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 Replacement Keys or Parts
Author: Yvonne 
Date:   2012-08-24 23:47

Does anyone know of a company/website where I can order parts/key replacements, with options for nickle, silver plated, sterling silver.

I found one site that sells keys but gives no indication of metal composition and I suspect it's all just nickle and I want options, not just a functional replacement.

About me...

I do my own minor repairs as needed. I've never once needed to visit a repair shop, mainly because I take great care of my instruments. I have many.

I have recently begun picking up beginner woodwind instruments in yard sales, thrift stores etc... and cleaning them up for donation or resale, which ever suits my mood. I'm a big fan of promoting music in kids and high school students. I currently have a pair instruments in my office that I'm working on where this issue of replacement keys has come up.

I also have a beautiful Buffet R13, but I would like to replace the nickle keys with sterling silver keys, one key at a time, as I can afford them. I am not interested in silver plated keys.

The reason I want to replace them is due to the acid in my fingers. Even wiping down my instrument with a polishing cloth after every use has not slowed the wearing away of the nickle plating and it's ruining the beauty of the instrument. The only thing my fingers don't eat through is gold, platinum and sterling silver. I can't wear cheap jewelry either, so I just don't wear any at all. =)

Your help is much appreciated!

Bb Clarinet

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 Re: Replacement Keys or Parts
Author: Phurster 
Date:   2012-08-25 00:27

I don't know if there is such a place. If you have any info please tell me as I have a number of joints from Buffet clarinets that I would love to build into a working instrument.

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 Re: Replacement Keys or Parts
Author: clarnibass 
Date:   2012-08-25 05:57

AFAIK there is no place that has Buffet R13 keys made from sterling silver. I also don't think Buffet makes or has made R13 keys from sterling silver, maybe with the exception of a few special orders etc. (just a guess i.e. it is possible, but who knows). The places which sell Buffet R13 keys probably get them from Buffet, so they have what Buffet makes.

I can think of two ways to get R13 keys in sterling silver.

One is to special order a clarinet like that from Buffet. I don't know if it would be possible to order just a set of keys, so it might be necessary to buy a clarinet instead, but you never know. Maybe someone at Buffet will be interested in your unique case and want to make these keys, or it might be a huge hassle to change form their normal parts and impossible.

The other is to have some type of machine shop, a clarinet maker, etc. to make a set of keys from sterling silver, copied from your current clarinet and made to fit.

I guess the reason you don't want gold or platinum plating, which I guess is possible to do, is because it can wear?

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 Re: Replacement Keys or Parts
Author: Tony F 
Date:   2012-08-25 06:24

Have you considered rhodium plating? it is extremely hardwearing, looks good and seems to work well in situations where abnormal acidity causes problems. It's also a whole lot less costly than having special order gold or silver keys made. Most good plating shops can do it.

Tony F.

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 Re: Replacement Keys or Parts
Author: Yvonne 
Date:   2012-08-25 18:09

Hi Tony; I've never considered rhodium plating. I'll google that.

To Clarnibass: I've seen sterling silver R13s but there's always the chance that someone has mistaken silver plating for sterling silver. The number of R13's I've found on the web that claim to be sterling are small in number, but do exist. But purchasing another R13 isn't an option right now. If I could afford to purchase a new one, I wouldn't be on this forum asking where I could find replacement keys. =) Replacing my keys one key at a time, is affordable. Spending multiple thousand$ in one shot, is not.

I guess I consider it strange that finding a seller of keys difficult. Repair shops have a way of getting parts, so sellers of keys and parts exist somewhere in the world and I want to know who/where they are.

Any professional repair folks out there want to comment?

Bb Clarinet

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 Re: Replacement Keys or Parts
Author: tictactux 2017
Date:   2012-08-25 18:53

There are "parts", and then there are "parts". Some things (like barrel rings, or thumbrests) are quite generic and can be used on a variety of instruments, with no or little modification. In car terms, that'd be a screw, or a wiper blade, or a headlight bulb.

Then there are other parts that are very specific to a certain maker and a certain model type, sometimes specific to a certain serial number range. These parts are increasingly harder to come by the older an instrument is. Compare this to a car's exhaust manifold, or the headlight chrome trims, or a door handle. (friend of mine has a '68 Corvette project...)

What a repair person does (if there is no manufacturer's part available) is find a corresponding part of a similar model, or the same part of a donor instrument ... down to re-manufacturing a key etc. Ain't going to be cheap, the further away from manufacturer and donor instruments you are.

