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My mid-60's Selmer MKVI was de-lacquered many years ago. Over those years, the horn has become duller and grungier, and I'm trying to get it back. I'm taking keys off a few at a time (working on the bottom bow, right now), and polishing with Parker & Bailey Brass Polish, Brasso, and Wright's Brass Polish. I'm using Q-tips and strips of cloth to get around and between tone holes and posts (and jabbing myself with springs). The Wright's seems to work fastest, but still requires LOTS of rubbing. Does someone have experience with a brass cleaner that, like, melts the tarnish away almost immediately? Or, at least more quickly than the stuff I'm using? I've done this before, though it wasn't in quite such bad shape, and it was beautiful! But, it doesn't last, and I don't want to dot his again. How might I maintain the shine other than a re-lacquer? Is there a spray clear-coat that I could apply that would last and doesn't look cheap? What about car wax? I sort of regret the night that my band mates (one of whom is a Selmer-trained technician) got bleary-eyed over a bottle of jack and decided to remove all the ugly, worn lacquer on my horn. It's never been mechanically buffed, and I love the warm look of the raw brass ... but this cleaning business is really time-consuming (when I could be practicing!). So, please, any ideas on a more efficient cleaner, and ways to preserve the resulting shine?
 

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Simichrome is gentle and offers some protection, but shine would be an overstatement. I doubt you will get that without having the horn buffed and relacquered. Also, bear in mind that polishing compounds will remove metal; negligible no doubt but if repeated endlessly, it might effectively be equivalent to buffing the horn.
 

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There are a few products that I have first hand experience using. Jax Chemical Company has two brass and copper cleaners. Their "Instant Brass and Copper cleaner" is very strong and works the fastest, but I believe it etches the surface of the brass. The regular brass and copper cleaner takes a bit longer and does not appear to affect the surface as much, but some etching still takes place. Both products leave a bright yellow brass finish that is dull and not shiny. To bring back the shine would require a metal polish. My favorite has been Maas. It seems to be more gentle than Simichrome and Flitz. I used to use Brasso years ago but the odor and the fact that it was hard to remove from the brass made me look elsewhere.

Another product you might try is Miracle Cloth. It can be cut into strips for "ragging" the body and the posts. It has a nice coconut smell as well. It keeps working even after it turns black and oily. You will be amazed at how nicely it polishes brass---almost as good as buffing. For preserving the polished brass finish, nothing beats having it professionally lacquered with baked on epoxy lacquer. This is an involved process that includes cleaning and degreasing prior to spraying and should be left to professionals. You won't get good long term results spraying it yourself even if you use Nikolas, the brand techs use for touch up. I have used Renaissance Wax on a few saxes that I have restored with a "brushed brass" finish, but the jury is still out on how long it protects the brass from oxidizing again.
 

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Not that you asked for my contrarian opinion, but here it is anyway: Lacquered brass looks ordinary & kinda phony. Bare brass that has aged naturally -- matte surface, patchy greeny-brown tarnish, red rot & all -- looks gorgeous in its earthy complexity, like a coral reef full of life... or like the lined, wrinkled face of a beloved granny.

Just don't go putting your mouth on that green tarnish. It's toxic.
 

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You will have to strip the keys off and use an everyday grocery store cleaner like 'Lime-Away' or 'CLR'. I use it on my horns to get rid of corrosion. Basically spray on, rinse off. My horns have a lot of lacquer and the cleaner is harmless to it. It will leave a flat finish on raw brass because the tarnish/corrosion etches the surface. You would have to then hand-polish it with a good metal polish like the MAAS mentioned above if you want it shiny. I did that a few times on an earlier tenor but it is a huge job that takes days. Now I have grown to like the matte look that turns a nice golden tan. You just do it every year and the horn looks the same all the time. You can put the bare body in the tub and do it. You'll need to spray it down with WD-40 after draining off the excess water to protect the springs from rust. You do the keys by hand carefully to avoid the pads and pearls. You'll need an old toothbrush for the engraving and any other nook and cranny. Just remember to rinse the cleaner off before it dries and get it off of pearls right away. You'll probably lose a few little pieces of cork so be prepared to do that work or you'll have to take it in.
 

