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Gold plating keys on a Pete Fountain model clarinet

jbtsax

Distinguished Member
Distinguished Member
#1
My friend and repair apprentice Jory Woodis wanted a Pete Fountain clarinet with gold plated keys. but could only find one with nickle plated keys. That started a journey to discover what it would take to plate the keys ourselves. After much research and gathering supplies the project is finally completed.









 

Steve

Clarinet CE/Moderator
Staff member
CE/Moderator
#2
My friend and repair apprentice Jory Woodis wanted a Pete Fountain clarinet with gold plated keys. but could only find one with nickle plated keys. That started a journey to discover what it would take to plate the keys ourselves. After much research and gathering supplies the project is finally completed.









That looks great.
About how much do you think it would cost a customer to have their keys plated.
Also, would it be a different cost if the existing keys were originally nickel or silver plated, or even heavily worn.
 

Helen

Content Expert Saxophones
Staff member
Administrator
#3
That looks amazing jbt! Now will you gold plate my Buescher bass sax for me.... But I think you'll have to buy a bigger beaker. :emoji_stuck_out_tongue_winking_eye:
 

jbtsax

Distinguished Member
Distinguished Member
#4
My friend and repair apprentice Jory Woodis wanted a Pete Fountain clarinet with gold plated keys. but could only find one with nickle plated keys. That started a journey to discover what it would take to plate the keys ourselves. After much research and gathering supplies the project is finally completed.
That looks great.
About how much do you think it would cost a customer to have their keys plated.
Also, would it be a different cost if the existing keys were originally nickel or silver plated, or even heavily worn.
Thanks. It was a fun project---especially keeping track of all the posts. ;) To plate the keys with "heavy gold plating" which is 2.5 microns or more, it took a quart of 24K gold solution containing 2 1/2 grams of gold which cost $325. We had to plate the bell ring which could not be removed with brush plating solution which cost an additional $100. The gold itself without the labor ran about $400, our cost. The lowest estimate we got from professional plating companies was around $800. However, the largest portion of the cost to a 3rd party would be for the labor to disassemble and reassemble the instrument with new pads, corks, etc.

The keys must be nickle plated prior to gold plating (something I didn't know before hand). Gold will plate easily over silver, however the nature of the two metals is such that over time, the silver will "bleed through" the gold giving it a brown or green color. Nickle blocks this from happening. If the keys were heavily worn, they would first need to be buffed and degreased adding several hours to the labor costs.

I could plate someone's keys and parts that are removed and ready to plate for about $750. To remove the keys and parts myself and do a reassembly and repad would run at least $1600. Note: I am not looking for this kind of work.

To Helen: If you pay for a bathtub full of gold plating solution @$325.00 per quart I will gladly plate your bass sax free of charge.
 

jbtsax

Distinguished Member
Distinguished Member
#6
how much retapping of screw flat spring threads and recutting of keys/posts etc did you have to do for key fitting?

I've gotten quotes from Andersons in the past for gold / silver plating and they do a lot of prep work which pushes the price up as you mentioned.
No retapping of screw holes was needed. There was a small amount of fitting hinge tubes both as to ID and length. The gold thickness of 2.5 microns is only about one ten thousandth of an inch. On the inside of a hinge tube the diameter is reduced by 2/10,000".
 

Steve

Clarinet CE/Moderator
Staff member
CE/Moderator
#7
how much retapping of screw flat spring threads and recutting of keys/posts etc did you have to do for key fitting?

I've gotten quotes from Andersons in the past for gold / silver plating and they do a lot of prep work which pushes the price up as you mentioned.
No retapping of screw holes was needed. There was a small amount of fitting hinge tubes both as to ID and length. The gold thickness of 2.5 microns is only about one ten thousandth of an inch. On the inside of a hinge tube the diameter is reduced by 2/10,000".
That's good to know. Last time I talked to Anderson's they made it sound like there was a lot of extra work to do because of the extra thickness of the plating. I was going to get a clarinet gold plated and a couple silver plated before their email ... they talked themselves out of work.
 

jbtsax

Distinguished Member
Distinguished Member
#8
how much retapping of screw flat spring threads and recutting of keys/posts etc did you have to do for key fitting?

I've gotten quotes from Andersons in the past for gold / silver plating and they do a lot of prep work which pushes the price up as you mentioned.
No retapping of screw holes was needed. There was a small amount of fitting hinge tubes both as to ID and length. The gold thickness of 2.5 microns is only about one ten thousandth of an inch. On the inside of a hinge tube the diameter is reduced by 2/10,000".
That's good to know. Last time I talked to Anderson's they made it sound like there was a lot of extra work to do because of the extra thickness of the plating. I was going to get a clarinet gold plated and a couple silver plated before their email ... they talked themselves out of work.
I think it depends entirely on how tight the keys are before plating.
 
#10
Nice! Can you please advise:
How did you know how much gold solution to buy?
Was any left over (What did you do with it)?
Did you also do the nickle plating?
What did the nickle add to the cost?
 

jbtsax

Distinguished Member
Distinguished Member
#11
Nice! Can you please advise:
How did you know how much gold solution to buy?
Guess.
Was any left over (What did you do with it)?
Kept it for future projects.
Did you also do the nickle plating?
Not on this project since the keys were already nickle plated, but I do nickel plating as well.
What did the nickle add to the cost?
A liter of bright nickel plating solution is only about $25.00.
 
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