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Discussion Starter #1
I recently picked up an obvious early Chinese or Taiwanese tenor sax in Sydney for $60. Swallow "Super" model with a serial under the thumbrest "No.1170"

I've been looking for a 'project horn' to be my guinea pig for delacquering/patina experiments and repadding/corking for a while and this one fit the bill perfectly. It was cheap, complete, without any significant dents or bends and even in playing condition (well, I could just play from top to bottom with a lot of effort and some screeching honks). But the attraction principally was the early Yamaha YTS-61 lookalike key-guard, which I've always loved.

Strangely adding to the YTS-61 deception (if you could call it that) is that is came with a Yamaha TS-S2 mouthpiece (a great piece!) obviously I have no idea if it was original to the horn but I know it was the stock 70s Yamaha 61 piece.

As I've disassembled it and stripped it back I've been impressed by the quality of the workmanship mostly (although my only real hands-on comparison is with a pair of 1950s SMLs a Yamaha 275 and a Vietnamese Selmer USA). The key-touches are the only real bugbear - very chunky and rough to the touch (although they were initially in rough condition) and some less than admirable linkages in the pinky cluster. Plus the blued steel cylinder screws don't point to high quality. It's new a hidden gem by any means but it does pique my interest.

My question is; does anyone have any opinion on its manufacture? Chinese or Taiwanese? 1970s or 80s or later?

Here's some photos of it in its purchase condition:

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V
 

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Discussion Starter #7
Thanks, better than the usual VI clone.
I'm currently experimenting with various chemically induced bare brass patinas - ammonia, vinegar, condys crystals, selenic acid...
and then some Pledge after the repad :)
 

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Swallow, along with many other bird name brands ( Lark, Parrot) are all Chinese Brands. They have also reeds called Flying Goose.
 

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Discussion Starter #12
Don't Google for this horn at work is all I'll say!!!
 

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Discussion Starter #14
Now I just need to pick up a Pierret 'Vibrator' model so I can really begin my naughty sax collection properly
 

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A few folks have asked how I delacquered the "Super Swallow" and so I'll duplicate my response:


The horn was stripped of keywork, screws, pads, corks and felts. However, the bluesteel springs I decided to leave on, and so were heavily greased prior to delacquering.
I boiled approx. 40 litres water in an unused galvanised steel garbage can mixed with approximately 2.5 litres of Hydrochloric acid (aka Muriatic acid).
I simmered it for over 2 hours (as long as I could keep the BBQ burners going on only a small gas cylinder) turning it around a little and flipping it over occasionally because the tenor didn't quite fit in the can.
In this hot acidic solution the lacquer, and all the grease and grime and dust softens slowly and starts to release from the brass. The lacquer goes a milky colour and then lifts at any edges where there is already wear or a crack.

I'm certain the galvanised steel garbage can added a bunch of metal reactions to the brass and acid solution too, but I knew that I could polish out the purpley tinges here and there. The keywork and neck I did separately in the garbage can lid with about 6 litres to 500ml of Hydrochloric acid - a stronger solution due to the keywork being a tougher looking lacquer and overall dirtier.

Besides turning I also took a softish plastic bottle brush to the horn now and then during simmering to help free the lacquer. On the body around posts it was very resistant and needed to be vigorously steel-wooled afterwards). Finally it all received a cold water rinse and dry in the Australian summer sun.

After polishing with steelwool and rags wetted with Brasso polish to remove any tarnish and discolouration and remaining lacquer. I'm now polishing again with soft rags and cleaning it completely with lighter fluid.
I will bath it again in probably a cold water solution of Sodium Carbonate (not Bicarbonate, a much weaker alkaline) which in my recent tests (ammonia, vinegar, Potash...) gives a lovely brownish patina with random blues, purples and reds. There are lots of recipes for hot water patina solutions (most you have to buy, but they are based on a Selenic acid mix) but I want to use a cold solution for finishing because I think boiling a brass horn in a galvanised can is not ideal for gaining any sort of precise patina finish and I have no stainless-steel pots big enough for the task, so I will opt to a cold water solution in a plastic tub. :)

It's important to note that more recent horns - in particular Yamaha, apparently - use a harder, very resilient epoxy-based lacquer where the above acid solution would most likely not be enough to delacquer the horn, but instead paint stripper is required. Not my cup of tea! This horn's vintage most likely 70s or 80s, and the lacquer was flaking and worn, so I could tell it would lift off rather easily.

