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  1. #1
    HDSax
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    Default Why are new saxes Unlacquered?

    This is probably going to stir a hornet's nest, but here goes...

    Many manufacturers, Yamaha, Yanagisawa, Keilwerth...are putting out unlacquered versions of their top pro horns. If these major sax companies are doing this, then there must be a good reason. I have never tried an unlacquered sax myself, but I've heard from a lot of players that the absence of lacquer gives a different sound that they like better. Is that why many players of vintage VIs just let the lacquer wear off over time and never relacquer or replate? I also hear of a lot of people who would chemically strip a new horn of its lacquer.

    So is the unlacquered thing just cosmetic or does it make a real difference?

    HD

  2. #2

    Default Re: Why are new saxes Unlacquered?

    It's mainly to do with looks. Also, marketing and sales pitch.
    There are countless threads on this already.
    Have a look at this thread:
    http://www.saxontheweb.net/vbulletin...d.php?t=110774
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  3. #3
    Distinguished SOTW Member CONN-hunter's Avatar
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    Default Re: Why are new saxes Unlacquered?

    the coating or the absence of coating has surely an influence on the way the sax sounds.
    a Silver or gold plating on the brass generates a warm sound, a lacquer does make the sound more "covered" and a unlacquered horn sounds more freely but not warmer at all.

    The alloy plays a important role on this issue, but generally a unlacquered instrument without coating sounds more resonant, vibrant.

    I realized that the best sounding horns has the lacquer gone, partially. Parts of the horn have the orig. lacquer parts are worn. This doens´t look good at all really not but the sound is really vintage, exquisite.
    I have also heard from prof.players that let their horn be relacquered. Ended giving a better looking horn and a worse sounding one, or not necesserely worse but completely different it used to be and the player was very disappointed.(being accustomed to the old sound)

    My NW I has a very old honeygold lacquer (did by Conn) and I played it side an side with a Bare Brass model from same year at a Vintage dealer.
    the "coated" pre Chu sounded much more warm than the bare brass.

    I like to have at least two saxofones , one bare brass Buescher(or bare copper, that would be cool, or warm) and one lacquered, Conn.

    Silverplated ones are special in sound I think with its peculiar projection.

  4. #4
    Forum Contributor 2014 Pete Thomas's Avatar
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    Default Re: Why are new saxes Unlacquered?

    Quote Originally Posted by CONN-hunter View Post
    the coating or the absence of coating has surely an influence on the way the sax sounds.
    I don't understand this, why should it?

    EDIT: apart from the obvious placebo effect or marketing hype you get such as the John Packer absurdity:

    'What 'The Raven' gives you is the black lacquer and the 'black lacquer' sound. To the uninitiated, this may sound strange, but black lacquer affects the way the instrument resonates - imagine how differently you'd resonate if you were covered in black lacquer!

  5. #5

    Default Re: Why are new saxes Unlacquered?

    Quote Originally Posted by CONN-hunter View Post
    the coating or the absence of coating has surely an influence on the way the sax sounds.
    a Silver or gold plating on the brass generates a warm sound, a lacquer does make the sound more "covered" and a unlacquered horn sounds more freely but not warmer at all.

    The alloy plays a important role on this issue, but generally a unlacquered instrument without coating sounds more resonant, vibrant.
    Without regard for the Socratic method, or any findings from my own studies, nor any empirical evidence derived from years of not testing coatings...I have arrived at a conclusion.

    No.
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    Distinguished SOTW Coffee Guru milandro's Avatar
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    Default Re: Why are new saxes Unlacquered?

    It is by no means " sure" that coatings or materials have any influence on sound production in the sound produced by woodwinds.

    It is in fact a very debated (here and elsewhere) question (this should say something about it being a sure thing, if it was, debates would be very short lived...facts are facts.......) and such a belief has, to date, ( this is for sure) no theoretical or scientific base whatsoever, if you want to convince yourself, ask believers to produce proof that is not based on : I hear it, they hear it, I feel it, they feel it.......no evidence based on double or triple blind test........, no evidence, no science, so, no proof.


    As a mater of fact each and every person referring to influences due to materials or finish always refers to influence they hear but no one is ever been able to demonstrate anything according to a scientifically acceptable method. So this is a matter of perception and of belief from their part.


    The university of New South Wales has a program for researching this very topic and put all this under good old fashioned scientific method.

  7. #7
    TK Melody Endorser/
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    Default Re: Why are new saxes Unlacquered?

    I play a new unlacquered alto and tenor. My experience is that the sound is determined by mouthpieces/reed set not lacquer or lack there-of.

    I purchased the unlacquered horns to get modern ergonomics, and at the same time a vintage look.

    B
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  8. #8
    Distinguished SOTW Member and Forum Contributor 2007 Morry's Avatar
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    Default Re: Why are new saxes Unlacquered?

