy who plays lead alto in the big band I play in.
 

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Discussion Starter #15 (Edited)
littlemanbighorn said:
I'm worried about the guy who plays lead alto in the big band I play in.
:shock: ...look on the bright side, you won't have to worry when he becomes braindead and/or dies or quits the band to work as a politician because his IQ dropped 30 points. Then maybe you can get to see what it's like to play lead alto.

Does Yanagisawa make one? :twisted: I would like to try it with my new cadmium mouthpiece and PVC reed (go for the tone, at all costs)

somehow i knew this thread would end up this way. :(
 

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So the lead in ithe brass was the reason those vintage saxes were lacquered. Is it also the lead that makes players of unlacquered vintage saxes religious towards vintage saxes? Conspiracy theory at large? :)
 

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Yeah, let's scare the guys who are taking the lacquer off their horns; go back and revisit all those threads and just interject, "so you guys aren't worried about the exposed lead content?"
 

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So there's less lead in a saxophone than in my personal nether regions?
 

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Grumps said:
Yeah, let's scare the guys who are taking the lacquer off their horns; go back and revisit all those threads and just interject, "so you guys aren't worried about the exposed lead content?"
Nope. I'm not cranky enough yet, and too lethargic. Could be fun though. ;) :cool: :twisted:
 
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