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Dec 13, 2019 - 10:21:11 AM
10 posts since 1/6/2017

Posted yesterday about railroad spikes, thanks folks for getting me pointed in the right direction.

Next question is: anyone know of a good way to get stale cigarette smoke odor out of a banjo?

The banjo I bought looked like it had never been played- no marks, smudges, wear of any kind etc. But, it’s clear it lived its life in a smoker’s house. That smell is slowly permeating my house.

Part of the problem was the hard case it came in and that has been remedied. But the banjo still has that lingering stink, and it comes off on you when you play. I wiped it all down with a Clorox wipe- probably a mistake but it helped some.

Would vinegar or something similar help or damage the finish?

Thanks,
Jethro

Dec 13, 2019 - 11:28:35 AM

625 posts since 5/31/2004

It will eventually wear off on its own, especially if fresh air is coming through the house.

Dec 13, 2019 - 11:33:50 AM
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KCJones

USA

648 posts since 8/30/2012

Put it in a room with an ozone generator?

Dec 13, 2019 - 11:53:18 AM

764 posts since 5/19/2018

I bought a early 50s RB250 that was essentially in excellent condition except that the original owner was a very heavy smoker and was into chew.

When I got the instrument it was covered with decades and decades of grime, nicotine sludge and chew residue. If I opened the case, the entire room smelt like a 1970’s bar at 3:15 AM on a Saturday. Not good.

Cleaned the heck out of the banjo. Left the case outside in the summer sun wide open for a few weeks. Wiped and sprayed Vinegar and air fresheners inside and out side the case numerous times. No avail to the odor.

Had the instrument for about 15 years now. On a damp day, it still stinks like an ashtray.

I really don’t think there is anything you can do if it’s a heavy and long term exposure.

Dec 13, 2019 - 11:56:59 AM

doryman

USA

786 posts since 11/26/2012

Yeah, you'll never get that smell out the case, good riddance to that.  Maybe replace the head?

Edited by - doryman on 12/13/2019 11:58:46

Dec 13, 2019 - 12:27:52 PM
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3785 posts since 5/12/2010
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I think it is all your imagination. I smoked in this house for decades, and I never noticed a smell on my banjos or anything else.wink

All seriousness aside, after I quit smoking I finally realized how bad it makes things stink. I had an old banjo that had been put away in the closet inside a case for at least 25 years, and it reeked of stale smoke and beer. 

I disassembled it and cleaned everything, applied a coat of floor wax with 0000 steel wool, and buffed it with a shoeshine cloth. This made a big improvement in the appearance of the banjo, and the cleaned and waxed banjo smelled clean and fresh with a floor wax aftertaste.

A stinking case is another matter. I would burn or sell such a case with full disclosure, and buy another. They don't cost much. 

Edited by - OldPappy on 12/13/2019 12:28:38

Dec 13, 2019 - 12:29:52 PM

Owen

Canada

5149 posts since 6/5/2011

I'm not offering this as an endorsement, just relaying that my mom thought it was a pretty good product...though I'm +99% sure she never tried to deodorize a banjo with it.   https://www.productreview.com.au/listings/nilodor-deodorizer-concentrate

Edited by - Owen on 12/13/2019 12:33:34

Dec 13, 2019 - 1:15:25 PM

Kimerer

USA

922 posts since 2/17/2006

Stuff the case full of crumpled newspaper and leave it closed up for a while with the banjo in it. The newspaper will absorb some of the odor. We do this with old, moldy books. It takes quite a while. Sometimes it works, and sometimes it doesn't. But it can't hurt to try it.

Dec 13, 2019 - 1:21:18 PM

ChipL

USA

1217 posts since 10/19/2004

^^ What KC suggested - put in in a enclosed space with an ozone generator. ie: the back seat of your car with the windows closed for 30-45 mins.

Dec 13, 2019 - 4:25:30 PM
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47 posts since 12/12/2011

I bought a Stelling it was in excellent shape that didn’t look like it had been played but it stank like an old ash tray. You could see the film on it. I vacuumed the case, left it out in the sun and sprayed it with that Frebreeze stuff. I also put one of those tumble drier scented sheets in the case. Geoff Stelling said clean the banjo with naphtha (lighter fluid in the U.K.) I was not sure about this but tried it in a hidden place. It worked great, so I cleaned the whole banjo twice with lighter fluid with excellent results. It now looks and smells great when you open that case.

Dec 14, 2019 - 2:54:09 AM
Players Union Member

Helix

USA

12348 posts since 8/30/2006

The clorox wipes are really dangerous. It took the callouses off my left hand.

