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Discussion Starter #1
My instruments are not merely useful tools for me to make a good living. In fact I make no money from music, and play only for my pleasure. I value my instruments as fine artifacts, and try to keep them in good condition with reasonable effort. If I receive one in factory-fresh polish, I try to keep it that way. I do not see dings, dents and scratches as honorable battle scars re-telling the story of epic musical events; rather I consider them physical evidence of my own stupid carelessness and negligence. That's me, for good or bad, my choice. And, to be fair, a carpenter doesn't leave her good chisels out in the rain or knock dings into the honed edge, either.

So, I got a silver-plated Selmer Paris tenor, Ref 36, possibly the only such one, from the original owner Selmer-endorsed jazz recording artist who specified several custom elements (such as metal resonators, teardrop front-hi-F touch, Jubilee-style engraving) and supervised the final set-up in person at Selmer in Paris. It arrived to me as a museum piece, uniformly gleaming silver.

I was too intimidated to play it, second-guessed my worthiness to even blow into such a magnificent object of craft, and thought immediately of re-homing it to a less-conflicted and self-conscious player than I who could simply enjoy a cool instrument.

Weird. I am who I am.

But, that was months ago. I've now been playing it several hours a day for at least 12 weeks, and it has turned out to be really pretty simple to care for the silver finish.

So that is my only point, don't fear bare silver. It isn't such a big deal, even if you don't want to see any tarnish or fingerprints or smudges at all.

[Quick note here: solid silver material (Sterling in Selmer Paris, 95% in Yanagisawa), rather than brass or bronze, is typically protected by lacquer. This is because the rods and cups and linkages are typically brass for cost and durability, and the hardware is lacquered to prevent unpredictable irregular (ugly?) brass tarnish, so the solid silver core of the sax is lacquered also. DO NOT use silver polish on a solid silver horn without first establishing that it is bare silver, which it almost certainly is not when new.]

What have I done? Routine care--swab, plain paper dry the pads, Key Leave open the C# and D#, hollow body cap. Then after my last play of the day I take a damp 3M knobby microfiber (such as sold to clean computer screens) and wipe down inside the bell, outside, key cups, between the upper stack and palm key arms. This may leave nearly-invisible small clean water spots or streaks. Occasionally follow-up with a quick rub with a silver cloth. I have two anti-tarnish sachets from Doctors Products (3M anti-tarnish strips are also recommended by many) under the sax in the case, which I keep open. If a little spot or region of tarnish appears, maybe every two weeks, I hit it with a piece of pre-impregnated wipe out of a silver polish dispenser-container.

You don't HAVE to do this! Many on this forum in prior posts have expressed their disregard for tarnish, or indeed their love of the evolving grey cast over silver. I respect their choice!

But before you scoff at me, the horn I love to play for hours a day also has a like-new silver finish, and I hope I have pointed out how simple it is to keep it that way, and dispelled some of the mystery and myths of silver.

And come overhaul time, the conscientious technician will be very pleased by my minimal long-term effort!

http://www.stohrermusic.com/2014/06/how-i-polish-silver-saxophones/
 

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So, I got a silver-plated Selmer Paris tenor, Ref 36, possibly the only such one, from the original owner Selmer-endorsed jazz recording artist who specified several custom elements (such as metal resonators, teardrop front-hi-F touch, Jubilee-style engraving) and supervised the final set-up in person at Selmer in Paris. It arrived to me as a museum piece, uniformly gleaming silver.
Cool horn. Why, oh why, would the endorsing artist flip such a horn? This stuff boggles the mind, but bonus for you!

[Quick note here: solid silver material (Sterling in Selmer Paris, 95% in Yanagisawa), rather than brass or bronze, is typically protected by lacquer. This is because the rods and cups and linkages are typically brass for cost and durability, and the hardware is lacquered to prevent unpredictable irregular (ugly?) brass tarnish, so the solid silver core of the sax is lacquered also. DO NOT use silver polish on a solid silver horn without first establishing that it is bare silver, which it almost certainly is not when new.]
This is a confusing read. Are you suggesting that the body is lacquered because the keys are lacquered?

If your point is "Don't use silver polish on lacquer", I agree.

But before you scoff at me, the horn I love to play for hours a day also has a like-new silver finish, and I hope I have pointed out how simple it is to keep it that way, and dispelled some of the mystery and myths of silver.
I don't know what myths you refer to, but I can attest that 1) silver instruments are lovely, and 2) tarnish is subject to environment. My instruments (silver plate saxophones and flutes, and silver flutes) are tarnishing much more quickly, and to a different hue, now that I live at sea level in a metropolitan region (Sacramento, CA, vs Santa Fe, NM).

