I own an unlacquered trumpet - metal coloration questions

Discussion in 'Trumpet Discussion' started by Patch, Sep 10, 2009.

  1. Patch

    Patch New Friend

    Sep 10, 2009
    (The pictures I mentioned you can find here

    I got my Yamaha Z de-lacquered about a year ago. I thought that cleaning it wouldn't be a big deal considering I know other people who have older instruments with flaking lacquer. I've been told the metal is corroded and I should clean it with Brasso but I thought the point of getting an instrument delacquered was so it could develop a pantina. Anyways I've included a few pictures. There's some red coloring on the bell and black on spots on the slides also a yellowish color comes off on the cleaning rag. Wondering if this is normal for those who have delacquered instruments. Thanks
  2. BenH

    BenH Pianissimo User

    Oct 14, 2008
  3. Pete

    Pete Piano User

    Nov 17, 2007
    The point of having a raw brass instrument is to maximize resonance, not changing the color. It also develops tarnish, and spots, because there is no lacquer on it. My 1980 Bach LT has a raw brass finish. It is 29 years old, and is still a great player.

    My suggestion is to leave the finish alone and just play it.
  4. gbdeamer

    gbdeamer Forte User

    Oct 16, 2008
    I've never been a fan of raw brass horns, but your pictures look like normal wear to me...
  5. mimic

    mimic Pianissimo User

    May 3, 2009
    I have a brand new Calicchio in raw brass. Your pictures are the norm for a raw brass horn. I think letting it develop a patina is up to you. You can let it go or periodically polish it. Either way the playing characteristics remain. One option you could try is what I had John Duda do to my horn. He polished the entire horn as if he were going to lacquer it but then gave it a scratched finish. It is beautiful. It will develop a patina if I let it but I have been polishing it and then putting on a coat of Renaissance Wax. Good stuff and keeps the shine underneath. Other raw brass owners have bought silicone cloths to wipe their horns down. I might try it. Alot also depends on your body chemistry. I must be very neutral because all the wear areas on any of the horns I've owned never were affected by my hands. Others aren't so lucky.
  6. rowuk

    rowuk Moderator Staff Member

    Jun 18, 2006
    stains are normal for raw brass. Nothing special or bad about your horns. I really do not believe that removing the laquer increases anything that much. A small difference, yes, maybe. Major increase in anything except green hands, no. Our daily playing varies more than the difference in finish.
  7. ComeBackKid

    ComeBackKid Fortissimo User

    May 11, 2009
    Yorba Linda, CA
    Patina is a natural effect which effectively blocks further development of tarnish or oxidation. Under ideal circumstances, the entire trumpet would develop patina at the same rate and the result would be a uniform brownish color over the entire trumpet. I have actually seen some that were stored, untouched, for years that developed that uniform finish. The problem is that with normal handling and exposure to the environment, sweat and oils from our hands as well as other contaminants collect on the surface which may increase or decrease the development of the patina so it winds up being spotty and uneven. That is what is happening to yours.

    There is a potential solution to this which I am going to check out on a 'junker' trumpet that I have. I have used Tarn-X on a couple of my horns and it does a great job at quickly removing tarnish without removing any of the actual metal. But, Tarn-X is very active and needs to be thoroughly rinsed off after a few minutes so essentially the horn needs to be disassembled so that it can be washed without soaking the felts and corks on the valves.

    One day I was applying Tarn-X and was distracted before I washed it off. I was gone for several hours, When I returned, I found that the trumpet has developed a very nice, uniform, patina all over it. Now, I am not sure if that was due to the Tarn-X itself or due to the fact that the bare brass was totally exposed after the tarnish removal and simply re-tarnished at a faster rate than normal. So, I am going to try it again but this time ensure that it is done in a controlled way and observe the results closely to see if I can determine exactly what is happening. I may do half with Tarn-X and half with another type of polish to see the difference. So, give me a couple of days to do that and I will post the results here. If it works the way I hope it does, it may allow you to develop patina which is more attractive than what you have now.
  8. y-o-y

    y-o-y Pianissimo User

    Sep 25, 2009
    Long Beach, CA
    Sorry for the thread resurrection...

    Hey CBK....Did you ever go through with your experiment? I have a junker laying around that I am considering experimenting with before I have a go at my Besson 609...
  9. ComeBackKid

    ComeBackKid Fortissimo User

    May 11, 2009
    Yorba Linda, CA
    Oops! I did the experiment but I forgot where I posted this note so I didn't do the followup. So, here's what I discovered. First, I re-read the instructions on the Tarn-X bottle (it's very small print) and found that is says it is not recommended for use on brass. But apparently the reason is due to the reaction that I mentioned previously - if the Tarn-X is not removed immediately after being applied, it will cause the brass to tarnish very quickly. Also, the Tarn-X is not a polish. If you have patina, it will remove it but the brass will still be dull - not shiny. So, here is what I found works. Tarn-X to remove the tarnish with a polish to make the brass shiny that is applied immediately afterward. The steps are:
    (1) Remove all valves and slides.
    (2) Apply Tarn-X to a clean rag and wipe it on the main tuning slide (this is so you can gauge the reaction time on a piece that is easy to work on). You should see the tarnish immediately turn to bright brass. Then the Tarn-X will turn a milky color. Keep wiping until the tarnish is gone (some very dark spots may not turn to brass color immediately).
    (3) Quickly rinse the slide in clear water to remove the Tarn-X.
    (4) Then apply some Cleaner-Wax (I use Meguiar's from an auto store but any brand should work). This will actually polish the dull areas and will leave a protective coating.
    (5) If the brass has a lot of abrasions and is difficult to restore to a very shiny condition, it will take some special polishing techniques which are the subject of another discussion.
    (6) If you want longer-lasting protection against further tarnish, you can apply something like body oil. My wife had some "Skin So Soft" from Avon. I tried it and it is excellent. I used it on a trumpet over two months ago and there is still no sign of tarnishing, even when I handle it. But, I do make sure to wipe off the sweat or oils from my hands after I play it.

    I can do the same thing without the Tarn-X but it takes a lot more rubbing to remove the tarnish. The Tarn-X really does a great job - it is fast and does not remove any metal (there is no black residue on the rag after applying it). So, give it a shot. Here is a photo of some trumpets that were really tarnished and now here is how they look.

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