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Do saxophones rust ... or something?

Hi Everyone ...

Sooo as a lot of you know, I live and work on a cruise ship in the Caribbean and I have recently come across a problem hopefully someone out there has a solution ... or suggestions?!

I have what I believe is rust that is showing up on my thumb-rests (cleaned it off today ok) ... and also around my "pearls" but they aren't pearls ... they are more like flute keys.

Obviously I understand that I'm in a tropical climate so there's more moisture in the air ... but I'm looking for either something I can put in my case to absorb moisture ... or any other suggestions would be great!

Thanks all!
 
silica desiccants work, but cleaning it off is about all you can do. Make sure you're oiling everything regularly though as the rods and what not can rust inside as well if they're not oiled properly.
 

SOTSDO

Old King Log
Staff member
CE/Moderator
I once played on the decks of the USS Texas, berthed down on our Ship Channel, and was amazed to see that the posts and some of the rods on both of the Yamaha saxophones present all got several shades of brown darker than when we unpacked the horns.
 
That's pretty crazy, Terry! And scary too ... especially if you were playing on an expensive horn!

Luckily I don't actually play on deck ever (or if I did have to, I would have brought my cheap back-up horn) ... we have an old cymbal that was on the drum kit on deck and it's 100% green with rust / salt erosion.

For me personally ... I just play my horn in the theatre, and backstage while practicing ... that's it.
 

SOTSDO

Old King Log
Staff member
CE/Moderator
In our case, it was probably the pollution in the air - that far up the Ship Channel, the salt content was probably pretty low.

They turned back over time - maybe three months or so.
 

jbtsax

Distinguished Member
Distinguished Member
I agree with saxplayer1004's advice. From you description it is hard to tell if you are referring to unlacquered brass on the thumbrests tarnishing or something else. Brass parts that still have a coating of lacquer should not be affected by the humidity or salt air. It just depends on how old your sax is.

A great product to remove the tarnish from brass is Brasso which is widely available. I also like to use a product called "Miracle Cloth". Miracle Cloth

Once the brass has been cleaned, a light coat of Lemon Pledge furniture polish gives some temporary protection. I'm wondering why the saxophone keys have a flute key appearance without pearls. How old is the saxophone you are referring to?
 

Steve

Clarinet CE/Moderator
Staff member
CE/Moderator
.... I'm wondering why the saxophone keys have a flute key appearance without pearls. How old is the saxophone you are referring to?
There is one specific modern brand in current production that I know that does not use pearls and is just a lacquered button but i can't recall the exact brand name.
 
I agree with saxplayer1004's advice. From you description it is hard to tell if you are referring to unlacquered brass on the thumbrests tarnishing or something else. Brass parts that still have a coating of lacquer should not be affected by the humidity or salt air. It just depends on how old your sax is.

A great product to remove the tarnish from brass is Brasso which is widely available. I also like to use a product called "Miracle Cloth". Miracle Cloth

Once the brass has been cleaned, a light coat of Lemon Pledge furniture polish gives some temporary protection. I'm wondering why the saxophone keys have a flute key appearance without pearls. How old is the saxophone you are referring to?

Thanks for the suggestions :eek:) Maybe this additional info will help

I play on a P.Mauriate 67RX --- aka the "influence" model. It was manufactured sometime in the 2-3 years - just guessing - I didn't look it up.

I bought it new in November of 2009.

It's manufactured in Taiwan I believe.

The flute key touches are "over-sized nickle/silver" ... I LOVE the feel of them.

1) My thumbrest IS lacquered actually :eek:) Both the left hand and the right hand.
2) However the "rust" is only appearing where I have started to wear away the lacquer a little bit
3) by rust I mean ... greenish coloured build-up (i guess that's the best description) that I was able to remove from my Left thumb rest pretty easily by scraping it.
4) I don't know ... but i'm about 95% sure it's not something like mold because all my pads are totally fine and normal ... there's nothing like it on my neck or mouthpiece that are also in my case and it's localized to where my hands touch the horn.
5) I played this horn all last year before I left and nothing like this ever happened so I don't see how it could be me.
6) on my keys it's only appearing in the grooves (like on flute keys)
7) The only difference between my habits now and then is I wash my hands about 300 more times than a normal person. And I shower in water that has a VERY high chlorine content.

I wouldn't say it's tarnish ... I just used my microfiber cloth on my horn yesterday when I was cleaning it and for the most part it's shiny like-new! :eek:)

But again I don't know ...

Thanks again everyone! :eek:)
 

pete

Brassica Oleracea
Staff member
Administrator
I agree with saxplayer1004's advice. From you description it is hard to tell if you are referring to unlacquered brass on the thumbrests tarnishing or something else. Brass parts that still have a coating of lacquer should not be affected by the humidity or salt air. It just depends on how old your sax is.

A great product to remove the tarnish from brass is Brasso which is widely available. I also like to use a product called "Miracle Cloth". Miracle Cloth
I always put up a WARNING when I read about Brasso: first, it's not for lacquered horns and second, it's for BRASS ONLY. Don't use it on other metals or on a Vibratosax/Grafton. Use silver polish for silver horns and gold polish for gold horns. Of course, use a non-tarnishing, non-abrasive polish. And note that some silver horns are lacquered.

