How To Care For Your Vintage Guitar

By Ryan Gabrinetti, Burbank Shop Manager

We are suckers for some good finish checking (1958 Gibson Les Paul Junior)

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!

A 70s Silverburst showing some light binding cracks

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.

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