Relacquer or restore

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dxhall
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Relacquer or restore

Post by dxhall » Thu Aug 22, 2019 8:47 pm

I’d like to improve the look of one of my classic horns. It really only needs to be relacquered, but reading the BAC website makes me curious about the full-boat restoration process they offer. Does unsoldering and super cleaning the horn really improve the way it sounds? I can see where unsoldering would be necessary to fix dents, or something like that. If there are no dents or dings to fix, is disassembly worth the money?
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BillO
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Re: Relacquer or restore

Post by BillO » Thu Aug 22, 2019 9:38 pm

I'm no instrument repair tech, but if a warm ultrasonic chem clean can't get the job done then maybe a full disassembly won't help much more as usually (straight horn) only the slide crook would normally be inaccessible for some sort of mechanical clean out (like honing or wire brushing). The tuning slide already comes off the instrument. If it has an F-att things could get a bit more complicated.

What horn is it and what cost are you looking at?
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Re: Relacquer or restore

Post by hyperbolica » Thu Aug 22, 2019 10:39 pm

My opinion is that some of the BAC claims about some types of work are possibly over stated.

Taking your horn apart and reassembling it will only be helpful if your horn needs it. It only needs it if you've got some problem. If you don't have a problem, there's a risk that the horn will come back worse than it started. Plus, BAC is not cheap.

Relacquering is something I'd never do to a horn I actually play. It will never improve how a horn plays.

I personally prefer horns that are a little cosmetically imperfect. That way I worry less about scratching the horn.

If the cosmetics are that important to you, you'd be better off to buy a cherry extra horn and keep it in the case while you play the imperfect one.
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Re: Relacquer or restore

Post by brassmedic » Fri Aug 23, 2019 2:05 am

Not going to speak for them because I don't know their work, but yes, often when you take apart a horn you see bad solder work, joints that aren't squared off, and joints that are stressed. So if done right, an instrument can be improved by disassembly and reassembly.
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BGuttman
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Re: Relacquer or restore

Post by BGuttman » Fri Aug 23, 2019 5:31 am

Some instruments respond well to a full rebuild. In fact, that's what got Gary Greenhoe in business;: rebuilding Bach and Conn horns (especially Abilene Conns).

A rebuild is good for a higher end horn. I'd never bother to do an Olds Ambassador or Conn Director and there's probably no hope for a Chinese or Indian low end horn.

The improvement will be subtle. If you are well attuned to your horn you may see a difference. Most of us won't.
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dxhall
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Re: Relacquer or restore

Post by dxhall » Fri Aug 23, 2019 5:47 am

I have several 30s and 40s horns which I like the way they are. The original lacquer on my ‘45 King 2B, for example, has taken a wonderful dark color which I would never change.

The horn which spurs the question is one I’m going to look at today - a’49 Olds Recording. The engraving is quite exceptional. The lacquer is weak, though. New lacquer would make the engraving more visible.

In’49 the Recording was Olds’ most expensive horn. Barring physical damage, I wouldn’t expect bad joints, etc. on that model.

If I buy it I would be very tempted to get it relacquered. Any recommendations on a shop? The guitar place selling the horn has priced it very reasonably.
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Re: Relacquer or restore

Post by mrdeacon » Fri Aug 23, 2019 8:50 am

Ironically relacquering might make the engraving weaker. The horn needs to be buffed to take off the old lacquer and to prepare it for relacquering. If the tech gets a little ham fisted with buffing they can basically buff off the engraving. Even if you take the horn to the best company there's still a really solid chance the engraving is going to be fainter.

If you want to see the engraving your best shot is to take the lacquer off and keep the horn raw brass. Though by you comments I don't think you're a raw brass kind of cat.

Stay on the lookout for a cherry Recording without any of these e issues! It'll save you a lot of headache.
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Re: Relacquer or restore

Post by norbie2018 » Fri Aug 23, 2019 10:12 am

If I understand it correctly, de-stressing an instrument can make it play better. That's part of what Greenhoe did when they added their valve to a Bach or Conn. I don't think any honest repair technician can guarantee results, only provide an educated guess.
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Re: Relacquer or restore

Post by greenbean » Fri Aug 23, 2019 10:49 am

norbie2018 wrote:
Fri Aug 23, 2019 10:12 am
If I understand it correctly, de-stressing an instrument can make it play better.
...
That is the idea. But it seems unlikely that an Olds would have been assembled with stress.

