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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hi,

Has anyone ever re-plated a sax?

I understand Anderson in Elkhart has a good reputation, but they won't give me general information until I send my sax up to them.

I have 2 tenor saxes and I am considering one of them.

1) H.Couf - it's in terrible condition, parts of it are green and textured like hamburger - has anyone ever send a bad shape horn up there? Can it be done? Ball park figure?

2) Grassi, in fair condition. Some of the gold plating is coming off but there are no deep pits in the brass. Again ball park figure?

They also offer two kinds of nickel plating? Regular and stainless? What's the difference and has anyone every had experience with either?

Is there a more durable plating to be put on a horn than nickel?

Anything else I should know?

I've never done this before.

Since they don't lacquer saxes here anymore, I want something that will look nice with a minimal amount of care and have the maximum durability.

Thanks.
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They also offer two kinds of nickel plating? Regular and stainless? What's the difference and has anyone every had experience with either?
The stainless looks more like chrome.I like the regular myself.

I have sent some saxes to Anderson, but I did all the prep work so all they had to do is plate.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
I think I'd like the chrome look better. But I'd have to see examples of both and find out which one would be more durable under my fingers.

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Nickel is definitely durable. Very old nickel plated horns often look deceptively new. But there is a general feeling among some that the traditional nickel plating produces a less desirable tone than silver plating. I will not, under any circumstances, get into a discussion about the effect of finish on saxophone tone. It's just a purely evil, useless and mute subject in my opinion. But I just wanted to let you know that school of thought is out there and quite prevalent.

Personally, I'd go with shiny silver plate. I just like the look and feel of silver better, even though some periodic polishing is involved. If a could justify spending the money, I would have both my '37 12M "Frisky Lady" and my newly acquire Big B tenor silver plated. But I'm eternally cheap at heart so bare brass and old lacquer is going to have to do.

By the way, how much did Anderson quote you for the plating work?
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
I won't get into the discussion about plating affecting tone either, although my silver plated King alto has the voice of an angel.

Since many of my gigs are in places where they wear tuxedos, and the looks of the band are more important than the finer points of tone. And what's the best tone anyway? Getz? (my favorite but not appropriate for my gigs) Trane? Turrentine? Clemmons? Dexter?

And those Cannonball or Keilwerth nickel saxes don't sound too bad to me.

As a multi-instrumentalist (sax, flute, guitar, wind synth, etc.) and a self-employed businessman http://www.nortonmusic.com, I don't have the time to take apart the tenor and polish real silver.

I'd really like to get my H.Couf done, but I don't know if I am going to waste my money sending it up there and having them tell me it isn't worth it.

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
By the way, how much did Anderson quote you for the plating work?
They didn't. They said to send the horn in, they would evaluate it and give me a call.

It costs only $15 for the evaluation which is applied to the work but of course I'd have to add the cost of shipping from Florida to Indiana and back.

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Its terrible that they can't give even a rough quote ... !!?! Tell me if its $100 or $500 or $1500 to do the plating -- give me some idea. I dunno .... seems like poor service to me.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
Its terrible that they can't give even a rough quote ... !!?! Tell me if its $100 or $500 or $1500 to do the plating -- give me some idea. I dunno .... seems like poor service to me.
I understand it might be difficult to do an over the phone quote for a horn they cannot see, but I expected at least a range of prices say $500-$1000.

I hate to pay what might be close to $100 for evaluation and shipping and then find out it isn't worth it.

That's why I wondered if anyone had it done, and how much it cost to do it.

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Yep, I agree Bob. In my business, clients often ask for a rough estimate. It can't have any certainty because I'm paid by the hour (trial lawyer). But I can usually give a rough cut estimate at likely hours for various stages, with "high-low" kinda rough estimates. Its enough to give folk an idea of what they're in for. Seems unfair that a plater -- undoubtedly a more fixed-price business than mine -- can't do the same. I dunno....
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
Even if they gave me a price for the overhaul/replating and a high/low estimate for the labor to prepare it I'd feel better about all this.

I miss the old days when I just put my horn in the shop every 2 years and came away with an overhaul and a re-lacquer.

