Recently, I asked the Mod Squad’s Max Feldman to clean this ’59 Gibson Les Paul “Black Beauty.” A hazy film of dirt, sweat, food, drink, barroom smoke, and guitar polish besmirched the beauty of this rare guitar.
“My first pass at the dirt was with a rag dampened with warm tap water,” says Max. “The water softened the haze some, but it didn’t remove the dirt. I wanted to keep scrubbing, but Dan made me stop and use saliva, which softened the dirt so fast that I was able to pick up the dirt with the rag.”
The water and saliva dissolved most of the haze quickly—excepting a grey stripe near the upper-bout strap-holding pin.
“Dan had me try a bit of silicone-free Preservation Polish, and it removed the haze instantly,” says Max. “Dan said that cleaners and polishes containing silicone are no good, because silicone works its way into the instrument’s finish, making it feel greasy, and, eventually, causing the lacquer to deteriorate.”
I explained to Max that when polishing, the idea is not to apply polish to the finish—that’s just polishing dirt. The idea is to remove the dirt, and then polish what’s underneath. Use polish sparingly on a soft, clean cotton rag. Then, keeping a second clean rag in one hand, loosen the dirt with the polishing rag, and pick it up with the clean rag.
Finally, Max gave the finish a light degreasing with a clean rag dampened with hydrogen peroxide. Then he did a final buffing using two clean rags—one barely damp with Preservation Polish, and the other soft and dry to finish the job.
“Dan wanted me to get rid of my spit germs,” says Max. “I thought it would be cool to send the guitar back covered with my loving drool, but Dan didn’t want the customer to kill us.” —A GP columnist for 16 years, Dan Erlewine works for Stewart-McDonald's Guitar Shop Supply in Athens, Ohio, and is the author of Guitar Repair Guide and How to Make Your Electric Guitar Play Great [Backbeat Books].
Peter Hook Discusses His Live Recordings of Classic Joy Division and New Order Albums (WATCH)
TC Electronic Introduces PolyTune 3- Next Generation Polyphonic Tuner with Built-In Buffer
Rex Brown Announces Debut Solo Album Debuts New Single (LISTEN)
This Week in Free Stuff: Light-Load Plug-in Instruments
Superbooth17 Day One: The Weird and the Wonderful
Puremagnetik K-Station Atmospheres Revives Love for the Kawai K5000S Additive Synth
The Art of Synth Soloing: Joe Zawinul, the Syndicate Years
Steinway Unveils Art Case Piano Celebrating Composer Modest Mussorgsky
Rediscovering LA Synthesis
Tal Farlow: Seven Guitars That Reveal the Jazz Giant’s Vision as an Innovator
Four Chronographs That Put You in the Driver’s Seat
2017 Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT: The Weekday Warrior
We Start Wars—Featuring Nita Strauss—Premiere New Song, "The Animal inside"
While She Sleeps Joined Live by Bring Me the Horizon's Oli Sykes During Hometown Show
Ivan Moody Issues Statement, Will Not Be Leaving Five Finger Death Punch
Eric Clapton: 10 of His Best Under-the-Radar Solo Songs
Don Felder: Five Things We Learned from His New Ernie Ball 'String Theory' Episode
Chris Cornell Performs “Black Hole Sun” on ‘CBS This Morning’
Copyright ©2017 by NewBay Media, LLC. All Rights Reserved. 28 East 28th Street, 12th floor, New York, NY 10016 T (212) 378-0400 F (212) 378-0470