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Saxophones Does de-lacquering reduce a saxophones value/playability?

oldpuffer

Member
Messages
46
Hi all, hope this is in the right forum.

I am considering taking a punt at a sax for sale, but its quite a long drive to have a look at it.
In the description it is 'completely unlacquered', and completely overhauled, as far as I can tell it was originally sold lacquered.
Has the value or playability been compromised at all, and will there be problems in the future with
corrosion etc?. It has a brass body with nickel silver keywork.
I can ask the vendor questions of course but would like to know about this issue before I do.

Thanks in advance.... Martin.
 

RMorgan

Member
Messages
110
Hey Martin,

As far as I can tell, removing the original lacquer from a sax doesn´t affect it´s tone at all. However, this is a very controversial subject.

About corrosion, brass is a very resistant material.

Of course, you´ll have to clean your sax very carefully after every session, to avoid verdigris and to keep it looking good, but it´s not a hard thing to do. You´ll have to pay an extra attention in order to avoid verdigris to go into the pads, which would eventually diminish their lifespan.

If you like the sax, just go for it. That´s my two cents.

Personally, I quite like the aesthetics of de-lacquered saxophones, specially vintage ones.

If you want, post some pictures of the instrument, so we can make a more accurate evaluation.

Cheers,

Raf.
 

kevgermany

ex Landrover Nut
Subscriber
Messages
21,947
Hi all, hope this is in the right forum.

I am considering taking a punt at a sax for sale, but its quite a long drive to have a look at it.
In the description it is 'completely unlacquered', and completely overhauled, as far as I can tell it was originally sold lacquered.
Has the value or playability been compromised at all, and will there be problems in the future with
corrosion etc?. It has a brass body with nickel silver keywork.
I can ask the vendor questions of course but would like to know about this issue before I do.

Thanks in advance.... Martin.
Sounds as if you're buying one of Davey's ex saxes.... ;}

As said before, shouldn't affect anything - if it's been done properly. Whether or not you like the looks is another matter. May affect resale value if you decide to sell in the future.

Corrosion's not usually an issue if you keep it clean (wipe down and use a pull through after playing). But if you're close to the sea, it may be a different story.

Brass and nickel silver do corrode with time. Nickel silver goes a dull grey and needs an abrasive metal polish to bring the shine back. Two main problems with brass are verdigris (green salt build up) and de-zincification. First is easy to deal with - vinegar. Second is irrecoverable - what happens is the zinc and copper in the brass act as a battery in the presence of less than pure water. Net result is that the zinc is eaten away leaving patches of red, porous copper. This can be polished away, and waxed which should stop it getting worse. First sign of this is white zinc salts building up. In bad cases it can wreck a sax quite quickly, but this isn't too common.
 

oldpuffer

Member
Messages
46
Sounds as if you're buying one of Davey's ex saxes.... ;}

As said before, shouldn't affect anything - if it's been done properly. Whether or not you like the looks is another matter. May affect resale value if you decide to sell in the future.

Corrosion's not usually an issue if you keep it clean (wipe down and use a pull through after playing). But if you're close to the sea, it may be a different story.

Brass and nickel silver do corrode with time. Nickel silver goes a dull grey and needs an abrasive metal polish to bring the shine back. Two main problems with brass are verdigris (green salt build up) and de-zincification. First is easy to deal with - vinegar. Second is irrecoverable - what happens is the zinc and copper in the brass act as a battery in the presence of less than pure water. Net result is that the zinc is eaten away leaving patches of red, porous copper. This can be polished away, and waxed which should stop it getting worse. First sign of this is white zinc salts building up. In bad cases it can wreck a sax quite quickly, but this isn't too common.
Thanks for the reply kev, I'm a bit worried now as this sax is a Martin and has soldered in tone holes. Maybe the solder would be more vulnerable without lacquer, as it's liable to get leaks there anyway through some sort of chemical reaction. No idea who Davey is though lol. It looks to me to have been over restored but I'm no expert.
 

kevgermany

ex Landrover Nut
Subscriber
Messages
21,947
Martins get the problems with the tone holes with or without lacquer, cos the lacquer's only on the outside. They can be fixed, and it's a risk with any soldered tone hole horn. Just go in with your eyes open...
 

Saxlicker

Well-Known Member
Messages
1,933
My 2 pence worth on de-lacquering is there are typically 3 reasons for it.

1) The honest persons desire to do so for cosmetic or sonic reasons that they believe in.
2) The sax had very ugly patchy lacquer remaining so it just seemed the best way to tidy it up given that bare brass has an appeal in its own right to those mentioned above.
3) A bit more cynical of me but....to try to hide the fact that its been relacquered or worse still buffed and relacquered. I don't think you fool too many people when its been buffed but I have seen people try this.

So I guess it should always take a hit in value due to the unknown but I think they sound every bit as good as any type of sax's finish.
Heavily buffed brass however is commonly perceived to be lacking.
 
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oldpuffer

Member
Messages
46
My 2 pence worth on de-lacquering is there are typically 3 reasons for it.

1) The honest persons desire to do so for cosmetic or sonic reasons that they believe in.
2) The sax had very ugly patchy lacquer remaining so it just seemed the best way to tidy it up given that bare brass has an appeal in its own right to those mentioned above.
3) A bit more cynical of me but....to try to hide the fact that its been relacquered or worse still buffed and relacquered. I don't think you fool too many people when its been buffed but I have seen people try this.

