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Trumpet Discussion Discuss Tarnished brass question? in the General forums; Hey everyone, Recently I just bought a Bach Stradivarius. The sound is great, and the horn was made in the ...
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    Mar 2007

    Tarnished brass question?

    Hey everyone,

    Recently I just bought a Bach Stradivarius. The sound is great, and the horn was made in the 70's, I think. The serial number has 5 numbers in it and is in the 60000's. Over the years, most of the lacquer has worn off and it looks very tarnished, with a lot of reddish-brown areas. The owner told me I could polish it using brass-polish, and then simonize it. My question is, should I consider getting some sort of coating on it to prevent tarnishing? I've heard of just a clear coating, not necessarily lacquering or plating. the owner told me lacquering would be an awful idea because it would change the sound quality and bring the value of the horn down 50%. If possible, though, I would like to protect the trumpet from future tarnishing.


  2. #2
    Moderator Utimate User Vulgano Brother's Avatar
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    Mar 2006
    Parts Unknown

    Re: Tarnished brass question?

    Hello Smrgol!

    Go ahead and polish it, and then wait a while. If there is what is known as "red-rot" it is an internal problem that really messes with horns and will show up later as little "rust stains." I am a big all-or-nothing kind of guy, and have no problem with raw brass--but would suggest you wait a while to find out where the brown staining comes from.

    Have fun!
    "A tool good enough to be so used and not too good"
    C.S. Lewis That Hideous Strength

  3. #3
    Mezzo Piano User Brass crusader's Avatar
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    Mar 2008
    Buffalo, NY/ Hartford, CT

    Re: Tarnished brass question?

    I agree...
    I'd try polishing it up w/ Flitz. This stuff works really well and is non-abrasive. Once it's polished, some car wax like Turtle wax would be a clear coat.
    Like Vulgano said, the red spots could be red rot. You might want to have a tech check that out.

    Good Luck

    P.s... Is this horn an Elkhart Bach, or a Mt. Vernon Bach? Just curious, that serial # seems low. I don't really know anything about Bach serial numbers.
    Last edited by Brass crusader; 05-31-2008 at 11:18 PM. Reason: wanted to ask another quick question
    AFM Local 400

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    Re: Tarnished brass question?

    thanks for the replies!

    hmm... I don't see many deep-red spots, so hopefully it's not red-rot... there are a few blotches that are more bright red than the rest, but not deep red- and where the hands usually touch, the reddish-brown shade is a bit darker. For the most part, the shade of reddish-brown is fairly light and evenly distributed throughout the horn, where it's unlacquered. If it's like this, does that sound more like tarnish that can be removed through polishing? Heh, I'm kind of new to this...

    Oh and, the owner who sold me the horn told me it was one of 500 that was being shipped to Elkhart, Indiana- and I see that engraved on the bell. The exact serial number is 62602. It's awesome!

    thanks again!

  5. #5
    Pianissimo User MaynardTrumpet's Avatar
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    May 2008

    Re: Tarnished brass question?

    I've had my Jean B. 240$ trumpet for over 2 years now, and there's not one single scratch or lacquer has worn down. Only a little dot, but that's because I hit it off against a angle. All I do is keep it in a case, protective case, that doesn't expose it to outside. That's it, hehe. Keep it in a case.

  6. #6
    Fortissimo User Brekelefuw's Avatar
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    Mar 2006

    Re: Tarnished brass question?

    Lacquer won't change the sound, or at least not a lot. Read Reynold Schilke's papers on the subject.
    I doubt it would change the value either.

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    Jun 2008
    The O.C., CA

    Re: Tarnished brass question?

    When Reynold Shilke wrote his findings up, clear coats were very thick lacquer and would deaden the sound a bit. However current clear coats are done with epoxy, much thinner and more durable than the old lacquers. Some people have health issues with raw brass. Other than than, finish is more to do with looks than sound nowadays.

  8. #8
    Mezzo Forte User brem's Avatar
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    Sep 2007
    Quebec City, QC, Canada

    Re: Tarnished brass question?

    when i stripped the lacquer off my trumpet is brightened the sound noticeably.
    NYTC Stage 1 California Light - Wedge 3C cup w/ Warburton 7 backbore mpc
    Bach Stradivarius Bb Model 37 * #124xxx (circa 1975) - Schilke 15B mpc
    Yamaha YFH-731 Flugelhorn #000xxx - Yamaha 14F4-GP mpc
    Conn Connquest 20A Cornet 1954

  9. #9
    Pianissimo User dizzyizzy's Avatar
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    Jan 2006

    Re: Tarnished brass question?

    Per Brass Crusader....I've used FLITZ on my raw brass horns. Get some via the Internet. Do NOT use Brasso, or some other "abrasive" type brass cleaner. Once you've polished it up, Turtle Wax, or any car wax with a good percentage of CARNUBA wax, is an excellent seal...for a few months.

    As to red rot...while it CAN occur MOST USUALLY occurs within the leadpipe and tuning that's where food particles get trapped. The red on the side of the valves has more to do with hands & oil, (most probably).

    Bach's are notoriously's a great one, the next one...not so great...but you have a pre-70's horn, which is nothing to sneeze at. While the orig. owner downplayed re-lacquering it, CAME from Bach...lacquered.

    Get a local techie to check it out...BUT...IF you eventually decide to professionally clean, plate, re-lacquer, etc. Use a GOOD professional. Many of us on this website can recommend several EXCELLENT technicians. I'm NOT faulting the "local" guy...he may be great and an unsung hero...but there are SUNG heros out there, who can do wonders with older horns.

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