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goldplating advice please


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I am currently restoring my old Bundy/Selmer stencil of a Buescher 20A Alto. It has great engraving and virtually dent free. It is stripped down totally and I am removing the remains of the old laquer/plating. (Feels like plating as it is so difficult to remove and cannot be touched by Nitromors). As it looks really good at bare brass polished level I was wondering about having it gold plated when complete? I believe that this one of few options for these horns originally. I have no idea of costs though and as this is a UK based forum rather than SOTW, thought maybe someone could advise on "local" costs. Does it have to be silver plated first? I understand many gold plated versions would be made thus? If it is prohibitively expensive, especially in context of what the horn is, then I may be better considering clear lacquer over polished brass, or even leaving it bare?

All thoughts gratefully received thank you.

Buescher Aristocrat series. LH bell keys etc
Hawkes & Son Excelsior Sonorous Alto - Close to museum condition
Trevor James Signature Phosphur Bronze Tenor/Silver plated keywork
Clarinets; Noblet 40, B&H 2-20, various antique
First of all, welcome to the Cafe, personally I'd leave it bare, but that's my personal opinion. I don't think that a Bundy would be worth all that expense, it would never make its value if resold. I also don't think it would alter the tone at all so it's all down to appearance. Is it really worth the trouble and cost when it will look beautiful and sound great if you leave it bare. Like I said, just my opinion! ;}
Thanks Taz,
I pretty much thought it likely that leaving it was best. The question really is then is it worth putting a clear lacquer over the brass? If not it obviously will tarnish and dull but that is not always a bad thing. May be worth spraying with a good quality clear coat?
Surely the problem is that the instrument needs to be thoroughly buffed and degreased before plating/lacquering.

As Taz as intimated it is not worth it, plus the buffing is likely to be detrimental.
If you've used Nitromors I suspect finish is not really a consideration. Just stabilise it by thorough washing all the chemicals off.

Put the horn together and get it to play at its best.

Gold can be used to plate both copper and silver, however the base metal atoms migrate into the gold and cause tarnishing. You need a layer of nickel under the gold to prevent this.

As to if it's worth it, it probably isn't - but if you're going to keep it, then the pleasure of seeing a bright, shiny gold sax probably makes it worthwhile. I'm out on a limb here, but I hate unpolished instruments. Looks to me as if the performer doesn't care about it. Most noticable in an orchestra where, say, one trumpet is unpolished and th rest shine...

Thank you for your reply.

I think you misunderstood. The horn is in the process of being stripped of all it's lacquer and plating, which was in a poor state. The brass and engraving under this is in really nice condition. The Nitromors discussion was regarding the difficulty in removing the remaining plating, no problems with the lacquer - that just falls off. When polished with a suitable brass polish the result is a really nice finish. This will tarnish and dull, hence the question re lacqering. I understand the value of the horn is not huge, although recently the exact same horn in tenor version and ok condition slipped through Ebay above £500. This makes it potentially of mid value. When completed and rebuilt I will see how well it plays. At the present time it only owes me the original purchase cost plus my time. New pads and springs will bring that amount up, but still below market value. I have hopes for a nice sounding and playing alto, looking good into the bargain. As such I will likely keep it and enjoy. Also this ia learning curve for me as to date I have only refurbished and repadded clarinets.

I am still interested in the cost of plating, if nothing else for curiosity reasons, so if anyone does know please pass on the info.

Thanks also Kev for your reply.
Try contacting FH Lambert in Watford.

I haven't used them, but their website looks good and they claim to be "the largest musical instrument repair & renovation specialists in the UK".

For an alto sax they give a guide price of £900 but that seems to include strip to base, polish and bright silver plate.

As well as silver they do a whole range of different gold and other metal platings.

It's not going to be cheap !

