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Guitar Cleaning Question


GSOHero
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Hey everyone. I have a 1946 Gibson acoustic that had some “tacky” feeling spots on the front of the guitar.  I used a dry cloth to try to wipe one off but have managed to get a haze over the top portion of the guitar where I attempted to clean it. What do I need to do to actually clean this guitar?  Is this haze now permanent?  It has been kept in a case for over 30 years and was given to me 2 years ago.  Since then it has been hanging in my home but rarely gets played.   I tried to get photographs but it is not showing well in pictures.  Thanks for any advice you can provide.  

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I would use naphta for the bad spots, then very gently with a cotton rag, damp with warm water, for the rest. A vintage guitar should be cleaned, but not polished. Naphta will take care of most junk, and it won't hurt the nitro finish. Are you humidifying the guitar? It should ideally be kept in 45-55% Rh to avoid cracking.

Lars

 

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I'm wondering what caused the "tacky" spots... to me that sounds like "sticky"... did you mean something else? Did the guitar come in contact with any bug spray - or did you ever use bug spray (like "Off") and then play the guitar? I had a big problem from that myself a few years ago. I had sprayed my t-shirt an hour or two before playing, but it made the whole back of the guitar sticky where it was in contact with my shirt. I let it harden for a day, then used the Virtuoso cleaner (NOT the polish) which helped a lot, but didn't completely cure it.

I think you will find that any other product that contains alcohol can also soften up these old lacquer finishes. Not going to test myself, but be careful with those alcohol-wipes! This also raises a question of how to disinfect a guitar if you purchase one today. I suspect that Lysol spray would also be bad.

Edited by Boyd
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I would never disparage the knowledgeable people who contribute to these threads, but in a case like this where depending on what the owner used to clean the guitar, he could do permanent damage to the finish of a vintage instrument, I'd suggest taking the guitar to a reputable Luthier for professional advice and guidance.

Better safe than sorry.

RBSinTo

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You can safely use a rag dampened with naphtha to clean gunk off the finish. Do not saturate the cloth, and change it frequently. I do not use lighter fluid, because I don't know if it is "pure" naphtha. You can get the real stuff at almost any hardware store, or at the big box home improvement stores in the US. It is a mild, slow-evaporating solvent.

What you might use for cosmetic reasons after that depends on the condition of the finish. If it has significant crazing, bare spots, or a finish that is flaking off, a naphtha clean-up may be as far as you go. The go-to restoring cleaner and polish for vintage guitars--Virtuoso--should not be used on badly crazed or flaking surfaces, as it penetrates the surface cracks and leaves a residue that is impossible to remove. (The manufacturer warns you not to use it on surfaces of this type.)

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