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Corrosive Sweat Problem?

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I've had a metal ended Crabb concertina brought to me which I suspect may be suffering the effects of corrosive sweat from the player's hands.


I saw this instrument a couple of years ago just before it's current owner obtained it and the ends were in nice condition with just the typical wear you'd expect to see on a vintage instrument.


The nickel ends and buttons now have a slight green hue all over and a rough dry feel to the surface almost like a very fine sandpaper.


More of a problem is the fact that this corrosion seens to have infiltrated to the reeds with many of the brass shoes coated in verdigris and some tongues displaying surface rust.


I'm not fully sure that sweaty hands could have this effect on the reeds so perhaps I'm wrong.


I'm just wondering if anyone else has had experience of this or found a way to cope with the ongoing problem?  


I'd imagine giving the instrument a wipe with a soft cloth after playing would certainly help but if there's any better approach I'd appreciate hearing details.





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Not everyone's  skin  secretions  are the same .  I'm  not a doctor and  cannot  quantify these  differences  but  as a Pipemaker  I  see  quite a variance  in the  affects on various metals  due  to  handling/ playing  by  my customers.  Luckily  for me  I  do  not suffer  from  a skin ph  which  causes  rapid  tarnishing  of  metals  that contain  copper  but some  people  do.


I  would also be interested  in  suggestions of how to  create  a barrier  between  players and their instruments   in these  situations.

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I think wiping your concertina is a secondary line of defense.  If you are a moist person, wiping and or drying your hands before and even during play ( between tunes) would be a good idea, but if it's getting to the reeds and shoes it may be an atmospheric problem.

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Thanks folks...it seems the owner does have a problem with a corrosive quality in their sweat

( I believe guitarist Rory Gallagher had similar and it ate through the finish on his Fender ).


Coupled with this the owner also goes out to an island to play in sessions so obviously the combination of both has caused the problems.


As an ongoing solution Im suggesting they wipe the instrument with a clean dry cloth after playing. Also keeping silica packs in the case to absorb any moisture.


Would fine cloth baffles be of any help to prevent airborne salt from penetrating to the reeds? Am reluctant to suggest this as I wouldn't want the sound to be altered in any way but if they  would prevent further problems it might be worth considering.





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I have noticed that some orchestral violinists' perspiration wears away the varnish where the heel of the hand contacts the top rib of the instrument. A very light coat of Renaissance Wax acts as a barrier to this and is easily replaced.



Edited by Mike Hulme
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The last time I had an eye test my optician remarked that I must have a slight nickel allergy as the frames were reacting to my sweat. Apparently  some  people suffer from this condition, in varying degrees, that seems to act in a self destructive loop. The allergy causes sweat, which then attacks the metal more, releasing more ions to aggravate the allergy.


i just try to keep the ends clean and wipe the finger tips to absorb sweat occasionally whilst playing a session.



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