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Thread: Cleaning Mold From Inside a Guitar?

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    Default Cleaning Mold From Inside a Guitar?

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    This a 2007 Gibson Hummingbird that was submerged in the Missouri river. Apparently a troubled man handcuffed himself to the steering wheel and drove into the river with his guitar in the case in the car. The family would like it repaired. Every brace is at least partially loose, the binding and back came off almost effortlessly. The neck joint seems solid and the finish is near miraculously clean. I'll need to replace the bridge plate, it appears that is was left at string tension as it dried out and the plate is tent shaped, the bridge came off cleanly. The top will need to be flattened and all braces re-glued. My concern is how to get the mold cleaned out as permanently as possible. What have you guys done in situations like this? Thank for any advice.

  2. #2

    Default Re: Cleaning Mold From Inside a Guitar?

    I would go with UV light, once it's dead, it's dead. There may still be some below the surface, but anything that would kill that would be bad for the glue joints or finishes.

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  4. #3
    Registered User John Bertotti's Avatar
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    Default Re: Cleaning Mold From Inside a Guitar?

    Have you seen the steri pens using UV light to purify water? I wonder if something like that would work. There are mold eating enzymes that might work like used in homes to remove black mold but I do not know how it would affect the glue joints or finish if it got on it.
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    Default Re: Cleaning Mold From Inside a Guitar?

    Set it in the sun, you are going to glue it back together anyway, if something else opens up glue it. Sun should kill mold.
    THE WORLD IS A BETTER PLACE JUST FOR YOUR SMILE!

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  8. #5

    Default Re: Cleaning Mold From Inside a Guitar?

    Something called Microban has been recommended by a mold remediation specialist, I'm going to give it a try first. Thanks for the suggestions.

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    Default Re: Cleaning Mold From Inside a Guitar?

    Whatever you use, I would follow it with at least one careful washing of denatured alcohol, maybe two.

    That's got work written all over it. At least it's easier to pull a bridge plate from the inside than from an assembled instrument.
    Remember that Gibsons are built with a fair amount of radius to the top.

    I replaced the back on a 2008 Gibson last year. I made a temporary mold from a piece of rigid insulation and kept the instrument in the mold until I glued the new back on. It held its shape very well.

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    Default Re: Cleaning Mold From Inside a Guitar?

    If the Microban doesn't do the job and since it's already apart and I'm sure will need some major work I would consider some sort of enclosure (outside your house or shop) where you could enclose the pieces and expose them to a few days of bleach fumes, not the liquid part part of the bleach. Mold is a living thing. Bleach will kill it. That's an unusual situation you've got there.
    "Bargain instruments are no bargains if you can't play them". These are the words of J. Garber.

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  13. #8

    Default Re: Cleaning Mold From Inside a Guitar?

    Quote Originally Posted by rcc56 View Post
    That's got work written all over it.
    Yep, a lot of work. Really sad story, too.

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  15. #9

    Default Re: Cleaning Mold From Inside a Guitar?

    Thats a clean back removal, nice work

    Steve

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  17. #10
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    Default Re: Cleaning Mold From Inside a Guitar?

    Here's an article. I was thinking that an "Ozone Chamber" treatment might help. It seems it still needs another step besides this. I'd Get some advice from a mold remediation pro. They may have such a chamber already set up for furniture or other precious things from floods, IDK. Post hurricane Michael around here, usually they just throw them away.

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  19. #11

    Default Re: Cleaning Mold From Inside a Guitar?

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    I finally got this one back together and playing. The Microban seems to have done the mold killing job very well. There's no odor of mold, though some stains remain. I was able to use all of the old braces. the kerfing was loose in places, but still well glued in others. I'm guessing it did not sit full of water for very long, it just didn't get dried thoroughly inside. I rebound the back and touched up with Glue Boost, it turned out pretty well. The pick guard was curled some hopefully it will stay down, it's looking good, so far.

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    Default Re: Cleaning Mold From Inside a Guitar?

    Former environmental scientist here. I doubt any chemical treatment is necessary. After cleaning it, dry everything out, put it out in the sun for a day or two. Bring it back inside and and monitor it for a couple of weeks. If there is no new mold, you should be good to go.

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    Default Re: Cleaning Mold From Inside a Guitar?

