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In need of serious cleaning advice

Discussion in 'Setup & Repair [DB]' started by flatback, May 15, 2004.

  1. flatback

    flatback Supporting Member

    May 6, 2004
    my bass which I love dearly, is a mid 19th century tyrolean flatback that has been thru a bunch of bad repairs (before I got it) as a result, it has glue all over the place on the varnish and i would really like the straight dope on how to remove the dirt and hazy glue residue without messing up the varnish. I didn't even realize that it was dirt and glue (and not old funky varnish) until recently, but now i want to do right by this instrument.
    Can any of you cats in the know, let me know, what i don't know?
    Many thanks,
  2. flatback

    flatback Supporting Member

    May 6, 2004
    So do I gather that some topics are of no interest to anyone sept me?
    I thought i was gunna get some good comments about how to get this goo off my axe and shine it up...so I put out a google search and cant find any info there either. Does anybody know how to get glue off of the surface of the instrument without lifting the varnish? I would really appreciate some information if anybady has anything to say on the subject.
    Thanks so much
  3. Mudfuzz


    Apr 3, 2004
    what kind of glue, how much surface area is it covering, what is the condition of the varnish under the glue.

    How about a picture, I very much doubt I can answer you, but it might help the experts [and those of us who are interested] see what the real deal is, the more info given usually helps get the clearer answer.
  4. flatback

    flatback Supporting Member

    May 6, 2004
    The instrument has many repaired cracks on the back as well as the table in some areas there appears to be a film around the cracks as though they bled when repaired and it was rubbed around. I was reading here about someone who was using warm water to clean extra glue from
    cracts, and I tried a small area but it seemed to make it spread around without lifting it. The more I examine the instrument the more I realize that what I had thought were just war wounds and tarnish in the finish might very well be years of glue and dirt. I always assumed I guess since I have taken the bass in regularly for repairs, board planing, yearly seam repair, bridges etc, that one of the several luthiers I have taken it to would have mentioned "oh by the way your bass is filthy you might want to have it cleaned and polished" or something like that, but I guess it is something that you must specifically inquire about. It might be expensive too, I dunno. But I would sure appreciate any info about cleaning the varnish. Also in searching this site for cleaning info I read a thread about using wax on the board. I never heard of that nor has any luthier ever mentioed it (I have been told to occasionally use mineral oil or sewing machiune oil with 800 grit sand paper)
    Is waxing common or goofy? does it alter the sound in anyway (as coating a fretless changes the sound)
    Again any info would be appreciated
  5. Be patient. There are some very experienced and knowledgeable luthiers who frequent this board and share their knowledge freely. They just don't hang out here all day every day. It may take a few days, but you'll get some informed opinions.
  6. Heifetzbass

    Heifetzbass Commercial User

    Feb 6, 2004
    Upstate, SC
    Owner, Gencarelli Bass Works and Fine String Instruments, LLC.
    I have had good luck with a solvent called Carbosol. (look in hardware stores, not usually found in the home centers) It worked great on my basses and is not quite as "nasty" as xylol. I took years of buildup off my instrument without touching the varnish. I recommend this cleaner, but make sure you test it for compatibility with your varnish on a small area. (on the bottom- next to the endpin for instance.)

    You may have some squeeze out from older repairs, but it could be built up polishes, cleaners, pledge, who-knows-what on your finish. I would suggest giving it a good cleaning first. If it still looks hazy and like there may be glue, then you can proceed from there. I wouldn't go trying to clean with water, because if it is hide glue, it is water soluble. That means if you soak too much in to the cracks you could unglue the repairs. Not likely, but a possiblity. I don't know if it is hide glue, because when it dries it is very hard and almost crystal clear.

    If you are not comfortable cleaning it yourself- take it to a luthier. If you do it yourself- make sure you have good ventilation and wear a respirator if possilbe.

    Hope this helps,
  7. I checked your profile and when people don't put some info in there like: Where are you located? It doesn't give us much to go on....are you thinking of doing this stuff yourself because of a lack of Luthiers in your area or because you can't afford having a pro look at it?
    The first two things to establish are: What type of varnish was used on the bass? You need to make sure it's hide glue.
    As Eric mentions, hang in and be patient.
    This sounds like a good bass, I would suggest NOT doing it yourself!
  8. flatback

    flatback Supporting Member

    May 6, 2004
    Ya know what? you are right. I love this axe way too much to mess with it myself. The temptation is always there, to somehow shine my precious (golum), to keep it in its best condition despite the fact that I should really have it rebuilt, (when I get that $4000 jazz gig).
    I am just going find a good luthier for this type thing...Say, anyone know a good luthier for this type of thing? in the bay area?
    Then I get into the problem of does it need a cleaning or that new bridge?etc.
    anyway thanks for the heads up
  9. Mudfuzz


    Apr 3, 2004
    Hey, what side you on. I grew up down there. :D
  10. There are a few good people there....Check www.gollihur.com
    for his luthier list. Or call the Musicians Association and get some name/numbers of bassists in the symphony who will steer you right. Good move! Good luck!

    I left an L out of Bob's name....sorry
  11. kip


    Sep 11, 2002
    Sausalito, Ca

    Gollihur (All Hail) does have several links for the Bay area, as noted by Paul W. I asked a couple of buddies out there and also came up with, John Jordan 925-671-9247 (East Bay) and Chris Berkhoff (sp?) who is in Marin somewhere, I don't have his #. They can either do-it or refer.

    BTW, hip web site. I see you are in Bolinas. My wife and I play the Bay area 2 or 3 times a year. A good friend of ours has a cottage on the mesa there and we usually arrange for a couple of days to stay there and kick back. Renewing and beautiful place. Love the fog and sea breeze, especially when it's hitting 90 to 100+ at home. Herb Caen called em sandwich days, a couple of hours of sunshine, mid day, with fog on both sides...
  12. flatback

    flatback Supporting Member

    May 6, 2004
    Thanks, drop a line when you are in town...Were enjoying one of those sandwich days right now. I love em. We were in Brooklyn previously and it would just be heating up about now (and humid) it is really inspiring to live in such beauty. I love giging in the city then driving home over the mountain at 2 in the morning. (going to do it tonight) something about living in a small town right next to a big city sure is sweet.
    Thanks for the info