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Dirty bass

Discussion in 'Accessories [DB]' started by Norre, Feb 19, 2013.

  1. Norre


    Jan 5, 2001
    Antwerp, Belgium
    Hello all,

    My bass is starting to get dirty (both the wood of the bass itself and the fingerboard) and I want to clean but I don't want to damage the paint (or whatever it is they put on a bass :oops:). What do you guys use for that?


  2. I use regular furniture polish like lemon pledge. Don't spray it directly on the instrument. apply it to the rag and buff it in.
  3. El Thumpo

    El Thumpo Four strings, no waiting Supporting Member

    Oct 15, 2006
    San Francisco Bay Area
    Murphy's Oil Soap! Removes dirt, protects finish. You only need a little. I like the kind with orange oil added.
  4. Norre


    Jan 5, 2001
    Antwerp, Belgium
    I was also thinking about some kind of furniture polish but it makes the bass shiny and I don't like the look of that. Actually I've been looking for something to make my bass a little more matt (non-glossy).
  5. robobass


    Aug 1, 2005
    Cologne, Germany
    Private Inventor - Bass Capos
    I think most of the pros will have a different opinion on this. If you have an old bass with a spirit varnish, commercial furniture polish might damage it. I don't know a whole lot about this though, so I'll defer to the experts. Arnold, you out there?
  6. DC Bass

    DC Bass Supporting Member

    Mar 28, 2010
    Washington DC

    It is very important that you ascertain what the finish on your bass is (spirit varnish, etc) and get the correct cleaner for that finish. Using an incorrect cleaner can damage your finish or leave unwanted residue.


  7. Norre


    Jan 5, 2001
    Antwerp, Belgium
    OK, and how do I know which finish is on my bass?
    It's not an old bass. I bought it new in 2000.
    It's a carved bass, no ply ... don't know if it makes any difference.
  8. Eric Hochberg

    Eric Hochberg

    Jul 7, 2004
    Do a search, this has been discussed many times before. Alcohol will work on the fingerboard only if it is ebony or unpainted wood. Do not use on the body! I just use plain water, damp cloth, for the body.
  9. hdiddy

    hdiddy Official Forum Flunkee Supporting Member

    Mar 16, 2004
    Richmond, CA
    Kolstein has a cleaner that is safe to use. Very strong smelling tho.

    I'd be very careful using off the shelf cleaners. Some have wax in them and can cause repair problems later.
  10. isolated

    isolated Zenji Supporting Member

    Dec 7, 2004
    Bronx, NY
    Weiman Furniture Cream. I've always used this on my mid-19th Century French bass with good results. Can often be found in supermarkets and/or hardware stores, but not everybody carries it. Worth looking for, IMO.

    Edit: Just noticed you're in Belgium. Might be less easy to find over there, but you should be able to order over the interwebs....
    generalduncan likes this.
  11. Damon Rondeau

    Damon Rondeau Journeyman Clam Artist Supporting Member

    Nov 19, 2002
    Winnipeg, baby
    Most spray-can, Pledge-like gack has silicone in it. It makes surfaces shine the way people like. It also builds up over time, as will any waxes in said gack. Furniture refinishers absolutely hate that build up, as it plays holy havoc with the ability to strip and refinish wood products.

    I checked out an e-Bay add for Guardsman -- a product I know nothing about and make no comment on -- and the guy selling it made all the tired old claims of how it nourishes the wood, replenishes natural oils, etc. All of those claims are utter, total moonshine. The wood is dead and doesn't need a damn thing from any polish you might give it.

    Seriously, to get rid of smudges, to clean the surface of your bass, no matter its finish: a very lightly damp cloth. Then buff a bit with a dry cloth. That's all you need. That goes for any finished wood product, not just your bass.
  12. NickTej22


    Feb 17, 2013
    Largo FL
    I hear wd40 is good for the same purpose as furniture polish, but without the sticky feeling and completely harmless.
  13. Norre


    Jan 5, 2001
    Antwerp, Belgium
    Thanks for all the info guys. I think I'll start with a damp cloth for the bass itself and some alcohol for the fingerboard and see what happens :bassist:
  14. Cyrus987987


    Oct 13, 2008
    I usually use a plain dry rag on the body. If thdres anything stuck I use I tiny bit of moisture on a rag to clean it off then buff dry. For the finger board I use lemon oil. You can get it at a harxware store or planet waves sells it in little bottles.
  15. Ed Fuqua

    Ed Fuqua

    Dec 13, 1999
    Chuck Sher publishes my book, WALKING BASSICS:The Fundamentals of Jazz Bass Playing.
    Move along, slab player lost, nothing to see here, keep moving....
  16. NickTej22


    Feb 17, 2013
    Largo FL
  17. NickTej22


    Feb 17, 2013
    Largo FL
    It's good for guitar strings anyways.
  18. Greg Clinkingbeard

    Greg Clinkingbeard

    Apr 4, 2005
    Kansas City area
    KC Strings
    I wouldn't use anything other than a damp cloth. Many fingerboards on cheap ebony fingerboards are dyed with Fiebings leather dye which is alcohol based. No sense using anything that might mess with that. I use a damp cloth followed by a dry one when the funk gets too bad.
  19. windex.

    Bass muck and any ailment from psoriasis to poison ivy could be cured with Windex.
  20. robobass


    Aug 1, 2005
    Cologne, Germany
    Private Inventor - Bass Capos
    I'm sure the Kolstein cleaner is safe to use on any bass. Many luthiers use Hans Weisshauer cleaner, but it is amazingly expensive. Depending on the kind of dirt, just a damp cloth may not be enough to get grime and old rosin off. Luthier recipes have also been posted here in the past comprised of various organic solvents which supposedly won't damage a shellac varnish. What you should avoid is anything with non-evaporating compounds, which if they get through any micro-cracks in the varnish will be permanently absorbed into the wood underneath.

    Polishing? There is french polishing, which is using dissolved shellac with a bit of oil on a rag to smooth out rough spots and fill small fissures without damaging the original varnish, but the technique is (I'm told) extremely difficult to master, and novice attempts can end very badly. There are ways to dull a finish using polishing compounds containing fine abrasive. This requires that the varnish be in good condition and free of micro cracks in the first place so that you don't work the abrasive into the cracks. My Geiger bass has what appears to be toothpaste worked into the top!

    In the end, I wouldn't discourage a hobbyist from cleaning his bass with a suitable solvent-based cleaner, but if you have anything above a ccb or Engelhardt ply, it would be better to go to a pro for anything beyond that.

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