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 Tarnished Keys
Author: Jacob S (---.hsd1.wa.comcast.net - ISP in Snohomish, WA United States)
Date:   2009-08-10 22:59

I have a Buffet E11 with silver plated keys, and a bunch of the keys are beginning to tarnish. At least that's what I assume it is, they look like someone had been drawing on them with a Sharpie! The Buffet logos have already disappeared, and I think this has just given my clarinet character. I'm sure at some point my ever-changing tastes will lead me to this board again to study up on removing tarnish, but I have one question. Will the tarnish have any negative effects on my clarinet or my playing? As long as I don't get any sort of poisoning or the keys begin to fall off, I think I can live with the odd looks. Thanks for your time!

Jacob

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 Re: Tarnished Keys
Author: lrooff (---.spkn.qwest.net - ISP in Spokane, WA United States)
Date:   2009-08-11 04:09

The tarnish is no different than what you'd get on silver plated flatware, and you can treat it just the same with silver polish and a soft rag for buffing. I've learned over the years that an old cloth diaper is wonderful for polishing silver. It will have no effect whatsoever on the sound you get, so don't hesitate to keep it polished.

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 Re: Tarnished Keys
Author: Chris P (---.proxy.aol.com - ISP in United Kingdom)
Date:   2009-08-11 11:55

Andrew Marriner's clarinets are well tarnished (and last time I saw him on telly the oval metal badge was also missing), and with no negative impact on his playing.

Chris.

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 Re: Tarnished Keys
Author: Paul Aviles (---.knox.army.mil - ISP in Radcliff, KY United States)
Date:   2009-08-11 12:23

I was curious about your term, "drawn with a sharpie." Are you saying that there are lines of top plating that are missing forming a physical groove in the plating? If so, your only solution is a good defense.

I have a lot of acidity in my system and can eat through top plating in under a year! I have found that one must wipe with a 100% cotton cloth (flannel preferably) at the end of each day. This will prevent the build up of acidic oils from your fingers. DO NOT use a polishing cloth with ANY sort of regularity if this is the case since this will only help remove even more plating.

Naturally this will only prevent further wear. Re-plating is the only fix for missing plating.

The typical tarnish one sees on silver is the brownish discoloration associated with your garden variety oxidation.



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



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 Re: Tarnished Keys
Author: tictactux (---.guyerzeller.com - ISP in Männedorf, 25 Switzerland)
Date:   2009-08-11 12:45

Paul Aviles wrote:

> I was curious about your term, "drawn with a sharpie." Are you
> saying that there are lines of top plating that are missing
> forming a physical groove in the plating? If so, your only
> solution is a good defense.

Sharpie is a brand name of permanent markers and felt pens. http://www.sharpie.com

--
Ben

Post Edited (2009-08-11 12:46)

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 Re: Tarnished Keys
Author: lrooff (---.spkn.qwest.net - ISP in Spokane, WA United States)
Date:   2009-08-11 13:08

I think most of us understand that, but it does raise an interesting question as to why the tarnish would be in clearly delineated strips rather than covering the entire keys or in irregular splotches where the player's fingers touch it.

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 Re: Tarnished Keys
Author: Chris P (---.proxy.aol.com - ISP in United Kingdom)
Date:   2009-08-11 15:36

At a rehearsal one evening I noticed the lead alto player had a strange looking flute with him - at first glance I thought it was a Matit carbon fibre one as the lip plate was shiny in contrast to the rest of the tubing, but it turned out to be a Yamaha 211S with a handmade silver headjoint and gold lip plate. The silver was so tarnished it was a dark purpley-brown colour. All the other sax players (including myself) had shiny silver flutes.

Since rehousing my freshly silver plated old Buffet Eb clarinet in a Buffet case, the plating has tarnished possibly due to whatever they've used in making the case with, and not the light tarnish that can be removed with a silvercloth as it's gone very dark, but still has a shine - almost like black nickel plate.

It could be the dye in the fabric, the glue used to stick it onto the plastic inner with, the foam in the lid cushion or maybe the actual plywood used to make the case or the glue used to glue the plywood together that contains sulphur - or the mouthpiece which was brand new (Vandoren 5RV). Other clarinets I've had replated by the same company within a year of having the Eb plated are still nice and bright, and they've got older ebonite mouthpieces in the case with them.