    The presence, or absence, of a lacquer coating might very well affect the tone of an instrument that vibrates to produce sound - like a cymbal. But, you don't strike a saxophone. The main thing that vibrates on a sax is the reed. Now, if you lacquer coat a reed, then we've got something to talk about...
    JK SX90R Gold Lacquer over Nickel Alto
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  9. #9

    Default Re: Why are new saxes Unlacquered?

    Proof has been shown that vibration is affected at the resonant frequency by differing thicknesses...also shown to be undetectable by those playing.
    1952 The Martin Tenor Silver - RPC 110R
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  10. #10
    Distinguished SOTW Coffee Guru milandro's Avatar
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    Default Re: Why are new saxes Unlacquered?

    I liked very much the thing about the materials that someone wrote, material would make sense if we were playing a bell, if the bell contains this or that metal the sound is affected (because the sound is made by the vibrating metal!) but if you strike a saxophone with a mallet, all you hear is a " clunk" and then you stare at a dent into your horn.........

  11. #11

    Default Re: Why are new saxes Unlacquered?

    Yofis - I realize this subject has been beaten to death on SOTW but it fascinates me, would you please cite the material which proves that resonance is affected by material thickness?
    My own, completely unproved, belief is that other factors, particularly the presence of a player's hands, make things like surface coatings insignifigant. But hasn't someone, especially a manufacturer, actually run tests on this?

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    Default Re: Why are new saxes Unlacquered?

    I am not so sure that lacquering a sax is such a great thing in terms of preserving a sax. Epoxy lacquers undoubtedly last longer but they will also wear through over the course of a decade or two. Martins have just about the worst lacquer imaginable and but there is no evidence that I am aware of that the body tube rusts faster than on other horns. I wonder whether the lacquer once it becomes porous serves to trap humidity and that this adds to reddish oxidation. On the Selmer side, Supers, RIs, BAs and SBAs seem to have held up just as well as any MKVI made decades later.

    I have an unlacquered tenor. It was custom built and the person who made indicated that he wasn't going to lacquer it. Silver and gold plate would add to the cost to the point at which I couldn't afford it. It is now three years old and does have some oxidation in spots but I simply leave it as is. I can't know for sure, but I expect it to be in good shape when it is buried with my remains.

  13. #13

    Default Re: Why are new saxes Unlacquered?

    Quote Originally Posted by fred12 View Post
    Yofis - I realize this subject has been beaten to death on SOTW but it fascinates me, would you please cite the material which proves that resonance is affected by material thickness?
    My own, completely unproved, belief is that other factors, particularly the presence of a player's hands, make things like surface coatings insignifigant. But hasn't someone, especially a manufacturer, actually run tests on this?
    There was a link that someone posted about a fairly comprehensive study on Trombone bells with blind playing tests and other vibration analyses. Maybe it was Milandro or Kymarto that posted it. I will try to find it and send it via PM...or one of the other members who knows where it is can post the link. Granted, it wasn't saxophones, but as a professional engineer and one who has dabbled in material sciences, I thought the conclusions presented were very reasonable.

    Searching...

    Here it is:
    http://la.trompette.free.fr/Smith/IOA/material.htm
    1952 The Martin Tenor Silver - RPC 110R
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  14. #14
    Distinguished SOTW Member/Logician Grumps's Avatar
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    Default Re: Why are new saxes Unlacquered?

    Something about a VI with all or most of its lacquer gone. Does it give that special vibe due to the missing paint, or was it just a good horn to begin with and was played and played and played till the lacquer fell off. A brite dipped VI was one of the most alive horns I've played. Could just have been that five digit magic... but even an unlacquered Cannonball gave me a better feel than its lacquered or plated counterparts. And note I said feel, as I'm sure it's a very subjective thing. The scientists jump on these threads and demand proof, and without same set forth their own dogma and denial. But let me ask them... ever get a different feel from an old horn missing most or all of its lacquer? Have you tried the new unlacquered horns? Perhaps it's just the vibe going through the fingers on a horn with no coating that gives us that illusion. Given my own subjective experiences, I'm open to considering that.

  15. #15

    Default Re: Why are new saxes Unlacquered?

    I know the science says it's BS, but unlacquered horns feel more resonant to me.

  16. #16
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    Default Re: Why are new saxes Unlacquered?

    I understand that the variety of finishes available, including unlacquered, is to satisfy cosmetic preferences.
    Come see me live with Platinum Express

  17. #17

    Default Re: Why are new saxes Unlacquered?

