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Klarinet Archive - Posting 000097.txt from 1994/05

From: Clark W Fobes <reedman@-----.COM>
Subj: Re: Plated keys
Date: Thu, 5 May 1994 01:38:31 -0400

On Wed, 4 May 1994, SCOTT MCCHESNEY wrote:

> Speaking of plating...
> I've heard several people tell me that my old Buffet Clarinet has SOLID silver
> keys - not plated. I have been playing on it for about 5 years, and we bought
> it used from a symphony player, so it's been played quite heavily. Yet I've
> never re-plated the keys, nor did the previous owner. This might lead me to
> believe that they are, indeed, solid silver.

These indeed are not "solid" silver keys. True silver would be extrememy soft
and useless as clarinet keys. They are made of an alloy of silver and nickle
that is called (believe it or not!) nickle silver. Keys today are still
made of nickle silver, but are then either nickle plated, silver plated
or gold plated.

The older model Buffet that you have (probably under #90,000) has a type
of key alloy that has a higher silver content than keys today and this
was known as "german silver". I am not an expert in alloys, but I do
think that new keys have other metals in addition to nickle and silver
that make them stiffer and more durable.

Unplated nickle silver can be buffed to a very high polish, but it
usually returns to a dull patina in about 2-3 months.

> My problem with the whole idea is that (a) solid silver would be horrnedously
> expensive, and (b) they'd be awful soft, wouldn't they?
Actually, silver is not very expensive, relatively. It has always puzzled me
that silver plated Buffets run almost $200 more than nickle plated ones.
The same process is involved and I doubt that the cost of silver is
much more than nickle. When I have keys plated the cost is exactly the
same for either nickle or silver.

Clark W Fobes

> They have been buffed a couple of times. Does anybody have an explanation for
> this?
> -- Scott McChesney

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