Discussion in 'The Rehearsal Room' started by Mister 4x4, Oct 15, 2006.

  1. Mister 4x4

    Mister 4x4 Member

    Has anybody ever done this? I'm asking because I have a small area on a the first-valve tuning slide that's worn through. I was thinking I could simply polish it, then airbrush on some metal-friendly lacquer to protect the brass until I can have the damage properly repaired (instrument repair facilities and personnel are very hard to come by in West Texas - a.k.a. around 90 miles from the Middle of Nowhere).

    Any advice would be welcome.
  2. Anno Draconis

    Anno Draconis Well-Known Member

    Wouldn't touch it with a pooey stick. As far as I know, proper re-lacquering is a job for knowledgeable experts which involves baking the instrument (or part thereof) in an oven, and you can do more damage than good by attempting a home repair.

    2 provisos - you may be West Texas's finest amateur instrument repairer with decades of experience behind you, in which case go for it. Also, it's easy for me to say leave it to the professionals, living in a banding heartland with loads of good repairers within easy reach and a band who can lend me an instrument while mine is being repaired. It may be that, since it sounds like you live in the back of beyond, you have to be a bit more "make-do and mend".

    But, if it were my instrument, I'd get it to the pro guys rather than do it myself.
  3. WoodenFlugel

    WoodenFlugel Moderator Staff Member

    Reading this sentance, it sounds like you are intending to get the instrument re-lacquared at some point in the future anyway, so if I were you I'd wait, and put up with the cosmetic problem for a while. As Anno says, its definitely a job for an expert, and thinking of some of the flakey, blotchy lacquar I've seen over the years even some instrument manufacturers struggle to get it right!
  4. Bass Trumpet

    Bass Trumpet Active Member

    I'm always a little bewildered why so many people worry about a little lacquer missing. In brass band circles, there seems to be almost an obsession with looks, whilst ignoring the real playing charictaristics of an instrument. How many bands have had lottery grants, bought a set of silver instruments and then wondered why nobody sells silver trombones? (and the ones they do get are usually awful)

    Sorry for digressing on this one, but I really don't think a little patch of worn lacquer is much to worry about and, as another comment suggested, you may do more harm to the instrument by trying to fiddle with it yourself. If the patch of missing lacquer is on a place where you hold the instrument, then it's going to keep wearing off however many times you get it touched up. Perhaps a more cost-effective solution would be to use some leather strapping around the offending part for you hand to hold on to?

    Also worth noting (and a cautionary tale); my bass trumpet arrived from the factory 11 years ago with no lacquer. The makers (Alexander of Mainz) tried to charge me an extra £700 for it, so I took the cheaper option. After many happy Rites of Spring, the instrument was a rather nasty shade of green and I got black marks all over my hands. Just by coincidence, a brochure from a plating company landed on the doorstep offering discounts on replating, so I went for it. Now the instrument looks beautiful, but I have lost much of the 'feel' of it and the sound is a little harsher. I may consider buying a new one when I'm rich, but for now I'll have to put up with it.

    Please don't take these decisions lightly, or you may find yourself disappointed.

    ps. I don't know how to do a link (perhaps somebody can help), but if you go on to Wikipedia and search for 'bass trumpet' you'll find a picture of me playing with the BBCSO before I had it silver plated. I think you'll agree the instrument has a certain 'something' ;)

    I didn't know the picture was on there until someone told me the other day! They haven't named me though!
  5. WoodenFlugel

    WoodenFlugel Moderator Staff Member

    You mean this one Duncan? ;)
  6. Anno Draconis

    Anno Draconis Well-Known Member

    You mean this is you?

    It says in the article that the Rite of Spring bass trumpet part is for the 4th trumpet player doubling, rather than one of the troms. Is this normal - I presume that most trumpet players don't play bass trumpet?
  7. aimee_euph

    aimee_euph Member

    Then when the top guys do it...they wear the brass so far thin that when you wash it in the dents and goes through. Only get it done if neccessary cause it might save you another trip to the "Mr-fixer" shop.
  8. brassneck

    brassneck Active Member

    - according to my score (Boosey & Hawkes, revised 1947, New edition 1967), the 4th Trumpet doubles Bass Trumpet in Eb.
  9. Bass Trumpet

    Bass Trumpet Active Member

    You are indeed right. Dear old Stravinsky didn't really know about the bass trumpet, so assumed that a trumpet player played it (just like a clarinettist would play bass clarinet) and switched instruments. Legend has it that the great Philip Jones used to double on an Eb bass trumpet occasionally, but then there is the problem of low F, which would have to be lipped down. When I've done it, 4th trumpet and bass trumpet sit together and pass the part over when required.

    Interestingly, somebody must have told Stravinsky about his mistake, as the bass trumpet part in Canticum Sacrum is in treble clef pitched in C (an 8ve down).

