This blog is dedicated to the sublime instruments called nose flutes and which produce the most divine sound ever. We have chosen to discard all the native models from S. Pacific and Asia, for they need fingering to be played. We'll concentrate on "buccal cavity driven" nose flutes : the well patented and trademarked metal or plastic ones, plus, by a condemnable indulgence, some wooden craft or home-made productions.

Dec 2, 2012

Humanatone Chrome Plating

A bit trickier: electroplating chrome. My idea is to gently restore a vintage Humanatone which was chrome plated (it still shows traces of that plating). The nose flute is dented and scratched, rather rusty. So, my goal is not to get a brand new vintage Humanatone, but an instrument that looks a bit better and protected from further oxydation attacks.

But chrome plating a tin object is not a simple operation. The item must be gold plated first, then chromed. And since gold plating solution is expensive, a electrolyte bath is out my (financial) power. For that reason, I will use a plating pen: an anod that is dipped into the plating solution and directly applied on the nose flute, itself conected to the negative pin of the rectifier. With this pen, plating needs very very few solution.

First, I removed all the rust by dipping the flute in a dedicated product (Rustyco), and buffed it with very soft steel wool (#0000). Then prepared the surface with a desoxyder/degreaser electolyte (Acticlean).

Immediately afterwards, I began the gold electroplating session. A hyper-thin coat of gold precipitates and adheres to the tin surface. It is applied with a 6-7 V tension, the bubbles are microscopic, but it's far better not inhale the gazes. This should be done under a hood or wearing a mask in a ventilated place.

The result is great!

Since this plating is just temporary, let's have some pictures as souvenirs...:) Note, however, that the plating is not toyally even and smooth because the surface wasn't before. Note also that the pewter solderings didn't capture gold.

Then, the chrome plating. The chrome solution is also a poison. But it's plating is much more nasty than gold. The solution should be warm (25°C/77°F) and applied with a 8 to 12 V tension. With those tensions, numerous bubbles form (kind of ebullition) and a poisonous smoke is clearly visible while plating. This *must* be done with protections (hood and gaz mask).

I used a steel anod with a fluffy bit. The chrome precipitate rather quickly, but not as evenly as gold. More, it immediately oxydizes and turn deep brown, so you cannot check easily if you plated it well. Chrome plating with a pen is a bit difficult, as the surface is not totally smooth.

Watch this very short video to hear the ebullition sound and watch the nasty smokes...:

When the plating operation is over, the Humanatone was ugly, covered with a disgusting dark brown coating. It has to be rinced with water (spare the rincing liquid in a bottle and bring it to a waste center, don't throw it anywhere!!!). When rinced, the flute got a dark and dull apparel.

But finally, by rubbing with a soft cloth and some cleaning product, the shiny appeared! I am glad with the result: my Humanatone still looks vintage and not artificial. It just is like a vintage one that would not have lost its chrome plating. And it is now protected from rust (anyway, I spread a gentle coat of lemon oil on it).


  1. Brilliant result!!! You did a grand job, as ever.
    The last picture, in this year's early snow, is one of those I would love to have hanging on my wall!!!

  2. Thank you Maikel! I can send you the high-res pic if you want it... just tell me

  3. My dad gave me his when I was about 6 years old. It languished in my catchall drawers until my ex-wife threw it away. I think she didn't mean to. Now I'd like to buy one, can you give me a price? Send to