Is there a way to "remove" engraving from a brass musical instrument?
April 25, 2010 6:04 PM   Subscribe

Is there a way to "remove" engraving from a brass musical instrument?

My parents thoughtfully purchased a new Yamaha euphonium for me in the late 1980s. Because I no longer play this instrument, I would like to sell or donate it to someone who will. It is more or less the same as this one - the design hasn't changed much in the past 20 years or so. The horn is silver in color.

The problem? My father, wonderful man that he is, rented an engraving tool and etched my name and Social Security number on the lower part of the bell of the horn, a little above the valves. Identity theft was not quite the concern then that it is now, and he thought that this would help someone return the euphonium to me if it were lost.

Is there a way to "reverse" the engraving - presumably by filling in the etching with some sort of material - that would not dramatically affect either the appearance or playability of the instrument? Is there a plate I could affix to the horn to cover up my personal information... and be moderately assured that it would remain covered? The cheaper the solution, the better, but I will certainly spend money if doing so is more likely to yield an appropriate result.

Thanks for any thoughts. I did not find this thread particularly useful or applicable.
posted by cheapskatebay to Grab Bag (8 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
There is no kind of plate you could attach to the instrument, particularly at that place on it, that would not affect the sound. And although I am not an expert in engraving, I am an expert in musical instruments and I feel comfortable guessing that the same will be true of any kind of "filler" material that you would apply to the engraving.

It might help you to get a better answer if you specified why you did not find the iPod thread useful or applicable. To my eye, the problems are quite similar—except that if anything, yours is trickier, because who cares how much you scratch or what you affix to the back of an iPod. The preferred answer in that thread seemed to be "engrave over it," which would be my first thought for your problem.

If you haven't already, I would suggest you investigate the likely selling price for your particular instrument before going too far down the road of fixing the engraving. In my experience, it is quite common for people selling instruments to get very far along in the process before discovering that the instruments are worth less than they expected.

Good luck—and good story!
posted by cribcage at 6:17 PM on April 25, 2010

Engrave lines all over the number. Either that or buff it off with a Dremel.
posted by fire&wings at 6:23 PM on April 25, 2010

It won't be pretty, but you could always use an engraving tool to cross-out what is already engraved.
posted by ShooBoo at 6:25 PM on April 25, 2010

If dad still has that engraving tool, use it to change the numbers around,
posted by hortense at 6:46 PM on April 25, 2010

How deep is the engraving? You can't buff too much metal away before changing the sound of the instrument either, so total erasure is probably also off the table unless it's a very light scratch he made.

What do you mean by "it's the same as" a YEP-321? If you mean "silver with four valves," that's one thing. If you mean "kind of crummy (sorry) intermediate model euph" then that's a different thing entirely. I would try to find someone who did professional engraving, ideally on instruments or at least on non-flat surfaces, and see if they can do the rework-my-tattoo-so-it-doesn't-say-"Property of DAVE"-anymore trick. That is, engrave a heavy spiderweb or something to make the original numbers illegible. Around my parts that would be Shires1, don't know who it is where you are.

1Full disclosure: I'm a Shires sponsored artist and helped design that trumpet, but they're still the best instrument engravers within 200 miles of my house.
posted by range at 7:33 PM on April 25, 2010

Just change a few numbers. A 1 can be changed to 4 or 7; you can add numbers at either end, etc.
posted by weapons-grade pandemonium at 8:11 PM on April 25, 2010

Like fire&wings says, the quick solution is spelled: DREMEL.

I also have a euphonium I inherited from my dad (not making this up)(not a Yamaha). I keep it in a closet.
posted by ovvl at 8:28 PM on April 25, 2010

Response by poster: Thanks, all. I'll investigate the Dremel or additional engraving to alter what was etched.

cribcage, my concern with the iPod question was that I was worried about affecting the sound... it seems like that concern is overblown. It's not like the etching my father did seemed to affect the sound.

My current thought is to donate this instrument to a middle or high school. range, it is indeed a 20-something-year-old YEP-321, so not the fanciest horn available by any means. Maybe some present-day 8th grader can coax seven or eight years out of it, like I did.

Thank you again, everyone.
posted by cheapskatebay at 10:05 AM on April 26, 2010

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