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Bare brass temptation

saxyjt

I have saxophone withdrawal symptoms
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Reading stories and seeing images of bare brass horns are leading me to be tempted by some experimenting...

I have acquired this Alta Guban alto sax a few months ago and as I was cleaning the neck, I almost unexpectedly took a piece of steel wool to remove spots of verdigris and accidentally removed some of the adjacent lacquer! :rolleyes:

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Then I thought, why not remove it all, just from the neck. So I did.

And now I'm considering doing it to the whole horn. But not using steel wool! Too much work.

I noticed while removing the glue from the cork with acetone that it removed some of the lacquer.

Anyone knows if it's an indication of the type of lacquer?

I have more or less what is required to do a hot water+baking soda type bath but I'm not sure if it'll work on that thing.

I might try it on the key guards, the rest of the keywork is nickel plated...

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jbtsax

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"Almost unexpectedly"? Now that a new one. :) I have removed the lacquer from several saxophones using hot water for the old "nitrocellulose lacquer" and a strong paint remover for the newer lacquers. The most difficult was the lacquer on Yamaha's. The only thing I found that would touch it was the "hot lacquer remover" sold by Ferree's.

Even with the best process it is a tedious and messy job. No matter how good the process there is always a lot of "mechanical" removal in the nooks and crannies. I always give the brass a "brushed finish" using these 3M products.
It would be possible to use this method to remove the lacquer as well, but I haven't tried that.

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saxyjt

saxyjt

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Well, I'm not sure when they switched from one type to the other but my trial with baking soda was a complete failure. So I guess it's too recent for that method.

I'll have to go down the hard chemicals route if I do it... I'll have a look see what I can find as paint remover that might work on this. Otherwise elbow grease, but I'm not sure I'm that motivated...
 

Greg Strange

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I remember over the years on this forum various members have had a go at removing the lacquer from their horns from 'purple logo' 62 series Yamaha tenor to student horns...this might help...


and good luck...

Greg S.
 

JayeNM

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Well, I'm not sure when they switched from one type to the other but my trial with baking soda was a complete failure. So I guess it's too recent for that method.

I'll have to go down the hard chemicals route if I do it... I'll have a look see what I can find as paint remover that might work on this. Otherwise elbow grease, but I'm not sure I'm that motivated...
Try boiling water first. Arta Gubans were Romanian, and if I had to, I would guess they used the old-school lacquer which is more easily removable. The neck would not have come off so easily if it was the more modern, harder lacquer recipe.

Hot water + Baking soda (sodium bicarbonate) ?????
That does sh#t.
Where did you read THAT ?

Washing Soda (sodium carbonate) is the one which has SOME effect, but I wouldn't even bother with that (although for kicks you could add some to the boiling water..it won't hurt anything).

On old-school lacq I do boiling water, followed by a scrub with a soft-bristle toothbrush to reach the nooks and crannies, the followed by something like Barkeepers Friend or Wrights copper cream also with a toothbrush in the nooks. Once soaped and rinsed and dried, you will then still need to use some 0000 steel wool to get off any residual flakes which will remain otherwise.

If the boiling water fails, next go to a mild paint stripper such as Citri-Strip. Multiple applications and rinses may be necessary.

If that fails, then go with some of the nasty chemical paint/varnish remover., brushed on...the kind that burns your skin, yes - time to pull out the big guns here....in a well-ventilated area and use gloves and do NOT dispose of the stuff which sloughs off down a sink drain.
 
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saxyjt

saxyjt

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But as I said before, acetone appeared to work some. So I guess it's an indication of the type of lacquer...

Perhaps I should steal my wife's nail varnish remover! >:)
 
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saxyjt

saxyjt

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So salt will just as well! ;)
 

Stephen Howard

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I'd recommend giving the matter some serious thought.
It's difficult enough to remove the lacquer - but what's going to happen after you've done it?
I see a lot of bare brass horns on the bench these days - mostly because players have fallen for the BS that claims an unlacquered horn has a better tone. It's complete bloody nonsense - and unless you're a very 'dry' player it can lead to a whole host of problems.

Now, I've got a bare brass horn. In fact I've got two (though I only own one). And they're fine. But I used to do three hour gigs on my old Yamaha and barely had a drop of water out of the bell at the end of the gig. Other players may well be standing in a puddle of their own making after half an hour.
If you're a wet player then pretty soon you're going to back on these hallowed pages asking how you can remove all the green gunge (verdigris) that's formed. And it won't be easy.

 

JayeNM

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Interesting, I have at times used Washing Soda.