Chris.

Post Edited (2009-08-11 15:37)

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 Re: Tarnished Keys
Author: Paul Aviles (---.knox.army.mil - ISP in Radcliff, KY United States)
Date:   2009-08-11 17:15

Perhaps I should elaborate. I had the "sharpy" looking lines of plating erode from the plating of my Selmer 10G within about nine months. Upon looking quite closely (or running your finger across the marks) it became obvious that the plating wore away more like a canal than an analog of a finger impression. I don't entirely understand why other than finally unearthing the problem with acidity in my system. I have since run into a few flute players and an oboe player that had exactly the same sort of plating erosion.



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



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 Re: Tarnished Keys
Author: Chris P (---.proxy.aol.com - ISP in United Kingdom)
Date:   2009-08-11 19:50

Could be wire marks from when the keys were wired up for plating - that leaves a sunken line on the surface.

Chris.

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 Re: Tarnished Keys
Author: Jacob S (---.hsd1.wa.comcast.net - ISP in Snohomish, WA United States)
Date:   2009-08-12 01:05

Paul- I apologize for my ambiguous word choice, but your acidity-situation sounds like quite a hassle! Chris' explanation is much clearer than mine, I believe. It looks like someone drew on my keys with a Sharpie, but all over them instead of in specific lines. There is no sign of erosion, and the shine is still there. It reminds me of the keywork on the Bliss clarinets but more of the brown-purple color.

What really makes me wonder is that the worst tarnished area is all over the left hand Eb/D# key. I'm not sure if that's still called a key, because it's just the part that covers the hole... It's not as if I use that key much to anyways, so why it is tarnishing I don't know!

If all the keys tarnish like this I will post pictures so everyone can see the monster.

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 Re: Tarnished Keys
Author: Gordon (NZ) (---.jetstream.xtra.co.nz - ISP in Auckland, E7 New Zealand)
Date:   2009-08-12 06:23

Tarnish is often worst in the areas not contacted by fingers, because in those areas the tarnish wears off as fast as it accumulates.

If you are talking about all the silver surfaces turning grey or black, I would be looking for what in the atmosphere is doing it....

Sulphur vapours from cooking onions or garlic?
Sulphur vapours from an unflued gas heater, open fire, or cigarette smoke?
Sulphur vapours from vehicle exhaust or industrial vapours?
Sulphur vapours from a newly-laid wool carpet, or other wool items?
Sulphur vapours from geothermal activity?
Sulphur vapours from a badly oxidised hard rubber mouthpiece.

If so, you could delay the tarnishing process by at least removing the contaminating vapour inside the closed case, using:

http://www.doctorsprod.com/store/comersus_viewItem.asp?idProduct=34

But is this actually tarnish, or is it areas where the silver plating is wearing off. Buffet lately has used very thin silver plating that is definitely not durable. I don't know if that is on all models, or just some. It is common to see plating worn off the throat A key and register key, where the finger and thumb rub, within a year or two.

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 Re: Tarnished Keys
Author: RAB (---.dhcp.hckr.nc.charter.com - ISP in Boone, NC United States)
Date:   2009-08-13 02:03

Wipe it down with a silver cleaning cloth and keep some ant-tarnish strips in it. That might help, You should be able to get the strips at a jewelery store.

RAB

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 Re: Tarnished Keys
Author: DavidBlumberg (---.hsd1.pa.comcast.net - ISP in Broomall, PA United States)
Date:   2009-08-13 02:08

Could be as simple as having a Vandoren mouthpiece in your case. They cause tarnish quite easily.

Tarnish isn't bad for the keys, but if you aren't wiping off your finger oils after playing, the keys will feel a bit grimey after a while.