New microfiber towels will grab broken organic molecules. Tar wants to vaporize into your entire environment. Use a damp microfiber on your banjo to start.

The old case will just continue to "rime". Some say a bag of coffee beans.  I have the Wagner wallpaper steamer, it has lots of little nozzles. 

If Naphtha cleans finger oils prior to glue ing , then lighter fluid is what I would try next. Chemistry, no vinegar.

Edited by - Helix on 12/14/2019 02:55:17

Dec 14, 2019 - 4:58:45 AM

187 posts since 1/26/2003

quote:
Originally posted by Crane-o

I bought a Stelling it was in excellent shape that didn’t look like it had been played but it stank like an old ash tray. You could see the film on it. I vacuumed the case, left it out in the sun and sprayed it with that Frebreeze stuff. I also put one of those tumble drier scented sheets in the case. Geoff Stelling said clean the banjo with naphtha (lighter fluid in the U.K.) I was not sure about this but tried it in a hidden place. It worked great, so I cleaned the whole banjo twice with lighter fluid with excellent results. It now looks and smells great when you open that case.


I bought a $2000 guitar, about 20 years ago, owned by a heavy smoker.  I did not know about cleaning with Naptha back then.  I kept the guitar for about 5 years and was never able to get the stink out.  I ended of selling it finally.  I tried dryer sheets and spray stink neutralizers inside the case.... no luck.

Naptha will do a super job cleaning a nitrocellulose finish.  I cleaned my Stelling when I first bought it with naptha.  The banjo had some sort of sticky residue all over it.  Naptha may damage other types of finishes, I am not sure.  I would not get it on the fretboard.  Geoff Stelling has a post on the Bangohangout explaining the use of Naptha for cleaning his banjos.  I would clean every nitrocellulose finished area.  Take the resonator off and clean the rim, inside and out.

Perhaps Dunlop Fingerboard 01 Cleaner will help with the stink in the fingerboard.  You'll need to clean or replace the head. 

Dec 14, 2019 - 5:06:31 AM

tohorse

USA

70 posts since 1/31/2014

put a couple of bounce fabric softener sheets in it or on it may not want it to touch but don't think it would hurt, i had to do that on a quilt I was working and it took it all out, couldn't wash it as it wan't finished, it was horrible and the smell went away they also make oder eaters to put in the wash, you could prob put one in some netting and hang to inside of your case but I would go for the bounce sheets, just a womans view on this problem

Dec 14, 2019 - 11:04:50 AM

PKM

USA

474 posts since 4/19/2011

I've rallied vintage cars, and once while on a week long rally, I noticed that a 1952 Jaguar XK120 coupe had apple slices sitting on the console every night. When I asked the owner about it, he said that being a closed vintage car, the exhaust fumes would stink up the leather interior after a long day's drive. The apple slices absorbed the smell. Maybe worth a try putting apple slices in the case every night for a while ??

Dec 14, 2019 - 11:39:56 AM

O.D.

USA

3434 posts since 10/29/2003

I had a smoke scented Gibson hard case
I tried everything for a long period several years.

Ended up in a dumpster
Could never get it out

YMMV

Everett

Dec 14, 2019 - 3:43:59 PM

173 posts since 11/13/2018

I bought a slightly used Taylor guitar several years ago that had lived in a smokers house. I sprayed Fabreeze fabric refresher thru-out the case and stored the banjo in the case for a week at a time between 2 treatments like that and it eventually removed all odor from the case and guitar.

Dec 16, 2019 - 1:05:14 AM

1494 posts since 11/17/2018

You might try activated charcoal.

Dec 16, 2019 - 7:56:42 AM

5056 posts since 9/21/2007

The easiest solution would be to take up smoking.

Dec 16, 2019 - 8:30:38 AM

1955 posts since 10/17/2013
Online Now

Buy another banjo of the same kind, but owned by a non-smoker. Problem solved. In the case of an expensive banjo, problem not solved until you have funds enough to purchase duplicate banjo.

Dec 16, 2019 - 7:24:30 PM

2010 posts since 2/7/2008

I’m with Ridgerunner on this one. If it were me, I’d take the banjo apart and wipe everything down with Naphtha to get the tar residue off, changing rags frequently. I’d replace the head when it went back together. 

By the way, Naphtha will not harm a fully cured finish. 

Edited by - Quickstep192 on 12/16/2019 19:27:44

Dec 17, 2019 - 8:58:40 AM
Players Union Member

rvrose

USA

712 posts since 6/29/2007

When my banjo starts smokin, I just slow down a little to let it cool off. wink

Rick

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