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Discombobulated SOTW Member, Forum Contributor 201
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I have a vintage Buescher alto whose key pearls feels slippery to the touch. It's a little unsettling - I play with my fingers on the pearls as much as possible and I feel like the contact is not that secure. Anyone have a solution short of replacing the pearls?

Not that you need my approval, but humorous responses are welcome along with any serious suggestions. ;)
 

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Mouthpiece Refacer Extraordinaire and Forum Contri
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Are the pearls actual mother of pearl? MOP is still grippy when wet.

1) Use coarse grit sandpaper to roughen the surface
2) Scribe lines on the pearls with something sharp
3) Apply cork discs to the pearls with contact cement.
 

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Has your vintage Buescher been relacquered (and the pearls are coated in lacquer too)?

If so, (carefully) remove the lacquer form the pearls.
 

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A small buffing wheel in a Dremel or Foredom tool with some red rouge will make short work of any lacquer on the pearls. Just go with light pressure so as not to burn the pearls.

Coarse sandpaper and scribing lines with a graver (or other sharp instrument) aren't good ideas. Mother of pearl really isn't all that durable and, IMHO, could open a bigger can of worms than you already have.

If you still find them slippery after buffing off the lacquer then take 400 grit wet/dry paper, wrap it over your fingertip, dip in water and wet sand the pearls lightly. That should roughen the surface more than enough to keep your fingers from slipping.
 

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Discombobulated SOTW Member, Forum Contributor 201
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Discussion Starter #6
EZ said:
Are the pearls actual mother of pearl? MOP is still grippy when wet.
Hmmm, not sure. It's a late 30's Series 1 Buescher Aristocrat. How do I tell?

Chris Peryagh said:
Has your vintage Buescher been relacquered (and the pearls are coated in lacquer too)?
It's silver-plated, and I don't believe has any lacquer on it. My guess is they are just worn very smooth.

Thanks for the suggestions all. Being lazy, poorly equiped with tools, and bad with my hands, I think I'll check with my tech and see if he wants to try any of these fixes for me.

Nobody wants to suggest applying Stick-em to my hands before playing?
 

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Discombobulated SOTW Member, Forum Contributor 201
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Discussion Starter #7
tbone said:
I...then take 400 grit wet/dry paper, wrap it over your fingertip, dip in water and wet sand the pearls lightly. That should roughen the surface more than enough to keep your fingers from slipping.
OK, this sounds like something even I could pull off. I think I'll give it a try on another horn first to see how it works out.
 

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You can tell it's real pearl by the iridescent appearance when looked at in a good light and from different angles.

And do the fingernail test - run your fingernail down or sideways across to see if it feels like scratching a blackboard, and leaves a shallow (and white) scratch in the pearl that disappears when you rub it with a wet finger.
 

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Distinguished SOTW Member, Forum Contributor 2013-
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Maybe it's your fingers. Try getting them re-grooved or if that fails a complete retread with Onyxx rubber.
 

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Distinguished Technician & SOTW Columnist. RIP, Yo
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Put a spot of superglue on each finger just before playing. :)
 

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kymarto said:
But make sure that the glue has set before touching the keys :))

Toby
But that would be MORE slippery. Been there, many times. :)
 

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Just dip your hands in liquid latex, let them dry, and then play. In fact, I think everyone should do this. No annoying pricks from wayward springs and no finish deterioration from the oils of your hands touching the sax.

Now if I could just figure out how to dehumidify and purify the air I blow into the sax, I would never have to clean it ... Some say not drinking alcohol or soda will help but I assume the reed absorbs most of that :D
 

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Well, since this thread has gone totally off the deep end, why not just heat the pearls up with a torch until they're crusty and charred! Then you can call'em "Black Pearls"!!!! :D ;) :shock: :cool:
 
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I have another option, my friend George Brett told me to try pine tar !
After all, Louisville isn't that far from Elkhart , is it ?
 

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Distinguished Technician & SOTW Columnist. RIP, Yo
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Glue sand paper on them. Get a kid with markers to make them pretty.

Or cover them with PVA and sprinkle sand on while it is wet.
 

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A tactic I use to improve finger traction on my preferred guitar picks:

Dots of fingernail polish. You can make them small but high with
additional applications. Easily removed with, what else, fingernail
polish remover. Mother of pearl should be fairly safe under polish
remover (active ingredient acetone.) Maybe you can try it first
remover also, on a project or lamp horn.
 
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