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Thread: best method to clean mandolin surface?

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    Default best method to clean mandolin surface?

    I'm far from fastidious about keeping my mandolin clean. I usually just wipe the surface with a microfiber cloth I was given for wiping down my violin, but I only wipe it down every couple of weeks. The finish clearly has lots of "stuff" on it, and I'm wandering what the best method might be to give it a good cleaning without doing any harm to the finish. It has never had spills (beer, coffee, etc) or rain on it, and I'm generally successful about avoiding getting drool on the surface (my banjo might tell a different story....), but there are lots of little spots on it, especially if you hold it up the the light. So I'm wondering how to clean all this off (which I'll probably only do once a year at best). I don't know much about lacquer/spirit/varnish finishes, but the mandolin is a Loar LM520VS (http://www.theloar.com/products/mand...olin-lm-520-vs). All the specs say is that the "Finish Type" is "Gloss." Any experienced advice would be appreciated.

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    Default Re: best method to clean mandolin surface?

    A very lightly damp rag with warm water is all you need.
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    Default Re: best method to clean mandolin surface?

    Most string changes I change one at a time. Once a year or so I take all off (yes, you have to re-position the bridge, but there are usually marks in the finish to help). I use guitar polish (Martin, NFI) and get it fairly clean.

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    Default Re: best method to clean mandolin surface?

    Most guitar polishes that I have seen have petroleum distillates in that are not good for your finish. I find it amusing that when I bought my new Martin guitar the cleaning instructions say" A damp cloth is all you need to use to keep you finish clean", but sell something in a polish that is harmful to the finish.
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    Registered User Ivan Kelsall's Avatar
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    Default Re: best method to clean mandolin surface?

    From RickPick - "...and I'm generally successful about avoiding getting drool on the surface (my banjo might tell a different story....)," You too !!!!''.

    Rick - Really,all you do need is a cloth mostened with water with a tiny amount of washing up liquid in it - that simply makes the water 'wetter'. It does only need to be 'moist' not wet. After wiping over the offending areas,dry it off with soft paper tissue & then polish it with a soft yellow duster. If you do decide to use a polish,then go for a natural based product,such as a beeswax polishing cream,the stuff that's made for antique furniture. A very light application with a soft cloth & then polish it with a soft duster,
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    Default Re: best method to clean mandolin surface?

    I'm still amazed there are people out there who clean these things, other than wiping the gunk off the fingerboard and the dust under the strings off the body at string change!!

    (Except for my beaters, I keep mine in pretty good shape. The few times I've had to get smudges, BBQ grease, etc, off, I've used a damp cloth (or spit, in tiny amounts, for the grease spots) and gentle rubbing)...
    Chuck

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    Default Re: best method to clean mandolin surface?

    Lighter fluid.

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    Default Re: best method to clean mandolin surface?

    I have a friend who used to own a guitar store selling everything from inexpensive imports to high end custom models. He swore by a cloth sprayed with just a little Windex. I've used that on many instruments with great results and no damage to the finish.
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    Default Re: best method to clean mandolin surface?

    If you're hell-bent on using wax, consider the Renaissance Micro-Crystalline Was Polish. It's made in England and it's reportedly used by museums and restorers across the pond. It's acid neutral and water and acid resistant. According to the company, "this blend of specially refined microcrystalline fossil-origin waxes is widely used by restoration specialists and world-renowned museums. Its myriad uses include revitalization and protection of furniture, leather, marble, metal, onyx, and ivory. Renaissance Wax refreshes colors and imparts a soft sheen. In domestic use, its hard finish will also protect polished surfaces against fingerprints and damage from spills, including wine or spirits." I've never used it on an instrument but I know of some people who have and they seem to like it. I have used it as a protectant on other items and it works very well. One drawback, it's a little pricey.

    If you're curious, Google it. Lots of folks carry it.
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    Default Re: best method to clean mandolin surface?

    Thanks for all the suggestions. I decided to start simple and get complicated as necessary, so started with a flannel cloth moistened with warm water. That did the job just fine! Unfortunately, like hand-washing a "new" car, I found all sorts of little pick scratches and buckle rashes I didn't know were there, but the moist cloth took off all the "atmospheric" garbage I had collected over the years. Thanks again for your help. I'm sure it will improve my playing exponentially.....

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    Default Re: best method to clean mandolin surface?

    I'm currently using the furniture polish that i bought ages ago to keep my oak book cases in good order - 'Wood Silk - Non-silicone' spray polish. Spray it onto a clean cotton cloth (old handkerchief),wipe it on very gently,& polish it off immediately with a yellow duster.Used 2 or 3 times a year when i routinely 'spring clean' my mandolins,it's worked very well in keeping them almost blemish free.
    I'm pretty sure it's the reason that even my high gloss Weber still looks fine where my bare wrist rests against it on occasion,
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    Default Re: best method to clean mandolin surface?

