Like many of you I have on occasion “touched up” a scratched synth with a black Sharpie. While it works it’s far from a long-term solution.
I recently went searching for alternatives and came across a better solution IMO.
Birchwood Casey Aluminum Black Metal Finish
(no I don’t have any connection to them)
You can get this stuff at Amazon or lots of other places. Instead of a paint this is actually an acid that bites into the aluminum and darkens it substantially.
I went through some trial and error but found it to be effective in making my TS-10 look quite a bit nicer.
1 - Be sure to thoroughly clean any area that needs to be blackened with a degreasing agent. Alcohol or Windex will do.
2 - Then rub the area gently with a dry paper towel. Optimally you are supposed to prep the surface with steel wool to remove the thin layer of aluminum oxide (aka sapphire). I found the dry paper towel thing was enough.
3 - Apply the (water-thin) fluid to a Q-tip and rub this into the area. Be careful not to apply too much and have it run all over or into your synth!!!
4 - Let it dry
5 - Apply the solution again, rubbing it onto the same area with the Q-tip.
6 - This time wipe it away before it dries to get a more even finish.
Repeat 3 thru 6 as necessary.
For deep scratches I found that leaving a small amount of the fluid on the scratch for a while allows the acid to into the aluminum. You will actually see some bubbling if you look closely. Follow this with steps 5 and 6.
Be patient. I did this multiple times for some scratches.
For light scratches and marks in the aluminum this technique practically erased some of the issues on my face plate. This will not erase deep scratches but they certainly look better dark than bright silver.
It’s about as close as you get to the original anodized look. The acid solution doesn’t leave behind a volume of material like paint does. So the original grain and texture of the metal is left intact which draws a lot less attention than a layer of paint no matter how thin. While the scratches on my TS are now dark scratches, some of the marred areas look like new again. I’m quite pleased.
DISCLAIMER: Try this on some small portion of your synth that isn’t so obvious if your first attempt doesn’t come out like you wish. DON’T BLAME ME if you don’t like the results. I’m just trying to help old synth owners (and owners of old synths) restore the look of their machines a bit.
WARNING: According to the label, THIS IS SOME TOXIC CRAP. Keep it off your skin and away from kids and pets!!!
Hopefully this will help some of you whose old metal monsters are showing their age. This may work on steel but I didn’t try that.
I should have taken some before/after shots but… I didn’t.
If you have a plastic synth, get out the Sharpie.