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 Best way to clean and polish silver clarinet keys
Author: OpusII (84.28.131.---)
Date:   2009-05-08 09:48

I'm thinking of buying a polishing machine to polish the clarinet keys, I'm going to fix several clarinets this year and by hand its a very time consuming job.

- Is’t a good idea to use a polishing machine?
- Which brand do you prefer
- Do I need a special polish wheel for silver
- Do I need special polish to put on the Wheel?

I’ve several old clarinets which I can use to practice and experimenting. But any tips are very welcome!

Thanks,

Eddy

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 Re: Best way to clean and polish silver clarinet keys
Author: Chris P (---.proxy.aol.com - ISP in United Kingdom)
Date:   2009-05-08 12:08

- Is’t a good idea to use a polishing machine? No.
- Which brand do you prefer - None.
- Do I need a special polish wheel for silver - No.
- Do I need special polish to put on the Wheel? - No.

It may be time consuming, but it's far better to polish all the keys the old fahioned way (by hand, and with a silver polishing cloth or other silver specific polish) than find a quick fix using a machine that may do a lousy job or remove the plating if you're a bit heavy-handed with it.

You can use Goddard's 'Silver Dip' to remove the tarnish by immersing the keys into a non-metallic tray filled with it (two jars will be enough), then rinse the keys thoroughly and polish with a silver polishing cloth.

Another way is to remove all the springs and other steel parts from all the keys, fill a large frying pan with water and boil it. Then put the keys in and keep the water boiling while you add a squeeze of washing-up liquid (I think you can also add a spoonful of borax crystals, but wait for further confirmation on this) and pieces of aluminium foil scrunched up. Remove the aluminium foil when it turns black and replace it with fresh foil. Do this for 30-60 minutes, then once done, rinse all the keys well and buff with a silver polishing cloth.

Chris.

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 Re: Best way to clean and polish silver clarinet keys
Author: Brenda Siewert (74.197.31.---)
Date:   2009-05-08 15:01

Ditto to Chris P. I'm not a professional repair tech, just a player, but with 48 years experience on the clarinet. I have always used a silver polishing cloth to buff the keys. Even with clarinets that have slightly tarnished keys it is possible to buff them back with hard work. Even if some keys have to be removed to get all the tarnish, it is the ONLY thing I would use unless there is a need to do the suggestions above on Chris P's answer.

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 Re: Best way to clean and polish silver clarinet keys
Author: sbrodt54 (---.c3-0.drf-ubr1.atw-drf.pa.cable.rcn.com - ISP in Nazareth, PA United States)
Date:   2009-05-08 15:17

Chris laid out the best plan for silver plated keys, in my shop we use a product from Ferree's Supplies called Empire's. They sell it in two different sizes and it works very well just as Chris described it above. Then I will do every key by hand with a silver polish cloth to get them looking terrific.

Please look carefully to make sure they are silver plated and not nickel plated, we approach those in a different manner. Silver polish does little to take away the cloudy look on nickel keys, I use a buffing wheel and the yellow nickel buffing compound (I use one from Allied Supply). Then the keys need to be degreased, at home you might just use some lacquer thinner and do a good job, then wash them in pretty hot, soapy water.

Good luck!

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 Re: Best way to clean and polish silver clarinet keys
Author: Chris P (---.proxy.aol.com - ISP in United Kingdom)
Date:   2009-05-08 15:39

If you don't want to get your hands dirty, wear gloves while using silver polish.

Although it is a time consuming job, it's better to take time to do things properly than rushing things as that can lead to all manner of trouble.

Only work on one instrument at a time and develop a routine or sequence of processes that apply to every instrument you work on in turn, so you can focus all your effort into getting that one instrument right rather than working on several instruments at once - and the likelyhood of ending up with them all not being right.

Remember - you are not a machine, you're a human being and you can only reason with one important job at a time.

Chris.

Post Edited (2009-05-08 15:47)

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 Re: Best way to clean and polish silver clarinet keys
Author: Ken Shaw (---.nycmny.east.verizon.net - ISP in New York, NY United States)
Date:   2009-05-08 16:02

I strongly prefer unpolished keys. When you shine silver, it gets slippery, and this gives me trouble particularly on the keys for the little fingers.

For the same reason, I hate nickel-plated keys, and I'm also slightly allergic to nickel.