Enjoy that horn - the Ref 36 is my favorite modern Selmer tenor, and silver is my preferred finish. When you have a few years on it, get it repadded and set up by someone like Randy Jones or Matt Stohrer, to take it over the top. (Matt has overhauled both my Borgani tenors, and Randy did a set up on my Ref 36. Maybe your horn has the extra hours in its setup, but "normal" Selmers certainly don't. Soldering the body to the bow is something else that many techs believe in, but not in the usual Selmer setup.)
 

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Discussion Starter #3
Appreciate your experience and taste.

Mystery, myth, or simple lore—there is a great deal of it on the forum regarding silver. One cannot know one’s personal truth without experience, and I hoped my benign outcome might reassure the curious yet cautious.

Why the flip? Cash. I understand the original owner has silver vintage horns that are preferred. I do not know nor is it my place to know (although of course I’m curious) the details of endorsement, but all parties benefited here I believe. I know I have a horn that they would not have made for me.

My understanding of Yanagisawa lacquer of solid silver comes from my AWO33 and what I was told by a 30-year dealer. I’m glad he did tell me. My presumption—INCORRECT—was that solid silver finish would be the same as silver plate, i.e. bare metal. To the silver novice, I say again, find out if your solid silver has lacquer before you fog and destroy that finish with silver polish.

Is anyone’s setup good enough? I can say that mine, after several passes through Selmer Final at the direction of the original owner, and minor work by the OO who also is a dealer with basic skills, and the OO’s tech, it arrived to me (shimmed and we’ll-packed) needing bell key timing adjustment, but that was all. Nothing like my newish Ref 54 which had gross slop in the OK mech and required swedging in the upper stack. I trust my tech Scott at South Florida Horns who has a pretty stellar regional reputation. That said, Brian at GetASax told me that he routinely overhauls even newish Selmer Refs that he resells, so little regard does he have for factory assembly, or to put it another way, the horns cannot achieve their full potential without such a significant undertaking. Advantage Yanagisawa!

I bet playing a Matt overhaul is a fabulous treat, and that he goes far beyond mere dead-proper mechanical operation to conforming the horn uniquely to you, and tweaking intonation and speaking to perfect-as-possible. I do indulge myself shamelessly, but for now I blame me when the horn misbehaves. As you say, a future delight will be blowing a fresh exquisite overhaul.
 

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Well, lacquer can be applied on a solid silver surface, or on a silver plated surface. It just depends on the choices made by the manufacturer, or someone later on. I have a silver plated soprano sax that was lacquered at some point. I have also had numerous solid silver flutes that were never lacquered. A good reason for a manufacturer to apply lacquer over silver (whether plated or solid) is that the instrument won't require periodic polishing to maintain its "as new" condition between manufacture and sale, especially if it's on a display in a store.

Silver plate should be pretty much 100% elemental silver whereas solid silver will be silver with some alloying element (usually copper, I believe) for strength. This should in theory result in slightly different tarnishing behavior though I can't say I have ever really noticed much difference in the way my silver plated saxophones and flutes and my solid silver flutes tarnish.
 

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My understanding of Yanagisawa lacquer of solid silver comes from my AWO33 and what I was told by a 30-year dealer. I’m glad he did tell me. My presumption—INCORRECT—was that solid silver finish would be the same as silver plate, i.e. bare metal. To the silver novice, I say again, find out if your solid silver has lacquer before you fog and destroy that finish with silver polish.
I think that Yanagisawa also lacquers over their silver plate finishes. As Turf3 comments, it is a great way to ensure that horns stay shiny from manufacture to retail point-of-sale.
 

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I think that Yanagisawa also lacquers over their silver plate finishes. As Turf3 comments, it is a great way to ensure that horns stay shiny from manufacture to retail point-of-sale.
Lacquering over a silver finish completely negates the point of the finish. Finishes affect the tone of the horn. That's why there are different finishes–it's not primarily a cosmetic thing.

Brass players have been removing the lacquer from their horns for decades. Why? To improve the sound.

I personally love the sound of the silver finish, which is why I play a Yamaha Custom silver plated soprano (and before that, a Custom silver plated alto.)

And at the end of the day, your sound is determined by you. Not your horn, not even your setup. Equipment is only for making it easier to play and to initialize the sound you want.