    Quote Originally Posted by Grumps View Post
    Something about a VI with all or most of its lacquer gone. Does it give that special vibe due to the missing paint, or was it just a good horn to begin with and was played and played and played till the lacquer fell off. A brite dipped VI was one of the most alive horns I've played. Could just have been that five digit magic... but even an unlacquered Cannonball gave me a better feel than its lacquered or plated counterparts. And note I said feel, as I'm sure it's a very subjective thing. The scientists jump on these threads and demand proof, and without same set forth their own dogma and denial. But let me ask them... ever get a different feel from an old horn missing most or all of its lacquer? Have you tried the new unlacquered horns? Perhaps it's just the vibe going through the fingers on a horn with no coating that gives us that illusion. Given my own subjective experiences, I'm open to considering that.
    If the structural resonance of a horn is shown to have different vibration qualities depending on coatings and thicknesses, it is plausible that this difference in vibration is detected by the player at some organic (touch) level. I'm willing to buy that, but I am also inclined to think that this is a feeling of the player and not a difference that is heard by the listener or detected in recording.
    1952 The Martin Tenor Silver - RPC 110R
    1928 Buescher TT Soprano (straight) - Selmer Super Session H

    The Corsicans Website
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  18. #18

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    Default Re: Why are new saxes Unlacquered?

    Okaaaaayyyy?

    So take that vintage horn with the great sound. Would you relaquer it?

    Most would say no because of the fear they learned from others who relaquered their vintage horns, saying that the vintage relaquered horns ended up not sounding like they did prior, when most or almost all of the laquer was worn away.

    And that their actions afterwards on latter horns would be to rebuild them but not have them relaquered.

    And these horns I cite are the most perfect examples because they are as closely to perfectly restored as possible. Going from the laquer being worn quite a bit away to the best relaquering jobs money can afford. We can suppose the same mouthpieces and reeds are used after restoration because the next questions which usually come up [here] are, What just changed the sound of this horn and how can so and so compensate for it? I used the same mouthpiece/reed/neck strap as before.

    I contend (politely) that yes, per the evidence of the restoration of older horns and the advice given here, that relaquering does have some an effect on the sound produced.

    Harv

  19. #19
    Forum Contributor 2014 Pete Thomas's Avatar
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    Default Re: Why are new saxes Unlacquered?

    Quote Originally Posted by thestudent View Post
    Okaaaaayyyy?

    So take that vintage horn with the great sound. Would you relaquer it?

    Most would say no because of the fear they learned from others who relaquered their vintage horns, saying that the vintage relaquered horns ended up not sounding like they did prior, when most or almost all of the laquer was worn away.
    No, I believe most would say "no" because relacquering affects the value to a collector.

    I had a vintage horn (Conn 10m) relacquered because I wanted to preserve the horn rather than have it gradually deteriorate. In the end I regretted it because it was bad lacquer job - all the lacquer fell off within two days. (Didn't affect the sound or response one iota as far as I could tell)

    I complained to the laquerer, and blamed me for using hairspray!!!

  20. #20

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    Default Re: Why are new saxes Unlacquered?

    Quote Originally Posted by Pete Thomas View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by thestudent View Post
    Okaaaaayyyy?

    So take that vintage horn with the great sound. Would you relaquer it?

    Most would say no because of the fear they learned from others who relaquered their vintage horns, saying that the vintage relaquered horns ended up not sounding like they did prior, when most or almost all of the laquer was worn away.
    No, I believe most would say "no" because relacquering affects the value to a collector.

    I had a vintage horn (Conn 10m) relacquered because I wanted to preserve the horn rather than have it gradually deteriorate. In the end I regretted it because it was bad lacquer job - all the lacquer fell off within two days. (Didn't affect the sound or response one iota as far as I could tell)

    I complained to the laquerer, and blamed me for using hairspray!!!
    Which it does, naturally. So then the question needs to be asked, why does it affect value?

    A completely restored car usually has more value in the eyes of potential buyers than the same car in original condition, bearing in mind the same wear to the car that these horns we're talking about would have. Even if the unrestored looking car were in perfect mechanical condition, had it the same wear condition as the average decades old horns, it would not bring as much money is my guess.

    Enough people hear a difference between a relaquered vintage horn that I would put value to what they say. Especially the techs who do the work. I have yet to find one who would talk me into relaquering a vintage horn. Maybe I just haven't run into that one guy yet, but that's my experience just as your experience is yours. And I'm not denying your experience, only debating the subject because its interesting.

    So in the end, we can say there are enough players and techs whose experience leads them to believe that relaquering vintage horns changes their sound. Since that's true (that enough techs etc say this that the idea has traction), then I don't think it would be any surprise that companies would eventually offer unlaquered horns right from the factory. Right beside the laquered models. Its a choice and I think its nice to have more choices. Though we don't agree, my play testing of some of the top brands as new, used, and vintage examples meant I heard a lot of different sounds emanating from different horns. The best dynamics I heard came out of a P.M. 67RUL. I also believe the size, shape and Flare size of the bell had much to do with it.

    Thanks for replying to me. Its always good to get more and more personal experiences to consider.

    Harv

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