Tried Cleaning / Polishing Some Cymbals: REALLY Disappointing

Old Dog

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So I picked up some Paiste Dark Energy 14" hats. And a 17" Zildjian K thin crash recently. The bottom hat and the K were just funky as heck. Broke out the Zildjian polish. 2nd time I've used this product. First time was this past winter after picking up my vintage Zildjians. I first cleaned the cymbals with lemons and white vinegar in the tub. Got a LOT of funk and gunk gone. But the Zildjian polish had basically NO effect at all. Got rid of some gunk, but added not a bit of shine.

FFWD to today. Did not have lemons, decided to simply use the polish again. HORRID, USELESS.

I notice someone used sandpaper in a different thread started earlier this year. And, I saw some vids. . .


So this guy rigs up a drill press I think. Uses a sanding bar/pad. This was on a cymbal that was DANG old. He said 30 years or more. It was definitely 50 yrs old or more. As you can see, the cymbal looked AMAZING! There is no before and after sound test. Obviously, it removed any "finish", that had been applied.

In cleaning a cymbal with sandpaper or a scratch pad, etc---what are the bad things that can happen? Rust? Sonic differences?

I mean, I worked up a sweat trying to clean these suckers! Not lacking effort at all. Results are definitely disappointing.

I plan on trying different products. Brasso, (suggestions).

Anyone tried Buckaroo Cymbal cleaner???

I have some polishing attachments for my drill, just not too sure about using them on some darn cymbals.
 

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Cliff DeArment

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I've said many things about the video above. From Avedis himself... "Under no circumstances have your cymbals buffed by other than an expert. Heat generated from buffing can remove the temper and cause the cymbal to become brittle and susceptible to cracking."

Edit: It's also (or was) a pre-war gem.
 
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CaptainCrunch

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A: Twine is not a safety device. That guy is going to chop himself in half eventually

B: Those videos make me cringe for the same reason as videos of vintage cars being crushed. You’re just watching the not-ruined ones become more valuable.

There’s plenty of things in this world where I don’t know what I’m talking about. I’ve never felt an urge to post videos on YouTube where I really drive that point home.
 

Old Dog

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I don't plan on doing this. I don't even own a drill press. My curiosity was mainly about using abrasives in cleaning and polishing cymbals. I've bought some used cymbals lately.

The point of my thread is to get some recommendations on seriously cleaning some used cymbals. I don't necessarily want them so shiny they look new. But I want the funk and crap gone.

Tons of people have used Bar Keeper's Friend to clean cymbals, Brasso, etc. But I get some posts on other sites saying that's horrible. If you use BKF, you need to counteract the acidic nature of it by using warm water and baking soda, etc, etc. The same guy said use a bristly brush and dawn dish soap.

I don't want to damage my cymbals. I do want to clean them though.
 

Hop

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That guy was using some serious abrasives, and even though he moved in graduated steps I can guarantee you those cymbals were scratched badly (unless he later finished with a compound and buffing wheel, which the vid didn't go into). I base this on my recent experience cleaning my cymbals.

I recently pulled a set of Paistes out of storage and had some major issues on several of them due to the deteriorating case foam leaving a level-7 funk on them. I had to use a nylon brush to get the funk off and it did mark the surface. It's not really noticeable in the pics I posted in a thread, but is visible to the eye/in person. Here's the thread: https://www.drumforum.org/threads/i-got-yer-patina.161698/

I would be hesitant to use anything with abrasive like Bar Keeper's Friend... they can do a good job, but you have to very careful to always move in the direction of the lathing grooves or the abrasion marks will really stand out. I have used Brasso in the past but that was before I knew that Paiste put a light clear coat on their cymbals. Also I found Brasso a bit challenging to work with, lots of tarnish residue = extra polishing/rubbing (I get why folks employ a motorized solution!!!). I ended up switching to Ford Bright Metal Polish in the '80's as the chemical solution cleaned well, wiped off fairly easy and didn't make all the extra black tarnish work, and left a brilliant finish (I usually follow-up with a Teflon polish to "seal" the surface and aid in wipe down/finger print removal). That product isn't available any more - I used a GM variant for the recent polish job referenced above. These automotive products don't have abrasives in them, and work more on a chemical reaction versus having to primarily rely on elbow grease. However, rubbing/polishing (before the product dried completely) did produce brighter results in my experience.

