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Cleaning a Nighthawk


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I got a well-used '93 Nighthawk off eBay today and I have to say, I think it is a lovely little guitar, IMO. My example, however, is well used. One of the (admittedly minor) issues is that the pickup covers/ surround are slightly tarnished. Were they originally supposed to be gold? Mine appear to be yellowy/silver. I am hoping they will smarten up with a little cleaning - what would you suggest to get the shine back and remove the tarnish without damaging anything?

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The covers were originally gold-plated. Gold, as you will know, is a very soft metal and the gold-plate on p'up covers wears off surprisingly quickly. Do not attempt to use any proprietary metal polish as this will do nothing but strip off even more of the plate. If you want to try to put a bit of shine back on then simply breathing a fine haze on and polishing-off with a non-abrasive, soft cloth is about as much as I'd recommend but nothing short of having the covers re-plated will return it to how it looked when new.

I agree that the Nighthawk is a lovely guitar. Very tonally versatile into the bargain. Congrats!


Edited by pippy
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My advice is to use nothing on the cloth that comes in this kit when wiping down the hardware - even if faded which definitely is the case (26+ year old guitar you are dealing with).  Use the polish for the finish and the fretboard conditioner for the fretboard obviously.  This will make your NH look as nice as it can.  I live and die by this stuff included in the kit for nitro finished guitars.  Unexpectedly got one of these restoration kits for a stocking stuffer during a Christmas and was impressed with it quite a bit.  Just working on my sales pitch here 🙂  But again, dry soft cloth like the one in this kit on the hardware.  The only other thing to do is to replate it or something if you want it to look brand spanking new.  I usually don't care as one of mine has faded gold HW too - just live with it, because as I play it, it will keep getting more and more faded.  I think aged hardware looks nice.  Let's you know the thing was actually played as IME, players' hands are the things that cause the gold fade.  Oh, and show pics! 

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OK so I took some very quick photos, sadly the weather here is a little overcast so I am not sure how well or how much detail one can make out from these pics but there you go...




OK, it's only the bog standard 2 pickup model but all in all, very happy - yes, it's a little beat up but then again, it is only 10 years or so younger than me.  Previous owner(s) were obviously very heavy strummers too given the teardrop shaped wear below the strings! It has obviously been well worn and well played - probably gigged as well I am guessing - you can see wear where a strap has been used and there is wear to the back of the neck too. Plays very nicely with the Blues Junior I got the other day too.

As suggested, I gave it a very light clean with some Dunlop polish and used Dr Duck's Axe Wax on the fretboard - it has cleaned up nicely and plays beautifully - gives some nice tonal variety to the usual Gibson sounds and I have to say, it doesn't feel like a Gibson either, if that makes sense. Puts me more in mind of a Fender in many respects.

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Beautiful NH you got there @Filbert!  I always liked the solid red specials.  The hardware looks typical - just wipe your prints off with a clean, soft (flannel-like) rag, and it's good for the gig.  Maybe try out that Gibson restoration kit and see what it does.  Don't need to use much of the finish restorative cream - rub it in to the nitro nice and good with another very soft rag and wipe with another soft rag to buff it a bit.  It will bring out the best in the finish.  For the neck, use lemon oil to clean it and then use the fretboard conditioner in the Gibson restoration kit afterwards - had great results with it that way. 

Anyhow, congratulations on the "new" NH.  They are great guitars and hope it gives you many years of enjoyment! 

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  • 3 weeks later...

UPS man has just been and Wow! The Blueshawk is in even better shape than I thought - some very minor dings and scratches but other than that, it is in superb condition. Photos really don't do it justice, the blue is a beautiful shade and then neck is ultra-playable. Five minutes in and I love it! Why don't Gibson make these anymore?





On a related note though, does anyone have a link to an instruction manual of some sort? I have been fiddling with the various knobs without being completely sure of what they do. I know it has some sort of dummy coil to eliminate noise but that is about it. There seems to be controls to coil tap and to go out of phase as well as a push/pull on the tone knob.

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