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Brass whistles making fingers smell
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Author:  zaulden [ Wed Oct 10, 2018 11:56 am ]
Post subject:  Brass whistles making fingers smell

I've got a set of Tony Dixon Trad whistles in brass in a few keys.

These whistles are awesome; I even like the tarnishing that happens where my fingers rest because it makes them look more antique.

However, they leave an odor on my fingers - like I was digging through a piggie bank sorting through old coins. I need to wash my hands after playing, and if I played for a particularly long time, even that doesn't quite get rid of all the odor.

As far as I can tell, these Dixon whistles are pretty much untreated brass (there's no varnish or clear coat on top or any plating).

Does anyone have any tips? As these get more and more tarnished will the odor fade? Or is this just part of the deal with these kind of brass whistles? Thanks.

Author:  benhall.1 [ Wed Oct 10, 2018 1:09 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Brass whistles making fingers smell

zaulden wrote:
I've got a set of Tony Dixon Trad whistles in brass in a few keys.

These whistles are awesome; I even like the tarnishing that happens where my fingers rest because it makes them look more antique.

However, they leave an odor on my fingers - like I was digging through a piggie bank sorting through old coins. I need to wash my hands after playing, and if I played for a particularly long time, even that doesn't quite get rid of all the odor.

As far as I can tell, these Dixon whistles are pretty much untreated brass (there's no varnish or clear coat on top or any plating).

Does anyone have any tips? As these get more and more tarnished will the odor fade? Or is this just part of the deal with these kind of brass whistles? Thanks.

I have to say, I have never experienced that in my life.

Author:  DrPhill [ Wed Oct 10, 2018 1:26 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Brass whistles making fingers smell

It is not unheard of: https://chemistry.stackexchange.com/que ... opper#7917

Author:  Nanohedron [ Wed Oct 10, 2018 1:35 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Brass whistles making fingers smell

benhall.1 wrote:
I have to say, I have never experienced that in my life.

I know what zaulden's talking about. It's the scent distinctive of copper, which is a component of brass. I have no idea if everyone gets the scent transfer to the fingertips, but I know I do. Might have something to do with bodily pH; I discovered that my own sweat (and I sweat a lot) was very reactive to the brass fittings on my pipes; after playing on a hot day and sweat dripping from my face onto the stock, if I didn't wipe it off right away the brass would have stubborn green streaks on it before the day was out! No one else I knew seemed to have the same issue.

EDIT: DrPhill's link seems to bear out my assumption that bodily pH has much to do with it.

All in all, though, I never found the brass smell on my fingers to be distressing; I just assumed it would go away, and sure enough, sooner or later it did, so I thought little of it. Maybe I'm just a savage.

Author:  Tyler DelGregg [ Wed Oct 10, 2018 1:38 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Brass whistles making fingers smell

From my experience, brass does have a tendency to leave my hands smelling like brass, which is similar to the smell of copper pennies. I just accept it as part of the game, but washing my hands afterwards eliminates all traces of brass-smell. There is a catch however, and this is my unscientific opinion. If there is a particular smell that a person finds really unpleasant, that smell could linger somewhere in the brains and your nose imagines that the smell exists even after washing. This happened to me for days after I buried a large, decomposing pet dog years ago. I couldn't get the smell out of my head, and thus my nose was still picking up the scent. I hope this is not the case for you. I do know musicians who play aluminum or nickel to avoid the brass smell. Wood has its own earthy smell that I like. My Anak whistles have blackwood heads that smell earthy and pleasant. I find thin walled brass tone bodies to smell more than thicker walled brass. For example, my Generation has a strong smell, but the Burke smells a little less. I suppose trombone players walk around smelling like brass all over.

Author:  zaulden [ Wed Oct 10, 2018 2:11 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Brass whistles making fingers smell

I'm glad to know this isn't only me.

So I guess my options are threefold:
1) Sell my Tony Dixon Trad brass whistles and instead get aluminum, nickel, plastic, etc. I have a brass-coated-with-nickel Oak that gives me no odor issues. Same with the couple silver-colored Generations I have.
2) Just deal with the smell.
3) Put some kind of clear coat on top of the brass - is this even a good idea?

Author:  Mr.Gumby [ Wed Oct 10, 2018 3:15 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Brass whistles making fingers smell

Isn't the trad available in nickel?

Anyhow, a lot of whistles have a coating, varnish or whatever that stops the smelling problem of brass. Generations always had that. So a clear varnish would do the job, a friend who worked on clocks used to varnish brass but I have no idea what product she used.

Another option could be a micro crystalline wax, Renaisance wax, on the metal. I use that on the metal parts of my pipes, keeps the regulator keys clean. Works fine.

Author:  zaulden [ Wed Oct 10, 2018 3:23 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Brass whistles making fingers smell

The Dixon Trad comes in nickel but it's a bit harder to find in the various keys. Dixon directly only seems to stock brass. Some other dealers have some nickel in stock, but it doesn't seem like Dixon is necessarily making those a lot.

I don't have a dealer locally so I had no idea about the brass odor issues.

I may have to think a bit more about a clear coat. I would hate to ruin the resale value of these, though.

Author:  Nanohedron [ Wed Oct 10, 2018 4:03 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Brass whistles making fingers smell

Mr.Gumby wrote:
Another option could be a micro crystalline wax, Renaisance wax, on the metal. I use that on the metal parts of my pipes, keeps the regulator keys clean. Works fine.

How often do you apply it?

Author:  fatmac [ Thu Oct 11, 2018 1:43 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Brass whistles making fingers smell

I tend to agree that it is a result of your body oils/chemicals reacting with the brass, I get a very metallic kind of smell on my fingers too, but it doesn't last long, so I don't worry about it.

After having a little trouble getting used to the shorter beaks, (compared to my Generations/Feadog), I'm beginning to like these Trad brass whistles. :)

Author:  Mr.Gumby [ Thu Oct 11, 2018 2:04 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Brass whistles making fingers smell

Quote:
How often do you apply it?


I applied it nearly two years ago. Still looks fine.

Author:  Wanderer [ Thu Oct 11, 2018 11:51 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Brass whistles making fingers smell

I don't have a brass Dixon, but I used to run into the same thing with my brass Copeland I once owned.

The worst part of the Copeland was the entire whistle except the fipple plug was brass, not just the body. So it also left a taste on my lips after extending playing. I eventually got used to it.

Author:  Nanohedron [ Thu Oct 11, 2018 12:55 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Brass whistles making fingers smell

Mr.Gumby wrote:
Quote:
How often do you apply it?

I applied it nearly two years ago. Still looks fine.

I'm surprised. I wouldn't have thought a wax would have lasted that long under handling.

Author:  busterbill [ Sat Oct 13, 2018 5:36 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Brass whistles making fingers smell

I'm just curious if you get the smell off a whistle you use daily or just on ones you use occasionally. I experience it on whistles I don't play often. But if I am playing the whistle every day it I don't. So I just chalked it up to light tarnish. Does it help if you do a light rub with a cloth before playing? I've seen some players do that before they play and after. I assumed they were trying to avoid tarnish and/or tasting tarnish. I'd honestly be more concerned with what I was absorbing off an aluminum whistle. My body ph seems to react more to aluminum.

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