However, answering the original question, yes, saxophones can "rust" (more accurately, I think, "oxidize"): brass has red/orange or green, nickel tarnishes "dull" or whitish, silver tarnishes black or brownish and gold doesn't tarnish, period (might get a little dirty) -- although a gold plated horn is a brass horn that's been plated silver and then plated gold. Copper, I assume, would tarnish green, bronze should do about the same as brass and I haven't the slightest about pink gold or titanium. I suppose I could Google it :).
 

tictactux

Distinguished Member
Distinguished Member
I always put up a WARNING when I read about Brasso: first, it's not for lacquered horns and second, it's for BRASS ONLY. Don't use it on other metals or on a Vibratosax/Grafton.
Do you talk the liquid or the polish wadding? I use Brasso/Duraglit (which seems to be just the same stuff as eg Nevr-Dull) and it works great on Nickel as well.
Now I need something clean my pitch black fingers after cleaning Nickel stuff. :oops:
 

Steve

Clarinet CE/Moderator
Staff member
CE/Moderator

jbtsax

Distinguished Member
Distinguished Member
A box of thin rubber gloves is a good accessory when polishing a lot of instruments.

Some of the products we use in the shop are:

Wenol - an excellent all around metal polish, very gentle yet effective, quite expensive though

Simichrome - also an excellent all around polish, but like Wenol a bit on the expensive side

Hagertys Silver Polish spray - This does a fantastic job on silver flutes, saxophones, etc. It gives a beautiful deep shine to silver with light hand ragging and is much, much easier to work with than the liquid "pasty" polish that comes in bottles.

Allied's silver polish cloth - This is a 4" wide white cloth sold in 25' or 75' rolls that is impregnated with a silver polish agent. Great for use on flutes after dipping in tarnish remover to bring out an extra shine. (not as deep a shine as Hagertys, but faster to use)

Miracle Cloth* - Hard to find locally, but you can buy them on Ebay. These are cloths that are soaked in coconut oil and polish brass even better than Brasso without the ammonia smell and the mess. Cut into strips they are great to hand rag brass tuning slides, saxophone tenons, brass valves, etc. Don't pay more than $4 per 9 x 12 cloth, some vendors try to rip you off.

*These are not to be confused with the "Miracle Prayer Cloths" that "Reverend Ike" on late night KOMA radio would send you for a $25 donation that if you put them on your disease stricken body would restore you to perfect health.
 

sideC

Artist in residence
Distinguished Member
Actually, gold plate will tarnish. But it will never tarnish to the extent that silver will. My gold mk6 alto had a small dime sized spot of blue tarnish on the neck socket. I rub the horn down a couple of times a week with a silver polishing cloth, and over time, the tarnished spot vanished. The finish looks nearly new after many years of hard and constant playing. The horn is a little heavier than it's lacquered counterpart, and might blow with a tad more resistance, but the gold is well worth the extra expense, in my opinion.

Yeah, I used to listen to KOMA. It was an old AM clear channel station. I pulled it in at night in my old VW beetle while driving from NJ to California. It's nightime signal reached from Oklahoma City all the way to LA.

Julian
 

SOTSDO

Old King Log
Staff member
CE/Moderator
Gold plate accumulates a horrid, gummy, sticky layer of brown "scum" (similar in many ways to what accumulates on an unclean hot tub) that looks like nothing more than horribly oxidized lacquer. It can really be a fooler when you see a horn like this, as you are inclined to dismiss it as a POS based just upon appearance.

My ancient (1920's) Conn alto was originally finished that way, and had it not had a unique engraving (of an incredibly ugly flapper woman), I would have never considered spending a nickel on the thing. Ultimately, I am glad that I did.
 

pete

Brassica Oleracea
Staff member
Administrator
... Well, in addition to the fact I mentioned above that gold-plated horns are brass plated silver and then plated gold, we could talk about the purity of the gold used. 24K is almost pure. The wedding ring I'm wearing is 14K. I'd be willing to bet that what's on a sax will probably vary around the 10K to 14K range -- for the original finish. Maybe less. I know some places do offer 24K plating service, now.

And, of course, I forgot that little bit when I first posted :).
 
I live and play less than 2 miles from the ocean.

All of my horns get the red stuff on them. I used a 'greenie' to get it off, but it just comes back. I gave up on it. If it's the green stuff, though, its got to go. Just watch for pitting.
 
I live in Florida, near the coast of the mainland (there is a lagoon and barrier island east of that) and I played on cruise ships in the Caribbean for 3 years in the 80s.

I've also been playing since the 1960s.

Everything was fine when I could get my horns re-lacquered. I did this about every 2 years on my Mark VI, Mark VII and my H.Couf. Then the environmental people put a stop to sax shops re-lacquering horns in Florida (funny, they can lacquer cars in the open air .... hmmmm ... who has a better lobby).

I sold my Mark VI and VII before they quit relacquering horns here in FL.

This is what eventually happened to my H. Couf after they quit refinishing them:










After the Couf I bought a Gold Plated Grassi that looked good for 10 years before the plating started to flake off. It's now my "outdoors horn".

I called Anderson Plating and asked their advice about what kind of plating was the most durable finish on a saxophone. They replied nickel. Not Black Nickel or any other variation, but just plain nickel.

But nobody offers a quality nickel horn.

Mike from MacSax offered to have one plated in nickel twice and with no lacquer applied and he guaranteed I'd like the sax. Since he offered me a money back guarantee, something nobody else would do on a custom job like that (and I understand), I went with Mike at MacSax.

I thought I was getting a great horn for the money, I ended up getting a great horn. I'd say this was at least 95% of my old VI and Couf and way better than the VII



How to solve your problem? I have no idea.

It's a shame they don't re-lacquer horns here anymore. I called a few people in Indiana, but my horn would have to be in the shop for at least 3 months, and I found that unacceptable. That's why I tried the Gold and now the Nickel saxes.

Notes
 
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