Story: I bought my first Selmer, a 1927 BA alto, from a guy who used to play in Gene Krupa's Big Band. I went over to his house to check out the horn. He had all these medals on the wall from World War II! The brass from the twenties was softer, it had more lead in the composition, and I presume this is the attraction of the sound of all these vintage horns. I was looking to develop that type of sound, so I played that horn for years. At a certain point, the mechanical issues with the horn led me to sell it and to purchase a brand new Yamaha alto. (I had tried the silver plate both at the factory in Tokyo and at the Yamaha Showroom in NYC, and decided that's what I wanted.) HOWEVER, in order to transfer the sound I was getting on the BA to the Yamaha, I had to do two things:
1. Practice an hour of longtones on the new horn every day for a year.
2. Not let anyone else try the horn for a year.

Your sound is ultimately determined by how you hear the overtones, and which partials you're partial to (pardon the pun.) That's why you can line up 10 players of the same horn and each one sounds different. In other words, how is it possible that the alto sax can support tones as varied as Charlie Parker, Paul Desmond, Ornette, Jackie McLean, etc.? The answer is in the way that each person wishes to express the overtones inherent in the timbre. For students: after determining which type of timbre (i.e. which saxophone master) is the one closest to what you'd like yourself to sound like, you have to listen to that player a lot, and play a lot of longtones so you can train it. Through diligent efforts you should be successful. Then, don't listen to your favorite player anymore... until you have developed your own personal sound, rather than an imitation of someone else's sound. (I had to stop listening to my Jackie McLean records--and he was my teacher!--for a while so I could develop my own sound rather than imitating his.)
 

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Sue! I was re-reading some of your "Practice Like the Pros" book just yesterday. There are so many nuggets in that book that to read it all at once is sipping from a firehose. I like to come back to visit it every once in a while. Thanks for putting all that together in such a concise reference.

Having read your perspective on shadow tones, I get what you are saying.

https://www.saxontheweb.net/Price/SecretOfGoodSound.html

I hope that people here can set aside their various dogma to accept and appreciate your personal experience.

Wishing all the best to you and yours,

George
 

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Discussion Starter #9
https://www.amazon.com/Practice-Like-Pros-Saxophone-Terry/dp/0825619300

Looks like a very cool book, now on my wish list--thanks for contributing to the thread.

Oh boy, I only wished to comment that care of bare silver plate is not so scary as I once thought, and had no intent to submerge into the sound or feel of materials or finish imbroglio (like I'm drowning on the ergonomic high-mass neck screw multiple threads due to the vast anti-vibrationist conspiracy. But I agree, I've read and heard from many that a principle reason for silver plate is to avoid the lacquer sound jacket without incurring dark mottled brass tarnish. So my other tenor is a UL YTS-82ZASP, and I'm going to face that naked brass battle-to-stay-pretty too.)

But bravo boldly stating your personal truth, and your argument and experience are compelling that one shall not find one's sound on a good horn until at least a year of serious work! I'm on my way.
 

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Hi George, thanks for commenting on my comment! Glad you are still enjoying the book...I loved putting it together and certainly learned a lot from my colleagues' various approaches to essential exercises. And as I always tell folks, the 2 CDs included in the book have each player speaking, demonstrating their exercise, and elaborating on it!
 

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I will second Dave D. However I will also add that you(Su) contradicted yourself. First you said finish affects tone and then later:And at the end of the day, your sound is determined by you. Not your horn, not even your setup.......

As to the OP: saying that owning a silver horn is no big deal and then saying that you have a lacquered silver horn, kind of make your whole point meaningless. I do own a Yani 9937, and it is also lacquered, and yes it is no big deal. However I also own a Silver YTS875 and it is not lacquered and is considerably more work. I also own several vintage silver horns unlacquered and also more work.
 

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Discussion Starter #13
Bare silver plate Ref 36 — care for me has turned out to be no big deal.

Lacquered solid silver (bell and neck) Yanagisawa AWO33 — essentially no care.
 

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You have to get used to seeing the silver plate tarnish and then embrace it. I own a Yamaha 82ZR soprano that's silver plated and at first I was a little taken aback with how it started to turn. Then I just decided to go with it and now the look is totally cool. I wipe it down with a soft cloth after use and every couple of months I use a silver polish cloth on it. If you go with a cloth you need to find a really soft lightly abrasive one, because even if it's cloth it still contains an abrasive.

As far as the sound, silver VS standard lacquer. I played both and decided on the silver just because of the look. I really didn't notice any difference in the sound.
 

