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Hi all.

I'm thinking of buying a vintage horn but I have to admit a profound distaste for nickel keys.

Does anyone know if nickel keys are brass underneath, or are they made of nickel ?? The horn is a Buffet SDA. If it's nickel plating, I'll have all the keys, rods etc chemically stripped and the brass reworked in dark honey lacquer when the horn needs a repad.

A lot of faffing I know, but it's purely an 'eye candy' thing :D

Thanks.
 

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I have a Evette Schaefer student model Buffet from the 70's that I stripped the nickel from the keys (I've tried to sell it for $150 here to no avail). It is brass under the nickel. I used this chemical to strip the keys. http://www.caswellplating.com/kits/metalx.html I used a heater and the little pump from an aquarium to heat and circulate the solution. I just left the horn bare brass and it has a nice patina after all this.
 

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I don't mind it when just the rods/touches are silver/nickel... but entirely nickel keywork/pad cups just makes a horn look cheap; and I do know that Martin had made some fine horns outfitted this way. I just can't get over the look.
 

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yes I know Grumps, my Martin Alto is frowned upon by some because they see it as cheap looking with his silver-nickel keys on a brass body(they are solid so no point in stripping them),(and a relacquer too!) but then again if they see a Magna which is practically identical to my horn they are all OOOHHHH's and AAAHHH's. I don't mind, it sounds ever so sweet. If it wasn't for the sticky pads and the action which is not the nimblest.... .
 

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great wisdom always leave room for improvement! :)
 

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All taste. I compare my boring brass on brass body lacquered soprano with my Martin solid nickel on brass and think, "Wow, the Martin is a class act."
 

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A long key on my Yanagisawa was cupronickel, unlike the brass of the rest. The brass look of this key did not quite match the brass of the rest.

I respect Yanagisawa for attempting to use a material that was superior - more rigid - for this situation, so I forgave them the less-than-perfect cosmetics.

Cupronickel keys is the norm for other woodwinds. Cupronickel is often loosely called "Nickel". Clearly this thread is about not "nickel keys", but nickel plated keys.

I just thought this should be clarified. :)
 

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stripping Nickel

Russ said:
Hi all.

I'm thinking of buying a vintage horn but I have to admit a profound distaste for nickel keys.

Does anyone know if nickel keys are brass underneath, or are they made of nickel ?? The horn is a Buffet SDA. If it's nickel plating, I'll have all the keys, rods etc chemically stripped and the brass reworked in dark honey lacquer when the horn needs a repad.

A lot of faffing I know, but it's purely an 'eye candy' thing :D

Thanks.
I have stripped nickel off of keys using a method explained here on SOTW. Do a search for stripping nickel on SOTW and Google.

My method involves reverse plating using a stainless rod, a battery charger along and battery acid. Pretty simple.


Good luck
HUTMO
 

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Gordon (NZ) said:
Clearly this thread is about not "nickel keys", but nickel plated keys.
I beg to disagree in the case of Martins - the solid nickel keying was one of the selling points at the time of manufacture. Whether it was a valid selling point would have to be referred to their adverting dept, but the lack of brass was confirmed when my dad had to silver solder a broken aux front F key on his (now my) tenor many years ago.
 

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Nickel Keys = Cheap?

My late 30's Martin Comm 1 has brass keys that used to be nickel-plated, according to my tech. I thought Comm 1's and 2's had solid nickel keys for a lighter, faster action and more rigid long rods. Perhaps I should address this idea in the Martin forum.

I don't agree that nickel keys look cheap. They tend to hold their finish longer than brass lacquered keys, and they give some contrast to the horn when viewed at semi-close range.

Yes, Bundy 1, Yamaha Y*S-23, and King 613 are "student" horns and have nickel keys. But note that they are all solid-playing horns with your favorite mouthpiece, very usable on any gig. The 1950's and 1960's Conn 6M and 10M Artist models have nickel keys, and these are not "student" horns by any stretch of the imagination. Buescher 400s came with nickel keys, if I remember correctly, and these are fine playing horns, too.

Nickel plated or brass keys are a matter of taste, while 100% nickel keys are something different altogether (maybe not visually, but action-wise).

Just another opinion, adding to this thread. I have a nickel question which I will post in this section of the forum.

Sax Magic
 

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I'm with you, Sax Magic, and I also think that people that put down nickel keyed horns as cheap student horns just have some kind of hang up lingering from school days or something. Nickel is stronger than brass. Brass keys and rods bend too easily and look cheap.
 

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potiphar said:
I beg to disagree in the case of Martins - the solid nickel keying was one of the selling points at the time of manufacture. Whether it was a valid selling point would have to be referred to their adverting dept, but the lack of brass was confirmed when my dad had to silver solder a broken aux front F key on his (now my) tenor many years ago.
What evidence do you have that this is nickel, as opposed to cupronickel alloy, approx 3/4 copper, as used for other woodwinds?

I thought solid nickel was used mainly for its electrical properties.
 

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So are the nickel keys on my Dick Stabile tenor plated or solid? Solid what?

Rory

ps. I think the keys look fine on my Martin; it's the laquer on the rest of it that's really ugly:(
 

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Solid nickel-silver with nickel plating.

[edit] I am NOT certain about the plating but will go check.

[edit #2] I am clueless as usual but based my first response on a Skyline I recently overhauled and my recall on several others. Anyway...... I have a 25xxx Dick Stabile alto out in the shed, waiting and waiting for me to get to it (needs an overhaul). I also have an old (real) Imperial (113xxx) with the weird Eb trill key. Both have nickel-plated keywork. But, the DS keys are made of brass, and the Imperial keys are nickel-silver.

Rory, if your tenor has any plating wear on key touches, the exposed metal would show as a dull gray if it were solid nickel-silver.
 

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Gordon (NZ) said:
What evidence do you have that this is nickel, as opposed to cupronickel alloy, approx 3/4 copper, as used for other woodwinds?

I thought solid nickel was used mainly for its electrical properties.
None at all - but what possible motive could there be for the advertising department of an instrument company to exaggerate the truth?

I had thought of providing your evidence by flaming a small sample for you, but it appears nickel produces a blue-green flame, which would not be easy to distinguish from copper.
 

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milandro said:
yes I know Grumps, my Martin Alto is frowned upon by some because they see it as cheap looking with his silver-nickel keys on a brass body(they are solid so no point in stripping them) .
Some Selmer Balanced actions were made this way (lacquered brass body and silver nickeled keywork). :)
But, maybe it is the similarity with the Yamaha 23...
 
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