The majority - about 99% - of all silver horns have no lacquer over the surface, meaning the exposed silver is, in fact, real silver.
Although silver can be tricky to look after, with care, your silver plate will last a long time.
So, to help you get the very best out of your silver horn, here are a couple of tips and tricks from our very own Chuck Nickles to help you maintain the finish:
Cleaning and polishing are two different things: polishing will make the silver look great, yet it removes a little bit of silver each time. Excessive polishing can even remove the silver entirely! Many times the silver is just dirty and doesn’t need to be polished. We recommend using a window cleaner to gently remove the dirt on the outside. Many drum corps use this method to keep their silver horns clean. If and when you do decide to polish your horn, we recommend using a mild polish like “wrights silver cream polish” which can be found at most grocery stores. Other polishes may be used, however care should be taken as polishes designed for chromes or steel will remove silver quicker.
Silver finishes will easily scratch: yes, silver can become scratched and damaged easily. To help prevent this, we recommend getting a plastic stud for your tux jacket, not wearing necklaces, and not wearing oversized belt buckles while playing your horn as these will scratch your finish.
Sometimes your silver will tarnish: and, don’t worry, this is quite normal for silver. If you notice it when it is just starting, you can usually just wipe it away. However, if the silver becomes very tarnished then it can be hard work to return it to its normal beauty. To help reduce the risk of tarnishing caution should be used with leather gig bags as the chemicals used to treat the leather can cause tarnishing. Also, if you have a wood burning stove, leaving your horn in the open close to it can cause tarnishing.
REPAIR NOTICE WITH SILVER! Silver horns can be harder to repair as the lead in solder “loves” silver, and can easily flow onto the silver finish during repair. If repairs requiring solder work are necessary, make sure you find a good repair technician as a bad one can very quickly make a mess of your instrument.
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