What Products Can Be Used To Polish A Saxophone?

A shiny saxophone is a sight to behold, but improvements are not confined to looks. The feel of a polished saxophone also gets a nice amelioration in contrast to a dull saxophone. Nevertheless, to achieve an optimal level of polish without damaging your woodwind's finish, you should use the correct products.

What products can be used to polish a saxophone? For lacquered saxophones, you can use almost any polish that's not overly aggressive or abrasive. These are some of the most common:

  • Car polish
  • Furniture polish
  • Carnauba
  • Wenol

For non-lacquered saxophones, it's not usually recommended to use any polish unless there are scratches.

In this article, we'll analyze the options enumerated above, along with additional considerations to keep in mind when polishing your saxophone.

Related articles:
• Top 11 Best Saxophone Brands On The Market
• Top 11 Benefits Of Learning & Playing Saxophone

Top 11 Best Online Resources To Learn How To Play Saxophone

Why Polish A Saxophone?

The answer to this question should be obvious, but we find it useful to address some facts and myths related to polishing a saxophone and its effects.

For starters, polishing a saxophone will not improve its tone, or at least to a discernible degree. It could improve the way it feels in hand and, therefore, its playability, though, admittedly, this is a subjective appreciation.

One of the main effects of polishing a saxophone is that it rids the surface of corrosive/tarnishing agents. Tarnish forms an irregular surface that will look and feel dull. Meanwhile, as we polish, we remove the tarnish and traces of sulphur lingering on the horn, rendering thus a healthy glow and eliminating the threat (momentarily).

Polishing also helps with scratches. If your saxophone's material is scratched, you'd have to buff it until it's levelled. Keep in mind that, in this case, by polishing the saxophone, you are causing the surface to wear out, exposing the material underneath (which has not been damaged or contaminated by the environment yet).

Due to this “wear” effect, unlacquered saxophones – particularly plated or made of brass – should not be subjected to polishing chemicals, and you should refrain from using any type of strong abrasives.

You must never apply polish on plated saxophones precisely for that reason. If you wish to clean your plated or unlacquered saxophone, employing soapy water should be enough to get rid of stuck gunk.

To learn more about saxophone lacquer, scratches and plating, check out the following My New Microphone articles:
• Why Are Saxophones Lacquered & What Does Lacquer Do?
• Is It Possible To Unlacquer A Saxophone, And If So, How?
Can Scratches Be Removed From A Saxophone, And If So, How?

Are Saxophones Gold Plated?

What Products Can I Use To Polish A Saxophone?

Earlier, I listed commonly utilized products for saxophone polishing needs. Let's go over each item and more in greater detail.

Can Car Polish Be Used To Polish A Saxophone?

As the name might give out, these are products specific for flattening a car's paint coat. Since car paint is overly delicate, car polishing products are only mildly abrasive, so they should work well with other surfaces that also require special treatment, such as those of lacquered saxophones.

You need to make sure to apply just a small amount. You wouldn't want to end up with wax accumulations that could gather dirt and get to the instrument's moving parts.

Some examples of car polish include 3D Speed (link to check the price on Amazon), which also renders a protective wax layer, and Chemical Guys Gap_106_16 (link to check the price on Amazon), which is a bit cheaper than 3D Speed but works just as well.

Can Furniture Polish Be Used To Polish A Saxophone?

This is another type of polish that's marketed toward soft surfaces. Lemon Pledge (link to check the price on Amazon) is the most iconic example of a mild abrasive used for furniture that could perfectly play the role of saxophone polish.

It can even be used to clean the leather pads, so there is no danger of hampering the mechanism, and it leaves a fresh lemon scent behind to boot.

Can Carnauba Wax Be Used To Polish A Saxophone?

Carnauba wax, also known as Brazil wax, is a vegetable wax derived from Brazilian carnauba palms. It's used to polish a wide variety of surfaces, including leather and car paint. It's also widely utilized in cosmetics.

Being a type of wax, and just as was explained when we covered the car polish, carnauba should be applied moderately, making sure to leave no buildups across the instrument as you buff.

If you wish to use carnauba wax on your horn, you could try 3D Carnauba Wax (link to check the price on Amazon) or Griot's Garage 11029 Premium Carnauba Paste Wax (link to check the price on Amazon).

Can Wenol Be Used To Polish A Saxophone?

Wenol (link to check the price at MusicMedic) is one of the few polishing chemicals available at MusicMedic. It comes in a toothpaste-style presentation, and it's advertised particularly for tarnished instruments. Its viscosity is particularly useful if you don't want any of it to gather around moving pieces and pads.

The vendor claims it works with all types of metal surfaces such as brass, silver, chrome, copper, and aluminum, among others. This product also provides surface protection against any corrosive compounds and elements.

What About A Water-Alcohol Solution? (for Tarnished Silver)

Although technically, this is not a polish, it's a highly versatile and user-friendly homemade mix that serves a similar purpose.

The isopropyl in rubbing alcohol effectively removes stains and dissolves tarnish, which is the darkened layer that forms mostly on silver when exposed to sulphur-containing compounds.

To eliminate tarnish, mix in a small bowl or jar equal parts water and rubbing alcohol (also called isopropyl alcohol) to form the solution. Then, rub on the tarnished area with a cotton swab until the darkened layer is wholly removed.

However, if your silver saxophone is “naked” or unlacquered (which is very common), you would have to apply metal polish to the tarnished sections for more effective removal.

What About Brasso?

Some readers may be wondering why Brasso isn't on the list, considering a high percentage of saxophones are made of brass.

Brasso is a very powerful abrasive that removes tarnish from a wide array of metals, and it does so quite aggressively. Your saxophone's engravings, keywork, and lacquer could be greatly affected as a result, not only because of the abrasiveness of the product but also because it tends to leave a white residue that takes a long time to buff out.

The reason Brasso is so eroding is because of its ammonia content. Owners of gold and silver-plated saxophones and those of lacquered horns should avoid attempting to polish their woodwinds with Brasso.

This article has been approved in accordance with the My New Microphone Editorial Policy.


Arthur is the owner of Fox Media Tech and the author of My New Microphone. He's an audio engineer by trade and works on contract in his home country of Canada. When not blogging on MNM, he's likely hiking outdoors and blogging at Hikers' Movement (hikersmovement.com) or producing music. For more info, please check out his YouTube channel and his music.

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