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Cleaning mold or mildew off a classic bass?

Discussion in 'Hardware, Setup & Repair [BG]' started by avocado, Apr 6, 2015.

  1. avocado


    May 16, 2008
    Hi there. I stored my '74 Fender Mustang Bass in my parents' house for a few years. Despite the fact that it was not kept in a basement, when I picked it up recently, there was mold or mildew all over the body and case, and a little on the rosewood fretboard. The neck and hardware are fine. It does not smell (as fast as I can tell). Luckily, the neck is not warped, and it still plays as well as it ever did.

    Any recommendations on how to clean the body without ruining whatever finish Fender was using in 1974? It's solid black, no competition stripes.

    Thanks in advance!
  2. Pilgrim

    Pilgrim Supporting Member

    I'd wipe it down with a dilute Lysol solution (don't soak it) and leave it out to air dry for a couple of days. (I don't know whether '74 was still nitro or not, but I don't think Lysol will bother it in any case.)

    Frankly, I'd probably get rid of the case. At the very least I'd gut it, use a stout microbial-killing cleaner on it, then rebuild the interior.

    And in the future, keep it in a lower humidity environment.
  3. 202dy

    202dy Supporting Member

    Sep 26, 2006
    The finish is poly. Water based solutions will not harm it. Keep the water out of any unfinished areas like screw holes and other penetrations.

    As Pilgrim points out, you can try an industrial strength mildewicide on the case. Even at that, the guitar will probably have to be stored in another case.

    Keep the original case no matter what. Do not modify it. Even with the mildew odor it has value. When the guitar is sold with the original hard shell case (OHSC) the price will be higher and the package will sell faster. Collectors want the case. The case by itself is worth a couple hundred at current prices.
    SirMjac28 likes this.
  4. 96tbird

    96tbird PLEASE STAND BY

    I would use rubbing alcohol on it even on the rosewood. It kills organisms and evaporates quickly. Don't forget to remove the neck and swab the pocket. Check the pickup and control routes for mildew as well. Then polish it and lightly oil the rosewood. Then just keep it clean and play it.

    Spray the case with disinfectant. Dry it in the sunshine and vacuum it well to remove spores then assess whether is is useable or needs to be gutted and re-upholstered.
    bholder likes this.
  5. bholder

    bholder Affable Sociopath Supporting Member

    Sep 2, 2001
    Vestal, NY
    Received a gift from Sire* (see sig)
    diluted rubbing alcohol and a rag or washcloth, maybe?
  6. bholder

    bholder Affable Sociopath Supporting Member

    Sep 2, 2001
    Vestal, NY
    Received a gift from Sire* (see sig)
    and if you can remove or open anything without damaging the case, do so before airing it out in the sun (I've seen some cases where most of the padding was easily removable and replaceable, others not so much). The UV works as well as or better than any of the cleaners, but it takes time, especially to "reach into" things like cloth, fake fur, and foam.
    96tbird likes this.
  7. avocado


    May 16, 2008
    Thanks all!
  8. Pilgrim

    Pilgrim Supporting Member

    OK, good point. The case has value. Don't modify it.

    But don't ever USE it. Hit it with disinfectant, (and get that stuff into every soft part), leave it in the sun for a few days, then store it slightly open in a well ventilated area. Just be aware you haven't killed all the spores, so don't put the bass back in it unless you sell it.
  9. 202dy

    202dy Supporting Member

    Sep 26, 2006
    Not unless you like malodorous guitars. Makes them harder to sell, too.

    Is there anyway to complete kill mildew spores?
  10. Pilgrim

    Pilgrim Supporting Member

    I don't know. I have had occasion to search the web on this topic and I haven't found a definitive answer for materials like those in wood and fabric. It's pretty hard to clean any porous surface, much less kill spores inside it. For that matter, getting rid of the mildew smell is a formidable challenge.
  11. 96tbird

    96tbird PLEASE STAND BY

    For spores vacuuming will get rid of a large amount down to the base layer fabric of the fun fur. Might even some from the surface of the foam under; maybe. Vacuum the crap out of it. Just don't use the same vac bag in your house after.

    Sunshine uv. Mildew killer. Unscented febreeze might help.
  12. Turnaround

    Turnaround Commercial User

    May 6, 2004
    Toronto Canada
    Independent Instrument Technician, and Contractor to Club Bass and Guitar - Toronto
    As suggested, dealing with hard surfaces like the instrument is a lot easier than dealing with soft surfaces like the fabric in the case.

    Direct sunlight is effective in dealing with the instrument. A few days should do it. The problem is with fabrics. Direct sunlight doesn't penetrate into the crevices of fabrics well enough to destroy the spores. If you had access to a source of intense UV exposure, you could try that. Not something the average person has access to though.

    So for the fabrics, most of us are limited to what we can accomplish with chemicals. There are lots of consumer products that you can spray on to kill mold. You really need to saturate the fabric, and that is probably going to do some damage to the case lining. Better to deal with the damage to the fabric than the potential damage to you health though.
  13. Bodhammer


    Feb 26, 2015

    91%, not 70% rubbing alcohol. The more you dilute it, the more it will soak in.
  14. Get the 99% isopropanol at any drugstore. The 91% is good for use as a rubbing alchohol but has too much water in it for use on metal items. I bought mine and mix it with lanolin oil for use as a rifle cartridge case resizing lubricant (pump sprayable). Amongst other things, I also use it straight as a guitar string cleaner. Soak a cloth barrel swab and pinch it around the string as an applicator.

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