If you have an older Buffet with German silver keys, there's no plating at all, and any polished surface dulls quickly.

Finally, the newer silver-plated Buffets have a very thin plating over copper. There have been many complaints about the silver flaking off, and the last thing you want to do is make it even thinner.

Ken Shaw



Post Edited (2009-05-08 16:08)

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 Re: Best way to clean and polish silver clarinet keys
Author: clarnibass (---.red.bezeqint.net - ISP in Ramat Gan, 05 Israel)
Date:   2009-05-08 16:19

In addition to what Chris wrote, a polishing machine is not just "easier" but it can make a total mess and sometimes can even be dangerous. If you are not very careful, and sometimes even if you are, you can bend keys or a key might fly accross the room, or worse damage to the operator......

It isn't clear if you are repairing your own clarinets or repairing for others. If others, I would make sure they really want to have the keys polished. IME most people (i.e. almost everyone) prefer not to have the keys polished, even if they are getting a full overhaul.

Of course different repairers or repair shops are..... different.... but IME a buffing machine can be very low priority on a repairer's wish list.

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 Re: Best way to clean and polish silver clarinet keys
Author: Arnoldstang (---.dsl.bell.ca - ISP in Hamilton, ON Canada)
Date:   2009-05-09 14:04

I have been given an Evette clarinet to repair. I have done some repadding over the years. The keys are beyond dull as they have some verdegris buildup. How to clean?

Freelance woodwind performer

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 Re: Best way to clean and polish silver clarinet keys
Author: Chris P (---.proxy.aol.com - ISP in United Kingdom)
Date:   2009-05-09 14:16

An Evette is most likely to have nickel plated keys, so the only way to get these shiny is buffing them with a machine as the tarnish is pretty stubborn on nickel, and most metal polishes won't do much to improve the appearance. The surface bloom can be cleaned off with a silver polishing cloth.

But with silver plate, it's best to avoid machine polishing as silver can wear away very easily. Nickel is much harder but usually applied much thinner than silver, so go easy when buffing nickel.

Chris.

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 Re: Best way to clean and polish silver clarinet keys
Author: 78s2CD (---.tcso.qwest.net - ISP in Denver, CO United States)
Date:   2009-05-09 17:15

I've obtained a product called "Silver Brite" from Metal Brite Products. Has anyone else tried something similar? It contains real silver and is claimed to augment the existing plating, rather than continue to wear away as with conventional polishing. The product appears to work. I was particularly pleased with the results of an applicaton to my silver plated (unlacquered) trumpet. I've tried polishing the plateau touch pieces on my basset horn, and it seems to help on areas where the plating is starting to wear thin. It's a bit more problematic on one key where the plating had already worn through. The finish isn't restored 100% on that one, though it appears to have stabilized the damaged area.

Jim Lockwood
Rio Rico AZ

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 Re: Best way to clean and polish silver clarinet keys
Author: Hiroshi (---.tokyo.ocn.ne.jp - ISP in Sayama, 34 Japan)
Date:   2009-05-09 17:47

My recommendation:
You can buy both of them at the silver cutlery shops.

1)3M anti-tarnish strip for silver.
Set one inside your clarinet case.
http://www.silverguard.com/c-9-3m-anti-tarnish-strips.aspx

2)If tarnished: Use Hagerty silver cloth.
http://www.hagertycare.com/hagerty_home_care.asp
But this is a little strong than 1).
Hagerty's acid is too strong. Not recommended.

Silver is tarnished by Zinc. Zinc is in eggs. After eating eggs and blow your silver keys with your breath, the keys may be tarnished faster.

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 Re: Best way to clean and polish silver clarinet keys
Author: DavidBlumberg (---.hsd1.pa.comcast.net - ISP in Bryn Mawr, PA United States)
Date:   2009-05-09 18:43

I knew sulphur, but not Zinc.

Interesting

David Blumberg
http://www.MyTempoMusic.com/skypeclarinetlessons.html
D'Addario/Backun/BG Artist
Phila. Intl. Festival Clarinet Faculty


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 Re: Best way to clean and polish silver clarinet keys
Author: BobD (---.hsd1.il.comcast.net - ISP in Shorewood, IL United States)
Date:   2009-05-10 12:59

The belief that zinc is the culprit is false....it's the sulfur. How do such stupid ideas get perpetrated. After many years I have finally concluded that unplated nickel silver is the best and if you have lots of moolah gold plating is second. Nickel vs silver very controversial. Eggs and rubber bands both bad for silver.

