How to Remove Lacquer on Saxophones

By David Michael Lord ; Updated September 15, 2017

Things Needed

  • Large tub
  • Muriatic acid
  • Cold water
  • Baking soda
  • Soft cotton rags
  • Metal polish

Stripping a sax of its lacquer can be tricky business. The lacquer protects the metal from rust and contact erosion, and the sound difference between a lacquered horn and an un-lacquered horn are as various as the models of saxophones are. Be sure to investigate the basis of removing the lacquer prior to doing so.

Make a large table and clean work area available. You will have to dismantle the saxophone completely before removing the lacquer. Any chemical strong enough to remove lacquer will completely destroy pads. Use masking tape to label parts of the horn prior to taking parts off and lay them aside. Put pieces in the same place on the table to allow it to take shape as the saxophone. This will aid reassembly. You should be left with only the metal shell.

Prepare a solution of muriatic acid and water. You will need a tub big enough to fit your sax in. Fill the tub with enough water to cover your horn. Use 4 parts water and 1 part muriatic acid. This solution will not burn skin, but you should use care when working with any acid solution. The solution needs to be precise to prevent harm to your horn. Soak the horn overnight.

Remove the horn and rinse it with cold water. Wash the tub off completely using cold water.

Prepare a solution of baking soda and water. One pound of baking soda for every 3 gallons of water. Soak the horn for a couple of hours to dissolve any remaining acid that may harm the rod solder joints in the future.

Dry the horn. Apply the metal polish of your choice using a soft cotton rag. You will have to polish and buff until you are happy with the result.

Reassemble the horn.

Tip

Wear safety goggles when working with acids.

Warning

Consult a professional repair technician. There is no substitute for competent and experienced advice from a saxophone repair tech. Stripping a horn can be complicated and can have a negative result if done without attention to detail and proper know how.

About the Author

David Michael Lord has written professionally since 1993, being published in "Stars & Stripes," GNU Literary Review, and Blue Jackets. As a musician he played with global industry greats and is a 25-year music veteran. Lord graduated from the U.S. Naval School of Music, and cum laude from National University with a Bachelor of Arts in English and an MFA in creative writing.