Also, I agree that stripping the lacquer is the best way to make the engraving visible. You could apply carnuba (sp?) wax to keep the patina away.
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Re: Relacquer or restore

Post by Matt K » Fri Aug 23, 2019 11:25 am

But there's a lot that could have happened between now and then; who knows if the assembler is the last person to take a torch to it, afterall! And if whoever does the restoration does a slide job that's probably also a good thing. Very likely that sometime in the last few decades at least one of the 4 has gotten slightly out of alignment of dinged no matter how well it was assembled.
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Re: Relacquer or restore

Post by norbie2018 » Fri Aug 23, 2019 12:43 pm

What Matt said.
dxhall
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Re: Relacquer or restore

Post by dxhall » Fri Aug 23, 2019 2:41 pm

The Olds was too nice to pass up. Lacquer pretty weak, but no dents or dings at all. Based on what’s been said here, I’m inclined to just have the lacquer stripped and try it that way.

I tried stripping a 40s Olds once and it wasn’t easy. Any recommendations on a shop to do the work?
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Re: Relacquer or restore

Post by Schlitz » Fri Aug 23, 2019 3:06 pm

I try really hard not to have Benn Hansson AND stripping in the same sentence. But that would be the guy to do the work in my area. I'm out here in Kitsapalachia.
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Re: Relacquer or restore

Post by Matt K » Fri Aug 23, 2019 3:31 pm

dxhall wrote:
Fri Aug 23, 2019 2:41 pm
The Olds was too nice to pass up. Lacquer pretty weak, but no dents or dings at all. Based on what’s been said here, I’m inclined to just have the lacquer stripped and try it that way.

I tried stripping a 40s Olds once and it wasn’t easy. Any recommendations on a shop to do the work?
Any tech on the forum here would be capable of doing it. Know that even without the "restoration" part, re-lacquering is pretty labor intensive and a quality job is going to run you a couple hundred dollars for the whole horn.I'd budget for up to maybe ~$500. (Not including shipping.)
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Re: Relacquer or restore

Post by mrdeacon » Fri Aug 23, 2019 11:39 pm

dxhall wrote:
Fri Aug 23, 2019 2:41 pm
The Olds was too nice to pass up. Lacquer pretty weak, but no dents or dings at all. Based on what’s been said here, I’m inclined to just have the lacquer stripped and try it that way.

I tried stripping a 40s Olds once and it wasn’t easy. Any recommendations on a shop to do the work?
There are a zillion threads on different ways to strip lacquer. Just dig around. With a proper lacquer stripper it isn't too hard of a job, just takes time. It'll be quite a bit cheaper doing it yourself vs taking it to a tech.

I'm assuming on the last Olds you tried stripping it with boiling water? That doesn't work on every horn.
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Re: Relacquer or restore

Post by dxhall » Sat Aug 24, 2019 7:06 am

On the ‘46 Olds, I tried every method suggested in the posts, as well as others recommended on the web. At one point, I coated the horn in a gel-type paint remover and heated it with my heat gun. Nothing worked.

I finally took the horn to a local shop. They removed the lacquer, but used some kind of abrasive and produced an unattractive scratchy surface.

Lesson learned, I’m cautious when contemplating the same task on a desirable horn. It would be better to leave it as is than to have the job poorly done.
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Re: Relacquer or restore

Post by Matt K » Sat Aug 24, 2019 11:40 am

And as with solder joints... who knows who has touched that horn in the last half century. Maybe someone in the 60s had it "relacquered" with something that's harder to take off that you can't even get any more. Another option if you aren't set on having the horn look like stock is to have a satin finish applied. It has a scratchy surface but it's uniformly applied. Some places do variations with sand blasting or "satin" finishing but they're all similar in the sense that they aren't a 'mirror' finish. Usually doesn't add too much extra on top of the rest. Doing the satin/scratch finish makes it look pretty uniform if there was an issue with its appearance like pitting. But it won't make the engraving any deeper. You could have the engraving etched out a little deeper too but everything you do cosmetic adds up fast cost wise.
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Re: Relacquer or restore