Bob Draznik

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 Re: Best way to clean and polish silver clarinet keys
Author: Chris P (---.proxy.aol.com - ISP in United Kingdom)
Date:   2009-05-10 15:32

If zinc made silver tarnish, then it wouldn't be much good silver plating things made from brass or nickel silver.

Personally I like the feel of silver plate best and also unplated nickel silver. Nickel plate is too slippery and chrome plate even more so. Gold plate looks too 'bling' for my liking, but I can understand the advantages.

Chris.

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 Re: Best way to clean and polish silver clarinet keys
Author: beejay (---.dsl.club-internet.fr - ISP in Svres, A8 France)
Date:   2009-05-10 18:08

I live in Paris, and Feeling music sold me a polishing cloth for precious metals called NAP Paris, which does an excellent job. Don't know what the active ingredients are, but on the back it says "made in England." Still, I've always had reliable advice from Feeling.
I could never find the 3M anti-tarnish strips over here, but in an old (1918) book of housewife's tips I found a suggestion that pure camphor makes an excellent anti-tarnish agent. I've been using this for years and have had no problems with tarnish. In addition, it makes the case smell nice.

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 Re: Best way to clean and polish silver clarinet keys
Author: OpusII (84.28.131.---)
Date:   2009-05-13 18:33

Thanks all for the great advice, I'll follow it up.

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 Re: Best way to clean and polish silver clarinet keys
Author: Vladimir (---.228.13.112 - (Telefonica Czech Republic, a.s.) , Czech Republic)
Date:   2014-02-08 11:53

Use an ordinary eraser (rubber), then a polishing cloth. It works surprisingly good and it is much faster.

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 Re: Best way to clean and polish silver clarinet keys
Author: muppie (---.static.tpgi.com.au - (TPG Internet Pty Ltd.) , 04 Australia)
Date:   2014-02-08 17:18

What's so special about the "silver polishing cloth" that's different to a metal/glass microfibre cloth (the one with a very fine texture almost like fleece), or those you use to clean your glasses ?



Post Edited (2014-02-08 17:19)

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 Re: Best way to clean and polish silver clarinet keys
Author: Steven Ocone (---.bltmmd.fios.verizon.net - (Verizon FiOS) Catonsville, MD United States)
Date:   2014-02-08 17:30

I use a dry polishing machine. If I get a new one it will be a wet polishing machine.

I think the dangers of polishing machines are over exaggerated here. The media I use is very gentle. The advantages are that it polishes all areas of the keys thoroughly with no visible plating loss. And it gives a mirror shine. Hand polishing can't give the same results. Nothing against hand polishing - I use that method too.

The instrument makers use vibratory polishers as well as jewelry artisans. I buy my media from a jewelry supply company.

The other method I use is the aluminum / baking soda method. It basically drives the oxidation reaction in the opposite direction (this is my understanding - chemists here may correct me).

I put a pan of water on the stove with aluminum foil in the bottom and the keys on top. I heat it to just boiling and pour in baking soda. In a few seconds the tarnish is usually. If there was too much tarnish for the solution I may do a second treatment. Some light polishing by hand is sometimes needed.

Steven Ocone
Ann & Steve's Music

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 Re: Best way to clean and polish silver clarinet keys
Author: Chris P (---.dynamic.dsl.as9105.com - (Tiscali UK Limited) Brighton, B6 United Kingdom)
Date:   2014-02-08 15:12

How much baking powder do you use in a typical panfull?

I put too much in one time and had to pickle the keys in mild acid to get rid of the coating they all had when I took them out.

Chris.

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 Re: Best way to clean and polish silver clarinet keys
Author: Paul Aviles (---.knology.net - (WideOpenWest) Madison, AL United States)
Date:   2014-02-08 16:22

Polishing clothes have an abrasive chemical embedded in them to give them their effectiveness. Notice that there are still quite a few that are a two clothes sewn together with one being deep red? The red one has rouge polishing compound in it. In fact, ("back-in-the-day" anyway) repair folks have a pure stick of rouge and just apply a small amount (very VERY small) amount to a soft cotton cloth and this does an even better job.....if you know what you are doing.