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If you are dying for a BALLPARK estimate: I would say rock bottom would be around $250 (assuming you have done the prep work and they are charging you normal rates) and on up from there. They charge for the plating by area to be plated and with what metal, and they charge buffing/prep fees depending on what the horn needs. If you want them to do the prep and the plating, I would say $400 and up. Again, this is a ballpark estimate, and a big ballpark-maybe more like national park estimate.


You may miss the days when every overhaul came with a relacquer, but your horn doesn't! :D
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
If you are dying for a BALLPARK estimate: I would say rock bottom would be around $250 (assuming you have done the prep work and they are charging you normal rates) and on up from there. They charge for the plating by area to be plated and with what metal, and they charge buffing/prep fees depending on what the horn needs. If you want them to do the prep and the plating, I would say $400 and up. Again, this is a ballpark estimate, and a big ballpark-maybe more like national park estimate.
Thanks

You may miss the days when every overhaul came with a relacquer, but your horn doesn't! :D
Oh yes it does. My Couf is so green and pitted it is now probably worthless for music. It did fine when people re-lacquered, but in about 5 years without lacquer, it started turning green. I tried brass cleaners, but they didn't work well I don't have the time to take it apart and clean it monthly. Now the parts of the sax are green with a texture of hamburger. If I could have continued to get the horn re-lacquered every couple of years, it would still be playable.

BTW, Getz always had a shiny horn, and it didn't hurt his tone very much.

But I admit, there are differing opinions about lacquer. I have never been able to hear a difference in sound after re-lacquering a sax, but until they stopped re-lacquering in Florida, I used a very good repair shop (drove 2 hours to get there).

I mostly play to a baby-boomer audience. So it's a mixture of about half old top40 and the rest variety. Since I play in places where they often wear tuxedos, looks are more important than the finer points of tone.

So now I have to decide whether to re-plate my Grassi or get a new nickel plated horn (not black nickel, since I often wear black on stage).

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I

And those Cannonball or Keilwerth nickel saxes don't sound too bad to me.
I'd really like to get my H.Couf done, but I don't know if I am going to waste my money sending it up there and having them tell me it isn't worth it.

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Like you, I played a Couf tenor for years, and my hand acidity etc just TRASHED the finish.

I own four black nickel cannonballs (each with standard gold-ish lacquered keys and tiger eye agate key touches). My tenor and bari have years of use, and aside from lacquer wear on the gold brass thumbrests, look like I took them out of the case for the first time. I also have people at gigs just come up to stare at them during breaks because they look so pretty.

I definitely think the black nickel horns, if the manufacture is similar to that of mine) are worth a serious look for durability of aesthetics.
 

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If you have issues burning through horns or turning them green, a nice thick coat of regular nickel plate seems to be the most durable finish. Every once in a while you see the Conn Transitionals in nickel plate and they always look almost brand new.
 

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Nickel is definitely durable. Very old nickel plated horns often look deceptively new...Personally, I'd go with shiny silver plate. I just like the look and feel of silver better, even though some periodic polishing is involved.
Nickel shows every little fingerprint (and so does black nickel) but they wipe right off. Silver, on the other hand, helps hide them a little bit, but they end up turning into tarnish spots if you don't clean them (and you probably won't if you can't see them). A shiny nickel horn looks really neat, but it doesn't stay that way. A slightly dirty silver horn looks better than a slightly dirty nickel horn.

Nickel also feels slippery, though I've never noticed this to be a practical problem. It's just weird at first.

As for durability, nickel wins hands down. Both are pretty good at surviving repair work, but nickel does not oxidize and resists scratches better. Silver is considered hard for a precious metal, but it's still quite soft compared to nickel.

I personally like matte finish silver with bright keys and bright finish in the engraving, like my 1919 True Tone C-mel. I think it looks classy, even when it's dirty.

 

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I got a rough quote from anderson's saying its about $550 to refinish a tenor if you did the prep work and double that price if you want them to do the prep. But thats on a tenor.
 

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Discussion Starter · #17 ·
So how did you get a rough quote? They wouldn't give me one :(

Perhaps I'm not living right, or I've been a bad boy ;)

I'm beginning to think a new sax might be cheaper.

Too bad, I really loved my Couf.

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Discussion Starter · #19 ·
I e-mailed them and got nothing, called them and they say they want to see the sax before quoting anything.

I guess they like you better than they like me ;)

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I'm guessing they gave him a high quote just to make him go away. ;)
 
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