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Silver plating information

Hello Orchidland,

A music professor friend asked me about silverplating the metal keys
on an older clarinet. The existing plating is wearing thin and the
base metal (he thinks it is brass) is showing through. As he is
retired, cost is a consideration.

I don’t do any plating and so am asking all you wonderful people for
advice. Many thanks in advance,

Judy in Kansas, where the weather is beautiful and football is the
foremost topic of conversation!

Judy M. Willingham, R.S.
B.A.E. 147 Seaton Hall
Kansas State University
Manhatttan KS 66506
(785) 532-2936 FAX (785) 532-6944

Judy, While visiting a few shows, I saw a machine that easily plates
various materials rather easily.

The demonstrations were to market the device, and were very
tempting. They were showing the potential earning power in this very
portable device.

Perhaps someone with a better memory than mine can give you more

As I remember it, the keys could be plated in place with no harm to
the instrument itself.

Good luck,


I would assume that platers would work on instruments, but I have to
admit, this is a good questions. Especially since the brass will
show again, depending on how much the clarinet is played. Have you
spoken to a music store? Can the keys be removed for plating? If
they can, I work with a plater in Woburn, MA called Patrick J. Gill.
Mostly they restore and plate ecumenical ware. They can be found

Besides the usual plating of holloware, they like the odd job. They
are listed on the Metalwerx Resource page

Good luck.

Karen Christians
50 Guinan St.
Waltham, MA 02451
Ph. 781/891-3854 Fax 3857
Jewelry/Metalarts School & Cooperative Studio

Hi Judy,

Having worked with claris a bit myself, I can safely tell you it is
unlikely the keys are brass.

If it is very old, the keys will likely be “potmetal”. Nasty stuff
to work with.

If it is more recent, the keys are likely to be nickel.

Either way, replating can be done relatively easily (though I would
get it done prefessionally). The tricky bit is the plating will
change the dimensions of they key, this may cause problems. If your
friend is a music professor though, I assume that he would know this
and would be prepared. Who knows, he may even be correct on the
brass keys - although I doubt it.

Good Luck!


It can be easily done but the keys will need to be removed and the
pads removed from the keys, all of which should be done by a trained
instrument technician who will also be able to re-plate them or know
who to send them to for re-plating. It should not be attempted by a
novice or someone unfamiliar with instrument repair as the mechanism
can be easily damaged by someone who is not familiar with it.

Jim Binnion

James Binnion Metal Arts
Phone (360) 756-6550
Toll Free (877) 408 7287
Fax (360) 756-2160

Member of the Better Business Bureau

Brush plating might work, but you would still have to be concerned
about stray solution caught between the metal and the wood.