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cleaning a tarnished flute


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#1 adultpianist

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Posted 12 November 2018 - 14:45

what Is best to clean tarnish off a flute?  I have heard toothpaste is good but I do not want to use that. I have just tried Mr Sheen furniture polish and a duster which get some of it off.   Although it is an old flute that I bought for only £40 from a second hand shop.  I use it as my second flute and it is still playable but looks awful and so tarnished.  I do not want to get any solution under the pads so they stop working so wondered if I should take it to a repair shop where they are used to cleaning up instruments and will do it without spoiling the instrument.

 

I just phoned a local instrument repair shop who wanted to charge me £60 to have it stripped down and cleaned and I said no because the instrument only cost £40 so I said what would you recommend and he said the only thing I would recommend is bring it to me and I would use silver polish but strip the whole thing down.   He said if you do it yourself and you ruin your flute then on your head be it.  I think he was simply trying to make money because I pointed out to him that if I do ruin the flute, it only cost me £40 so it would not matter


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#2 EllieD

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Posted 12 November 2018 - 15:10

To clean it properly, you almost certainly would have to strip it down as getting metal cleaning polish on the pads would not be a good idea. Have you looked at Youtube to see if there are any videos about taking flutes to pieces and putting them back together again? I remember doing quite a bit of fiddling about on my oboe in that way, using a jeweller's screw driver set and being very methodical, though I can't remember now what problems I was trying to fix! It may not be that hard.


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#3 Misterioso

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Posted 12 November 2018 - 19:36

I just phoned a local instrument repair shop who wanted to charge me £60 to have it stripped down and cleaned and I said no because the instrument only cost £40 so I said what would you recommend and he said the only thing I would recommend is bring it to me and I would use silver polish but strip the whole thing down.   He said if you do it yourself and you ruin your flute then on your head be it.  I think he was simply trying to make money because I pointed out to him that if I do ruin the flute, it only cost me £40 so it would not matter

 

I'm not sure he was just trying to make money, actually. There are far more experienced flautists than me on the forum who might do repairs, but I would not dream of stripping my flute down for cleaning; you really do need to know what you are doing. I had my flute stripped down for cleaning once by a woodwind shop that I trust, and even then I noticed the difference pre- and post-cleaning. If you are going to try yourself, I would at least get some help / advice from someone who knows a bit about the work involved. The risk is that if you don't, you might find that even the £40 outlay on the flute is wasted because it may be unplayable, and then it might cost more to get it put right.


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#4 jim palmer

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Posted 12 November 2018 - 20:24

Here's an article on removing  the silver sulphide tarnish by electrochemical reaction with aluminium foil. The silver is restored. Worth a try!

http://scifun.chem.w...ts/TARNISH.html


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#5 zwhe

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Posted 12 November 2018 - 21:07

I wouldn't try this - you would have to remove everything except the silver bits - all key work and the cork!


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#6 adultpianist

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Posted 13 November 2018 - 00:31

I just phoned a local instrument repair shop who wanted to charge me £60 to have it stripped down and cleaned and I said no because the instrument only cost £40 so I said what would you recommend and he said the only thing I would recommend is bring it to me and I would use silver polish but strip the whole thing down.   He said if you do it yourself and you ruin your flute then on your head be it.  I think he was simply trying to make money because I pointed out to him that if I do ruin the flute, it only cost me £40 so it would not matter

 
I'm not sure he was just trying to make money, actually. There are far more experienced flautists than me on the forum who might do repairs, but I would not dream of stripping my flute down for cleaning; you really do need to know what you are doing. I had my flute stripped down for cleaning once by a woodwind shop that I trust, and even then I noticed the difference pre- and post-cleaning. If you are going to try yourself, I would at least get some help / advice from someone who knows a bit about the work involved. The risk is that if you don't, you might find that even the £40 outlay on the flute is wasted because it may be unplayable, and then it might cost more to get it put right.

Yes but the flute is cheap so I would not pay to have it put right as it’s just not worth it. I gently cleaned some of the tarnish off with Mr Sheen avoiding the pads and it looks ok and then polished it up with a clean duster
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#7 SingingPython

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Posted 13 November 2018 - 22:38

There are situations where that sort of outlay can make sense.  Some years ago I bought a 2nd hand 1/8 size violin for about £40 and then spent about £60 having it "set up", which resulted in an instrument I was happy with and felt ok about what I'd paid too.


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#8 adultpianist

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Posted 14 November 2018 - 10:02

There are situations where that sort of outlay can make sense.  Some years ago I bought a 2nd hand 1/8 size violin for about £40 and then spent about £60 having it "set up", which resulted in an instrument I was happy with and felt ok about what I'd paid too.


That is your choice but I would not spend that sort of money on any instrument that cost around £40
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#9 SingingPython

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Posted 14 November 2018 - 10:11

I knew that I'd spend more than that getting a similar refurbished second hand instrument from a dealer, so factored the "set up" cost into what I was willing to pay for the 2nd hand instrument.  I also knew a bit about what I was looking at so could be confident I was buying something that would benefit from the work.

 

I have another instrument that I bought "for the case".  I wouldn't pay to get work done on it, it is occasionally loaned to parents of beginners to help them help their children.  If I (or my children) ever wanted to learn how to do violin repairs ourselves, I'd be happy to practise woodwork on it!


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#10 jim palmer

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Posted 14 November 2018 - 19:02

Here's an article on removing  the silver sulphide tarnish by electrochemical reaction with aluminium foil. The silver is restored. Worth a try!

http://scifun.chem.w...ts/TARNISH.html

I'm conducting an experiment on the headjoint of my old Buffet flute.

Needed-

Basin big enough to hold headjoint

1/2 gallon hot water

spoonful of baking powder

pieces of aluminium from food containers

 

So far after an hour most of the tarnish has gone.


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#11 Arundodonuts

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Posted 14 November 2018 - 20:41

Your repairer sounds like he's being reasonable. How many hours work do you suppose you get for £60? The value of the instrument may well influence what you want to spend but it makes little difference to the cost of stripping it down, cleaning, reassembly and adjustment.

 

Not a direct comparison but a full service on my (admittedly expensive) oboe was £300.


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#12 sbhoa

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Posted 15 November 2018 - 19:57

 

There are situations where that sort of outlay can make sense.  Some years ago I bought a 2nd hand 1/8 size violin for about £40 and then spent about £60 having it "set up", which resulted in an instrument I was happy with and felt ok about what I'd paid too.


That is your choice but I would not spend that sort of money on any instrument that cost around £40

 

I think that it depends on the quality of the instrument. If your £40 buy would cost £150 or more then £60 to have it serviced is still a bargain. If it's only really a £50 flute then it probably isn't worth throwing money at.


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