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Personally...I'd remove the keys and take the body and neck to a tech and have them sonic or chem bathe it. They will (or should) soap wash/rinse it afterward before returning horn to you. From there, you can use a paste polish if you like.

Maas is good...I also like Wenol (red tube) quite a lot.

As Saxoclese says....to actually clear-coat a horn is tricky because prepping the bare brass for the clear coat is not exactly easy. For a DIY'er, I would NOT suggest trying a spray coat.

BTW...did you remove your bandmates' instruments finishes after that ordeal, just to make things even ?
 

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More by accident than anything else, I ran into one of these flying vendors in a parking lot doing a fundraising sale of Susan B Komen "stenciled" FW1 "high performance cleaning wax". It was the end of the day, they had one carton of spray cans left, the weather was miserable and I ended up with a life time supply of 15 cans for $30,- or so.
It removes the raccoon snot trail on my glass patio doors
It cleans car windows / headlights better than anything else I have found
I spray it on those yellow dust clothes after running them through the laundry and they clean water spots etc. and leave an unnoticeable wax film that prevents corrosion of bare metals. Pretty amazing stuff, my ex girlfriend wouldn't stop cleaning the windows --- she was a bit extreme anyway :)

I am not "recommending" this stuff but it is non-abrasive and I am using it on my horns - it is kind of like Rain-X
 

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Depending how bad the oxidation is. All by hand. Easy on the pressure, let the cloth and compound do the work.
Light duty using polishing cloth from yardage store. Heavy duty using medium fine,fine to extra fine steel wool. Start with extra fine to test. Wear gloves. Get a box at Harbor Freight.
Soft Toothbrush to clean crevices/posts. Choose Cloth or steel wool by experimenting to your feel. Start light and work towards more heavy/aggressive. You’ll know when you hit the right combination for the job.
Light
*** pledge
*** Never Dull(as is)
*** tooth paste with baking soda
Medium
*** semicrome
*** tomato sauce, apply thick & let sit :15 to 1:00 rinse in warm soapy water.
*** turtle wax liquid polishing compound WHITE. Do not let dry.
*** 000 extra fine steel wool with mineral oil
Heavy,
BE CAREFUL ! Work small area like bottom of bow to try first !
*** salt, flour, white vinegar equal parts 1/8 cup (or less)each to start
*** fine grit valve lapping compound (@ auto parts store)
*** rotten stone & mineral oil. Mix to personal feel, fluid to paste
To prevent oxidation I use light coating of pure mineral oil from pharmacy.
 

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Grafton alto | Martin Comm III tenor
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Also, bear in mind that polishing compounds will remove metal; negligible no doubt but if repeated endlessly, it might effectively be equivalent to buffing the horn.
Kind of makes sense that the gentler the polish, the less metal would be Rome - with polishes like Brasso I imagine it is neglible. However I would have thought that anything that is an actual "corrosion remover" may remove more than just corrosion, as people have said it can etch the surface so then require polishing after wards if you want it shiny.

My gut feeling is it's best to leave a patina on there, maybe waxed, unless it really does offend you.

This is why relaquering was invented.
 

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I’m curious if anyone has ever had a instrument failure from cleaning,buffing or relaquering. Has the quality of sound ever been tested before and after any of these procedures? Could the results be the same as the resonators tests of years past? Yes, I agree physically something has changed but has it been detectably proven?

Project horn. Cleaned with soap & water. Polished with 000 steel wool soaked in mineral oil. Key cups brushed with Scotchbright.
 

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Grafton alto | Martin Comm III tenor
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I’m curious if anyone has ever had a instrument failure from cleaning,buffing or relaquering.
I very much doubt it. It's more to do with people needless worrying that losing a bit of metal would affect the sound. Only if a horn was so overbuffed that the metal of the bell was thin enough to bend or even had holes worn through. Otherwise I'm sure it would make no difference, apart from to the player's self respect.
 

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Take it to the best tech you can find, they'll make it look and PLAY the best hands down. Ya just gotta pay some $$$, and it IS worth it.
 

