How do I fix my trumpet finish?

Discussion in 'Trumpet Repair and Modification' started by bfine70, Jun 24, 2010.

  1. rowuk

    rowuk Moderator Staff Member

    Jun 18, 2006
    Don't do anything to the horn. Consider it art and play it proudly. If you need a shiny horn, buy a second instrument. for what it will cost to return your old horn to shininess, you can get a fine used horn. Buffing all of the scratches out could change the sound as the material will get thinner where the most damage was done. - on the other hand, a splotchy "camouflage" finish could also be considered art.
  2. gzent

    gzent Fortissimo User

    Nov 5, 2003
    Rochester, MN
    It is possible to get the horn looking shiny again without replating.

    The thing is, it takes a LOT of time. The process to do this is called burnishing.
    I assume most brass techs that have worked in a repair shop for a while are
    competent at this. The deal is to slowly rub the scratched metal with another piece
    of very smooth metal, usually a hand held tool (I use an old table spoon I buffed
    out). When it is done right you can really make scratches nearly disappear since you
    are pushing the ridges created by scratching down flat rather than removing metal
    as you would with a buffer.

    To avoid introducing new scratches you have to constantly keep the tool smooth, which means buffing the tool itself every so often so it doesn't get a scratch that in turn scratches the horn.

    As you can see, this is quite time consuming if you are working on a scratch of any size, so most techs aren't too keen on doing this on anything but the most expensive instruments, they'd prefer just to buff the horn.

    I wouldn't advise anyone to try this on an instrument of any value without a lot of practice
    on a "junker" first. Burnishing requires a LOT of force and control and you can easily slip
    up and make a mess.

    I just wanted to share the info on how to do this right - IF you have the time and skill.

    Last edited: Dec 9, 2010
  3. Dale Proctor

    Dale Proctor Utimate User

    Jul 20, 2006
    Heart of Dixie
    That's an excellent suggestion. I've burnished a few things in the past with pretty good results. I can imagine your hand would get quite sore/cramped by the time you'd done an entire trumpet - maybe it would be a good winter project, a little at a time.
  4. gzent

    gzent Fortissimo User

    Nov 5, 2003
    Rochester, MN
    The problem is that if the work area is larger than the tool, which it sounds like it is in this case, that you'll end up making a lot of smooth "streaks" in the scratched area and it will take many "paths" and overlapping to get the whole area shiny.

    Plus the curve of the tool won't match the curve of the horn - never does.

    Yeah, this would take a while. If it were me I'd just scratch up the whole horn and live with it rather than try to reverse the damage.
  5. tobylou8

    tobylou8 Utimate User

    Dec 22, 2008
    Can somebody say "lamp"!
  6. Trumpet Dreamer

    Trumpet Dreamer Mezzo Forte User

    Aug 14, 2010
    Jazz Town, USA
    This gets my vote for the best suggestion yet!
  7. kcmt01

    kcmt01 Mezzo Forte User

    Sep 25, 2009
    Polson, MT
    Sounds too ugly for a lamp. Find a nice used horn for Sunday-go-to-meetin' use and use it for practice/backpacking/etc.
  8. trumpetsplus

    trumpetsplus Fortissimo User

    Jun 11, 2006
    South Salem, NY
    Unfortunately, burnishing will work-harden the metal and have a big impact on the response of the trumpet. One of the things we have to consider very carefully in trumpet design is how hard we want the brass to end up at various points.
  9. gzent

    gzent Fortissimo User

    Nov 5, 2003
    Rochester, MN
    That's true. But my experience has been that the bells are pretty hard by the time they leave the factory. I think Monette is one of the few companies that intentionally builds trumpets with "relaxed" bells. I'm not sure how they do it, if its heated up after the horn is assembled or what.

    MTROSTER Piano User

    Jan 25, 2007
    I think the message here is don't attempt something that should be done by a professional. It ends up costing you more in the end. I could regale you with a tale of a plumbing job I once attempted.:cool:

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