Saxophone Forum


by Snotbob
(4 posts)
16 years ago

lacquer stripping

My VI alto has been needing a new set of pads for quite some time now and since the lacquer is running on the low side (and the owner of the store I go to said the best VI's that have passed through his hands over the years have been the stripped ones) I have decided to get it stripped. I'm pretty good at fixing things and making adjustments to my horn on my own, but I want to be careful about this lacquer stripping. Does anyone have any recommendations on what I should use to properly strip it? Thanks.

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  1. by swingstreet
    (315 posts)

    16 years ago

    Re: lacquer stripping

    If you want to strip the lacquer, then you should have it done professionally, and then only from a very reliable repairman. However, in my personal opinion, if the horn sounds good as it is, you should just leave it alone. Generally, lacquer is removed by buffing, and that can wear down the brass of the horn somewhat, changing the tone. Sometimes tone holes get damaged during buffing. This is not always the case, but I would still suggest you just leave the horn alone and play it as it is. Don't mess with its sound. Just my two cents.

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    1. by blackfrancis
      (396 posts)

      16 years ago

      Re: lacquer stripping

      Make that four cents- I am in full agreement.

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      1. by Snotbob
        (4 posts)

        16 years ago

        Re: lacquer stripping

        I appreciate the concern, but I have no intention of buffing the horn, nor any intention of getting it relacquered (which is usually the need for the buffing). My teacher actually had it done twice to his tenor, once done by himself with plain lysol or something, and then done by the same store owner the second time. I've heard enough stripped and non-stripped horns to know the difference in sound and there's just this vibe, this resonance that these lacquerless horns have that I really like....I can't think of any other way to describe it. Lacquer is just a form of plastic and all I wanted to know was what is the proper chemical to take it off. Any information on this would be greatly appreciated.

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        1. by Radjammin
          (255 posts)

          16 years ago

          Re: lacquer stripping

          I've played an unlacquered horn. I guess you like green hands. The Lacquer does thing other then look nice. I agree non-lacquered horns sound better but I wouldn't buy a non-lacquered horn, just not a very good investment.

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        2. by Tbone
          (120 posts)

          16 years ago

          Re: lacquer stripping

          If you really feel the need to strip your horn then try this : 1. Completely dis-assemble your horn. (including springs) 2. Find a tub large enough to emerse your horn in. 3. Add 2lbs. of sodium bicarbonate (baking soad), 1oz. of Simple Green and fill with boiling hot water. 4. Add one horn and cover tub. Let soak over night. In many cases the lacquer will be floating in the solution like sun burnt skin. This will effectively remove nitrocellulose lacquer in most cases. In the event this doesn't work try a spray on commercially available stripper. (hardware stores, Home Depot, etc.) Either way the horn needs to be completely dis-assembled. IMHO Bare brass makes no difference in sound to lacquered but that's for another debate! It's not easy being green!

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        3. by connsaxman_jim
          (2336 posts)

          16 years ago

          Re: lacquer stripping

          Removing the lacquer has only a slight effect on the sound of a horn.. The lacquer helps to preserve the horn and keep the brass from tarnishing. It also helps protect against pitting and corrosion caused by acids in saliva and oils in our skin. In my opinion, the protection of the lacquer is worth far more than the slight improvements in sound and resonation from stripping the lacquer.

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        4. by STEVE GOODSON
          (291 posts)

          16 years ago

          Re: lacquer stripping

          Don't expect removing the lacquer to change the sound of your horn. HOWEVER, if you want to take it off, here's the method we use in our shop: Take the horn completely apart Apply a liberal coat of "Cold Strip" from Ferree Tool Wait about 30 minutes Rinse with water, agitating with a soft brush You may need to repeat the above steps to get it all Immerse the horn in "Brite Dip from Ferree Tool for about 30 seconds Rinse completely Go over the entire surface using Flitz polish on 000000 steel wool

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        5. by Snotbob
          (4 posts)

          16 years ago

          Re: lacquer stripping

          Actually, I finished the whole stripping process awhile ago. I used the baking soda and lime green method and it worked great. Afterwards it was dipped in a sonic cleaner and then the assembly began. And the sound? Well, it's like playing a completely different horn, and in this case that's a good thing. It really opened up the sound and even the feel is more 'lively'. I don't regret doing it at all.

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        6. by swingstreet
          (315 posts)

          16 years ago

          Re: lacquer stripping

          So you were actually able to reassemble the sax by yourself after stripping? All by yourself? No offense, but I really thnk that the difference you hear in your horn is more psychological than physical. If it is physical, it is probably more the result of completely reassembling the horn, and perhaps the reassembly put the keys in better position and working order, and that is going to make a big difference in the sound, bigger than stripping the laquer.

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        7. by Snotbob
          (4 posts)

          16 years ago

          Re: lacquer stripping

          Yeah, it took a lot of time to repad and reassemble the horn, but I saved a little time by saving some of the old corks and felts. I lucked on out regulation work as well. It obviously needed it, but not nearly as bad as some of the horns I've seen. As for the sound change, I've been playing this horn for quite awhile now and gotten used to the sound it produces....produced. The second I finished working on it I played it in front of my area's music store owner, Steve, (who supplied me with the new pads) and we both instantly noticed a difference in sound. It's bigger and more open and just a tad brighter as well. I take lessons with sax player Dave Schiavone and he said it definitely made it an all around better horn. I'm not sure why you'd be questioning it other than if you're considering doing it as well, and if that's the case then I'd highly recommend it. It would've been a pricely job if I hadn't done the work myself, but even if I hadn't I say it would've been worth the cost.

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        8. by swingstreet
          (315 posts)

          16 years ago

          Re: lacquer stripping

          I'm not sure if it was the laquer stripping that did it. Seems to me that reassembling the keys and repadding would have more of an effect. However, whatever works for you. I would never strip my horn. I have a Conn 6M, silver plated with a gold bell. The plating is in great shape, the horn tonally kicks the ass of any horn I've ever heard, including any Mark VI that has gone up against it. It's a work of art in looks and sound that would be destroyed by stripping.

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        9. by mattMrozinski
          (35 posts)

          16 years ago

          Re: lacquer stripping

          are you by any chance in the buffalo area referring to steve wingrow? my sax teacher is Dick Griffo. If so we've probably crossed paths many times before, my name is Matt. Matt

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