Tell me, tho....you used BOILING water and Baking Soda ? Or just
hot water and baking soda ?

Because the latter wouldn't do....the water really has to be boiling.

I am just surprised that, if it was really boiling, it would not have removed Guban lacquer, is all....
 
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JayeNM

Formerly JayePDX
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I'd recommend giving the matter some serious thought.
It's difficult enough to remove the lacquer - but what's going to happen after you've done it?
I see a lot of bare brass horns on the bench these days - mostly because players have fallen for the BS that claims an unlacquered horn has a better tone. It's complete bloody nonsense - and unless you're a very 'dry' player it can lead to a whole host of problems.
I agree with this. And while the 'unlacquered increases resonance' BS is the #1 reason folks buy a bare brass horn, I also know a number of players who were enamored with the idea of bare brass and how it'd organically change hue and give that earthy appearance.

But when confronted with the reality that one can never predict what is gonna happen (because there are too many variables, including the climate of one's area)....the resulting 'patina' wasn't what the owner expected nor wanted. Verdgris, red rot, spotting....all very real possibilities.

I only remove lacq IF the existing lacq is in such poor shape that it is really making the horn homely as all heck.

Also, selling a home-stripped bare brass horn ? That takes a hit market-value wise (granted Artas have very little to begin with - undeserved, IMHO).
 
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saxyjt

saxyjt

I have saxophone withdrawal symptoms
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I'd recommend giving the matter some serious thought.
It's difficult enough to remove the lacquer - but what's going to happen after you've done it?
Not sure. I'll probably keep experimenting. I take this horn as an experiment. I have others for when I want to really play! But I'll try to make that one sing anyways. In whatever shape or form.

I am just surprised that, if it was really boiling, it would not have removed Guban lacquer, is all....
Perhaps it didn't boil long enough. :confused2: What's you're take? How long does it normally take?

This horn, from what I gathered, not much, could be from the 70s or 80s. What were they using as lacquer then, in Romania? There is a plastic guard too. So, it's already moving towards the plastic, fantastic days...

Then, no one picked up on my comment about the acetone. Is that not an indication of what type of lacquer it is?

Now, I don't have a big enough pot to boil the whole horn, not even half of it. So that's not currently an option...
 

TBay

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I wouldn’t do this in a million years, but based on the sort of stuff that seems to be moving it, then surely £6 for a 5L tin of thinners from an automotive paint place would do the trick. no way would I do it though!
 

Taz

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I stripped my Amati about 7 years ago. The lacquer was in a horrible condition so I made the decision to strip it. With a lot of help from the wife we went from a horrible looking sax to something to behold!

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saxyjt

saxyjt

I have saxophone withdrawal symptoms
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Looks great when finished.

This is how she looks seven years on having never been polished!
So you never applied any product afterwards? Just to try and keep it as smooth as it looked...

I have in mind to use some wax to try and preserve the finish.
 

JayeNM

Formerly JayePDX
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Perhaps it didn't boil long enough. :confused2: What's you're take? How long does it normally take?

This horn, from what I gathered, not much, could be from the 70s or 80s. What were they using as lacquer then, in Romania? There is a plastic guard too. So, it's already moving towards the plastic, fantastic days...

Then, no one picked up on my comment about the acetone. Is that not an indication of what type of lacquer it is?

Now, I don't have a big enough pot to boil the whole horn, not even half of it. So that's not currently an option...
OK, but yeah it has to be submerged into the boiling water.. It's not like you can just piur boiling water over it and the stuff will slough off.

I have also boiled several pots of water simultaneously then dumped all of the water into a big kitchen sink then I was able to submerge the entire body (or half of it at least and let it sit in there....then repeated the process with the other half.

But at this point, if that is a hassle, just get chemical stripper. As I said earlier, Citri-Strip (if available there) is the mildest one and least caustic to your skin and nostrils and two applications and rinses to old-school lacquer usually does the trick. But there IS the chance it may be too mild, too.

So the next one would be teh really caustic, chemically stuff...lacquer remover/paint/varnish remover. That WILL do the trick but again, disposing of the detritus cannot be done down the drain.

(The idea that a wax will 'preserve' the bare brass finish, preventing it from tarnishing/patina'ing....is an iffy one, BTW. It may slow the process, but usually doesn't prevent the process (unless one wants to do this repeatedly at regular intervals, which is sort of a pain).
So, yeah initially it might do something...but do not expect an application made a year ago will, after that time, keep the horn looking like 'clean bare brass').
 
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