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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
So I’ve definitely done plenty of searches and I have found several hundreds referring to Silver saxophones and how they tarnished etc. etc. I also see several posts talking about is it better to have a silver plated saxophone or one that is silver lacquered. So being the new guy in town here, I just want you all to know that I did my due diligence and searched heavily prior to starting a new thread.
However the answers that I’m looking for are a little bit different then the hundreds of posts basically speaking about how to get rid of tarnish on their silver Sax etc. I feel like my question is rather simple howeverIn order to get a semi-accurate answer I feel like one must have either had several silver saxophones or perhaps worked in the shop that had several silver saxes on display etc. now I’m gonna be honest I don’t quite know the difference between silver plated saxophones and silver lacquered saxophones to me if I was to guess I would think silver lacquer would be more protective of the two just because if I’m not mistaken silver is a very corrosive element and at least my thought process has been that if there’s a protective lacquer finish on top of the silver plate then I don’t see how the silver underneath could really tarnish, unless the lacquer itself began to fail and in which case I could then see the silver underneath the failed lacquer begin to oxidize. So to me at first glance that seems to be the best route if you want a bright silver horn to last year‘s without having to clean it constantly however has anyone ever heard of lacquer failing in areas therefore leaving an opening for the oxygen in the air to travel underneath the breached protective layer in which case I could see it begin to oxidize all the silver underneath the lacquer above it. In which case I see this is a terrible scenario because then you wouldn’t even be able to clean it ever unless you decided to strip the entire lacquer off. Again these are just my theories I could be way off trust me it wouldn’t be the first time just the other day I went to work with two left shoes on so like I said i’m not the smartest live in the toilet but I’m here to start another hopefully interesting thread and let’s get some traction here.

P.S. in case anyone was wondering, yes I am the same guy that started the threads about looking for a black tenor and that’s probably my number one go to, but seeing that there’s really so few and far between I think I am more open to going with the silver one if the black doesn’t pan out
 

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Let clarify one thing, there are NO silver lacquered saxophones.

Silver is a metal plating process, what happens with SOME brands is that they put a coat of clear lacquer over silver plating for protection ( generating a different set of problems in its own way!).

All silver that is not lacquered over will tarnish and in time will wear out in places more or less depending on use and environment.

You can delay tarnish by not exposing to sunlight or to air and using antitarniosh strips and cloth.

Lacquered-over silver plate will also wear like any lacquered brass saxophone, in places where abrasion occurs, and look rather darker in those spots ( where it will tarnish because then it will exposed to oxygen where the name oxidation comes from...) adding another dimension to the possible bad looks.

The best “ silver look” is really achieved by Nickel plating.

Nickel is the most impervious of all finish to the combination of wear-tarnish ( gold plate is very impervious to tarnish but not to wear), it has , yes, a different hue that silver, but it is also very much more resistent to scratches .

Keilwerth, In any case, of all the modern Brands , to me, does the best Nickel finish , they also have black nickel and they have or used to have solid nickel silver a sax which will be certainly the hardest wearing surface of any.

But I am not sure that you can buy a silver looking new Keilwerth (there are used ones)

You can find some Taiwanese made saxophones made in Nickel Silver and in Nickel Plate
those finishes will be the longest lasting “ silver” look that you can buy.

Nickel may tarnish but I have had saxophones from the ’30 as shiny as they day they were made.

The only problem is that the Nickel is a bit more slippery than Silver and that shiny Nickel plate has fallen out of favor lately ( so you either buy a lesser known brand or you have to seek some used saxophone)


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I’ve alway like that Matt type of silver finish, especially when combined with the shiny type.
I wonder if that is possible with nickel?
I had a Nickel plated Dolnet alto years ago and it always looked great.
My tech complained about the nickel when he had to do a re-solder for me.
I’m not sure why.
 

