buying Lacquer

Discussion in 'Trumpet Discussion' started by RAK, Aug 21, 2009.

  1. Cornet1

    Cornet1 Pianissimo User

    May 22, 2005
    Essex, England
    The finish texture is not a function of the laqueur it's the finish on the brass before the laq is applied. The second trumpet pic shows a light beaded finish wherein the instrument has been 'blasted' with tiny glass beads to give a satin finish. This is not something that most amateurs can apply and anyway takes practice even by professional blasters. However, there are some hand finshing methods which look very similar if applied carefully;


    This is the finish I hand applied to my 1961 Besson 'Stratford'
  2. dhbailey

    dhbailey Piano User

    Jul 28, 2009
    New Hampshire
    No, RAK is talking about lacquer -- more and more manufacturers are using that electric charge approach because it ensures a more uniform application of lacquer.

    My advice (I attended Western Iowa Tech Community College Band Instrument Repair course and have been repairman in the field for over 30 years) is to leave lacquering to the experts.

    It's not as simple as spray, spray, spray, you're done. You have to completely strip the old lacquer, and then you have to thoroughly degrease the instrument or the lacquer will not stick. You also need to be in a completely dust-free (and bug-free!) environment with adequate ventilation and fire-safety mechanism (lacquer is extremely flammable) and you need personal breathing protection.

    There's a reason that most repair shops which used to have relacquering capabilities have abandoned them, leaving a few major repair facilities which do relacquering. And it's expensive for a reason -- it is labor intensive, the facilities themselves are expensive, and if it doesn't turn out well they have to start all over again.

    If you do it and get lacquer in the valve casings or in the slide tubes, you can end up with a trumpet which you will need to bring to a repair shop for them to clean up your mess.

    My best advice is -- don't do it!
  3. lakerjazz

    lakerjazz Mezzo Piano User

    Oct 10, 2006
    Rak, if you want a perfectly smooth satin finish, it will take some skill. However, I recall a person on this board scrubbing(very lightly of course) his trumpet with steel wool after he had applied the lacquer. This will give it a brushed finish, but not a smooth satin finish.
  4. Brekelefuw

    Brekelefuw Fortissimo User

    Mar 21, 2006
    Using steel wool after you lacquer would just remove the lacquer. Lacquer is just a clear coat that goes above the finish of the instrument. "It's what's on the inside that counts"
  5. Vulgano Brother

    Vulgano Brother Moderator Staff Member

    Mar 23, 2006
    Parts Unknown
  6. RAK

    RAK Piano User

    Jul 23, 2009
    Kettle Falls, Washington
    you don't have to lacquer it after the finish. It looks nice with just the Finish.

    I don't have the money to give it to a repair shop. Even if I did have the money I wouldn't give it away. I want to learn how to do this myself.

    So can I use steel wool to remove the old lacquer?

  7. stumac

    stumac Fortissimo User

    Oct 19, 2008
    Flinders Vic Australia
    So can I use steel wool to remove the old lacquer?

    Use 0000 grade steel wool wet with a little water and soap when all other methods fail. I am currently restoring an Olds Mendez trumpet and this is the only method that works, I tried boiling water and paint stripper to no avail.
    It takes a long time to get every last vestige of lacquer/ baked enamel off.

    Regards, Stuart.
  8. Cornet1

    Cornet1 Pianissimo User

    May 22, 2005
    Essex, England
    Steel wool is a bit agressive for brass instruments, so a better method is to use 'ScotchCloth' type of pan scourer,...for the many husbands who have never done the washing up, this is a green woven abrasive cloth in small handy pieces sold in a pack of several. You can adjust the 'bite' of scotchcloth by placing on a hard surface and lightly hammering to give it a softer texture and thus a more satin finish to the brass.

    You can use the scotchcloth for removing the old laq although it's quicker to use an initial coat of 'NitroMors' paint remover,..then hot water and teh scotchcloth. Older better quality instruments (like the Besson in the pic) used electrophoretic laqueuering which is essntially a form of plating and is best left in situ and only re-textured for finish.

    For a final appearance, use a well aged/hammered scotchcloth to make tiny circular movements on the brass,...this will give a finish very similar to bead blasting provided you keep it nice and even (put on some good music or watch TV and do one section at a time with rests for fingers and mind!)

    EDIT;...use scotchcloth quite wet,..or in water.
  9. dhbailey

    dhbailey Piano User

    Jul 28, 2009
    New Hampshire
    That's the metal which has been finished in a non-shiny manner, not the lacquer. True "vintage" lacquer just looks discolored and flaky.

    There's a reason it costs so much to have this sort of thing done by professionals who know how to do it properly. Air-dry lacquer which is applied by most people wears off quite rapidly making all the effort for nothing.

    The good stuff which the manufacturers use is baked on epoxy lacquer, which is why it stands up so well to normal usage.

    To get the look you want, the brass, after it is polished smooth, is blasted with tiny pellets of glass or sand for the matte (non-shiny) appearance, and then normal clear lacquer is applied on top of it.
  10. dhbailey

    dhbailey Piano User

    Jul 28, 2009
    New Hampshire
    That's cool -- best of luck to you. It's not easy to get a good result, which is why it's not cheap to have it done professionally.

    Someone suggested that you didn't need to lacquer the instrument after you got the metal finish the way you like it -- that's true but there are several things to beware of:

    1) bare brass can cause brass poisoning in some people, which will be first exemplified by the skin in the places where your hands come in contact with the brass turning black. some people get sick from this. Other people it has no effect on -- many people play their brass instruments with no lacquer at all.

    2) the bare brass will oxidize, and what starts out nice bright yellow after you have worked your magic on the finish of the metal will turn darker yellow and eventually brown. It will do it unevenly. You will get lots of comments on how ugly your instrument is -- ignore them, those people know nothing. I've played an unlacquered trumpet for over 30 years, and have suffered many ignoble comments on the appearance, but it plays beautifully.

    If you do apply lacquer -- make sure all the holes are plugged so that no lacquer gets into slide tubes or into the valve casings.

    Ferree's Tools sells spray cans of Nikolas lacquer and they also sell all the tools and supplies for using a spray gun.

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