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Discussion Starter #1
I'd like to know what the materials are in the older saxophones versus newer ones. Presumably the older ones (pre 1930) did not use a laquer but relied on the plate be it silver or ??? I've recently purchased a 1919 C Melody mosly for restoration and I'm wondering how much silver plate there is left on the body (hopefully still a reasonable amount - I haven't received it yet). I suppose beneath that is nickel and beneath that brass? Then there is the 'gold wash' inside the bell - what actually is the material that gives it this appearance?
My newer (but still old) King and Conn models (60's vintage) have the 'gold' appearance (as do the vast majority of modern saxophones) - what is the plate used in this case? Presumably they are laquered - when did this process first start?
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as far as I know saxophones were offered in lacquered finish already in the late '20 , before of that silver and bare brass were the finish available. Silver cannot adhere directly on brass and I believe that indeed under silver there is a thin layer of nickel. The gold wash is .......gold and was commonly used .
Most old horns, unless very much used, have still good plating which cleans also very well. You have both mat silver and shiny one.
The " gold" appearance is just brass with a coat of lacquer which , in general contains some pigment to darken it or has darkened because of the lacquer reacting to time passing. Brass lacquered horns are not plated.


courtesy of Pete Thomas
 

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Thanks Milandro.

Would you expect a saxophone from 1919 that has a lot of tarnish to still essentially have a decent layer of silver plate? I guess it's either Nickel or Silver that is visible. I can send you some photos if it helps.

Unfortunately I am left waiting fort this horn as I am in Australia and currently working out the best way to get it here.

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I think that there is a very good chance that the silver ids in good state but there is no telling until you actually get it. They did it a much thicker plating back then than they do now . I have had three old silver plate horns varying from the 1925 to 1932 they all had very good silver plating. The goldwash might be thin though. If you want to publish pictures in this thread we will all see them and benefit from it.
 

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OK. Here's some photos. You can probably see the 'ambiguity' in the state of the plating. The horn looked nice and straight to me which is why I went for it.

Question is whether the gold colouring on the outer surface is due to the siver AND Nickel plate wearing through revealing the brass beneath (which seems unlikely unless it was done intentionally) or some other phenomenon.

BTW: It's a Buescher so your attachment is very relevant - thanks again.
 

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I guess the other possibility is that the reason for the 'blotchiness' is that there was in fact a laquer over the silver plating that has worn off in places (this effect particularly noticeable in the photo that has the serial number and 'Ture Tone' logo). Either that or it is silver that has worn off :-(
 

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as far as I know saxophones were offered in lacquered finish already in the late '20 , before of that silver and bare brass were the finish available. Silver cannot adhere directly on brass and I believe that indeed under silver there is a thin layer of nickel. The gold wash is .......gold and was commonly used .
Most old horns, unless very much used, have still good plating which cleans also very well. You have both mat silver and shiny one.
The " gold" appearance is just brass with a coat of lacquer which , in general contains some pigment to darken it or has darkened because of the lacquer reacting to time passing. Brass lacquered horns are not plated.


Silver will adhere to brass if it is properly cleaned. Gold will also but due the expense it usually has an undercoat of silver or nickel. In the ad above it does not say anything about a lacquer finish.
 

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I have read that, I am not a plating expert myself, if that wasn't the case I stand corrected. I have seen Bueschers not lacquered or lacquered but I couldn't say if this is a later " improvement" , by the late '30 there were lacquered versions for sure.
 

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I have silver-plated Bueschers from the early and late 1920's (C-Mel, alto, two straight sopranos). The alto was an eBay purchase and it was tarnished and dirty when I got it. But after a dip and total overhaul, it turned out gorgeous, with the gold-wash inside the bell. The C-Mel isn't quiet as spectacular but still attractive.

One soprano came to me with what I believe to be a poor after-market lacquer job (clear lacquer over matte silver-plate, polished keywork) and no gold-wash in the bell. It is one of the best sopranos I've ever played, and attractive even with the after-market lacquer. It takes a close eye to spot the over-runs in the lacquer.

The second soprano came to me with a polished silver finish, gold-wash in the bell and no lacquer (thanks to Dr. G for arranging that acquisition). It too is a wonderful player but not quite to level of the matte-silver horn (both are 1928 models).

My other two Buescher altos (a Big B and a TH&C) are both lacquered brass. All good players from the 1940's as far as I can tell.

I have not experienced tarnishing on any vintage silver-plated saxophones or clarinets (I have a Silver King clarinet), but modern silver-plated saxophones and clarinets (with polished silver keywork) I've owned have all tarnished and require constant attention to keep them looking nice. DAVE
 

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Greg: I've never seen a dip, but I'm sure some of the techs could chime in here. From what I've been told, the horn is disassembled; corks, felts and pads removed. Then the whole thing, keys and all, are put in a chemical bath that removes all the tarnish and grime, etc. I turned over my awful TT alto to Rheuben Allen (repairman to the stars in Hollywood), and it was returned in absolutely gorgeous condition. Rheuben said it was the nicest TT he'd seen. Whatever he did to it worked. DAVE
 
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