By Ryan Gabrinetti, Burbank Shop Manager
Congratulations! You have just scored your first real vintage axe. Maybe you just put in a winning bid on that creamy white 80s Les Paul Custom you’d been pining for since Blizzard of Ozz came out, or maybe you just found a dusty Teisco Del Rey at a swap meet — the big question now is: how do I take care of this damn thing? Maintaining vintage guitars can be a different animal from the typical off-the-shelf instrument — the older a guitar is, the more fragile and temperamental they can become, and some of the finer details we love about vintage axes can go from being a fascination to a liability pretty fast once you get one home.
For old nitrocellulose finishes, it is best to avoid using any sort of spray-based chemical polishes —we prefer to wipe down guitars with an untreated microfiber cloth to remove any fingerprints or debris between handling. Any of your sweat or grime or Dorito dust that stays on the instrument will have some effect on it over time! Once an old nitro finish starts to get hazy or lose its sheen, there is not a lot that a polish is going to do to bring it back, and if an instrument is starting to exhibit finish checking, the moisture from sprays and the like can get trapped and make the cracks worse. It is usually better to leave the original finish as is, but If you find it to be intolerably worn or ugly, a professional refinish can bring new life to an old guitar that has seen a lot of road miles or sweaty bar stages. Refinished vintage guitars can also be some of the best deals going — but you didn’t hear that from us!
Do you have a refinished guitar you’d like to sell? Contact us here!
If you live in an extreme climate with changes in temperature and humidity, keeping your guitar in a case with a humidifier will go a long way to ensure the old wood stays stable, especially acoustic guitars. If you are headed to the gig and moving the guitar from a hot car into a cool room, make sure to let it acclimate in the case for a while before you pull it out — we know you’re excited to show off your new toy to everyone, but these moments of transition can be when a guitar is at the highest risk for damage.
For everything else, it’s typically best to entrust your prized instrument to your local tech — small problems can become big ones without the proper set of eyes and hands! If you would rather use your new prize as a tool than a piece of your investment portfolio, don’t be afraid to get your guitar refretted or set up to suit your needs. The best ones are meant to be played! If you are working with an all original guitar though, keep all of the original parts and hardware on hand in the event that you want to sell in the future — originality is everything on the vintage market!
Do you have a vintage guitar you’d like to sell? Contact us here!