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I've asked this before about a flute but can't remember what people said. I have a silver sax and it's getting that brown tarnish all over it. What's the best way to get this off that is safe for the sax? Ive had it sitting out on a stand for a few months........does it tarnish less if you keep it in the case? Thanks, Steve
 

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I prefer Haggerty's Silver Polish - and yes, if you have a lot of "stuff" in the air (especially sulfur), keeping the horn in its case will help.
 

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On silver trumpets all I ever used was Selmer silver polishing cloths. And yes. the more it is exposed --the faster it tarnishes.
 

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Wasn't there a thread a while ago that mentioned someone on SOTW was thinking of selling some special bags (or something like that) for silver instruments?
 

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I remember flute players in college keeping one of those "paper strip" thingies in the case to help retard tarnishing after polishing.

"Somebody's name" sliver strips I think? Like 3M, or Haggerty's or something?

I can't find them in any stores anymore, but you might do a google for them - supposedly they help, I don't know, I've never tried them.

dv
 

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I use silver-polishing mitts (gloves) found in fine dinnerware stores. I also use a treated silver-polishing cloth, and have used a q-tip dipped in silver-dip fluid to access the tighter spaces. I think exposure to the open air is not a good thing for any instrument, unless you don't care (and I don't for certain instruments I keep out for convenience). DAVE
 

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Steve,
Haggerty's is a good choice. If it has needle springs, polishing it can be painful.
After I play mine I let their pads air-dry for a few hours and then keep them in the case with the 3M trips. That will avoid tarnish for very long periods of time (years).
 

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PS: Keep any polishing liquid or paste away from the mechanism (rods). If it gets in the moving parts it will wear them out due to the abrasive stuff in it.
Polishing cloth is safer in that sense.
 

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Those silver paper (3M) only work for a short time and cannot be exposed to a lot of open air. As mentioned, leaving a horn out of the case will cause severe tarnishing. I take the keys off, clean the body around the posts with Tarn-X, dry, and hand polish with a liquid polish such as Haggerty's.
Leaving a horn out of the case for a week will start the browning under the keys. Wipe all fingerprints off the horn and put it in the case as soon as you are finished playing.
 

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Those silver paper (3M) only work for a short time and cannot be exposed to a lot of open air. As mentioned, leaving a horn out of the case will cause severe tarnishing. I take the keys off, clean the body around the posts with Tarn-X, dry, and hand polish with a liquid polish such as Haggerty's.
Leaving a horn out of the case for a week will start the browning under the keys. Wipe all fingerprints off the horn and put it in the case as soon as you are finished playing.
+1...
 

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So here's the deal. Forget the 3M strips. They don't work worth beans....

Now that's it's brown, strip the horn down and polish it with Hagerty's Silver Polish. Avoid breaking the springs. Make sure you get the residue out of everything that moves, as it is slightly abrasive and will wear the rods and pivots over time. Very soft cloths (terry towels or better, but no t-shirts) will cover the larger areas, but you will want a horse hair brush that's about the size of a tooth brush to get in the tight spots to remove the residue.

DO NOT dunk the horn in water, and avoid dipping methods of tarnish removal. Hagerty's is really your only safe choice.

Now that you have it cleaned, do three things.

1. Wax it. (an automotive paste wax will do). This will put a transparent protective film on it that will keep most of the air from getting to it.

2. Reassemble the horn, clean and lubricate all the rods and posts with key oil.

3. Get yourself a yard or two of "Pacific Silver Cloth", go down to your local dry cleaner, and have them sew it into a saxophone-sized laundry bag for you -- including a draw string. You'll need to give them the dimensions of the bag, and be sure to make it a little loose so it isn't snagging the horn as you take it in and out of the bag.

Finally, store your horn in the bag and in the case, and you won't be polishing again for a very long time. I did my alto last year, had the bag made, and have been doing this and there is no sign of any tarnish reappearing -- yet.

The silver cloth acts sort of like a sacrificial anode and keeps the horn from tarnishing while in the case. The cloth is impregnated with silver and tarnishes the bag, rather than your horn.