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Wichita Band Instruments used to do a refinishing process with "minimal" polishing. I expect they used a wheel, but sparingly, and they stated that the polishing was mostly by hand. Then they would spray a good grade of professional quality lacquer. I remember testing a tenor that had been done this way and I wouldn't say it looked exactly new, but it definitely looked damn good from a few feet away. By doing a moderate polish, you won't get that perfect brand new mirror finish over every single square inch, but it is shiny and it's protected. I don't know if they still do this to customer instruments, and it can't be cheap, but that's who I would call first.
 

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Grafton alto | Martin Comm III tenor
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Wichita Band Instruments used to do a refinishing process with "minimal" polishing. I expect they used a wheel, but sparingly, and they stated that the polishing was mostly by hand.
This is what should always be done, as opposed to being something special, or only done by one company.

The point about preparing for a relacquer is that most cusoptmers would want scratches to be removed, and that cannot be done without a heaver process than a light polish. Of course I'm sure there have been plenty of heavy handed buffers that go at it hammer and tongs whether it needs it or not.
 

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This is what should always be done, as opposed to being something special, or only done by one company.

The point about preparing for a relacquer is that most cusoptmers would want scratches to be removed, and that cannot be done without a heaver process than a light polish. Of course I'm sure there have been plenty of heavy handed buffers that go at it hammer and tongs whether it needs it or not.
Personally I would rather leave a few scratches, you can't see them anyway from a couple feet away. My old Martin appears to have had something like this. I have heard that the lacquer on the old Martins was very weak, so a lot of them got re-done while still pretty new. This appears to have been the case on mine. At any rate, there are a few pits and scratches that were just lacquered over. It doesn't matter. The engraving still looks good (though a careful inspection does reveal that there has been "de minimis" buffing) and from five feet away the horn looks good (although the replacement lacquer is coming off here and there, which isn't surprising since it looks like it was done 50+ years ago).
 

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Personally I would rather leave a few scratches, you can't see them anyway from a couple feet away.

Me too, but then I would have thought the reason for most people wanting a relacquer would have been to make the horn look like new. If they had their car resprayed (or wrapped) they would have dents and scratches removed first - and I think most of the relaquerers doing that work would have assumed so. back in the day, repairers sometimes relacquer as a normal part of the overhaul process.
 

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Me too, but then I would have thought the reason for most people wanting a relacquer would have been to make the horn look like new. If they had their car resprayed (or wrapped) they would have dents and scratches removed first - and I think most of the relaquerers doing that work would have assumed so. back in the day, repairers sometimes relacquer as a normal part of the overhaul process.
Yes, apparently that's what happened to my Aristocrat alto before I got it. The engraving was hardly visible anymore and on top of it, the last owners literally let it sit to rot. This is what she looked like (several relacquers worn off). There was no point in trying to get a factory-new like look and I liked the matte finish from the 0000 grade steel wool.

Plays like new, though :)

View attachment 227008 View attachment 227010
 

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My first attempt at removing the spotty lacquer from my old Bundy tenor was to take it to a shop in Victoria, called "Blast It". The young fellow in charge had never done a sax before. He suggested glass beading would be gentler than sand. The result was quite acceptable to me, except, very succeptable to oily finger marks. I sprayed it with a clear lacquer I picked up at Canadian Tire. I've played this horn for about five years now and it's been just fine. The "Bundy" etched on the bell is just visible.
My second attempt, on a similar old Bundy tenor, is still in the works. The spotty lacquer was removed by another "blaster" who's main work is classic cars. Again, he had never done a sax. He used a water/glass process that looks a little more sparkly than No. 1 job, and doesn't mark when touched. I'm going to try some wet/dry sand paper, (600, 800, 1000, 1200. 1500 and 2000), on the neck, first, to see what happens. I don't really need to do anymore polishing but think I'll try for a bit of shine. Wernal polish is the next and final step.
 

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For pic of my first Bundy job, see Bundy One Tenor For Sale. For the second, see post, "Lacquer Stripping".
 

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Another product you might try is Miracle Cloth. It can be cut into strips for "ragging" the body and the posts. It has a nice coconut smell as well. It keeps working even after it turns black and oily. You will be amazed at how nicely it polishes brass---almost as good as buffing.
This was also my experience, quite by accident, when I tested it with with a Buescher curved soprano. I was really surprised at just how beautiful and shiny it made the bare brass.
 
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