    Here endeth the lesson!

    Anyway, back to the subject! Don't re-lacquer unless you really have to!
  10. Mister 4x4

    Mister 4x4 Member

    Thanks for the replies.

    I can certainly understand the reasoning behind getting a professional job - that would be the first choice, if I only had some actual options to toss around. Plus, I believe that the cost of getting this done would be more than I actually paid for the horn itself in the first place, since I would have the instrument completely gone through and 'tuned-up' if/when I were to have this done professionally.

    As for the sound quality - I guess I'm just not as 'one with my instrument' or on the same level of musicianship as those who could hear the difference that replacing missing lacquer would have on the second smallest tuning slide. Not meant as a knock or anything - I actually think it's amazing that people are able to pull that level of detail, but I'm wired a little differently. I'm playing for enjoyment, not so much a passion that I must constantly feed. However, I do love my horn and don't want it to age any faster than necessary.

    My reasoning on wanting to do this is based on my limited knowledge of soft metals. Brass is relatively soft metal, although quite durable in a set parameter of circumstances. My concern is corrosion and oxidation. Since unprotected brass will corrode and oxidize faster than protected brass, and I can't see where wanting to keep it protected (even temporarily) would be a bad thing. As well, I believe that the oils from hands have had an effect on the affected area - meaning that my metabolic nature may have sped the process of the lacquer breaking down in that area. Which concerns me because I wouldn't want the same to happen to the unprotected brass itself. I routinely wash my hands prior to practicing/playing, simply because I'd rather not spend hours buffing out fingerprints and the like, but the area in question is on a major wear-point during play. (I don't know if I'm even holding the horn properly, but I know it's the most comfortable position for me, so I guess that's as 'correct' as it needs to be)

    I've done a little research and discovered that what I described in the first post is pretty much what needs to be done - clean, polish, and reapply the lacquer. I'm not trying to minimize the work or efforts of the instrument repair artists/technicians, but rather just trying to get this done and gain some peace of mind knowing that I'm not simply allowing my horn to needlessly waste away. So I guess I'll give a run and post before & after pictures.

    FYI - in case anyone's interested, here's a couple of links I found so far:
  11. tenorhorn72

    tenorhorn72 New Member

    An instrument repairer suggested to me that a small job could be done with clear nail varnish until a larger relacqering job warranted spending the money. You need to re paint the nail varnish periodically but it has worked for the last 12 months with no detrement to the instrument.
  12. brassneck

    brassneck Active Member

    - I used acrylic clear nail varnish to coat the rim of a mouthpiece once. Didn't have any problems apart from the sweet taste of pear drops for a wee while!
  13. Bass Trumpet

    Bass Trumpet Active Member

    Helen Vollam, principal trombone at the BBCSO has had clear nail varnish on her mouthpiece for at least three years. She just hasn't got round to getting it plated!
  14. trumpetplayer

    trumpetplayer New Member

    Please can anyone tell me the best way to remove plating from a trumpet. I have been given a trumpet which is about 50 years old and nearly all the plating has gone (about 85%). It is only a spare to leave at school but I thought it would look really good without the manky gold plating which is still left.
  15. Straightmute

    Straightmute Active Member

    Boiling water normally does the trick for me. I actually found some laquer on my picc the other day - anyone who has seen this instrument will find this hard to believe!

  16. Bass Trumpet

    Bass Trumpet Active Member

    Nail varnish remover.
  17. goosie baby

    goosie baby Member

    personally if it is only a small area then dont dother, otherwise leave it to the experts.
  18. JDH

    JDH Member

    I had a water key put on one of my slides. As a result there was a patch of bare brass around it from the soldering where I found after a while it was going green (from the water coming out).

    After consulting an American instrument repairer I know (by email), I polished up the bare brass and then de-greased the whole slide, masked the parts I did not want lacquer to get and then sprayed with Halfords clear lacquer (sold for cars) overlapping the existing lacquer.

    A year later there is now no tarnish, no lacquer has pealed off and no one would know the water key was not original without very careful examination.

    I understand that in the USA, spot lacquering (as this is called) is quite common. My American repairer friend was shocked that areas are left raw brass after repairs in the UK.
  19. IckleSop

    IckleSop Active Member

    wouldnt advise it my instrument is like a thin tin can shes been done 3 times
  20. trumpetplayer

    trumpetplayer New Member

    Thanks for all the advice. I used boiling water to remove the last remaining lacquer on the trumpet which worked very well indeed. Rather than improve\restore the battered old trumpet I have been given I wanted something that looks rather nasty and unattractive for school. Some kind soul trashed my Bach Strad whilst it was in the school music room just before christmas which is why I now have a trumpet so disgusting looking that no-one will even want to touch it.

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