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Finishes: Lacuer Vs. Silver Plate Vs. Gold Plate

DavidUK

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Near Lutterworth, Leics.
:confused:

So which of these three is better?

Lacquer is an easy wipe over job.
Silver tarnishes.
What about 24k Gold Plate? No tarnishing with gold, but what other pitfalls with it?

:confused:
 

Colin the Bear

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Burnley bb9 9dn
I think its only pitfall will be its softness. 24k is pretty soft and the plating will be only microns thick. I would assume it will wear exposing the bare brass. My nickel plate alto is showing brass on both thumb rests and the neck screw after just over a year. I suppose a polish and lacquer of these high wear areas wouldn't be noticable.
 

old git

Tremendous Bore
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Gold, after cryogenic and hand hammering treatments, before and after plating.

To get the ultimate out of the outfit you will also need very careful matching of ligature, providing it also receives the same treatment, mouthpiece although of less import and reed,
 

kevgermany

ex Landrover Nut
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Just north of Munich
What about 24k Gold Plate? No tarnishing with gold, but what other pitfalls with it?

:confused:

Copper diffuses into the gold then oxidises spoiling the finish. Unless there's a barrier layer (e.g. nickel) under the gold, it won't last for ever. And there's still the wear to deal with.
 

Saxdiva

Older, wiser, should know better....
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Burgess Hill, West Sussex
Copper diffuses into the gold then oxidises spoiling the finish. Unless there's a barrier layer (e.g. nickel) under the gold, it won't last for ever. And there's still the wear to deal with.

So it's probably better not to pay several £100s for gold plate, save the money or buy a better sax in brass.
 

DHM

Wrinkled retainer
Messages
249
Locality
West Midlands, UK
:confused:

So which of these three is better?

Lacquer is an easy wipe over job.
Silver tarnishes.
What about 24k Gold Plate? No tarnishing with gold, but what other pitfalls with it?

:confused:

Learn to love the beauty in aged lacquer and tarnished silver. Learn see them as evidence that the instrument has been played and made music…possibly even great music. Wabi-sabi (?) is the key here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wabi-sabi
 

jbtsax

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Beautiful Springville, Utah USA
If you are looking for low maintenance, lacquer is the way to go. Silver is my favorite, but it requires some upkeep and maintenance. On a brass instrument that is relatively easy. On a saxophone it requires the ability to remove the keys (and sometimes the springs) to adequately polish and remove the tarnish. At the current price of gold, modern gold plated instruments are very expensive. On the vintage gold plates I have worked on, the plating does not hold up as well as silver in the contact areas. Perhaps silver plating covered with lacquer is the best of both worlds?
 

altissimo

Well-Known Member
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3,349
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leicester
the current price of gold is £28.58 a gram - given the thickness of the coating, I don't think you'd need more than a gram or two - obviously there's the cost of electroplating and as pointed out above, gold doesn't stick very well to some metals, so there's a few layers of other metals to put on first....
I think some saxes may have been clear lacquered over the silver or gold plating, but not sure which...

Heavy nickel plating is my favourite, my 1930's Conn 6M is still in good condition and has only a bit of plating wear on the edges of some of the keys. Alas modern Chinese nickel plating isn't so good

Of course it would be more sensible to make saxes out of a different metal that wouldn't tarnish - titanium would be good, but the business is stuck on using old methods and materials and the cost of retooling wouldn't be cost effective
 

jazzdoh

Well-Known Member
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2,536
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West Midlands
I was told once buy a shop that black plating was the hardest of all the finishes,not got any proof,but go with what you like,just make sure the horn is a good player thats the most important thing for when i pick a horn.
 

jbtsax

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Beautiful Springville, Utah USA
A recent call to Anderson Plating in the U.S. shows that the cost to gold plate an alto saxophone on which all of the buffing and polishing has already been done is currently $2850.00. If they do all of the prep, it is considerably more than that, closer to $4000. Their prices are a bit higher than other places because they are the very best in the industry for band instrument plating.
 

DHM

Wrinkled retainer
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249
Locality
West Midlands, UK
Heavy nickel plating is my favourite, my 1930's Conn 6M is still in good condition and has only a bit of plating wear on the edges of some of the keys.