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I’ve alway like that Matt type of silver finish, especially when combined with the shiny type.
I wonder if that is possible with nickel?
I had a Nickel plated Dolnet alto years ago and it always looked great.
My tech complained about the nickel when he had to do a re-solder for me.
I’m not sure why.
Sure Nickel Silver mat with gold lacquer finish is there on many Taiwanese brands ( copied from Keilwerth)


Strange about the complaint because on silver and nickel generally that’s the best possible look of soldering it shows no signs.

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yes, (silver plate right?), there were SML in nickel plate too ( I have had several especially in sopranos)

but it shows the typical wear on spots and surely needs a clean periodically, I don’t think it arrived to 2021 in that state without any regular maintenance.

One of the best silver-plating that I have had were made by Yamaha

I had a YSS61 and a YTS61 which were very nice, but of course they had some level of dulling or minor tarnish , silver, reacts with the oxygen and even the best plating will be affected, the only way not to have lacquered over silver without wear of the lacquer is not playing it.

I don’t even want to think of what could happen if any flux is trapped under the lacquer and react sometime years after with the silver-plating.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Ok now I’m even more confused because every picture I’m seeing here looks mint. With one being the best of the best. Milandro, is that Jupiter yours? And is it like absolutely brand spanking new? I mean that thing looks as shiny as chrome. So tell me what I need to look for to get that exact same finish please that’s what I need unless of course I run into my unicorn of a black tenor To match my other two black horns however I’m just so unimpressed with these cheesy engravings nowadays like everyone was recommending a try out the Medusa but I think I’d rather Give up the saxophone for good then play some thing with an engraving that cheesy a top such an otherwise gorgeous horn.

back to the silver talk tho. Please tell me more about that Jupiter? First of all I was not aware that super made anything other than student horns. I guess you learn something new every day. As for the last post sorry the name escapes me atm. That too was a gorgeous silver piece. So I hear many of you are recommending Nickle as the most durable. But will a nickel horn shine like that Jupiter does I mean that horn looks stunning. Reminds me of when kids put those silly 20 something inch rims on their cars but in all honesty yeah that is the type of silver that I’m looking for. And if that’s the one that would be fairly resistant to oxidation signed me up
 

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I think this one has done well. 1949 SML. Rev C
View attachment 104554
Nice.
I have a SML rev A alto in Matt and polished silver finish.
It’s basically a Coleman Hawkins special without the Hawkins engraving.
It has some wear here and there but still a stunning horn.
 

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No that Jupiter is not mine, ( and I don’t know if they make Nickel plate still, I had a look and it is all Silverplate now) I looked it up for you.

Jupiter has one “ pro” series (now called series 1100) but that is (of course ) silverplate and not nickel plate. Nickel plate is impervious to rain and this kind of things

Nickel plate is now not as popular as it was ( with the top being Germany) until the ’70. Selmer also produced Nickel plate saxophones, it was a special order.

Keilwerth only makes black nickel plating now.

You can find shiny nickel plate made in Taiwan or China.



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From pictures and limited personal experience I think Buescher True Tones have the most durable silver plating I've seen. I have not done a thickness measurement on any of them.

I take a contrary opinion to those who say that silver plate is a lot of maintenance. If you reorganize your aesthetics, and learn to appreciate the appearance of silver patina, it's the very lowest maintenance, longest lasting finish there is. Where you touch it, it stays polished. Where you don't, it turns a soft grey color that lasts essentially forever. Eventually it'll wear through to brass where you touch it constantly (as the side and palm keys) but since you're constantly touching those spots they still stay bright, just brass in color.

Lacquer pits, flakes off, and you get a piebald appearance. Gold plate is put over silver, and there seems to be some additional galvanic action, so in my (admittedly limited) experience, I have seen much more severe and deeper pitting at touch points with gold plate, clear through the silver and deep into the brass, than with silver plate alone. Nickel is very durable until it starts peeling. It is also prone to a whitish grey corrosion that is the very dickens to get off and (at least to me) looks terrible.

