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Finish problem on Goldtop '57 VOS

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Hi, everyone.


I am here cos I'm trying to solve problem with my Gibson Custom '57 VOS. I bought it second-hand in mint condition about half a year ago. The thing is: At the place my right hand forearm rests, the sweat started to turn beautiful antique gold to green. I tried to clean the green line up with cloth and scratched it a little bit. It seems like the gold top of the guitar is one big golden sticker on a mahogany wood. And now I'm scared that I could rip it off at the place of a forearm. Is there any solution to that? It's my first Goldtop ever and I'm unexperienced with the finish issiues.


Thanx in advance for any advice.


Greetings from Belgrade!

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Well the good news is, it is not a finish problem. The bad news is that the only way to get rid of it would be to refinish the guitar, but then it will probably happen to you again.

There are a few quirks with Gibson finishes, and nitrocellulose finishes that are just a natural part of the guitar's aging process. They are not unique solely to Gibson either.

Goldtops use copper in the paint to help get the gold tone. Over time gold top finishes will occasionally turn greenish because of the copper. The silverburst is another finish that can turn greenish over time. What is happening is that the copper in the finish is oxidizing, just look at the Statue of Liberty or really old copper pipes. Everyone has different Ph levels in their body chemistry. I for one turn nickel grey and cause gold plating to go bad in no time if I do not wipe the hardware off everytime I touch or play the guitar. If I play a guitar for a few hours and leave it sit for a couple of hours without wiping off the strings, I can ruin a new set of strings in one session. Is this bad? No, it makes the guitar yours. Think of it as the guitar's way of saying it loves you back. It also shows that you play the guitar a lot and obviously like it. You can try making sure you have long sleeves on and wipe the body off as soon as you finish playing the guitar, and that may slow it down somewhat. Refinishing the guitar will cut any future value by half at least, and unless you are sure you get a gold paint with no copper in it, it will probably occur again. So it is part of your guitar's aging process.

Nitrocellulose is a great finish although it is quickly fading from use due to environmental concerns about the chemicals in it. They will not hurt you on the guitar, but it is the effect they have on the atmosphere when they are being sprayed on that is the problem. It also is not as durable as polyurethane finishes. Nitro lets the wood breath better as it ages, but wears through faster. It also becomes brittle with age and can develop cracks in it as the guitar body shrinks and grows over time with it's environments. Taking a very cold guitar with a nitro finish, into a very warm room can sometimes cause instant cracks called checking to occur. Again it is all part of the guitar's natural aging process.

Other quirks include burst finishes fading with exposure to sunlight and UV rays. The original 50's LPs fade to lemon drop finishes, washed cherry, or tea bursts, depending on how much blue pigment was used in the original cherry finish. LPs with cherry burst finishes and sometimes other bursts will sometimes see the colour bleed onto the binding. Then over time it will again fade away leaving the binding it's original colour. Nitro clear coat finishes also turn slightly amber over time. That is why you will see old white LPs that look cream coloured (although the white paint itself ages some too due to the titanium, I think, in it) and the binding looks more yellow as the guitar gets older.

So think of the greening as mojo. Something to celebrate and be proud of. It makes that goldtop, your guitar! As I said wiping it off my slow it some, but don't go overboard with polish and waxes as they will also build up in nooks and crannies. Also remember the more you wipe it, the more you wear off the finish. If you wear long sleeves beware of buttons scratching the guitar. So enjoy that cool guitar, and post some pics if you can.

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