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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I’ve been pondering selling my silver plated Blue Label Tenor and I’m curious to know how often you need to polish your horns to keep them looking nice and shiny? I ask as I sent some pics of my horn to an interested party and they are having a tough time believing it could get as dark as it has in a year or two. My experience with all the silver plated horns I've owned is they start to tarnish the minute you're done polishing them. Mine tend to look best when I buy them and sell them, unless I make a conscious effort to keep them sealed in the case with a 3M strip. Here's some pics of my horn in it's natural state:

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Jerry, it depends on environmental exposure and whether your polish leaves a protective layer. I live in low pollution, low humidity, keep my horn in its case when it is not being played, and clean my horn every six months or so - but in the past ten years, my horns have never been as dark as yours.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Seldom in the case, not polished since overhauled a few years ago, Southern California air quality...
 

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Yup...it has everything to do with the local climate. And also what product was used to polish it shiny last time.

A Blitz cloth is a good and easy silverplate polishing cloth...it's just two pieces of fabric each embedded with a different fine rouge. I don't believe it leaves much of a protective residue, however.

...the look of your horn is not surprising to me...after over a year ? That's not so bad, really. IMHO it looks hella cooler that way, actually. I often suggest to prospective buyers that they allow me to leave the keywork tarnished if they insist I polish up the horn. Gives it a very nice two-tone-ishness.
 

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Jerry,
I don't know what a Blue Label is, but I own a silver plated horn and have done a lot of research on how to protect silver plating from tarnish.
Polishing, as stated above, is a good idea. It is not "protecting" per se, but rather remedial.
To prevent (better to think of it as forestalling, silver being what it is) tarnish, you need to protect the horn from exposure to a variety of compounds, to include: sulfur and its various oxides, and hydrocarbons. These are found in the atmosphere and in various common substances (Wool contains sulfur compounds; automotive emissions, Diesel exhaust, things in your garage, etc. etc. contain hydrocarbons and sulfur dioxide, etc.).
There are a couple of companies making tarnish-preventing cloth. Kinley Covers is one and Silverguard is another. You can make a bag out of these products and wrap your horn in it. It will fight tarnish. These products contain elemental silver which acts as a sacrificial anode, allowing the tarnish-causing compounds in the air to tarnish the silver particles in the cloth before the compounds get to the horn. Short of that, you need to at least keep the horn in the case, and in any case you will need to polish it from time to time, or else just at time of overhaul. Do not use abrasive polishes! Do not use "Tarn-ex" or similar products. Consult silversmiths. Here is a good resource: http://www.hermansilver.com/care.htm
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
The tarnished silver look has kind of grown on me, akin to an unlacquered horn. When I was more concerned about the appearance, I used a haggerty polishing glove and the spray polish that I believe is pretty mild. I always kept my horns in the case with 3m anti-tarnish strips and they looked good for a long time. If I sell the horn I’ll probably hand polish it just so people can clearly see the condition. Thanks for the input and recommendations on proper care.
 

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Other thing to keep in mind is tarnish on silver isn't really gonna damage the plating; as opposed to a bare brass horn where the 'wrong' or 'bad' sorta patinas can actually harm the brass.

Personally I have never owned a Silverplate horn long enough to have to deal with it tarnishing dramatically on me...but if I did I don't think I would be one to go to the extent of Rod's suggestion...although I appreciate the reply and it's good to know you found something which can counter this if someone wants to maintain the shiny.
 

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I find the biggest problem other than human fingerprints is cooking or heating oil in the house and the worst.....leaving a horn out of the case for hours at a time. I see horns that are left on a stand which not only scratches the bell, it invites tarnish. Just take the neck off with the mouthpiece still on it and put the pieces in the case.
 

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I live in southern cali too. My silver VII is as dark as yours and its been 3 months since I polished it. Never goes in the case and hangs on my wall on a wall mounted stand.
 

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What's different about the atmosphere inside a case, compared to the air in the room?
Diffusion sources. Once the contaminants contained in the volume of the case are depleted, that’s it. If on a stand, the source of contaminants is unbounded. Yes, the case is not perfectly sealed, but it slows the flow of contaminants sufficiently to reduce the amount deposited/reacted on the surface of the horn.
 