To me, a well patinated silver saxophone looks like a fine quality instrument, like the Louis Lot flute you see in Paul Taffanel's hands on the frontispiece of the Taffanel/Gaubert Exercises.
 

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of course, a louis lot flute is a solid silver flute

and yes, some TT are nice looking and others, aren't
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Actually both Lot and Bonneville made silver plated nickel alloy ("Maillechort") flutes (and even a very few unplated Maillechort) - these are equally well regarded as the solid silver flutes. The solid silver obsession had not yet taken over the flute world.

The Buescher at the bottom in your photos is simply tarnished. Nothing's wrong with the plating. If that were mine, I'd play the bejeezus out of it and the places where I touch it would become shiny from touching it.
 

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well, tarnish is OP problem, he doesn’t want to deal with it, hence the thread.

The only reason why I mentioned solid silver is because it doesn’t wear through
 

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The King Silversonics have a solid Sterling bell with clear lacquer. As mentioned, as long as the lacquer is not compromised the silver remains as shiny as the day it was first polished. There are still quite a few stellar examples of these saxes around. I have one I play regularly with the lacquer more than 95%.

I believe Yanigasawa solid silver series saxophones are lacquered over the silver.
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The thickest, most durable, most dense silver plate on the modern horns is coming out of Italy - Borgani and Rampone & Cazzani.
 

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I've owned several silver-plated Buescher TT's over time (three sops, two altos and a C-Mel). All had the matte-silver finish with polished areas and polished key-work. None of them tarnished significantly (one had a clear coat of lacquer, probably done after-market some time in its life). I agree with turf3 about the old Buescher's silver-plate durability.

I bought a new YSS62S years ago - still in my family. It tarnished but I enjoyed going over it with treated gloves made to polish flatware, so that was not a problem for me. When neglected, the horn turns dark.

I have two Yanagisawa soprano sax necks in solid silver, one straight, one curved. They have a clear coat of lacquer and the lacquer has failed in spots. In MY view, one weak part of Yanagisawa in general is the quality of their lacquer. I've owned several (brass, bronze, and the solid silver necks) and most of those instruments (and necks) have had deteriorating lacquer spots - bordering on ugly.

I had a silver-plated Rampone alto for a while, but not long enough to assess the quality of the finish.

i suppose that any experiences cited in this thread (and my post) are anecdotal and much depends on the atmosphere in which the instruments were kept. DAVE
 

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Quite a few new horn brands offer silver plated finish. Only time will tell how long it holds up or lasts. Same with gold plating. The plating is usually not very thick. Years ago I had gotten a silver plated Saxophone.com tenor and didn't know until getting a palm key pad replaced it has clear lacquer because with the heat used it made the lacquer tinted...darker. The tech was upset, felt bad because he didn't know a metal plated horn would be lacquered too. I contacted the company and they didn't know (until that moment) whoever made the horn in Taiwan lacquered it. I've seen quite a few Yamaha 62, Z's and old 875 silver plating looked to be completely intact...so Yamaha does a good job of plating. If you get a vintage horn, have the silver plating polished and keep the 3M anti-tarnish strips in your case along with a chem treated cloth to wipe down the horn and keep it in the case whenever you are not playing it. Should help in tarnish developing as rapidly.
 

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The King Silversonics have a solid Sterling bell with clear lacquer. As mentioned, as long as the lacquer is not compromised the silver remains as shiny as the day it was first polished.
Yes, but when it is compromised, and they all will get scratched if you play them, they turn ugly very quickly. I'd rather have an unlacquered silver plating uniformity tarnish then seeing dark scratches everywhere. Here is one example still looking good but you can see where it's going.

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If you want the "best" silver look with zero tarnish and great hard wearing abilities I advise looking into platinum plating. Cost may be a factor.
 

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Rhodium or palladium, both used as exotic finishes on jewelry. I have a silver ring plated with rhodium. It looks similar to chrome.
 
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