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Thanks Rhysonsax...............good starting point....but £900 is crushing! As you say if that includes stripping etc etc etc then probably reasonable. Many hours to strip, clean, buff, finish and re-pad......How's Farnham? not been there for many years.....used to play football there for years!! and cricket visiting!
Thanks Rhysonsax...............good starting point....but £900 is crushing! As you say if that includes stripping etc etc etc then probably reasonable. Many hours to strip, clean, buff, finish and re-pad......How's Farnham? not been there for many years.....used to play football there for years!! and cricket visiting!

Worth speaking to that company to see what the actual price would be for you, given that your sax is part-prepared, and you can discuss what finish would work best.

The lead trumpet in the local big band I play with is an excellent trumpet maker and repairman. I could also ask him what he does for plating etc:

Farnahm is pretty good, though our house is in total chaos with building work going on. What I thought was going to be my music room is now being described as a "family room" which probably means a children's den and no saxes, piano, hi-fi etc.

Where did you play cricket ? I played against Farnham a few times and always got thumped. Now I play in the local village league, several levels below that, but with some lovely local grounds.

Best regards

Thanks again Rhys. Have already emailed Lambert for approximation of costs.
Cricket for Camberley for best part of 25 years, Farnham were serious opposition, but lots of good fun and stories.....days of a young Graham Thorpe. Football oddly enough with his uncle at Old Farnhamians, when a teenager.
Thanks again Rhys. Have already emailed Lambert for approximation of costs.
Cricket for Camberley for best part of 25 years, Farnham were serious opposition, but lots of good fun and stories.....days of a young Graham Thorpe. Football oddly enough with his uncle at Old Farnhamians, when a teenager.

Graham Thorpe was at school with my sister-in-law and his dad umpires/umpired in our local league. Lovely chap (dad).

Just to complete the circle, I used to play football in an evening league that featured Camberley Cricket Club. They were a bit good for our local company footy team, and I particuarly remember Shaun Udal's brother being a fine player.

Good luck

Ah........ well I played for Camberley CC Football (Known as 3 c's then) in sunday league.
Played for long time cricket with Shaun's dad then with Shaun and Gary until I moved to northampton in 1990. Remember Shaun being born and growing up. Scored his first league hundred with me batting at Weybridge....when I was old young! We also were lucky in that Jim Standen (ex worcester and West Ham goalie) played for us for about 10 years. Had a good side in those days! Last met Shaun at Northampton playing for Hampshire. Gary is still playing from what I gather
Rhys, Grahams Dad used to play against us..........cant recall but was he not a quick bowler.......he may well remember me, we had many battles over the years. He is a little older I think. I assume you play for a one of the villages locally? Most were in our football league so know the area well.
I've been playing for Tilford since 1995, but I actually live 80 yards from one of the other village grounds (The Bourne). I think that Tilford don't have a footy team, but most of the cricketers play with the Morley Road Casuals in a Sunday league. They're getting a bit old for that nonsense now.

We only get league umpires in Div 1 now, so I don't bump into Graham's dad on the field. His playing days were over before I met him but he doesn't seem like a bowler's umpire :) (much too fair for that).

get changed in village hall, barley mow after, if I recall, had quite a few friendlies there in the 1970's. football at The Bourne on the hill! (sure he was a bowler, but then there were a few Thorpe's playing for Farnham....Geoff was his uncle I played football with.

Probably get into trouble for jawing about old times rather than saxophones!!............I will post immediately I have a reply from Lambert's. I think quite a few folk would be interested in prices etc. At this moment I am trying to put an alto back together after replacing a few pads. It is a Hawkes & Son Excelsior Sonorous First Class from around the early part of last century. Number 1981, which is early in the run. It is in brilliant condition, not a mark on it. Not been able to play it yet as the seller (few months back) sold it with quite a few bad pads at the top end. Will be interested to see how it goes......keeper or seller!

What do you play yourself Rhys? And for how long?
What do you play yourself Rhys? And for how long?