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.... Finishes affect the tone of the horn...
The science and relevant research/testing says the opposite. But of course belief and expensive perception - placebo effects - can override any science.

That's why there are different finishes–it's not primarily a cosmetic thing.
Perhaps read more relevant stuff in this forum. It is to do with competitive marketing hype to anybody who will believe it.

Brass players have been removing the lacquer from their horns for decades. Why? To improve the sound.
Same thing. However the science says that there can be slight differences for the brass-family instruments.

I personally love the sound of the silver finish, which is why I play a Yamaha Custom silver plated soprano (and before that, a Custom silver plated alto.)
It is unlikely that would stand up in double blind testing. And if they are different it is likely to be other factors, eg the surface texture inside the bore, or small differences in bore geometry, especially in the neck. (If I were making and marketing different metals or finishes, it is likely I would deliberately create such other differences. And I am a person of high integrity; most if not all manufacturers exhibit something different.)
There is a professional neck maker in this forum. He is honest enough to say the material is irrelevant.
Having beliefs is fine, but beliefs should not be confused with reality.

And at the end of the day, your sound is determined by you...Equipment is only for making it easier to play and to initialize the sound you want.
That's for sure!
 

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Solid (eg Sterling) silver flutes are often plated as well. That gives them a finer appearance and stops the soft soldering from tarnishing. The manufacturer seldom says anything about this.

Some silver plating has a flashing of rhodium over the silver. This is to increase shine, luster and durability, make the metal more scratch resistant, and less prone to tarnishing.
Manufacturers seldom tell you about this either.

So don't assume that the "silver" finish on one instrument will behave the same as that on another.

From memory it also has some downsides.
 

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Discussion Starter #18
That is interesting! The more you learn, the more you know. Silver plated onto silver, whoda thunk?

But that would be essentially pure silver over either 95% (Yanagisawa) or Sterling 92.% (Selmer), not that it matters in an acoustic nor structural nor care sense.

It seems clear that one's air quality affects the rate and quality of tarnish. I live on a non-industrial peninsula adjacent to a large swamp (i.e. south Florida) and doubt there is significant sulfur in my air, so I am on the favorable end of the local climate spectrum to delay tarnish, I believe, fortunate and grateful.
 

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Solid (eg Sterling) silver flutes are often plated as well. That gives them a finer appearance and stops the soft soldering from tarnishing. The manufacturer seldom says anything about this.

Some silver plating has a flashing of rhodium over the silver. This is to increase shine, luster and durability, make the metal more scratch resistant, and less prone to tarnishing.
Manufacturers seldom tell you about this either.

So don't assume that the "silver" finish on one instrument will behave the same as that on another.

From memory it also has some downsides.
Well, I have also read that. So I am not sure what to conclude about the relative tarnishing of sterling vs. silver plate. I do have some sterling tableware and some silver plated tableware, and I am pretty certain the sterling is not plated. But I still couldn't say whether the tarnishing behavior of those is different, as they live in different environments.

Fortunately I don't care if my silver plated saxophones and flutes, or my solid silver flutes, get grey.

Honestly, for the super long haul, trying to keep your saxophone looking as-new is a losing proposition.

The super-duty lacquers hold up for a very very long time, but they eventually get little pits which actually look worse to me than the gradual wearing-off of larger areas of the old-fashioned lacquers.

The old fashioned lacquers wear off, as we all know.

Silver plate turns grey especially down under the machinery. If you lacquer over it, then you're back to the two choices of lacquer. To my eyes, flaking lacquer over a silver finish is more unattractive than flaking lacquer over a brass finish.

In theory gold plate ought to be the most durable, but I have seen an awful lot of horns where (I presume the galvanic potential of gold over silver over brass is such that) they get eaten way down into the brass at the contact points - much worse than either silver plate alone or lacquered brass.

Nickel looks good for a long time but when it corrodes and turns grey it's a real bear to polish back; plus it can flake off in great sheets. Sometime I would like to try a matte/sandblast finish in ELECTROLESS nickel. Maybe when I'm retired.
 

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Discussion Starter #20
I suspect we all confront aging in our own fashion. Not for the weak, say the (aged) wise.

I hope at the appropriate time I am bonded enough with my silver instruments to thereafter age gracefully together, but if not, I'll buy wisely and flip them while still young and pretty. Win-win.

No parallel with human monogamy expressed nor implied. These are objects, and in some consistent models, nearly commodities.
 
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