So I guess it should always take a hit in value due to the unknown but I think they sound every bit as good as any type of sax's finish.
Heavily buffed brass however is commonly perceived to be lacking.
Thanks licker this is a great forum :). So I need to check the sax in question has a decent engraving, otherwise it may have been buffed too thin?.
 

Saxlicker

Well-Known Member
Messages
1,933
Thanks licker this is a great forum :). So I need to check the sax in question has a decent engraving, otherwise it may have been buffed too thin?.
Well....
Too thin will always be subjective so the magic answer is does it sound nice too you? especially when compared on a like for like sax.

I understand that back in the day, Big Band Leaders expected players instruments to shine presentably.
This mean't many horns were re-lacquered for the owner to stay employed. It set a president and to an extent became the thing to do amongst sax players with shabbier horns. Many repair shops would re-lacquer as the norm during an overhaul.
This is not the case these days.
One reason for that is because players got their horns back and felt some life had been knocked out of them in their sound. The worse cases even looked uglier as they were poorly buffed leaving engraving a non de-script mess.
This I believe is the source of the poor reputation of re-lacquers.

These days people have found a way of stripping horns without needing to buff them. The final result can normally still be distinguished as a re-lacquer though and the best efforts are typically advertised as 'factory re-lacquers'.
Occasionally its extremely hard to tell and you have to carefully examine for damage under the lacquer along with the actual colour it's self.
Usually you need to consider all these things together and more because one alone could give you the wrong impression.
I know of a few saxes that are definitely original lacquer yet carry faults under the lacquer from manufacture and I happen to be talking about selmers.

On sax's done only for sonic or cosmetic reasons the engraving will still be sharp in areas that do not get much or any contact during typical use.
You could expect less definition if it is in an area that rubs on clothing which is of course the left hand side.

Buffed instruments will likely show uneven depths and the edges wont be crisp. Light lines details are very likely to have areas that completely disappear.
 
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Pete Thomas

Chief of Stuff
Commercial Supporter
Messages
14,015
Buffed instruments will likely show uneven depths and the edges wont be crisp. Light lines details are very likely to have areas that completely disappear.
The one in the picture does indeed look quite buffed. hard to tell due to the reflection, but if so this does knock a bit off the value IMO, as it's probably been relacquered at some stage.
 

oldpuffer

Member
Messages
46
The one in the picture does indeed look quite buffed. hard to tell due to the reflection, but if so this does knock a bit off the value IMO, as it's probably been relacquered at some stage.

Thanks to all who are helping me out here, I've contacted the seller to ask about the de-lacquer/buffing etc.
I suppose after all this it depends how it plays as I'm not planning on buying it to sell for profit.
The trouble is that as a novice I'm pretty clueless, I can read on the internet for hours about Martin saxes etc. but will probably see everything in pink if I view it and trust to luck. :)
 

kevgermany

ex Landrover Nut
Subscriber
Messages
21,947
To add to Saxlicker's super post:

Some guys are recutting the engraving that gets buffed away during a bad/heavy buffing session.

But... it's still worth checking out, despite the negatives - look on the negatives as things to watch out for, not reasons to avoid looking.

Get an idea of the seller as well. Genuine/trustworthy, or shady.....
 

thomsax

Well-Known Member
Messages
3,807
Thanks licker this is a great forum :). So I need to check the sax in question has a decent engraving, otherwise it may have been buffed too thin?.
We're talking about a thickwall sax! It's not a thin wall brand.

Thomas
 

thomsax

Well-Known Member
Messages
3,807
I have owned and played saxes that were buffed. I can't understand what a correct buffing can do to the tone/sound? As long as the sax is not damaged. Thickness of the saxwalls don't do anything to the sound?!?!?!

I think the most important thing to lock for buying a Martin is that the toneholes sockets are intact. And also if the sax is repadded, the sax should be setup as factorysetup. Thin pads on Martin saxes! Otherwise they keys are bent up to avoid the back of the pads to touch the back of the tone hole first.

Thomas
 

oldpuffer

Member
Messages
46
'hi, the laquer was removed with a slow acting varnish remover, the sax wasnt buffed it was gently hand polished with duraglit polish as it is not as harsh as brasso and then it was left for weeks to naturaly go dull before being overhauled etc, the engraving is about 75% sharp i think it has naturaly worn a bit due to handling over the years but is still very visible,hope this helps.'

My reply from the vendor. I'm paying very close attention to what you are saying Thomas thank you again.
 

Saxlicker

Well-Known Member
Messages
1,933
Some guys are recutting the engraving that gets buffed away during a bad/heavy buffing session.

But... it's still worth checking out, despite the negatives - look on the negatives as things to watch out for, not reasons to avoid looking.

Get an idea of the seller as well. Genuine/trustworthy, or shady.....
All good points, I'd forgotten about the recutting brigade. Some people do this to bring it back to a pretty state and change things or add to them. This makes for a unique horn that is not trying to hide a past.
I'm not sure how easy it would be to spot one that is trying to be identical. When they are engraved at the factory (at least at yamaha) a paper stencil is laid on the sax to a coloured pattern and the engraver copies it. They all come out slightly different and when you see the technique you can see how hard it would be to make them exact.
I know this has been posted before..

Jason Dumars is a pure artist.
http://dumarsengraving.blogspot.co.uk/
 
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