Post by brassmedic » Sat Aug 24, 2019 1:49 pm

I think a lot of people don't realize that an old trombone doesn't have a beautiful shiny surface under the old lacquer just waiting to be exposed. It looks like it looks; if it's ugly and you take off the lacquer, it's still ugly. Despite the popular conception of repair techs being gorillas with nuclear powered buffing machines, just waiting to destroy your priceless vintage horn, it most likely needs to be buffed. Getting rid of the scratches and pitting that old trombones invariably have is not a DIY procedure. I can attest to Olds lacquer being extremely difficult to remove. I don't know what kind of abrasive that shop used, but it should be possible to shine it up if it looks "scratchy".
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Re: Relacquer or restore

Post by brassmedic » Sat Aug 24, 2019 1:58 pm

I remember being in the shop of a prominent repair tech when they got a phone call. I couldn't hear the other end of the call, of course, but the gist of it seemed to be that the customer wanted either a cheaper or faster relacquering job because he didn't think anything was wrong with the finish. So all I could hear was, "It's a lot of work to remove all the scratches and imperfections"... "No, it has scratches"... "No, it has scratches"... "No, it has scratches; you just can't see them."
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Re: Relacquer or restore

Post by dxhall » Sat Aug 24, 2019 2:15 pm

Would buffing smooth the sharp edges of the engraving?
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Re: Relacquer or restore

Post by Schlitz » Sat Aug 24, 2019 2:38 pm

brassmedic wrote:
Sat Aug 24, 2019 1:49 pm
I think a lot of people don't realize that an old trombone doesn't have a beautiful shiny surface under the old lacquer just waiting to be exposed. It looks like it looks; if it's ugly and you take off the lacquer, it's still ugly. Despite the popular conception of repair techs being gorillas with nuclear powered buffing machines, just waiting to destroy your priceless vintage horn, it most likely needs to be buffed. Getting rid of the scratches and pitting that old trombones invariably have is not a DIY procedure. I can attest to Olds lacquer being extremely difficult to remove. I don't know what kind of abrasive that shop used, but it should be possible to shine it up if it looks "scratchy".
By the numbers, the average western gorilla tops out at 5.5ft. Judgement free zone here. A polished turd is what it is. Please polish responsibly.....
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Re: Relacquer or restore

Post by dxhall » Sat Aug 24, 2019 8:48 pm

Not sure I’d call this one a turd.
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Re: Relacquer or restore

Post by Schlitz » Sun Aug 25, 2019 1:12 am

Absolutely not. That's gorgeous.
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Re: Relacquer or restore

Post by tbonesullivan » Sun Aug 25, 2019 3:49 pm

Uhhhh... no don't do anything to that.
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Re: Relacquer or restore

Post by dxhall » Sun Aug 25, 2019 4:14 pm

It brings up visions of double breasted suits and bathtub Packards, doesn’t it?
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Re: Relacquer or restore

Post by tbonesullivan » Sun Aug 25, 2019 5:57 pm

dxhall wrote:
Sun Aug 25, 2019 4:14 pm
It brings up visions of double breasted suits and bathtub Packards, doesn’t it?
It really does. But it's got that PATINA on the bell, that will be lost if you do anything to it. I doubt the engraving will look nearly as crisp after a restoration.
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Re: Relacquer or restore

Post by bellend » Wed Aug 28, 2019 4:37 am

The thing is with all this is it really depends who does the work.
I would have no hesitation in having that re lacquered as in the hands of the skilled repairers I know in the UK it would come up beautifully .

When you see engraving that has been worn away it's usually either that the horn was so badly damaged in that area that major resurfacing was needed , OR....... much more likely the person doing the buffing was crap at their job and just didn't give a shit!!!

There are many great techs in the US who could make this look amazing but they won't be cheap so if it's a keeper you'll need to pay the right money for the best job.

Good luck with it.

BellEnd
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Re: Relacquer or restore

Post by Posaunus » Wed Aug 28, 2019 2:41 pm

From your photo, the appearance is hardly offensive - just looks a bit ... antique. If the slide is good, get it tuned up, leave the lacquer as is, play the trombone, and enjoy it. The Olds Recording is a wonderful trombone!
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Re: Relacquer or restore

Post by trombonedemon » Sun Sep 01, 2019 8:34 am

Lacquer is waaaaaaay overrated, but I understand. Brass corrodes easily if not taken care of. I wish my Conn 112 was de-lacqured.

