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Thread: How do you clean your mandolin?

  1. #1
    Registered User Ranald's Avatar
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    Default How do you clean your mandolin?

    Can you please give me some advice. I'm not looking for anything complex -- there's no axle grease or nuclear waste on my mando, just the usual sweat, and dust. Should I take it to a car wash?
    Robert Johnson's mother, describing blues musicians:
    "I never did have no trouble with him until he got big enough to be round with bigger boys and off from home. Then he used to follow all these harp blowers, mandoleen (sic) and guitar players."
    Lomax, Alan, The Land where The Blues Began, NY: Pantheon, 1993, p.14.

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    Default Re: How do you clean your mandolin?

    Yes a high pressure car wash should do fine.seriously I just wipe mine off with a damp rag followed by drying, buffing with a soft dry rag.

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    Registered User John Van Zandt's Avatar
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    Default Re: How do you clean your mandolin?

    Is the finish laquer/ nitro? A popular choice is Virtuoso Premium Polish and Virtuoso Premium Cleaner. These are sold in separate bottles.
    Kentucky KM-380

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    Some Ability - No Talent MikeZito's Avatar
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    Default Re: How do you clean your mandolin?

    I just use a lint-free cloth and a little elbow grease . . . never had a problem with that.

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    Registered User Ranald's Avatar
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    Default Re: How do you clean your mandolin?

    Quote Originally Posted by John Van Zandt View Post
    Is the finish laquer/ nitro? A popular choice is Virtuoso Premium Polish and Virtuoso Premium Cleaner. These are sold in separate bottles.
    How do I tell?
    Robert Johnson's mother, describing blues musicians:
    "I never did have no trouble with him until he got big enough to be round with bigger boys and off from home. Then he used to follow all these harp blowers, mandoleen (sic) and guitar players."
    Lomax, Alan, The Land where The Blues Began, NY: Pantheon, 1993, p.14.

  9. #6

    Default Re: How do you clean your mandolin?

    I have only owned a mandolin since April. Today I took a micro fiber cloth and wiped off the dust and buffed the chrome tail piece.

    With my guitars when I change strings I use Music Nomad cleaner and polish. Once a year I use their fret board oil. I will do the same on the mandolin which will be soon since it is ready for a string change.

    Ernie Ball also has a nice polish.
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    Mandolin user MontanaMatt's Avatar
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    Default Re: How do you clean your mandolin?

    I dribble drops of beer off my mustache while on stage. When it gets too gross, I wipe it down with a damp cloth...buff dry, then a little DrDucks Axe Wax(I think it's just mineral oil) gets it slick again.
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    Registered User Ranald's Avatar
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    Default Re: How do you clean your mandolin?

    Quote Originally Posted by MontanaMatt View Post
    I dribble drops of beer off my mustache while on stage. When it gets too gross, I wipe it down with a damp cloth...buff dry, then a little DrDucks Axe Wax(I think it's just mineral oil) gets it slick again.
    I dunno, maybe the carwash would be a good idea for your mandolin!
    Robert Johnson's mother, describing blues musicians:
    "I never did have no trouble with him until he got big enough to be round with bigger boys and off from home. Then he used to follow all these harp blowers, mandoleen (sic) and guitar players."
    Lomax, Alan, The Land where The Blues Began, NY: Pantheon, 1993, p.14.

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    Default Re: How do you clean your mandolin?

    I used to use Martin guitar polish but have switched to Duck's Axe Wax.

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    Default Re: How do you clean your mandolin?

    I use Meguiar's Fine Cut Cleaner, which is abrasive and should not be used frequently. But it will blend out a patina to a soft glow without losing any mojo. You'd be surprised how many scratches disappear. The grit starts out as a fine grit (probably 10000) and breaks down as you use it to 30000 or so. Achieves a mirror shine every time with virtually no work.
    For simple, non-abrasive cleaner, I use Meguiar's Show Car Glaze.

    A lot of luthiers used Meguair's products in the 90's and early oughts because they were the only ones who disclosed their ingredients, and guaranteed that no silicones were used, so relatively safe for future restoration work.

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    Oval holes are cool David Lewis's Avatar
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    Default Re: How do you clean your mandolin?

    Hot breath and a micro fibre rag. About every 6-8 mo that I clean it with naphtha (shellite in Australia.) about every 12-&8 months inoolish it with guitar polish. I like to keep them impeccable. This seems to work.

    The naphtha doesn’t affect any of my finishes. But check on a small part before applying.
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  21. #12

    Default Re: How do you clean your mandolin?

    To quote Captain Beefhart: “Don’t wipe the sweat off your instrument.
    You need that stink on there. Then you have to get that stink onto your music.“

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  23. #13
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    Default Re: How do you clean your mandolin?

