View Full Version : Vintage finish guard

Aug-26-2010, 4:59pm
I have an older Martin mandolin, about 85 years old. I received it in almost perfect condition. The finish has become very soft. I just have to look at it the wrong way and it scratches real bad. Is there anything I can put on the finish,without hurting it, that will improve the condition? Thanks, Bruce Grover.

Aug-28-2010, 5:10pm
paste wax? [might be a luthier/builder question], I put a Tone gard on the back of my A4 to protect it's varnish finish.

Aug-30-2010, 11:03am
I don't have the answer, but these comments might trigger someone who does.

Your mando's finish reminds me of wooden furniture, especially school desks & church pews, when I was a kid, meaning before air conditioning was common here in the northeast. For most of the year, they were fine, but in July and August the finish got soft & sticky in the areas that were frequently touched, and easily scratched. But not in all areas and not all at the same time.

My own experimentation led me to believe that it was a barely-visible layer of surface grime (hand oil, sweat, dust, etc.) that attracted the humidity from the air and transferred it to the finish. Attempting to rub it clean while in its soft state just caused the grime and finish to come off together. Cleaning while it's relatively dry IS the way to go because just the grime comes off and the finish then remains hard, even in humid conditions.

I suspect that the level of "dry" needed to separate the grime from the finish is WAY less than the level that might damage an instrument. Even now, just an hour or two of air conditioning is enough to make any stickiness go away. (And even all-out air conditioning, with this summer's heatwave, has never put the house below 45%, a level near which most instruments are built).

Or I could be way off base. Hopefully, someone else will chime in with better insight!

Aug-30-2010, 11:10am
I've heard good things about Jubilee Polish and Nikco super polish.