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The tarnished silver look has kind of grown on me, akin to an unlacquered horn. When I was more concerned about the appearance, I used a haggerty polishing glove and the spray polish that I believe is pretty mild. I always kept my horns in the case with 3m anti-tarnish strips and they looked good for a long time. If I sell the horn I’ll probably hand polish it just so people can clearly see the condition. Thanks for the input and recommendations on proper care.
You are welcome! Yes Haggerty products are good and won't harm the plating. Likewise the anti-tarnish strips, but not as good as enclosing the horn in that silver impregnated cloth. It's what a lot of silverware cases and chests are lined with. I love my 10M and my '20s Conn soprano, but I often wish I had regular lacquered horns. They are so much easier to keep clean.
If our silver plated horns were teapots, they'd be pretty easy to polish, but what you need to keep in mind is that you have to avoid getting any polishing products on the moving parts of the mechanism or the pads... It's all just a hassle.
I think silver is a really stupid finish to put on a saxophone. It's not like it gives it a special sound or anything, despite what some sax makers and players want to think.
 

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You are welcome! Yes Haggerty products are good and won't harm the plating. Likewise the anti-tarnish strips, but not as good as enclosing the horn in that silver impregnated cloth. It's what a lot of silverware cases and chests are lined with. I love my 10M and my '20s Conn soprano, but I often wish I had regular lacquered horns. They are so much easier to keep clean.
If our silver plated horns were teapots, they'd be pretty easy to polish, but what you need to keep in mind is that you have to avoid getting any polishing products on the moving parts of the mechanism or the pads... It's all just a hassle.
I think silver is a really stupid finish to put on a saxophone. It's not like it gives it a special sound or anything, despite what some sax makers and players want to think.
Actually silver is an excellent finish. It turns grey where you don't touch it, but it doesn't corrode and it really only ever comes off right at touch points. Today's super-duper clear finishes (which aren't lacquer, though we call them that) may equal silver plating's durability when properly applied in a factory, but older clear finishes and refinishes have a tendency to come off, leaving exposed brass, whose corrosion is worse than the grey color of silver.

Personally I like the grey color of silver that has developed a patina. I have three silver plated horns and three lacquered ones.
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
I live in southern cali too. My silver VII is as dark as yours and its been 3 months since I polished it. Never goes in the case and hangs on my wall on a wall mounted stand.
Looks like we’re dead meat breathing our Southern California air! I also keep a few horns on the wall and in my case in a music room that is safe and sound, so they’ve ever gotten scratched or dinged as a result. I like to be able slip away for a few minutes, quickly throw on a mouthpiece and get some play time in. I also like seeing my instruments on the walls around the room. Ok, now I’m worried about the metal bits on my guitars!
 

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I live to the north of you, on the coast just south of San Francisco. The air seems to be considerably better up here (at least on the coast) because after 10+ years both of my silver plated Buescher tenors (one with orig plate & one with an Anderson's plating) still look good, with only a slight amount of tarnish, nothing like in your photos. And I rarely polish them. Maybe once a year, at most, and even then only a quick wipe down with a Haggerty silver polishing cloth.

You say 'seldom in the case.' It might help to put it away in the case after an hour or so on a stand to allow the pads to dry.
 

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I've had - and still have - silver-plated vintage sopranos and altos (several Bueschers and a Martin from the 1920's) with matte-silver bodies and polished key work) and they do not tarnish, although they become a bit dull-looking over time. A Yamaha YSS62S (all polished silver-plate) tarnishes slightly.

I use cloth gloves made to polish dining flatware to occasionally shine them up a bit, but the tarnishing was never severe enough to get into the treated strips in the case. One of my TT sopranos had what appeared to be an after-market clear lacquer on the body, but the other TT's (and the Martin) did not have a clear-coat.

I'm wondering if the matte finish has anything to do with resisting tarnish? DAVE
 

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I am surprised not many people know about Dr's Products Gleam Anti Tarnish Sachets. I have used them for years inside the cases of my silver instruments and they do a great job of keeping tarnish at bay. They are entirely useless however if you don't keep the saxophone in the case whenever it is not being played.
 

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Ok, now I’m worried about the metal bits on my guitars!
Those are most likely chrome, nickel, or gold plate - much lower propensity to tarnish.
 

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Actually silver is an excellent finish. It turns grey where you don't touch it, but it doesn't corrode and it really only ever comes off right at touch points.
Nor does it burn off when torched; nor does it irregularly and irreversibly spot; nor will you ever get acid bleed beneath the lacquer, etc.
IMHO the only 'bother' of silverplate instruments is for those who expect/insist that the horn always needs to remain shiny, shiny. And even if that is your expectation or desire...it's pretty achievable based upon some of the product suggestions here.

If one doesn't wanna deal with that sorta storage stuff but still wants the silverish look...then opt for a nickelplated horn instead.
 
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