How can you tell the difference between a nickel and silver bell

Discussion in 'Horns' started by coolerdave, Jun 26, 2011.

  1. coolerdave

    coolerdave Utimate User

    Nov 7, 2009
    San Pedro
    Guys...what's the easier way to tell if a trumpet bell is silver or nickel
  2. A.N.A. Mendez

    A.N.A. Mendez Utimate User

    Oct 25, 2005
    Sunny Ca.
    Nickel is hard, looks like your car bumper.
  3. coolerdave

    coolerdave Utimate User

    Nov 7, 2009
    San Pedro
    that is why I asked .. the bell end has two flap style bends ... which would take alot if it were nickel right? I can't tell the difference where it meets the silver part of the horn ... Is there another way of telling?
  4. nieuwguyski

    nieuwguyski Forte User

    Aug 9, 2004
    Santa Cruz County, CA
    Are you describing a French bell bead? Regardless, solid nickel isn't used in instrument construction. The only pure nickel you'll find is nickel plate, which will be plated over a base metal -- usually brass, copper, or nickel silver. The "solid nickel" that gets talked about is actually nickel silver -- 60% copper, 20% nickel, 20% zinc (or thereabouts). Nickel silver is harder than brass, but still workable.

    If there's no color change where the bell meets the horn, there's no material change. Neither nickel plate nor nickel silver is the same color as silver plate.
  5. coolerdave

    coolerdave Utimate User

    Nov 7, 2009
    San Pedro
    so silver has he edge
  6. Brekelefuw

    Brekelefuw Fortissimo User

    Mar 21, 2006
    Silver plate has a blueish tint to the shine, or whitish. Nickle has a black tint to the shine.
  7. Dale Proctor

    Dale Proctor Utimate User

    Jul 20, 2006
    Heart of Dixie
    To those familiar with instruments plated with (or made of) the two metals, it's pretty easy to tell by looking at them. Nickel has a darker look to it, where untarnished silver has a brighter, more whitish appearance. Usually, nickel plated horns are lacquered and silver plated ones are not, so that's another thing to look for.

    As for the ease of working nickel, many horns that are "nickel" are really just nickel plated brass (but some instruments do have nickel leadpipes). Now, when you get into really old horns, quite a few are made of solid nickel silver, or German silver. I have a circa 1870 cornet that is solid German silver.

  8. coolerdave

    coolerdave Utimate User

    Nov 7, 2009
    San Pedro
    thanks Dale .. although I am sure this was just an excuse to post another one of your bad a$$#$ instruments.
    I have never had a problem telling the difference before.. this one is just tricky. I am thinking that it's a new silver bell which doesn't have the tarnish or swirl marks so it looks alot like nickel.
  9. MFfan

    MFfan Fortissimo User

    Sep 13, 2006
    Kalamazoo, Michigan
    My 65 Holton Galaxy is nickel plated, they say. Fine playing horn.:thumbsup:
  10. trickg

    trickg Utimate User

    Oct 26, 2003
    Easy - one looks like silver, the other looks like nickel.

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