You can get it here.

http://www.silverguard.com/c-6-pacific-silvercloth.aspx

The cloth costs about $30 for 2 yards, the labor to make the bag should be in the $15 range.
 

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Assume a horn owner is not concerned about appearance. In that case, is there any harm in letting the horn tarnish as much as it wants? Is there a risk of irreparable permanent tarnish?
 

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Assume a horn owner is not concerned about appearance. In that case, is there any harm in letting the horn tarnish as much as it wants? Is there a risk of irreparable permanent tarnish?
Yes, there is.
Tarnish is the first stage of a corrosive process, which if left to its own devices will continue and develop into corrosion proper. In the case of silver plate, the brown stains eventually go black and start to eat into the silver. When the stains are removed there will be evidence of pitting on the silver. In some cases this pitting can break through to the metal below.
It takes quite some time for this to happen as a rule, and in that time you're more likely to see damage to the plating through simple wear and tear (i.e. on the palm key touchpieces etc.).

And whereas a lacquered horn that loses its lacquer can look distinguished, and a bare brass horn that tarnishes can look cool - a silver-plated horn that's gone black just looks shabby.

Regards,
 

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Perhaps I dreamt it, but I could swear that I read of an aerosol foam which could be squirted over the horn, then, after a while, washed off..... Sparkle sparkle!
If such a product does not exist then someone should get busy & develop it.
The advice given about keeping the horn in it's case is all very well....except if you wish to play it at frequent intervals during the day....my horn lives on it's stand to be available at all times....obviously, for the reasons given, it tarnishes. Hey Ho.
 

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Captain,
I also would like to play my horn at frequent intervals during the day, but my boss and the other folks at the office won't let me... :cry:

If I were good enough to play the sax professionally and not to need another job, I would have the same issue. But maybe if it is not your main horn it would still be OK to keep it in the case. in between playing sessions.
 

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The advice given about keeping the horn in it's case is all very well....except if you wish to play it at frequent intervals during the day....my horn lives on it's stand to be available at all times....obviously, for the reasons given, it tarnishes. Hey Ho.
You could try making the bag as suggested above and drape it over your horn when on the stand. I can't claim that as an original thought, the flute people have been doing it for years - I just hadn't considered it an option for saxophones until now.
 

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A big 10-4 to maddenma, and also Dr.G. Yeah what they said.
My wife sewed me a nice bag of Pacific Silvercloth, with a drawstring. I love it and I'm sure the horn does, too.
A few other notes:
The big chemical contributors to tarnish (in some rough order of some combined assessment of their prevalence in the environment/potential to do damage):
1. Sulfur and its associated compounds (like sulfur dioxide). Sulfur is in motor fuels, though less so now than in the old days. It is also in coal. So it and its compounds are more or less of a factor depending on where/when your horn is/was. Some geographic areas have way more of these compounds in the air than others.
2. Water/moisture. I think this is much less tarnish-promoting than sulfur, but more prevalent in the environment. Probably a good idea to dry off your horn and keep it covered (or better still in its case if in a humid climate).
3. Hydrocarbons. The main source of these would be motor fuels, but I don't think normal atmospheric quantities are much of a contributor. But it's probably a good idea to keep your horn out of, say, a garage with old cars sitting in it that smells like gasoline.
4. Wool. I learned that this promotes tarnish from I think the Society of American Silversmiths website, after I read on some horn website that WOOL yarn makes the best polishing tool for between key posts and such. Try some other kind of yarn instead.
Go to the Society of American Silversmiths website for really authoritative info on silver care.
They also mention there that if the tarnish is just getting started (yellowish/brownish hue to the metal) you can remove it with Purell hand cleaner. I would think this is preferable to Haggerty's or other abrasive polishes (though Haggerty's has its place - removing blackish tarnish).
Also, turn over your polishing cloth frequently when using Haggerty's. The tarnish itself is actually very abrasive. Wash the cloth (or gloves) before it gets too black, then re-use with fresh polish.
 
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