    Quote Originally Posted by fatt-dad View Post
    Lighter fluid.

    f-d
    I keep lighter fluid ("white gas" or naptha) handy for many things and have used it on my mandolins as well as record sleeves and a hundred other things.

    I find regular Naptha like Coleman fuel to be best but Ronson lighter fluid is more convenient. It was better before Zippo got involved and reduced the naptha concentration.

    This is a 'dry-cleaning' method in that it doesn't wet wood (or paper) like water does and dissipates without staining.
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    Default Re: best method to clean mandolin surface?

    Quote Originally Posted by DHopkins View Post
    If you're hell-bent on using wax, consider the Renaissance Micro-Crystalline Was Polish. It's made in England and it's reportedly used by museums and restorers across the pond. It's acid neutral and water and acid resistant. According to the company, "this blend of specially refined microcrystalline fossil-origin waxes is widely used by restoration specialists and world-renowned museums. Its myriad uses include revitalization and protection of furniture, leather, marble, metal, onyx, and ivory. Renaissance Wax refreshes colors and imparts a soft sheen. In domestic use, its hard finish will also protect polished surfaces against fingerprints and damage from spills, including wine or spirits." I've never used it on an instrument but I know of some people who have and they seem to like it. I have used it as a protectant on other items and it works very well. One drawback, it's a little pricey.

    If you're curious, Google it. Lots of folks carry it.
    I am a user of Renaissance wax, passed on to me by a friend who is a very fine woodturner. I use it sparingly on my instruments and it does seem to offer a degree of protection. Pricey, but lasts for ages.
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    Default Re: best method to clean mandolin surface?

    I use a small dab of Amish Furniture Milk and a soft cotton dishcloth. Works really well. It's very gentle--I have been using on my wood furniture for years.

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    Default Re: best method to clean mandolin surface?

    Quote Originally Posted by Leslie4197 View Post
    I use a small dab of Amish Furniture Milk and a soft cotton dishcloth. Works really well. It's very gentle--I have been using on my wood furniture for years.
    Does that come from tables, chairs or what? And, how do you milk a piece of furniture?
    David Hopkins

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    Default Re: best method to clean mandolin surface?

    Well how I clean my Loar with gasoline-leaded! Sorry couldn't help myself!

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    Default Re: best method to clean mandolin surface?

    a buddy of mine is a custom guitar builder who worked for " Rich & Taylor ' for a long time, and now builds on his own, and he uses Lemon pledge. says it looks great and smells good
    Mike Marrs

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    Default Re: best method to clean mandolin surface?

    I really like Preservation Polish. Your can get it from StewMac. Works great.

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    Default Re: best method to clean mandolin surface?

    It appears from these posts that almost any reputable furniture wax/polish will work if someone wants to deviate from the damp cloth mandate that most manufacturers recommend.
    David Hopkins

    Breedlove Legacy FF; Breedlove Quartz FF
    Gibson F-4, (1916); Blevins Octave Mandolin, 2018
    McCormick Oval Sound Hole "Reinhardt"
    McCormick Solid Body F-Style Electric;
    Recording King Resophonic Mandolin; Slingerland Songbird Guitar (c. 1939)

    The older I get, the less tolerant I am of political correctness, incompetence and stupidity.

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    Default Re: best method to clean mandolin surface?

    A lot depends on how the instrument was finished by the manufacturer and what exactly it is that you're trying to clean off the surface. Above all else, you need to be disciplined about your polishing cloth. It sounds kind of obvious but if you drop your cloth on the floor or let it sit somewhere unattended, it can pick up contamination that will scratch your finish. Way back in the day, I used steel wool the clean frets. Somehow my polishing cloth got contaminated... Nuf said. I don't bring steel wool into my shop ever anymore. Mid and entry level instruments with poly finishes do fine with any polish -- no worries. Traditional laquer, shellac, finishes need a bit of care. Warm water damp cloth, if it does the trick is best but in the real world stuff gets on the finish that will just smear around. Totally agree that a little bit of dish soap is a good first step to get the instrument clean but the cloth you are using then becomes a washing cloth and not a polishing cloth as the soap will stay in the cloth. For more severe guk, any guitar polish will work and after that comes naptha. This is just to get the instrument clean. If you want to address scratches, that would be a whole new paragraph and tons of opinions. Fender makes a gentle scratch remover that I like. In automotive stores, look for a polish called swirl remover.

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    Default Re: best method to clean mandolin surface?

    Legend makes a guitar polish and a cleaner with no petroleum distillates in them. Most guitar polishes have these in and really shouldn't be used on an instrument. At least I won't use them on my instruments.
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