    I like to use two products, both rubbed in carefully with an old T-shirt:

    1) Lizard Spit is a very gentle solvent that will gently remove finger grime, smoke, sweat and stray spit from singing (http://lizardspit.com/)

    2) Dr. Duck's Ax Wax will bring up a nice shine and help to hide any nicks or scratches. The initial oily feel feel fades in a day (http://www.ducksdeluxe.com/ddaxwax.html)

    Good luck!

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    Professional Cat Herder Phil Vinyard's Avatar
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    Default Re: How do you clean your mandolin?

    I've been using our own Dave Harvey's Jubilee Polish for years. It really cleans up my mandolins, and I big time trust Dave to formulate something that is good for a mandolin.

    Here is a link to retailer of it:

    https://cumberlandacoustic.com/product/jubliee-polish/

    NFI. Just a big fan of Dave and his polish.
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    Purveyor of Sunshine sgarrity's Avatar
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    Default Re: How do you clean your mandolin?

    I wipe them with a cloth on occasion. Might use a damp cloth if needed. No polishing here.

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    Default Re: How do you clean your mandolin?

    I've very seldom had to clean a mandolin. A little fretboard oil maybe once a year, wipe in lightly, wipe off with soft cloth or paper towel. The instrument doesn't really get dirty.

    On the other hand, I've bought several grungy old violins off ebay and such places, and they were often crusty/dusty/resinated. For those, the grunge has to go, and the least invasive way to do it is with a paper towel or soft cloth and spit.

    Yes, good old saliva. It's not very runny, which is nice, and it's chock full of enzymes and such. A little bit applied to an area, work it around, rub gently and wipe off. It will not harm the finish, but if it's a big project, you WILL go dry, so plan on spending a couple days doing a small area, then the next, and so on. You're trying to loosen up decades of crud, and you don't want to grind the stuff into the finish, just dissolve the crud and wipe it off.

    I've done this on several old fiddles. It works well, and I've never experienced any drawbacks. I've never had a mandolin that needed this treatment; somehow they don't get as cruddy as old violins. I have no doubt that it would work on a mandolin.

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    Default Re: How do you clean your mandolin?

    I use a damp cloth then buff it with a dry one. Once or twice a year I polish it with Dunlop Formula 65. I did go to Walmart and buy a bundle of white washcloths specifically for instrument care. I washed them before using them as they smelled of bleach when I bought them. R/
    I love hanging out with mandolin nerds . . . . . Thanks peeps ...

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    Default Re: How do you clean your mandolin?

    I use David Harvey's Jubilee cleaner/polish. Last bottle lasted eight years and just reordered. Great stuff !
    My two favorite pastimes are drinking wine and playing the mandolin but most of my friends would rather hear me drink wine! Adapted from quote by Mark Twain------supposedly !

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  35. #19
    Quietly Making Noise Dave Greenspoon's Avatar
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    Default Re: How do you clean your mandolin?

    Lint free cloth on the body. A small patch of lamb's wool over the fretboard before putting it away takes care of skin oils on the strings.
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  37. #20
    Registered User Ranald's Avatar
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    Default Re: How do you clean your mandolin?

    Quote Originally Posted by Bob A View Post
    I've very seldom had to clean a mandolin. A little fretboard oil maybe once a year, wipe in lightly, wipe off with soft cloth or paper towel. The instrument doesn't really get dirty.

    On the other hand, I've bought several grungy old violins off ebay and such places, and they were often crusty/dusty/resinated. For those, the grunge has to go, and the least invasive way to do it is with a paper towel or soft cloth and spit.
    Thanks, Bob. The violin information is interesting too, as there's a "permanent" thin layer of rosin on my fiddle, though I rub it with a cloth after every playing. My luthier actually scraped rosin off my bow with a pen knife, but, if I tried that, I'd probably end up with either a very thin bow or two partial bows. He apprenticed under a Hungarian master when I was a schoolboy, and probably got his ears boxed whenever he made an error.
    Robert Johnson's mother, describing blues musicians:
    "I never did have no trouble with him until he got big enough to be round with bigger boys and off from home. Then he used to follow all these harp blowers, mandoleen (sic) and guitar players."
    Lomax, Alan, The Land where The Blues Began, NY: Pantheon, 1993, p.14.

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    Default Re: How do you clean your mandolin?

    Quote Originally Posted by sgarrity View Post
    I wipe them with a cloth on occasion. Might use a damp cloth if needed. No polishing here.
    same here, just wipe with cloth which isn't needed often

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  40. #22
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    Default Re: How do you clean your mandolin?

    Cold water, gentle cycle, tumble dry.

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