Restore it, get it checked out add some personal affects and touches and call it a day. If you like the way the horn plays then leave it alone. I'm almost certain that any "restoration" would change the way it plays. For better or worst........
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Re: Relacquer or restore

Post by PaKETaZ » Wed Sep 04, 2019 4:41 am

Did anyone already have unlacquered a Silversonic 2B...?
I have got a vintage one and the lacquer is really bad, but it remains about 80% on the bell section.

I love the sound and I understand this can change it, but I’d like to here if someone did this.
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Re: Relacquer or restore

Post by Matt K » Wed Sep 04, 2019 7:37 am

PaKETaZ wrote:
Wed Sep 04, 2019 4:41 am
Did anyone already have unlacquered a Silversonic 2B...?
I have got a vintage one and the lacquer is really bad, but it remains about 80% on the bell section.

I love the sound and I understand this can change it, but I’d like to here if someone did this.
Make sure that it is actually lacuqered; that's how they came from the factory but I had one that had it removed and I didn't realize it. A little silver polish and that horn looked really nice.
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Re: Relacquer or restore

Post by Kingfan » Wed Sep 04, 2019 11:15 am

After the abuse from high school, college, and a year and a half on the road I took my King 4B to Brook Mays in Dallas for an overhaul back in the 80s. They suggested clean and relaquer, but for some reason I stuck by a full disassembly rebuild, thinking the old girl deserved a full makeover. Mistake... They ruined one inner slide when they tried to take it apart and replaced it with newer slide with a different stocking. They didn't tell me about it until I picked up the horn. One of the solder joints on an F attachment brace was bad so the horn buzzed on certain notes, so I had to take it back and get re-soldered which screwed up the lacquer. I I had to do it over again, I would stick with a good cleaning, de-denting, and slide tune-up plus touch up of lacquer on the wear points as I have acidic hands. Just my experience, YMMV.
I'm not a complete idiot, some parts are still missing! :D
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Re: Relacquer or restore

Post by tbonesullivan » Wed Sep 04, 2019 12:35 pm

Ugh, I seem to have not heard good things about Brook Mays before. That's just a crappy thing to do. They should have at least been up front about it, and had someone who actually can solder take care of it. Thankfully there are much better options these days.
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Re: Relacquer or restore

Post by dxhall » Wed Sep 04, 2019 8:11 pm

Well, this is not encouraging. I’ve been playing the horn most days and like the sound very much. It sounds a lot like my ‘46 Super but with a bigger, more complex tone. Not as bright as my old Conns, not quite as Tommy Dorsey cool as the ‘45 King. I don’t want to mess it up.

It’s got a nickel-size patch of red rot. Does that need to be addressed, or will the spot just stay as it is indefinitely?
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Re: Relacquer or restore

Post by tbonesullivan » Wed Sep 04, 2019 10:31 pm

dxhall wrote:
Wed Sep 04, 2019 8:11 pm
Well, this is not encouraging. I’ve been playing the horn most days and like the sound very much. It sounds a lot like my ‘46 Super but with a bigger, more complex tone. Not as bright as my old Conns, not quite as Tommy Dorsey cool as the ‘45 King. I don’t want to mess it up.

It’s got a nickel-size patch of red rot. Does that need to be addressed, or will the spot just stay as it is indefinitely?
Where is the red rot? Usually it would be on the slide end bow, or someplace similar.
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Re: Relacquer or restore

Post by dxhall » Thu Sep 05, 2019 5:47 am

Strangely, the red rot is on the bell, a couple inches up from the rim.
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Re: Relacquer or restore

Post by Posaunus » Thu Sep 05, 2019 9:48 am

Have a COMPETENT tech take a look at it, and get a recommendation. Olds Recordings are really nice trombones.
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Re: Relacquer or restore

Post by tbonesullivan » Thu Sep 05, 2019 10:55 am

dxhall wrote:
Thu Sep 05, 2019 5:47 am
Strangely, the red rot is on the bell, a couple inches up from the rim.
Yeah, that's almost certainly just surface oxidation and/or acid bleed, both of which can be reddish. Is it both on the inside and outside of the bell?
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Re: Relacquer or restore

Post by Hughes158 » Sat Sep 07, 2019 12:47 pm

A good thread. An enjoyable and informative read. Thanks. Ps from a non technician point of view with my old money 2 pence i think the engraving and colour look fantastic.
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