Saxophone Forum


by DomEdwards
(1 post)
10 years ago

Refinishing vintage horns

I have a Selmer Mark 6 (circa 1966) that I'm considering having refinished due to sever lacquer wear. Any thoughts on the pros and cons of refinishing? The horn is in otherwise excellent shape.

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  1. by sax_maniac
    (984 posts)

    10 years ago

    Re: Refinishing vintage horns

    Is this a horn you are looking to sell or to play? From a collectable standpoint, the value diminishes when it's been relacquered. Unless the horn is really beat up with dings and such. In that case, it might be worth having things straightened out. But if the horn is in "otherwise excellent shape" and it plays well, I'd leave it alone. To me, severe lacquer wear can mean the horn is a good player as it has been greatly used. Particularly if the wear is at the octave key, the left palm keys, and where the right hand touches the horn. I find these "desirable" wear points. Relacquering generally involves buffing the metal finish which, under severe circumstances, could alter the character of the sound. Sharp engravings are generally preferred to fresh lacquer, so I think you might not want to refinish your horn. If it were a dime-a-dozen horn, I'd say go for it. I've seen some great players using fugly horns.

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    1. by golferguy675
      (600 posts)

      10 years ago

      Re: Refinishing vintage horns

      Well, I had the same problem with my Super 20 alto, and I didn't put new lacquer on it. I got the rest stripped, and had it polished and buffed. It looks fantastic. It gives it a great vintage look.

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      1. by chiamac
        (586 posts)

        10 years ago

        Re: Refinishing vintage horns

        Sharp engravings are generally preferred to fresh lacquer, so I think you might not want to refinish your horn. If it were a dime-a-dozen horn, I'd say go for it. NO SHIT! leave the horn alone, unless you're going to fix dents or something. Yes new horns look good, all shiney and stuff. BUT old horns are old, and meant to look that way... besides, you get it re-done and not only is it going to look something less than you expected, but you're going to have to worry about scratching the damn thing! =)

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        1. by jaankaden
          (4 posts)

          10 years ago

          Re: Refinishing vintage horns

          I agree with all the previous said sentiments. Despite the fact that I, along with other vintage buffs, restore all my vintage cars and motorcycles to look like they just stepped out of a 1954 showroom, I leave my saxophones alone. Do anything you want to it short of refinishing. For some reason, it's just wrong for a Mark VI to look all showroom-shiny. Of course, I'm expecting the one you own to have been properly taken care of by you and its previous owners and not look too grimy. Honestly speaking, there's really nothing better looking than a properly-worn vintage saxophone.

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        2. by sax_maniac
          (984 posts)

          10 years ago

          Re: Refinishing vintage horns

          That's a great point - that it's ok for vintage to look like vintage. When I had played my first horn to the point the nickel was worn off the octave key and a few of the LH palm keys, I felt a sort of pride about it. Battle scars.

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      2. by Spunky2sax75
        (75 posts)

        10 years ago

        Re: Refinishing vintage horns

        To be honest with you, I would say DON'T get it re-finished. I have heard (and experienced too) that this kills the sound. If you want a rich, good sound, don`t get it re-finished because it completely changes the sound and you won`t have the sound and feel that made the VI's famous. Personally, I would say not to, but then again its not my horn, now is it? ; )

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        1. by jaankaden
          (4 posts)

          10 years ago

          Re: Refinishing vintage horns

          I can understand why you would ask this question in the first place because I have seen many Mark VIs in really beat up condition. We all know how great a good Mark VI can sound, but sadly, the look of one also plays a fair part in our desire to own it. If this is your case, a Mark VI that's really beat up and you can't stand to look at it, I'd say it's probably a better option for you to have it refinished. This way, instead of despising it, you'll grow to love it in your own way and we all know that when your actually enjoy something, you'll tend to do better at it. I'm speaking more from a psychological standpoint instead of the usual vintage connoisseur's. Decide what you want to do with it first before attempting to send it to any professional as there are many options available. My recommendations are as follows, ranked in no particular order of preference. 1. This may be a good time to have it gold/silver-plated since you're gonna refinish it instead of the usual lacquer. 2. You could try another shade of lacquer instead of the usual clear lacquer such as rose as in the Selmer Reference 54 Alto or any other vintage-themed gold wash. This gives it a nice vintage-y look which I guess you'd prefer to have. 3. Have the existing lacquer chemically-stripped and then gently hand-polished to a gentle sheen, after which a clear coat of lacquer will be applied. 4. Ever thought of having it custom-engraved? This can be a nice option for a truly-personalized look. I have a YAS-475 which started out as my guinea pig for the various available customization options out there because it was cheap and it has since become my beloved frankenstein's monster. I'm prouder of it than any Selmer Mark VIs or Conns I own. 5. Think polished brass and matte lacquer ala the Selmer Series III Soprano pics at saxforte.com. You can start with these for ideas and work from there to recreate a Mark VI that is truly your own. Check out Steve Goodson's website as he has overhaul packages which I feel might just be what you're looking for. www.saxgourmet.com/home.html

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          1. by chiamac
            (586 posts)

            10 years ago

            Re: Refinishing vintage horns

            I don't think getting it refinished would affect the sound that much.... my '41 10M sounds great eventhough it was relaquered. but yeah, if someone was going to refinish a horn - two words. BRUSHED GOLD!=)

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