Bare brass was in general the most common finish in the early days followed by silver plated, gold plated,
nickel plated before lacquered saxophones was introduced.

The finish on the instrument acts in much the same way as anyting else attached to the body,
damping the vibrations at certain frequencies. The degree and frequency of this effect according to
the type of finish applied.


Many saxophones are relacquers and there are many opinions about this. Some are claiming
that this is only a myth and has no influence on the sound at all while others claims that this
could have significant implication to the sound from the saxophone.

It’s difficult to provide evidence of either, however the sure thing about relacquers is that the
 market are concerned about this and are not willing to pay the same for a relacquer as for a
saxophone with original lacquer.

So to conclude this, the reason the market are not willing to pay the same for a relacquer is
probably that you cannot be sure how the job is done. In the process of removing the old
lacquer, the process could be everything between rough blasting/ polishing treatments
removing some of the brass material from the body or it could be a very gentle chemical
removal of the old lacquer removing no material from the body at all.Further the lacquer
type could be all kind of types having all kind of good- or bad qualities.

And it’s hard to tell if the relacquer film thickness on the saxophone is thinner or thicker
than the original film thickness on the lacquer was.

So how to find out if the saxophone is a relacquer ?

1-    Ask the seller

2-   Look at the tan / color of the lacquer and find other pictures from same model and compare.
Normally, relacquer is much brighter than the original lacquer.

3-   Look at the touch points for wear. Normally an old saxophone with normal use,
will have some kind of lacquer wear at least on the palm keys, thumb rest e.t.c

4-   Look at the engraving and see if it’s sharp and clear, especially in the finest lines and details.
Contemporary saxophones are normally engraved after they are lacquered and then it's easy to see.

However, you may find a really nice relacquer and if you regret later and are not satisfied,
you can always
remove the lacquer gently using chemicals and use it as bare brass sax.


Lacquered saxophones plays normally great provided that the lacquer is original.

If the lacquer is worn, the recommendation is to leave it as is !

Any relacquer on the saxophone will reduce it’s value in the market and may also reduce the desired
quality of the sound.

If the lacquer is awful, remove all of the lacquer gently using chemicals only.

There are at the moment no known records that indicates that any old vintage saxophone gently
stripped to bare brass and polished should reduce the value provided that one can document that
removal of the original remaining lacquer is done gently with chemicals only.


The popularity of bare brass has increased in later years and you may even now buy new saxophones
based on bare brass with no lacquer on it.

The manufacturers claims that lacquer restricts the vibration of the metal and produces a thinner/
more muted sound, meaning that the saxophones without any lacquer produces a more natural and
a more full sound.

Many believe further that silver-, gold- and nickel plated saxophones have similar qualities due to
the fact that they don’t have the lacquered surface, only an extremely thin layer of metal added to the body.


Dampen a small ball of cotton wool with vinegar ( any kind will do ) and place it on the body.
Leave it 30 minutes or so. If the metal looks cleaner or has gone slightly red, when you lift it away,  it's brass.
If nothing at all has happened it's gold. You can polish off the red cast with metal polish.
You might see results in as little as 15 minutes, if you want to avoid the red tint.


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