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Need help on getting corrosion off bari sax and bass clarinet

I recently got hired at a school that does not clean their instruments. Today I took it upon myself to clean a bass clarinet and a really really gross bari sax.
The bass clarinet has some kind of green corrosion(oxidization) and some cloudy spots which I think are due to water. The bari sax has the same problem, but probably times 100. All the instruments are lacquered, some silver some gold. I really want to get that green grime off and polish the instruments as much as I can but I don't want to use just some random polish in fear that I might remove the lacquer or damage the instruments. What are some recommendations to get rid of it?


Brassica Oleracea
Staff member
All the instruments are lacquered, some silver some gold.
While I have seen some comments, in the past, regarding silver "lacquer" on Selmer S80 saxophones -- I haven't been interested enough to look into that in any depth -- make sure you're not talking silver or gold plate. That makes a significant difference.

All I can say about cleaning is that if you are talking about a plated instrument, get non-tarnishing, non-abrasive polish specifically for that plating. I've heard that a lot of folks tend to use diluted Simple Green, too. Mind you, I'm not a repairman, nor do I play one on tv :D.


Distinguished Member
Distinguished Member
Please realize that in order to clean the body of the instrument inside and out it is necessary to remove all of the keys so that the pads are not damaged. I do this often when I overhaul saxes and do a Clean Oil and Adjust (COA). If you are not comfortable that you can put everything back where it goes, I would recommend taking it to a repair shop and having a professional do it.

My system for cleaning saxophone bodies which would also apply to plastic (not wooden) bass clarinets is to remove all the keys leaving the pivot screws in place and give each blue needle spring a coat of Renaissance Wax. Next I soak it in the bath tub or a large plastic container in warm water with a liberal amount of Dawn dishwashing detergent. After soaking for a while I use several bristle brushes of different sizes to clean the inside of the bore and the toneholes as well as the outside of the body inbetween the toneholes and the "nooks and crannies". After a good brushing the saxophone body is rinsed with clean water and then dried using compressed air so there are no water spots. If there is any green left on the tops of toneholes a soft cloth dipped in naptha (lighter fluid) usually does the job.

A lacquered sax is then given a polish using Lemon Pledge. I like to use cheap cotton assembly gloves and spray one glove to apply the wax and use the other dry glove to wipe and polish. The same method is used to clean and polish the keys. To clean the inside of the hinge tubes I like to use brass valve oil on a cotton pipe cleaner. The same oil on a cotton cloth does a good job of cleaning the old oil off the hinge rods. The keys are given key oil and pivot screw grease during assembly. My COA then includes doing a "play condition" as the sax is assembled. The entire service averages about $200 in my shop depending upon the condition of the instrument.

A silver plated sax is cleaned in the same manner. The body is then dipped in Empire Tarnish Remover, rinsed and dried. The final polishing which takes most of the time is done using Haggerty's Silver Polish spray and/or a silver polish cloth. The keys just get a polishing with the silver polish cloth. The COA including polish on a silver plated saxophone averages $ 250 to $300.
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