    Quote Originally Posted by Joe Mendel View Post
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    I finally got this one back together and playing. The Microban seems to have done the mold killing job very well. There's no odor of mold, though some stains remain. I was able to use all of the old braces. the kerfing was loose in places, but still well glued in others. I'm guessing it did not sit full of water for very long, it just didn't get dried thoroughly inside. I rebound the back and touched up with Glue Boost, it turned out pretty well. The pick guard was curled some hopefully it will stay down, it's looking good, so far.
    Nice job Joe, it looks better than it did before.
    "Bargain instruments are no bargains if you can't play them". These are the words of J. Garber.

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    Registered User Charles E.'s Avatar
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    Default Re: Cleaning Mold From Inside a Guitar?

    Nice job, what is that metal thing attached to the neck block?
    Charley

    A bunch of stuff with four strings

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  26. #15
    Kelley Mandolins Skip Kelley's Avatar
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    Default Re: Cleaning Mold From Inside a Guitar?

    Charles, I’ve seen those before. It a clamp that holds a 9 volt battery for a pickup.

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    Mando accumulator allenhopkins's Avatar
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    Default Re: Cleaning Mold From Inside a Guitar?

    Looks a lot better than its former owner does, I'll bet...
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  30. #17

    Default Re: Cleaning Mold From Inside a Guitar?

    Skip is correct it is a battery clip. Thanks for the compliments. It has a nice tone, but not a lot of volume. It is a very sad story Allen. Since it came into my shop I've wondered what would make someone want to kill themselves in such an unusual way, and take their guitar with them. A friend and I are in the process of writing a song about it. Since I don't have any other details we are making up the story. Potential there for at least one great song, I'd like to have a hand in writing it.

  31. #18
    Registered User Charles E.'s Avatar
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    Default Re: Cleaning Mold From Inside a Guitar?

    Guitar macabre...
    Charley

    A bunch of stuff with four strings

  32. #19
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    Default Re: Cleaning Mold From Inside a Guitar?

    What have you guys done in situations like this?
    Mold is one thing but I don't recall anyone ever posting anything near the same situation as this on the Cafe. A permanent solution to what was probably a temporary problem. I hope getting the guitar back gives his family some comfort.
    "Bargain instruments are no bargains if you can't play them". These are the words of J. Garber.

  33. #20

    Default Re: Cleaning Mold From Inside a Guitar?

    Nice job on the repair!

    Color me skeptical. Suicide or homicide? Maybe a thought for another angle to the song. Gotta love old-timey murder ballads ala "Dreadful Wind and Rain" or "The Willow Garden".

  34. #21
    Jo Dusepo, luthier Dusepo's Avatar
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    Default Re: Cleaning Mold From Inside a Guitar?

    Grim Story but great job
    I am a luthier specialising in historical and world stringed instruments. You can see more info at my website.

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  36. #22

    Default Re: Cleaning Mold From Inside a Guitar?

    The story was that the guy committed suicide, maybe he could have been charged with attempted murder on the guitar, had he survived. Might be more than one song here!

  37. #23
    Registered Muser dang's Avatar
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    Default Re: Cleaning Mold From Inside a Guitar?

    This story has been floating in the back of my mind since I read it, sad indeed. I work in a hospital so I encounter this kind of stuff way too often (Please seek help people!). But the song idea is kinda cool, perhaps my brain trying to take the sad out... I think it could go a lot of ways

    A dark tale of selling your soul at the crossroads, forced to die young? Haunted guitar? Something about a relationship that took a wrong turn and they ran off with a priceless fiddle?

    If it was a banjo it would have been an easily solved case of town justice (but then no one would be fixing the banjo)
    I should be pickin' rather than postin'

  38. #24
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    Default Re: Cleaning Mold From Inside a Guitar?

    dang, I think you are right about seeking help. Maybe a hit song could be written in which a life could have been saved had the deceased sought help. Music does wonderful things and maybe it could help someone. Even one would be a success.
    THE WORLD IS A BETTER PLACE JUST FOR YOUR SMILE!

  39. #25

    Default Re: Cleaning Mold From Inside a Guitar?

    This is from a Hurricane Harvey flood victim who restored a flooded house and eradicated the spread of mold: try concobrium. It is a nontoxic salt that kills mold and prevents it from replicating.

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