Cleaning a vintage Les Paul

Discussion in '"Vintage" Instruments' started by TexasMedic, Apr 16, 2019 at 2:27 AM.

  1. TexasMedic

    TexasMedic Member

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    So my 76 Custom is filthy. A lot of sweat and grime built up on the finish. The nitro also has hairline cracks in it all around the body and various checking too. I’ve read Naptha is the way to go but I’ve also read about being careful if the finish has cracks in it because the Naptha can seep into the finish and mess with the wood/ discolor it. Should I go ahead with the Naptha? I don’t want to mess with the patina, just get the grime off. Thanks.
     
  2. Jayyj

    Jayyj Supporting Member

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    Virtuoso polish and cleaner tends to be the go-to for really gunked up vintage nitro finishes.
     
  3. Peteyvee

    Peteyvee Premium Platinum Member

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    This. That's what Virtuoso products are designed for and they will not harm nitro finishes or seep into the wood. The cleaner also gets rid of those sweat/wax messes that sometimes occur where your forearm rests on top and the polish shines it right up after it's clean.
     
  4. jackaroo

    jackaroo Member

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    Not so fast....

    If the guitar has checking and is dark (Black/wine red) be careful with the virtuoso stuff. It can get into the cracks/checks and stay. It dies in a creamy tan color and is visible. It’s happened on my old L-00 and took a remove.
     
  5. Rumble

    Rumble Instrumental Rocker Silver Supporting Member

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    Take a small container and fill with hot water. Then, take a bar or partial bar of Lava soap and place in the water, letting the soap melt a little. Next, take a terry wash cloth (or micro-fiber) and dampen it with the solution. Dampen the cloth only, not saturated. Slowly and carefully wipe in a circular motion. Then carefully clean/buff with a dry, soft cloth. If this freaks you out, experiment on some old wood or furniture.
     
    Last edited: Apr 16, 2019 at 9:03 PM
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  6. otaypanky

    otaypanky Gold Supporting Member

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    Formby's Build Up Remover
    Seriously good stuff, gentle, efficient, and won't damage lacquer
     
  7. ripgtr

    ripgtr Member

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    I used it on a '60 330 I don't think I ever cleaned and I've had it since '73. Finish now looks almost brand new, looks great. It is a sunburst with a fair bit of checking, I didn't see any issues with that.
     
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  8. TubeStack

    TubeStack Supporting Member

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  9. photoguy

    photoguy Member

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    Similar story here. I had a neck re-set on an old Gibson J50 acoustic. When I went to pick up the guitar the luthier asked if I wanted it cleaned. I said -sure (I'd never done it). He used Virtuoso cleaner and took off 50 years of grime and cigarette residue and he finished up with the polish. Lots of checking on this guitar but no issues with the cleaner getting in there. Guitar looked great, I've been using it ever since.
     
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  10. ripgtr

    ripgtr Member

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    "You removed the patina!"
    "Nah, it was just 40 years of sweat and cigarettes. MY sweat and cigarettes."
    "Oh. Yea, clean that sucker up."
     
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  11. photoguy

    photoguy Member

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  12. EdFarmer

    EdFarmer Silver Supporting Member

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    I used to have a box of something called "Rotten Stone" . . . It was a polishing compound that worked wonders. I lost it in a move and I've never replaced it. Pre-internet, I couldn't find anything similar or anyone who knew what it was. I just searched Amazon and discovered that it is manufactured from limestone but is still available.
     
  13. Jayyj

    Jayyj Supporting Member

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    I do violin repair work and set ups for a shop and I had a guy in the other week sneering at the 19th Century stuff. 'I hate it when hack repairers that work in music shops insist on redoing the varnish on these older instruments, it totally ruins them. A 19th century violin should have a matt finish.'

    I tactfully pointed out that I didn't 'redo the varnish', I cleaned them, and the shiny varnish on the violins I'd worked on is what I found already on there after an hour and a half scrubbing away at over 100 years worth of rosin, sweat and dead skin.
     
  14. bigsby'd

    bigsby'd Member

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