Posted by Rick Denney on October 26, 2003 at 21:20:49:
In Reply to: restoring options posted by Anthony on October 26, 2003 at 19:24:21:
Sousaphones are used by most institutions to make their band look good. Thus, good looks on a sousaphone get a high reward on the used market. The instruments that most of us value most are those that don't look good but that play really well.
If yours plays really well, then enjoy it. You can make it look good enough by polishing out the bell. Strip off the old lacquer, polish the bell with Wenol and lots of elbow grease, and don't handle it too much. Occasional repolishings will keep it shiny. From a distance, it will probably look fine.
If the lacquer is only partly missing, try something like Nevr-Dull, which won't remove the old lacquer but which will polish up the bare spots. Again, it will pass the 50-foot test.
But if you want it restored, you'll be best served by having it restored. Go look at Taylor Music (1800USABand.com, as I recall) and see what they get for an econo-overhauled sousaphone. I think it's getting close to three grand. That gives you an idea what it costs. And if it costs that much for a pro to do it, that gives you a clue that it is lots of work and requires lots of skill to do it right.
I have three BBb tubas and only one of them has any lacquer on it at all. I polish the bare spots and it looks fine from the audience. The other two are fading to a rich brown, and they look fine from the audience, too. If they need to look better, I polish the bell down to about shoulder-high, which is the only part the audience usually sees.
Rick "thinking a yearly application of Wenol is much easier than homebrew lacquer" Denney