If you really want them clean, I'd use something like Tarn-X as part of the cleaning process (I used it on the above referenced pies to get at that level-7 funk).
If I had a cymbal like the one in the video above I would:
1.) Wash with soap and water - wet the cymbal and use a liberal amount of Dawn dishwashing soap for surface dirt/grime removal; rinse and dry.
2.) Tarn-X the surface (in a ventilated room) - you can work in sections to make it more manageable - rinsing the sections as you go (basically to minimize the chemical reactions.
3.) Rinse and dry the cymbal - after chemical cleaning, rinse the entire surface (feel free to soap up again if you desire, but not really needed) and dry thoroughly.
4.) Clean/Polish the cymbal - apply an automotive type bright metal type product to clean, (I just avoid the abrasive ones - other than that the ingredients aren't all that different based on the MSDS's that I researched - ventilated room applies here too). Use a clean section of cleaning pad a oxidation/tarnish builds. Allow the product to dry and polish with soft cloth or towel for a bright shine.
5.) Seal the surface - use some type of automotive wax here, I prefer a Teflon type but even a coat of Carnuba will due. Just consider that more "natural" products like Carnuba wax will evaporate quicker and will need to be re-applied sooner compared to a Teflon or ceramic type.
 

Old Dog

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It would help to see your cymbal pics Old Dog. Then we'll know better what to recommend.
Cliff, I struggle with the picture resizing. I will try later. Basically, I bought a used 17" K thin crash. The underside has an entire black ring of fingerprints underneath. Really horrible. The Paiste top hat has a few minor spots, probably sweat. Nothing major. But, the bottom hat looks considerably better than the top. Just wanted to clean them up.

I missed the boat with the Zildjian polish. (IT'S FOR BRILLIANT CYMBALS). That went RIGHT over my head. It also says "Cleans, polishes.. . ." Cleans is actually the first word on the back of the bottle. But in my case, that was a farce. I'm a noob with cymbal care, which coincides with buying used cymbals.

I will take ALL POSTS into consideration.

But I'm going to start with some serious elbow grease and Dawn dish soap.
 

Seb77

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Dirt: soap, water, and a sponge/brush that's softer than the material you're working on.
Tape residue and other gue-y stuff might require some sort of chemical.
Bad patina/corrosion from fingerprints: before any chemicals, I would try lemon juice - or ketchup!
 

Old Dog

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Dirt: soap, water, and a sponge/brush that's softer than the material you're working on.
Tape residue and other gue-y stuff might require some sort of chemical.
Bad patina/corrosion from fingerprints: before any chemicals, I would try lemon juice - or ketchup!
When I got back into drumming this past winter, and picked up my vintage Zildjian. . .I decided to clean them. I used lemons, a small amount of white vinegar. I actually scrubbed with the lemons. I dried meticulously. And ALL of those cymbals are fine now. No weird reactions to the acid and oil in the lemons, or the vinegar. So, I may go back to that.

I didn't realize that some cymbal companies actually apply some sort of clear protective coating.
 

CaptainCrunch

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I believe most of them (Can’t speak much on modern Turkish stuff) do, though I don’t know for all lines. Modern Giant Beats actually do have a green-ish tint in person, for example.

So when you clean, say, a 5 year-old Sabian AA, or an 80’s 2002, you’re getting dirt off the clearcoat. Any overly aggressive method or product will take that off, and ironically, could actually lead to faster oxidization.
 

The Whale

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Dirt: soap, water, and a sponge/brush that's softer than the material you're working on.
Tape residue and other gue-y stuff might require some sort of chemical.
Bad patina/corrosion from fingerprints: before any chemicals, I would try lemon juice - or ketchup!
I've hear Ketchup is not good. But I've done lemon and even Coke-a Cola. I cleaned a Supraphonic once with Coke and it did the most amazing job lol.
 

Cliff DeArment

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Lemon is a somewhat stronger citric acid vs. vinegar, often used in ketchup.

Coke on bronze can sometimes cause a black color, do to the tannins in it. It's also phosphoric acid which acidifies other things like sugars for that tangy taste (can't say about a Supra). It also often comes from playing at a bar, not knowing it got on a cymbal until later. Really hard to get that black off. Sometimes it never will without something drastic.

Ketchup is the mildest of the 3, but if it sits too long it becomes a problem. For me, ketchup is the last resort.

Either way, it's good to be pretty careful with any acid. Always use gloves. Hand oils on acids change color to yellows. We might not notice it, but the stronger the acid (like BFK, even with gloves), and more often we use it, the more we'll see it. The yellow beast never goes away... ever.
 

Old Dog

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The ketchup thing, I've seen done a few times in vids. . .it really seems to alter their appearance. Plus, apparently the smell of letting it sit there for a day or more :confused4:

I'm just going to use these cleaning sponges I already had and some dish soap. The sponges are like those Mr. Clean deals but generic.
 

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