V
 

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A few folks have asked how I delacquered the "Super Swallow" and so I'll duplicate my response:


The horn was stripped of keywork, screws, pads, corks and felts. However, the bluesteel springs I decided to leave on, and so were heavily greased prior to delacquering.
I boiled approx. 40 litres water in an unused galvanised steel garbage can mixed with approximately 2.5 litres of Hydrochloric acid (aka Muriatic acid).
I simmered it for over 2 hours (as long as I could keep the BBQ burners going on only a small gas cylinder) turning it around a little and flipping it over occasionally because the tenor didn't quite fit in the can.
In this hot acidic solution the lacquer, and all the grease and grime and dust softens slowly and starts to release from the brass. The lacquer goes a milky colour and then lifts at any edges where there is already wear or a crack.

I'm certain the galvanised steel garbage can added a bunch of metal reactions to the brass and acid solution too, but I knew that I could polish out the purpley tinges here and there. The keywork and neck I did separately in the garbage can lid with about 6 litres to 500ml of Hydrochloric acid - a stronger solution due to the keywork being a tougher looking lacquer and overall dirtier.

Besides turning I also took a softish plastic bottle brush to the horn now and then during simmering to help free the lacquer. On the body around posts it was very resistant and needed to be vigorously steel-wooled afterwards). Finally it all received a cold water rinse and dry in the Australian summer sun.

After polishing with steelwool and rags wetted with Brasso polish to remove any tarnish and discolouration and remaining lacquer. I'm now polishing again with soft rags and cleaning it completely with lighter fluid.
I will bath it again in probably a cold water solution of Sodium Carbonate (not Bicarbonate, a much weaker alkaline) which in my recent tests (ammonia, vinegar, Potash...) gives a lovely brownish patina with random blues, purples and reds. There are lots of recipes for hot water patina solutions (most you have to buy, but they are based on a Selenic acid mix) but I want to use a cold solution for finishing because I think boiling a brass horn in a galvanised can is not ideal for gaining any sort of precise patina finish and I have no stainless-steel pots big enough for the task, so I will opt to a cold water solution in a plastic tub. :)

It's important to note that more recent horns - in particular Yamaha, apparently - use a harder, very resilient epoxy-based lacquer where the above acid solution would most likely not be enough to delacquer the horn, but instead paint stripper is required. Not my cup of tea! This horn's vintage most likely 70s or 80s, and the lacquer was flaking and worn, so I could tell it would lift off rather easily.

V
Interesting.

The (relative) ease with which the lacq stripped off really does suggest the horn is a bit older than what some may think. Besides questioning the asian attribution, I think this is a 70's-ish instrument as well.

BTW...if you can find it, Bronze wool is a better way to go as opposed to steel.....
 

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Discussion Starter #18
Interesting.

The (relative) ease with which the lacq stripped off really does suggest the horn is a bit older than what some may think. Besides questioning the asian attribution, I think this is a 70's-ish instrument as well.
BTW...if you can find it, Bronze wool is a better way to go as opposed to steel.....
Yes, I believe it's from the 1970s too. The imitation of a pro '70s horn is the best indication I think, that, and the older lacquer.

So far I've used 0000 'superfine' grade steelwool throughout but I'll try and order some bronze wool too. Still cleaning up much of the keywork and body.

Thanks,
V
 

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Yes, I believe it's from the 1970s too. The imitation of a pro '70s horn is the best indication I think, that, and the older lacquer.

So far I've used 0000 'superfine' grade steelwool throughout but I'll try and order some bronze wool too. Still cleaning up much of the keywork and body.

Thanks,
V
Dunno if this would be difficult for you or not, but it might be worthwhile to bring it to a shop to have the body lightly machine-buffed before reassembling. If you bring the body sans keys, and most springs removed, it can usually be done very cheaply (i.e. $50 or so on this side of pond). Just a thought.
 
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