If you want to have a part made from a material that the manufacturer did not use, then we're talking about copying an existing part which is not a particularly cheap solution.

The next best thing is have the existing keys plated (and plated twice or thrice, really thick) with whatever material you wish. Even then it won't be cheap - quite possible more expensive than a completely new instrument.


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 Re: Replacement Keys or Parts
Author: richard1952 
Date:   2012-08-25 19:02

You might try to coat the key surface that comes in contact with your skin with clear lacquer, thus preventing the metal from coming in contact with your skin. Never tried this but it may solve your problem.

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 Re: Replacement Keys or Parts
Author: Augustus 
Date:   2012-08-25 20:41

I have a Selmer Signet Solist that is 46 years old and the keys are as bright and shiny as the day I bought it and show absolutely no signs of wear. Selmer said it had a "Lustrium" finish, whatever that is. Does any one know what this is, as perhaps you can have it duplicated at a plating shop.
Augustus, 85 year old Amatuer

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 Re: Replacement Keys or Parts
Author: tictactux 2017
Date:   2012-08-25 20:48

Maybe it's some sort of cutlery plating. My Hanson has Antimony-Silver plating which is said to be more robustthan plain silver - we'll see...


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 Re: Replacement Keys or Parts
Author: clarnibass 
Date:   2012-08-26 05:32

>> I guess I consider it strange that finding a seller of keys difficult. Repair shops have a way of getting parts, so sellers of keys and parts exist somewhere in the world and I want to know who/where they are.

Any professional repair folks out there want to comment? <<

First, needing replacement parts like keys happens occasionally but isn't so common. It's pretty rare that someone actually loses a key or destroys one in a way that is impossible to repair.

You are right that repairers get parts from somewhere. This is either from the instrument company or sometimes repair parts suppliers, which I think usually get some of the parts (like keys) from the instrument companies. But you asked specifically about Buffet R13 sterling silver keys and AFAIK there is no supplier who stock anything like that. What you are looking for is extremely rare and non-standard.

Did you try contacting Buffet to ask them if they have them or can make them special order? Maybe you can order a set of keys, or just some keys. Remember also that if your R13 is not the same as the current one the keys might need modifying to fit. Anyway worth asking them I guess.

Another option to what others usggested might be hard chrome plating. It's not the cheaper chrome that some toys etc. are plated with. It's a little slippery (kind of like nickel) but it can be extremely wear resistant. A friend had his dent tools plated with that, which get a lot more abuse than clarinet keys (constantly pressing and rubbing hard against metals). Have to do it carefully to prevent more key fitting than necessary.

Lacquering is a very good suggestion also. For example if it's epoxy lacquer such as that on some Yamaha saxophones then it can last a very long time.

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 Re: Replacement Keys or Parts
Author: Bob Phillips 
Date:   2012-08-27 18:18

I think you will find this blog of interest:

International musical instrument repair people. They discuss all things related to woodwind keywork, and they have a current thread on plating.

Bob Phillips

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 Re: Replacement Keys or Parts
Author: Wes 
Date:   2012-08-27 21:08

A 1912 silver plated Buffet of mine has no wear on the keys at all while a 2005 nickel plated R13 Buffet of mine has a lot of the nickel worn through.

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 Re: Replacement Keys or Parts
Author: DeletedUser 
Date:   2017-12-04 04:02

Here is a thought - just care for your instrument and dont be so "nutty" about the finish. If the plating is actually worn off then have them re-plated. Other common sense things is to give your instrument a light cleaning with a special metal polishing ingredient already in the cloth. Thereby eliminating the buildup of oils.

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 Re: Replacement Keys or Parts
Author: GenEric 
Date:   2017-12-08 11:11

Interesting. I know Yamaha prides itself on their CSVR's thick silver plating. However, I found that the keys like to turn tarnish very quickly. I don't know if I'm maintaining my instrument correctly. I keep 2 silver strips in my case and wipe the keys once every other day. I still find the keys turning blackish and yellow. I don't know what I'm doing wrong. Granted, I like the look of a sort of golden clarinet. I can see Yamaha was intentionally going for that with a few small hints of yellowish metal on the tenons rings. It makes the clarinet look warm and has a slight gold glow. but still, going back to my question, do you guys have problems with keys tarnishing on your CSVR?

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 Re: Replacement Keys or Parts
Author: Hurstfarm 
Date:   2017-12-08 12:17

Dawkes carries a stock of spare parts, including keys:

They might be able to help.

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