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blindboygrunt

Mouldy guitars

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Here are a couple of threads dealing with a musty old case. I've tried everything sort of replacing the fabric. Some of this might relate to a moldy guitar, perhaps not. I think the first step is finding out how to kill the mold spores.

 

http://www.acousticguitarforum.com/forums/showthread.php?t=375763

http://www.acousticguitarforum.com/forums/showthread.php?t=376928

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I think the moldy guitar smell originates from the case. The way I deal with a moldy case is.... replace it! If the smelly case is an original or classic, store it away for "resale" purposes.

 

A good guitar cleaning, giving it as much fresh air as resonable, and storage in a new case should solve the main problem. Any old guitar, especially a "box" guitar (acoustic, archtop, etc), will have an "old guitar" smell (I just went and sniffed my 1947 L-7), but that is different than the moldy smell.

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Loaned my 1974 J-50 to a friend who was visiting from the EU a number of years ago. As soon as I opened the case, she had a strong reaction to the moldy smell, she has a lot of allergies and is very sensitive. We decided it was primarily from the case, which was the original P.O.S. chipboard and had been stored in various musty closets and basements for quite some time. I took the case back home and she kept the guitar in the open and was fine. When I got home, i sprayed the case heavily with Lysol and that seemed to get rid of the smell. Also sprayed Lysol inside the guitar soundhole when she was done with it.

 

I no longer use that old case, and the guitar is in a new case that doesn't smell. I think the mold did some permanent damage to the finish though, it turned very dark even though the guitar was kept in the case for years and not exposed to sunlight. There are also mold stains than won't come off the orange Gibson label inside the soundhole.

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It isn't tried and true but if it happened to me the first thing I would consider would be to do no(further)harm. So I'd go to a pet store and get a bag of cedar chips and shavings like are used in hamster cages, since cedar is an aromatic and resistant to fungus and rot, and I'd fill up the body of the guitar with those things and let it sit for a week or so. I've used cedar blocks instead of mothballs for years for my woolens and the smell permeates the clothes and the drawers and I have no problems with parasites. Just a thought. Oh yeh, remove the chips before playing or you might kind of muffle the tone a bit!

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Oh yeh, remove the chips before playing or you might kind of muffle the tone a bit!

Not going to matter - it's a Gibson.

 

BBG - have you tried swapping out the socks for fresh ones? Sometimes the go bad.

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I had a 1950s Lifton case that had been stored in a basement for years. I tried everything from bounce drier sheets to baking power and cinnamon. What finally worked as that spray you use to clean up dog pee in a carpet and some sunshine.

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I had a 1950s Lifton case that had been stored in a basement for years. I tried everything from bounce drier sheets to baking power and cinnamon. What finally worked as that spray you use to clean up dog pee in a carpet and some sunshine.

 

First, I would remove all strings. Get the vacuum cleaner and place a thick and soft sock on the tip of the hose, then clean the inside as much as you can. Then, fill the guitar with loose dry rice (equivalent to a regular bag); cover the hole with a piece of cardboard taped on top of the hole to stay in place. Shake the guitar (vigorously if the guitar isn't equipped with any electronics - or be gentle if you do), up, down, sideways, for a few minutes; empty the guitar by discarding the rice and make sure no grain is left inside - this process is to loosen any mold/mildew or fungus stuck inside. Try to inspect the inside with a mirror to spot where the mold/mildew/fungus got stock to and where.

 

I have frequently used a product called "Nature's Miracle" sold at pet stores. It is a pet stain cleaner safe for most surfaces, including porous woods. My cousin brought me some old guitars he had bought at flea markets that were seriously contaminated with "mold" (and I'm highly allergic to mold), so I've used that liquid to clean them all and it didn't leave any residue and it removed the black spots completely. Spray a bit on a rag cloth and try to clean up the specific spots. Once all dark spots have been removed, get a new rag cloth and spray again some Nature's Miracle on it and clean the entire inside of the guitar (be careful to not dampen the wood!). Let the guitar rest for at least 6 to 12 hours.

 

Then, just like Mountainpicker mentioned, get a bag of cedar chips and shavings made for hamster cages and fill the guitar. Let it rest for a good 24 to 48 hours, then empty out the guitar completely and re-string it...and enjoy!

 

This should fix the problem once and for all.

 

Good luck and please let us know how it goes. :)

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Loaned my 1974 J-50 to a friend who was visiting from the EU a number of years ago. As soon as I opened the case, she had a strong reaction to the moldy smell, she has a lot of allergies and is very sensitive. We decided it was primarily from the case, which was the original P.O.S. chipboard and had been stored in various musty closets and basements for quite some time. I took the case back home and she kept the guitar in the open and was fine. When I got home, i sprayed the case heavily with Lysol and that seemed to get rid of the smell. Also sprayed Lysol inside the guitar soundhole when she was done with it.

 

I no longer use that old case, and the guitar is in a new case that doesn't smell. I think the mold did some permanent damage to the finish though, it turned very dark even though the guitar was kept in the case for years and not exposed to sunlight. There are also mold stains than won't come off the orange Gibson label inside the soundhole.

 

You don't think any of those stains and color changes had anything to do with spraying Lysol inside the guitar?!

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Once all dark spots have been removed, get a new rag cloth and spray again some Nature's Miracle on it and clean the entire inside of the guitar (be careful to not dampen the wood!). Let the guitar rest for at least 6 to 12 hours.

 

Sounds like great advice Josee.

 

How do you keep from "dampening the wood"? Just spray it lightly on the rag and rub a little, let it dry a little, then repeat?

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You don't think any of those stains and color changes had anything to do with spraying Lysol inside the guitar?!

 

No, because they were there long before that happened. ;)

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Sounds like great advice Josee.

 

How do you keep from "dampening the wood"? Just spray it lightly on the rag and rub a little, let it dry a little, then repeat?

 

Correct. :) It is to avoid saturation. I noticed that mold & mildew tend to chose specific hard to reach areas inside the guitar, most common spot is at the bottom end (top bracing and the back).

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At first I thought this thread was going to be about Bob Mould's guitars.

 

Problem is, the mold spores have to be killed. Much of what is being recommended only covers up the smell. I guess could throw a quart or so of silica gel in the case to absorb the moisture. They make a variety that turns pink when it is saturated. Not the cheapest or the quickest way to go though. The dog pee spray actually will kill many mold spoors. But after 40 years of preserving historic buildings, I can safely say the best way to get rid of those nasty little spoors remains ventilation and a whole lot of sun light.

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