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


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 Re: Tarnished Keys
Author: Jacob S (---.hsd1.wa.comcast.net - ISP in Snohomish, WA United States)
Date:   2009-08-13 21:09

DavidBlumberg wrote:

> Could be as simple as having a Vandoren mouthpiece in your
> case. They cause tarnish quite easily.
>
> Tarnish isn't bad for the keys, but if you aren't wiping off
> your finger oils after playing, the keys will feel a bit grimey
> after a while.
>

I think that is the answer. I've just recently started playing on a Vandoren M13. Before that, I had a Gennusa Intermediate MP so I never got to experience the Vandoren difference, I guess. The placement of the MP in my case makes this possibility even more justifiable, it's right next to all the keys that have tarnish. I guess my mouthpiece is going to have to "get around" if I ever want all the keys to match! Thanks Clarinet BBoard :)

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 Re: Tarnished Keys
Author: Gordon (NZ) (---.jetstream.xtra.co.nz - ISP in Auckland, E7 New Zealand)
Date:   2009-08-14 01:40

One possibility is to keep the mouthpiece inside a cloth impregnated with silver, so that the mouthpiece vapours are consumed in a reaction with this silver, before the vapours can gain contact with the silver on your clarinet.

http://www.silverguard.com/c-6-pacific-silvercloth.aspx

It sounds good in theory.

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 Re: Tarnished Keys
Author: doublej (---.hsd1.il.comcast.net - ISP in Justice, IL United States)
Date:   2009-08-14 14:23

I was always using vintage mouthpieces. In my double case my A is by the mouthpieces and that instrument has silver keys which are basically black now. It is funny that my Bb did not get any tarnish on it at all but the A is black. I decided to leave it but it does kind of look strange kind of what Chris P was talking about with the flute player.

JJ

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 Re: Tarnished Keys
Author: Claireinet (---.client.mchsi.com - ISP in Iowa City, IA United States)
Date:   2009-08-15 15:21

I have used toothpaste to remove tarnish before. I was a bit weary to try it at first but it does work quite nicely.

I think I can attest to the thinner plating on new Buffets. I have several keys where I have worn through the plating and some where I seem to have gone through two. I really don't shine the keys ever, it just seems to be wear from being played. Of course by now I suppose the instrument has been played for about eight years -- but the wear did start quite awhile ago.



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 Re: Tarnished Keys
Author: Gordon (NZ) (---.jetstream.xtra.co.nz - ISP in Auckland, E7 New Zealand)
Date:   2009-08-16 01:07

"I have used toothpaste to remove tarnish before. I was a bit weary to try it at first but it does work quite nicely."

At least some toothpastes will have far harsher abrasives in them than does a good quality silver polish. (Because tooth enamel is harder than silver)

It is not just the hardness of the abrasive material that is important but the size of these abrasive particles. It is important that there are no larger particles mixed in with the many finer ones. You can see the scratching damage to the surface that the large ones do when you look at the surface under a strong magnifier.

Removing the larger particles is a relatively expensive process, which is one reason a good quality polish costs more.

IMO , using toothpaste as a silver polish is a fairly good way to wear through the silver plating rather quickly.

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 Re: Tarnished Keys
Author: jnc8 (---.cncdnh.east.myfairpoint.net - ISP in Newport, NH United States)
Date:   2009-08-16 20:10

I have this same problem. You need to get rid of the tarnish because it is a warning and possible precursor of impending rust.

The following method works for me:

1) Wash your hands before you practice.

2) Wipe down the keys with a micro-fiber polishing cloth after you practice.

3) Use "Silver Strips" (Anti-Tarnishing 3M Strips for Silver) ---- place two or three of them in your case ---- substitutes for hours of polishing by keeping any nasty air from damaging your instrument when it's in the case. They're very cheap - you can get a pack of eight for under five dollars I'm pretty sure - and each "Silver Strip" lasts at least a few months.

--- If the above methods are not helping, you may need to get a polish cloth that has been treated. Be wary about using home products for your keys. Who knows what chemicals are in the products that could damage not only the keys, but also the wood. Consult a trusted and reputable repair person if you have questions. ---

Good luck.

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 Re: Tarnished Keys
Author: Gordon (NZ) (---.jetstream.xtra.co.nz - ISP in Auckland, E7 New Zealand)
Date:   2009-08-17 02:12

"...3) Use "Silver Strips" (Anti-Tarnishing 3M Strips for Silver)... "

These are probably even better value for money:

http://www.doctorsprod.com/store/comersus_viewItem.asp?idProduct=34

I also wonder if activated carbon "odour eaters" for shoes may be more absorber for your money.

But with all these products, how do you know when the active agent is exhausted, other than that you start seeing tarnish develop on the silver?

Doctor Omar, how about working on some sort of built in indicator.  :)

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