I've a pre-WW2 Buescher with nickel plated keys. When it came to me the lacquered brass body was a disaster area but the keywork still looked great.
 

altissimo

Well-Known Member
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3,349
Locality
leicester
A recent call to Anderson Plating in the U.S. shows that the cost to gold plate an alto saxophone on which all of the buffing and polishing has already been done is currently $2850.00. If they do all of the prep, it is considerably more than that, closer to $4000. Their prices are a bit higher than other places because they are the very best in the industry for band instrument plating.

phew!!! 24k gold plating solution is £72.95 per litre - https://www.cousinsuk.com/catalog/consumables/gilding-plating-salts/gold-plating-gilding-salts and you'd need several litres to fully immerse a saxophone - plus the plating tank etc
of course it's a cyanide compound, so not the kind of thing to try at home... and doing electroplating really well isn't so easy..
what you're really paying for is the time and expertise - degreasing, dipping in acid to remove the thin oxide layer, plating with copper, nickel and finally gold..
the price of the gold is only a small part of the expense, just as getting a sax repaired isn't just to do with the cost of materials - it's the skill and knowledge of the people doing it and the roomful of specialist equipment
 

jbtsax

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8,733
Locality
Beautiful Springville, Utah USA
phew!!! 24k gold plating solution is £72.95 per litre - https://www.cousinsuk.com/catalog/consumables/gilding-plating-salts/gold-plating-gilding-salts and you'd need several litres to fully immerse a saxophone - plus the plating tank etc
of course it's a cyanide compound, so not the kind of thing to try at home... and doing electroplating really well isn't so easy..
what you're really paying for is the time and expertise - degreasing, dipping in acid to remove the thin oxide layer, plating with copper, nickel and finally gold..
the price of the gold is only a small part of the expense, just as getting a sax repaired isn't just to do with the cost of materials - it's the skill and knowledge of the people doing it and the roomful of specialist equipment

Exactly!
 

Dr G

Member
Messages
396
Locality
Northern California
:confused:

So which of these three is better?

Lacquer is an easy wipe over job.
Silver tarnishes.
What about 24k Gold Plate? No tarnishing with gold, but what other pitfalls with it?

:confused:

Are you talking about maintenance?

Lacquer is the easiest to take care of - if it's good lacquer. An occasional go-over with a quality cleaning product, such as those made for high quality car finishes, is a great way to go.

I prefer silver plate and that is just a lil' more intensive. I take my horn apart about every six months to clean and lube it. I love the soft glow of a well-used silver plate horn.

Silver plate does tarnish. How fast it tarnishes will depend on your environment. If you live in an area with high pollution, it could tarnish quite quickly if you don't use an anti-tarnish silver treatment and/or leave it out of its case.

If you live near salt air, lacquer may degrade quickly whereas silver plate may prove much more durable.

Gold plate is a nice option if it already exists but quite expensive if you are having it done after the fact. As others have implied, GOOD gold plate is applied over an interface plate (usually silver) for best results. Then, as the soft gold plate wears away, the silver plate remains.

The finish on inexpensive horns may either be of poor quality or poorly applied - none of the above distinctions may apply.
 

daveysaxboy

Big ruff Geordie bendy metal blower
Messages
3,303
Are you talking about maintenance?

Lacquer is the easiest to take care of - if it's good lacquer. An occasional go-over with a quality cleaning product, such as those made for high quality car finishes, is a great way to go.

I prefer silver plate and that is just a lil' more intensive. I take my horn apart about every six months to clean and lube it. I love the soft glow of a well-used silver plate horn.

Silver plate does tarnish. How fast it tarnishes will depend on your environment. If you live in an area with high pollution, it could tarnish quite quickly if you don't use an anti-tarnish silver treatment and/or leave it out of its case.

If you live near salt air, lacquer may degrade quickly whereas silver plate may prove much more durable.

Gold plate is a nice option if it already exists but quite expensive if you are having it done after the fact. As others have implied, GOOD gold plate is applied over an interface plate (usually silver) for best results. Then, as the soft gold plate wears away, the silver plate remains.

The finish on inexpensive horns may either be of poor quality or poorly applied - none of the above distinctions may apply.

Hello Borg leader. I see your over the big pond now. You get more sense here I tell you, lol.....
 

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