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 Tarnished keys
Author: Sally 
Date:   2010-10-11 10:24

I have a 1953 (probably - dates are a bit tricky at this time!) Buffet R13, which is in quite incredible condition and I play it professionally.

Apart from one thing - some of my keywork (I think it is plated) is very tarnished. Is there anything I can do to brighten it up without taking my instrument to pieces or getting it done professionally?

Playing 8 shows a week in musicals means that I don't really have the time to risk taking it apart, but I would love it all to look as great as the places where my fingers touch it!



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 Re: Tarnished keys
Author: jasperbay 
Date:   2010-10-11 17:00

Most any brass, silver or aluminum polish paste/liquid/or cloth will work. I've had the best luck with aluminum polish called "Mother's" in the US. Sold in auto parts stores.

Don't get it on the pads, as it turns black with the metal oxides as it polishes. Metal polishes are fairly easy on the metal, but even easier on the metal are any of the various plastic polishes for eyeglasses, motorcycle face-shields, windshields, etc.

For extremely tarnished keys, where you want to get more agressive, try automobile rubbing compound, jewelers "crocus" cloth, or 600-1200 grit sandpaper (actually more of a polishing paper in these fine grits). I'm not sure these aggresive methods should be used on an expensive, plated clarinet, but would be OK on unplated german silver keywork, ie. the type of keys that have a very light golden tone when polished.

Clark G. Sherwood

Post Edited (2010-10-11 17:08)

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 Re: Tarnished keys
Author: Chris P 
Date:   2010-10-11 17:29

If the keys are unplated, then learn to live with the way they look. You'll only find they'll tarnish again once you've had them polished (which will probably mean machine polishing).

If the keys are silver plated, use a silver polishing cloth that's been slightly moistened to remove some of the tarnish. It won't shift the really stubborn tarnish but Duraglit will.

But if you are using any liquid polishes (including Duraglit) then it's best to take the keys off and polish them individually so not to get any polish into the mechanism - with the keys off you can be sure all traces of polish are removed from the key barrels.

If in doubt, leave it up to your repairer when they're giving it a general service or fully overhauling it as they ought to polish up silver plated keywork as part of that. If it's unplated, they may leave it as is but still clean all the keywork during a service, or they may machine polish it all during a complete overhaul as all the key corks and pads will have to be replaced anyway.


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 Re: Tarnished keys
Author: ddavani 
Date:   2010-10-12 02:37

I discovered these silver key cloths called "Blitz Cloths" I've been using it to clean my instrument after I'm done practicing and one of the two different materials is supposed to remove tarnish and the other shines and gets rid of any leftover gunk.

You could also get your keys gold plated, however, it's not really necessary unless you have highly acidic fingers.

-Dave Davani

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