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Saxophones Vintage saxophones being re-lacquered

ProfJames

Elementary member
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Berkshire, UK
There is a guy in USA called Don Gutheil who both repairs and re-lacquers vintage saxophones. They look sensational. He has about 25 ready for purchase including -

I have a King Super 20 Silversonic listed right now ... 161046320103
a Bauhaus Walstein soprano ... 161045232334 also listed.
Two customized Buescher bari's... both in the shop getting final tweaked... One all black body and one red... both with fancy engraving treatment.
A customized (very similar to the Martin) Conn 10M (NRTH) ...
A customized Buescher Super 400 tenor - all black body- fancy engraving - matches the bari
A customized Superba 1 (RTH) all black body with gold keys, engraving.
All the above look and play great.
A customized Martin Magna - all black body, gold keys, engraving.. in the shop now getting tweaked.
A Customized Grassi Prestige - all white, gold keys and engraved areas - in the shop also.
The "Martin and Superba 1" can both be seen on You tube also ... a not so good video/photo attempt.

Search for me, Don Gutheil on youtube, and you'll see the videos. Plus take a look at "Why an ugly vintage?" - for a laugh.

A straight Martin Comm 3 - typical "ugly/beautiful" vintage look, but TIGHT and plays like a great Martin should.
A straight Martin Music Man.
Straight Grassi 2000
Straight King Super 20
A Holland made Keilwerth RTH (forgot the name)
A Martin bari - all apart, waiting to get an undecided (so far) custom treatment.
ALSO, Several customized altos, similar to the tenors, and a few straight ones - all great vintages

He has this Martin Comm III for sale on LinkedIn. What is the consensus of opinion - does it harm the horn getting it re-lacquered?

 

aldevis

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What is the consensus of opinion - does it harm the horn getting it re-lacquered?


The internet saxophone community agrees that finish does not affect the sound.
I don't. But I definitely prefer unlacquered, untreated horns, also æsthetically.
 
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jbtsax

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Unfortunately the term "relacquered" has taken on a derogatory meaning in the saxophone world. It possibly stems from the fact that inexperienced or unknowledgeable technicians over buffed some prize vintage horns wearing away parts of toneholes, posts, and engraving prior to relacquering.

This can work to the buyer's advantage, if they know what to look for. A good looking relacquered Mark VI will often sell for thousands less than a crappy looking one with "original" lacquer and play just as well. I share Mr. Gutheil's view about vintage saxes looking good. The remaining lacquer on older horns can be removed by immersing in hot water. The body can be polished by hand using a gentle, non abrasive metal polish. At this point once the sax is restored mechanically, I see no reason why a coat of baked on epoxy lacquer to preserve the finish should detract from the value. But that's just me.

I'm just finishing up a Martin tenor that I overhauled for a local college. It was stripped of its remaining lacquer, given a "scratch brushed" finish and then given a chemical patina. The last step was to apply a coating of Renaissance Wax to help preserve the finish. I'll post a few pictures when it is completed.
 

Daithi

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Scottish Highlands
Slightly off topic but I have an old Hawkes (before Boosey and Hawkes) Alto in what I believe to be a silver plated finish. I say what I "what I believe" because after a number of years out of its case it has developed the sort of grey uneven patina common to silver plated items. I could of course spend ages polishing it to get back to something close to its original finish but I am more inclined to give it a good dust and leave it as it is in its current tarnished condition. Does anyone have any views on this please?
 

old git

Tremendous Bore
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The internet saxophone community agrees that finish does not affect the sound.
I don't. But I definitely prefer unlacquered, untreated horns, also esthetically.

Mr Aldevis,
I will not quibble with your views on finishing, but you are of Italian extraction and therefore closer to Latin than we illiterate North Europeans.

Therefore please use the "æ" diaeresis/diphthong when spelling "æsthetically".

Now should that be "diaeresis" or "diæresis"? >:)
 

aldevis

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Mr Aldevis,
I will not quibble with your views on finishing, but you are of Italian extraction and therefore closer to Latin than we illiterate North Europeans.

Therefore please use the "æ" diaeresis/diphthong when spelling "æsthetically".

Now should that be "diaeresis" or "diæresis"? >:)

Apologies for trusting the automatic spell chucker.
"Diæresis" looks nicer, as long as you pronounce a diaeresis between i and æ. I would call the diphthong "æ" a synæresis, though.

Are Diphthongs prehistoric beings hanging around with really small double knickers?
 
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milandro

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the Netherlands
Collectors, and not only those of the musical instruments persuasion, have brought about the “ untouched, original, object ” mania.

Ask any antique dealer and they will tell you not to clean any antique object going for sale and leave it as it is for the buyer to deal with it.

