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kimnjerry

To polish or not to polish?

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Greetings.

i have a 1960 J45 in very good condition. I’ve done very little cleaning and maintenance.

 I hear two opinions on polishing the body and fretboard cleaning and need some guidance.

1. (A) Polish the body with either Gibson or Virtuoso polish or (b) don’t polish it at all

2. To clean the fretboard (a) use 0000 steel wool ; (b) use a credit card

3. On the fretboard,  use lemon or mineral  oil
 

feel free to direct me to the most authoritative directions and/or corresponding YouTube video

thanks

 

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It depends on the condition of the finish. If there is any checking or crazing of the finish,  polishing can be tricky because it can get into tiny finish cracks and can, depending on the polish, make them more visible.

Virtuoso is wonderful for cleaning up a dirty old finish ( the Cleaner) and putting a real gloss on  (the Polish). However, as they caution on their website, neither should be use on a checked, crazed, or flaking finish.

Gibson pump polish is fairly mild, and seems usable on most intact finishes.

I have used Virtuoso carefully on a number of vintage Gibsons, and with no problem on more modern ones. I have also made a few mistakes along the way, getting cleaner residue in finish cracks, where it is literally impossible to remove.

By comparison, fretboards are easy to deal with. I do not use steel wool, because it can leave particles behind that can and will rust over time. Instead, I uses either fine bronze wool--readily available either at hardware stores or online--or fine scotchbrite pads.

On a really filthy fretboard--like a guitar owned for 50 years by a heavy smoker with nicotine-stained hands--I may start out with naphtha on bronze wool to get the worst gunk off.

I have my own methods for cleaning old fretboards, particularly if there is gunk buildup along the frets. I use a single-edge razor blade as a fine scraper, working away from the fret. I can also remove a fair amount of surface wear with this method, but it does take care and practice.

After I get everything cleaned and scraped--the frets also get polished by this process--I have finally settled, after a lot of experimentation, on a final burnishing using Fret Doctor oil, rubbing along the grain with fine bronze wool. Wipe of the excess with a clean rag, let it dry a bit, burnish with a clean rag, and you are good to go. I used a lot of different oils before settling on Fret Doctor.

I also use Fret Doctor on bridges, but you really need to mask those off to avoid getting it all over the top. I just use a tiny amount on a rag on a masked-off bridge with the pins and saddle removed.

This is the basic process I have developed over 50 years of owning vintage guitars (and modern ones). It is still subject to constant refinement.

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On 5/28/2020 at 5:41 PM, kimnjerry said:

Greetings.

i have a 1960 J45 in very good condition. I’ve done very little cleaning and maintenance.

 I hear two opinions on polishing the body and fretboard cleaning and need some guidance.

1. (A) Polish the body with either Gibson or Virtuoso polish or (b) don’t polish it at all

2. To clean the fretboard (a) use 0000 steel wool ; (b) use a credit card

3. On the fretboard,  use lemon or mineral  oil
 

feel free to direct me to the most authoritative directions and/or corresponding YouTube video

thanks

 

Hello. 

1) I would use Gibson polish. I personally use a damp cloth if need be, but a Gibson product should be safe for Gibson nitro. 

A soft toothbrush is excellent for removing build-up. 

2) Nix the wool and buy a cleaning cloth from www.gorgomyte.com or one of their retailers. 

3) Guitar lemon oil is basically mineral oil in a yellow bottle.  Don't use actual oil from lemon. 

Dunlop is good. I recently found out that for it to do any actual difference, it'll have to sit for 30 minutes. 

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