Ask Dave: Who Should I Trust to Re-Plate My Mouthpieces and Rims?
A curious reader asks:
I have several mouthpieces and rims that need to be re-plated. Should I trust local sources such as jewelers to have it done, or should I send them to a mouthpiece maker? I hate for them to be sitting around unusable.
Your best bet is to send them to a mouthpiece maker who will strip them chemically, and then clean and re-plate them.
Why a mouthpiece maker?
You know how carefully a mouthpiece is made, how accurately its profile is determined and the mouthpiece is turned and plated. Anything you do to remove the old plating and add new plating can change (will change!) that profile.
A competent maker will know this, and will take care to strip all and only the old silver plating, and will also know not to buff and polish the surface so as to change the profile of the mouthpiece.
The other parameter is how much silver will go on to the mouthpiece, and this is where the jeweler could possibly either under-plate or over-plate. A mouthpiece maker will know about how much silver plate will sufficiently cover without reducing the inside profile of the mouthpiece.
After you do your research and pick someone to do the work, I suggest you send one or two mouthpieces at a time. Send the ones you could afford to lose first, and then test them when they come back to be sure the work is to your standard.
A jeweler might be able to do a good job, but good results are far more likely if you have the work done by someone who knows the needs of the musician.