Well apart from cricket, footy, squash, badminton, tennis, table-tennis ...

I play (not very well) all the saxes from sopranino down to bass. I've got a collection of quite a few saxes (more than 25 and counting) in the vain hope that there's one out there that will play itself whilst I hold it :)

I've been playing sax since the late 70s and currently play in a covers band (mainly tenor and alto) and big band (baritone). The big band rehearses in ... The Tilford Institute, which was refurbished in about 2000. No more waiting for the one cold shower after a game of cricket !

What about you ?

I have a Hawkes & Sons C mel with a similar number. Mine is brushed silver with a polished silver interior. I had it re padded and it plays just fine. Hard work compared to modern instruments though. I checked mine out on the saxpics site and it looks as if it was made by Evette & Schaeffer (Buffet) for Hawkes & Son. Perhaps yours was too. Good luck with it.

Thanks Justin, I will take a look see.....

Rhys, I started with clarinet as an 18 year old, self taught and from my Mother's catalogue. Thus I had one the early chinese clarinets! It was wood, cant recall the name and played fine. Indeed I gave it to an ex-brother in law and his teacher said it was good. After I bought a Regent and got on with it. We used to mess around with a sporting buddy of mine and a jazz afficianado playing alto and guitar respectively. Not Good! Also went and saw many of the jazz greats. Ornette Coleman, Duke Ellington, Stan Tracey, Don Rendell, Ronnie Scott, Humph, Bruce Turner, Bud Freeman etc etc. We were lucky the jazz guy knew people and we had a thriving jazz event at Camberley Cricket Club once or twice a year with top names. Also The Cambridge in Camberley had a jazz club where the good old British brigade appeared often, such as Acker Bilk, Kenny Ball, Ken Colyer,Chris Barber, even Bob Kerr and his Whoopee Band. Playing wise I went backwards for years and dabbled. However I rekindled when re-married in 2000 and bought a tenor. My clarinet playing was alwayas reasonable with a good tone and this was a natural progression. Chopped Tenor in for TJ signature model which is a pretty good piece of kit, althoug I know Pete Thomas is unsure. Finish is very good, made from phosphur bronze and silver plated keywork. Mellow tone and good action. Since I started buying clarinets off Ebay and refurbishing them, then bought a new copper alto and black soprano, both Chinese and both very good prices. I was suprised at their quality and have had many "discussion" via SOTW regarding these. sold both on for handsome profits and then found Buescher Aristocrat and Hawkes & Son, both alto's. I would say I am semi competent, with fairly good tone. You appear to have had much more involvement and playing with others helps hugely. I am about to refurb a couple of my old simple system clarinets which are in gorgeus woods and see how they go. Oh forgot, of course the reason for starting the thread, the stencilled Beuscher 20A in Bundy form. This will come up looking really good and I am hopeful it will play at least as well as the Aristo.

There appears to be consoderably less quality on Ebay at the moment, which is oposite of what I expected when money is in short supply. always a good deal somewhere you have to look, look again then keep looking until it makes sense.!

One last point, I recently bought an Otto Link STM for my alto. Many suggest this is a poor marriage, yet for me it plays very very well. Much better than my Meyer. Have you or anyone used one and what is the prognosis? It was such a good price I could not resist!


just an update on the plating discussion. Having emailed Lamberts as suggested I received weird responses which effectively have left me in no man's land. Their web site suggests around £900 to strip and gold plate an alto. I asked them how much if the alto is supplied ready stripped for plating. I got the resonse £1800 for two!! Having queried it I then got the same £900 or actually a bit more, than on their website. So it seems that it is a no brainer, expecially as it costs more to do most of the work for them!

Now, I actually think they are not reading their emails fully and understanding the question. however it is not good for business when you cannot answer a simple enquiry. Since pointing out the problem with their reply I have heard nothing! Anyway, as such any thoughts of gold plating are now at rest. however should someone know the real cost please let me know!

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