..................Paul Aviles



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 Re: Best way to clean and polish silver clarinet keys
Author: fskelley (---.res.bhn.net - (Time Warner Cable) Windermere, FL United States)
Date:   2014-02-08 22:01

Let me offer a compromise that I use to "hand vs machine". I cut strips of white felt and/or used/new polishing cloths about 2" x 8". Then I firmly attach my clarinet joint to something (wedge it over a padded stick?) and have at it like I'm polishing a shoe the old fashioned way. You can be as careful or careless as you choose to be- I suggest careful. You can get a lot done, better and faster than just by hand. And you can get underneath and behind some stuff too. Just watch out for the occasional snag on the end of a spring here or there- it would be easy to bend or otherwise mess it up (hasn't happened to me yet). I only do this operation every few months- also works great on the clarinet body and mouthpiece.

After every play session I carefully hand wipe and rub my keys with Blitz Metal Care cloths (purple package) and alternate between the blue (lightly treated) and white (heavily treated) variety. By the time I retire/replace these they're both just plain untreated cloths. I started this regimen when a got a mistreated Leblanc Dynamic 2 from the site that shall not be named- played great but wanted some TLC. After a few weeks of daily rub it looked very nice. The guy who later bought it praised how well I had cared for it. Would I do better with another of the cloths that have been mentioned in this topic?

I have a tube of Maas metal polish to deal with stubborn places like on spoon keys or register keys. That's how I finally got the last spots off that Leblanc. My Arioso came to me (new!) with discoloration on the register key and several ring keys- my daily rub hasn't fixed that and I haven't resorted to Maas- yet. The Arioso IS silver, isn't it? Should I be nervous about the Maas?- or would I do better with another of the products that have been mentioned in this topic?

A totally worthless purchase was "Yamaha silver polish".

And finally- I do like shiny... sue me. I watch antique shows on TV and get weary of hearing how wonderful the patina on a 500 yr old dresser is. My answer is, if the original designer of the piece intended it to look like that- he (she) would have made it that way in the first place. If I'm going to own it, I want it to look like brand new, or at least like it did very early in its original life. Ditto a musical instrument.

Stan in Orlando

Post Edited (2014-02-08 22:08)

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 Re: Best way to clean and polish silver clarinet keys
Author: Chris P (---.dynamic.dsl.as9105.com - (Tiscali UK Limited) Brighton, B6 United Kingdom)
Date:   2014-02-08 17:12

When servicing and overhauling clarinets (and oboes and silver plated saxes) I remove all the needle springs so I can hand rag all the pillars using a strip torn from a silver polishing cloth without any risk of catching any springs or getting stabbed by them.

A bench peg (a tapered wooden or plastic peg set into the front of the bench) supports one end of the joint while being held in place with the other end of the joint against your sternum so both hands are free to use the polishing cloth or strop body joints to shine them up.

The strips of polishing cloth also come in handy to polish right into the corners of keys by tying the strip to a hook screwed into the front of my workbench and strop the keys as a barber strops a cut-throat razor. All other accessible areas can be polished with a polishing cloth as normal.

Chris.

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 Re: Best way to clean and polish silver clarinet keys
Author: Bruno (---.nwrknj.fios.verizon.net - (Verizon FiOS) Mahwah, NJ United States)
Date:   2014-02-08 18:35

One time I asked Lee Konitz why he allowed his alto to get so tarnished and spotty. He said, "What's the difference? I'm not going to march in a parade."
My sentiments exactly.

B>



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 Re: Best way to clean and polish silver clarinet keys
Author: Chris P (---.dynamic.dsl.as9105.com - (Tiscali UK Limited) Brighton, B6 United Kingdom)
Date:   2014-02-08 18:57

If you're servicing or overhauling a clarinet (or any other woodwind instrument), you at least want it to look like you've worked on it and that means polishing silver plated (or solid silver) keywork to make it look like new. After all, that's what is included in the cost and I wouldn't be at all happy for a silver plated clarinet of mine to come back to me from the repairer still looking like it did when it went in.

Chris.

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 Re: Best way to clean and polish silver clarinet keys
Author: BobD (---.hsd1.il.comcast.net - (Comcast Cable) Shorewood, IL United States)
Date:   2014-02-08 22:23

If you really must then at least avoid polishing media that contains any "powder". As others recommend , a silver polishing cloth is probably best. However, just remember that when you remove the black silver sulfide you allow additional tarnishing to occur and eventually the silver is gone. My advice....convince yourself that silver patina is beautiful.

