Cleaning A Guitar From A Heavy Smoker

Discussion in 'Guitars in General' started by humansbeing5150, Aug 21, 2019.

  1. handyman

    handyman Member

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    Keep in mind smoke gets down into pickup/control cavities as well all on/in/under the pickups themselves. Be sure to give those parts a cleaning, too.

    I feel your pain. Gear with smoke stench is just gross.
     
  2. Jim85IROC

    Jim85IROC Member

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    The biggest reason that people don't completely get rid of the smell, is because people don't completely disassemble the guitar to clean the unseen areas. Pretty much all of a guitar is covered in hard, non-porous(ish) paint. I'm sure that nitro can absorb small amounts of crap and regurgitate it later, but it's not like it's cloth. Take off the pick guard, take off the cavity covers, pull out the pickups, etc. Wipe down EVERY surface with your cleaner of choice. Don't forget to do the backsides of the pick guards & cavity covers, and pull a rag through all of the cable route cavities. You should be able to clean the smell out of absolutely everything on a guitar except the internals of the pickups, and the inside of the pots. Clean all that crap up, and while it's apart make sure you polish all of the shiny surfaces with a swirl remover or at least a cleaner wax. This will remove any last layers of crap on the surface that your cleaner didn't. Once it's all nicely polished, put it back together. As long as you don't sniff your pickups, the smell should be gone.
     
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  3. whatizitman

    whatizitman Member

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    Damn. I hate vinegar smell as much as I hate cigarette smoke and smell. Which is to say a lot.

    Oh no no no no no. If only smoky used gear is available, I will just buy new instead. New smell is usually ok.
     
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  4. Hot In The Shade

    Hot In The Shade Member

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    The vinegar smell WILL disappear though is the thing.
     
  5. jblake

    jblake Member

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    When I have acquired smokey guitars in the past, the case or gig bag goes straight to the trash; they aren’t worth the hassle.

    Disassembling the guitar and wiping down every nook and cranny is key. On one semihollow, I also stuffed dryer sheets into the f-holes for a few days.
     
  6. BluntForceTrauma

    BluntForceTrauma Member

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    Vinegar and water. Sunshine.
     
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  7. Cornholio

    Cornholio Member

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    I have bought two guitars from heavy smokers (of course never disclosed online). First, clean the crap out of the guitar. Then I would store it in the case with a tub of Nature's Air Sponge. It took a few months along with some visits to sunlight, and now the smell is gone (same with the case). One of the guitars needed a second tub of Air Sponge in the case.

    This was a tip from a friend who buys vintage synths, and he gets lots of stinky ones.
     
  8. noisebloom

    noisebloom Member

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    My latest guitar was previously owned by a heavy ganja smoker. The gig bag reeked for months. The guitar smelled a little bit but not enough to be a problem. Finally the smell went away without intervention. Now I hardly remember the smell when I take it out. Just be patient with it and make sure it has plenty of fresh air to help it outgas.
     
  9. TattooedCarrot

    TattooedCarrot Supporting Member

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    Good luck. I bought an SG once and the seller failed to disclose he was a smoker. The guitar reeked, the case reeked, and there was nothing I could do to get the smell out. Probably made worse by Gibson's use of nitro finishes. I stripped it down to wood and stained it brown.
     
  10. candid_x

    candid_x Supporting Member

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  11. RICFREAK

    RICFREAK Member

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    Try Doe Simons MIRACLE guitar polish. Amazing cleaner and leaves a nice caramel fragrance like a new Gibson.....
     
  12. Spooky Action

    Spooky Action Member

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    It ain't a crime to be good to yourself.
     
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  13. tnvol

    tnvol Ufologist Silver Supporting Member

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    I think I remember reading an interview with Tom Keifer back in the early 90s and he said the reason old guitars sound good is because they have spent decades in smoke filled bars being played. He said he put his new guitars in little smoke shacks with tons of lit cigarettes to season them. lol Pretty sure it was Tom Keifer.
     
  14. Tootone

    Tootone Member

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    My Gibson LP Custom still smells like a Dutch Bar before the smoking bans. Perhaps that's why it sounds god-like.
     
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  15. theruley

    theruley Member

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    This is an extreme example, but years ago I came across this 70’s sg-1 that had hung from an extension cord noose in a guys smoking room for God knows how long.

    It took a lot of work and experimentation, but what ended up working was naptha for the fretboard and liquid bubble bath for the body.

    The headstock was from somebody using sandpaper to see if it said “gibson” under all that crud.
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
     
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  16. Parlorman

    Parlorman Silver Supporting Member

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    When I was first playing acoustic bar gigs, they still allowed smoking in bars. The stench when I first opened the case the next day made my eyes water. After they outlawed smoking in bars, it took a couple years for the smell to dissipate. The case took longer than the guitar.

    It grosses me out to think about all that smoke in my lungs.
     
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  17. jvin248

    jvin248 Member

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    I use 50/50 ammonia/water, which is basically a stronger version of Windex but without the blue dye. Vinegar I would be concerned with corroding if you didn't get it all off, but it's the same as it cuts grease. Alcohol and Naptha should also cut the cigarette grease. If you think you have 'Nitro' then test in hidden spots to avoid bad reactions.
    Wipe/scrub the whole guitar down. Shot of sunlight.
    Case gets sprayed and wiped/scrubbed as well. Plus sits with a tray of baking soda and cycle crumpled newspapers changing every day. Shot of sunlight.

    I have gotten a few guitars (for cheap) that were so grimy I really wanted to do this

    [​IMG]

    .
     
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  18. Baxtercat

    Baxtercat Member

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    ^ reminds me of this petrified oldie I cleaned up
    [​IMG]


    comedy gold :)
     
  19. fescue

    fescue Member

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    Wear an oxygen mask around that thing.
     
  20. candid_x

    candid_x Supporting Member

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    A Kingman player showed me an old Strat. He said it was a house guitar from a Nashville bar. I'd never seen anything like it. It had the most amazing tar and nicotine skin over its sunburst nitro finish, positively stunning. It had no smell that I could detect, which must have been from over a decade of tobacco abstinence.
     

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