Is tarnish a problem?

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Is tarnish a problem?

Post by piccoloninja »

I'm trying out a used Burkart 5% platinum/95% silver flute at the moment and really like it. However, the keys on the instrument are severely tarnished; pretty much anywhere the fingers touch is black. I have two questions:

1. Can tarnish affect the sound of an instrument?
2. Is the tarnish going to be a problem down the line, and if so would a repair person be able to remove it?

Sound is much more important to me than looks, but I'm afraid of the sound quality going down and/or needing major repair work in a few years because of all the tarnish. Thanks! :)

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Re: Is tarnish a problem?

Post by pied_piper »

piccoloninja wrote: 1. Can tarnish affect the sound of an instrument?
2. Is the tarnish going to be a problem down the line, and if so would a repair person be able to remove it?
1. No. Tarnish is strictly cosmetic.
2. It's not a problem. Any good flute repair tech can clean the flute and remove the tarnish during Clean, Oil, Adjust (COA).

Some players have a body chemistry that accelerates tarnish. Since you indicate the keys are black everywhere the fingers touch, I believe that is the case with this flute. If you buy the flute, get a COA and then buy anti-tarnish strips to keep in the case. That will help prevent the return of tarnish. 3M makes them and most big flute shops sell them. Another good anti-tarnish strip is made by Intercept. They are even better than the 3M strips and they cost a lot less. You can order them online from Rio Grande. ... x-7/401526
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Re: Is tarnish a problem?

Post by fluteguy18 »

I agree entirely. It's a largely cosmetic factor and doesn't honestly affect the performance of the instrument. I've also seen the 5/95 Burkarts turn slightly green in the tubing due to oxidation of the platinum. But that was a problem caused by the glue in the case continuing to outgas...

I would recommend factoring in about $300-350 extra for a new COA from a qualified technician after the purchase. Someone who is experienced, can look at the instrument, assess its condition and then clean and adjust it fully. In addition to anti-tarnish strips like those that were suggested, if you look carefully you can find retailers who carry anti-tarnish cloths. They're not polishing cloths, but ones specifically formulated to help prevent tarnish.

I know a guy if you need a reference... ::cheeky grin::

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Re: Is tarnish a problem?

Post by Gandalfe »

You can use silver anti-tarnish cloths or strips in you case if you ever get it cleaned in the first place.
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Re: Is tarnish a problem?- MAYBE

Post by LAflutes »

Wiping off your flute with a clean microfiber cloth after every playing session is a good idea if you tarnish silver. I have a micro spray bottle that i use to very slightly dampen the cloth with rubbing alcohol which really helps to remove the sweat and oils from the silver before packing up the flute. This really helps keep the oxidation from getting out of control. I have seen silver flutes that have turned black from oxidation and played on for many years and when overhauled (and polished) there was pitting where skin oils have gone under the black surface and caused very tiny pits. Especially on frequently touched keys like the D# key- so letting a flute completely oxidize is not a good idea, in my opinion!

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