Bob Draznik

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 Re: Best way to clean and polish silver clarinet keys
Author: Bruno (---.nwrknj.fios.verizon.net - (Verizon FiOS) Mahwah, NJ United States)
Date:   2014-02-09 01:36

Silver polishing cloths are impregnated with silver polish. If they sit around long enough the compound begins to dry out and become granular and powdery - just the right size to get into the mechanism.

B>



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 Re: Best way to clean and polish silver clarinet keys
Author: Chris P (---.dynamic.dsl.as9105.com - (Tiscali UK Limited) Brighton, B6 United Kingdom)
Date:   2014-02-09 07:20

A quick spray of water and sealing them in a plastic bag will keep them good.

Chris.

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 Re: Best way to clean and polish silver clarinet keys
Author: Steven Ocone (---.bltmmd.fios.verizon.net - (Verizon FiOS) Catonsville, MD United States)
Date:   2014-02-09 18:09

Answer to baking soda question. I can never remember the formula. That's why I add the baking soda last. I add and stir till it no longer dissolves.

Steven Ocone
Ann & Steve's Music

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 Re: Best way to clean and polish silver clarinet keys
Author: RAB (---.dhcp.spbg.sc.charter.com - (Charter Communications) Boone, NC United States)
Date:   2014-02-10 00:05

If you get a buffing wheel be very carful,

There is an article in the Allied catalog about buffing, you might want to read that. Let the wheel do the work. By that I mean use a light touch and do not "force " the key into the wheel. The wheel can "grab" a key or finger and do some damage. I have been caught only 1 time by the wheel but it is not something I liked.

If I use a wheel I always do some hand ragging in order to reach all the "nooks & crannies" . I finish with a soft clean fabric and ragging to remove all the traces of buffing compound. There are different grades of buffing compound that vary in how abrasive they are. They all leave residue that needs to be removed. I use pipe cleaners with a degreases on it to clean inside the hinge tubes and gum brand teeth cleaners to get the pivots hole in the end of solid key clean.

Hope this helps ! There are a lot of ways to clean keys and post, this is just one of them.

Rod

Rodney Berry
Repair Dept
Muncy Winds Music Company
Boone, N.C.

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 Re: Best way to clean and polish silver clarinet keys
Author: BartHx (75.104.166.---)
Date:   2014-02-09 19:28

I wipe down my keys after use to keep them clean, but I do not polish a key without taking it off the instrument. I hate the look of having polishing compound build up in the tiny spaces you can't otherwise get to. I use MAAS Metal Polish (available on line) and a microfiber cloth to polish keys by hand. It works well on any metal used in keys. Before putting the key back on the instrument, I use a pipe cleaner to be sure the pivots are clean. I have a polishing wheel, but I only use it on keys that are REALLY bad. As mentioned above, it can create excessive wear, bend keys, and can be dangerous to use on small parts. On top of that, a polishing wheel cannot reach some of the tight corners on a key.

In general, while two or more metals can be used to make an alloy, they will not react chemically with each other (eg. to produce tarnish) because metals tend to have positive valences. Without getting into a lecture on bonding, you need an element with a positive valence to combine with an element with a negative valence. In the case of silver clarinet keys the problem is sulfur. Do not keep rubber bands or any significant amount of rubber in your case since most rubber tends to outgas sulfur. Some people have more sulfur in their skin than others. They will tend to tarnish their keys faster, but wiping keys down after use will slow that down.

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 Re: Best way to clean and polish silver clarinet keys
Author: Chris P (---.dynamic.dsl.as9105.com - (Tiscali UK Limited) Brighton, B6 United Kingdom)
Date:   2014-02-10 01:50

When I've got a set of tarnished keys that have been stripped of all pads and key corks (as well as adjusting and flat spring screws), I soak them all in a tub filled up enough Goddard's Silver Dip to cover them all (usually two jars) to remove the heavy tarnish.

That's then followed by washing in hot soapy water and rinse that off with hot water (which helps them dry quicker, but still need to dry all the key barrels with a pipe cleaner), then go over all the keys with a silvercloth to bring up the shine.

I wear cotton gloves while polishing keys with a silvercloth to keep fingerprints off the freshly polished keys and also to stop the silver polish/tarnish mixture turning your fingers black.

Chris.

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