In this way, the buyers have the feeling that they are buying an original object, or as original as it could be, and they can do what they please with the object that they have bought.

So the mania was born.

In some cases, like with bronzes or furniture, the grime, the polish and oxidation has developed into what people ceremoniously call “ patina”, which in the case of a bronze is partly applied in the foundry and partly gained with the years past the production of the bronze.

Some collectors will have some collectables cleaned (an oil painting for example, which is usually cleaned and sympathetically re-varnished) while other objects are left untouched. You don’t want to clean an 300 years old table and clean away the past of grime and wax that you’ve paid so much money for.

If you wanted a new table you could have bought a less expensive replica which will never be anywhere near as collectable (well maybe in 300 years it will) as the original.

Most of the times antiques or collectables that are meant to be used will be cleaned, restored and used. Most people don’t want to sit on a filthy and broken armchair even though it has original textile........but some will keep the stained leather of a gentleman’s armchair and have it fixed so that it is functional but looks the part.


The Shabby chic part.


That is the certainly shabby and perhaps chic look that some seek to achieve in their houses. Especially the “ Nouveau riche “ who seek to acquire the furniture which looks like it has been inherited ...........while it has been only expensively bought, grime and all.


The same applies to saxophones.



Many years ago saxophones were routinely relacquered, every time they underwent some serious service. Most band leaders wouldn’t allow a shabby saxophone in the jazz ballroom orchestra line up because these were people, remember, who wore tuxedos and in any case a suit when playing.

When the saxophone left the ballroom and entered the intellectual world of smokey clubs then one saw more and more of the worn out look. But these were people whom wore out the lacquer by intense playing or who where playing saxophones that were bought from other artists before of them.


The thing went on and fast forward 20 or so years, in the ’80, most of the saxophone players were playing on vintage instrument.

Amateurs discovered them too.


These days there are very few untouched instruments around. Lacquer was and is the best and cheapest way to protect metals.



I am not intending to open a can of worms, please, but I need to make a comment on body vibrations. (I won’t follow up if this sparks a controversy, I have reached the conclusion that it is not worth talking of religion, politics and acoustics)

The body of the saxophone is not part of what produces the sound in a saxophone. It vibrates passively with an energy that is thousands of times smaller than the one of the air column producing the passive vibrations, but even if those passive vibrations were to have a meaning they would be damped by the fact that you put your hands on the saxophone while playing and have the mouthpiece between your lips.

Try this.

Play an high C# (no hands), play the same note with your hands on it, does anything change? If, like I think, you find that it doesn’t, it must mean that whatever passive vibrations there are they are of no consequence to sound production.


Now, if this is the case. How can a coat of lacquer have ANY influence on sound? SO relacquer on if you want.

The only one thing is, don’t have this done by someone whom will buff the hell out of a very deeply scratched saxophone. Some parts of the saxophone can become dangerously thin.
 
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kevgermany

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Fully agree with what Milandro says. But... If you're bying/own a collectivble and may want to sell it on, be aware this may, and probably will, lower the value.

A couple of years ago I was discussingt his with and excellent technician. He said that all the brass players wanted relacquers. But none of the sax players did. Does a lot of work for the big orchestras in Munich. You'd think orchestral players would be the first to notice if a relacquer affected sound.
 

milandro

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the Netherlands
well, they are the same who are “ en masse” buying cryogenically treated brass horns so I am not so sure of their Judgement ;} >:) !

Yes, if you are buying to sell you should be aware that the value will be lower.

If, on the other hand, you are buying for yourself, don’t intend to sell at a profit and want to take advantage of the nonsensical (my opinion) thing of attributing a lesser value to relacquered saxophones.........buy one at a much lower price!|
:thumb:
 

aldevis

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A couple of years ago I was discussingt his with and excellent technician. He said that all the brass players wanted relacquers. But none of the sax players did. Does a lot of work for the big orchestras in Munich. You'd think orchestral players would be the first to notice if a relacquer affected sound.

Few years ago unlacquered french horns became quite fashionable. I think eventually the spots on the bare brass were too just ugly.
I still would not add (or remove) lacquering on an instrument that plays well, unless i suffer from what is often called "acidic sweating". In that case my first choice, being rich, would be gold plating.
 

milandro

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the Netherlands
yes, one, an alto made by Yanagisawa for show purposes. Too heavy and certainly these days with gold shooting at prices sky high, too expensive.

All gold flutes are regularly made.
 

milandro

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the Netherlands
well, of course the advantage of gold is that you need no protection......it protects itself.......so, no relacquering just light dusting will do! :)

I don’t know the current whereabouts of the Yanagisawa alto but I think it hasn’t been on shows lately, perhaps has been melted down........I certainly would have considered doing that with the price of god being what it is and a horn like that being certainly more than 10 Kg.
 

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