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What's the right way to care for a vintage instrument?

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Jan 1, 2020 - 10:01:35 AM
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Ryk

USA

223 posts since 11/20/2011

I'll soon be the next owner of a B&D #3 plectrum. It's definitely been a musician's tool for it's life and will continue to be. But when it gets here i want to go through it and clean it up and put it in the best shape possible before it goes back to work. I want to clean the gold parts but i'm definitely not thinking of having any re-plating done. Any guidance is greatly appreciated.
I'm certainly interested in thoughts on what to use as a head. (I'm thinking Renaissance.)
Thanks in advance.
Ryk

Jan 1, 2020 - 10:18:36 AM
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Alex Z

USA

3721 posts since 12/7/2006

For the gold, no friction!

Some recommend plain water and a soft cloth.  That's OK for dust.    However, if there is a lot of crud and accumulated french fry grease, that's not going to do the job without a lot of rubbing.  I've used liquid dishwashing soap and soft and a cotton ball or well-worn pure cotton flannel.  Rinse and pat dry gently with soft cotton flannel.

Avoid paper towels and tissues.  These may feel soft to the human touch, but they are made from wood products, and it is possible that the fibers you can't feel are harder than the gold.

Enjoy the banjo.

Jan 1, 2020 - 11:13:23 AM
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2045 posts since 12/31/2005

There are polishing cloths made for gold.   Example  

Jan 1, 2020 - 4:12:04 PM
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1003 posts since 8/7/2017

You could also ask a local jeweler for advice. They might have extra polish material that they could give you a little bit of, or sell you enough to do the job.

Jan 1, 2020 - 4:37:52 PM
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csacwp

USA

2555 posts since 1/15/2014

Do not polish it. You will remove some of the playing. It's nearly 100 years old... And it should look as such. Patina is a good thing.

Jan 1, 2020 - 7:03:22 PM
Players Union Member

Ryk

USA

223 posts since 11/20/2011

John ... et al., I'm definitely with you on the patina thing. Actually i treasure the signs of use on a treasured instrument. Let me put it this way ... Basically i'm same old phart when i come in from doing a bunch of yard work all dirty from work ... as the guy who gets out of the shower, shaves and puts on clean clothes. All i want to do is clean the banjo up from past "yard work" and get it ready to go out for the night or turn around and go back to work.  I'm just the next owner/player who needs to care for this banjo for the next player to come along.

Edited by - Ryk on 01/01/2020 19:05:42

Jan 2, 2020 - 7:15:09 AM
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Alex Z

USA

3721 posts since 12/7/2006

Right.  Don't need to "polish" gold.  Gold is an inert element and does not tarnish.  Silver tarnishes, nickel tarnishes, copper tarnishes.   Strictly speaking, one can polish solid gold to get a smooth and shiny surface.  But the banjo parts are already smooth and the gold is plated over it.

  -- Crud and grease:  liquid soap and water to dissolve, very gently pat dry.  Might do this to get the previous owner's DNA off the armrest, for example.

  -- Scratches:  Leave them alone.  Trying to remove scratches is merely taking down the level of the unscratched part to the depth of the scratches.

  -- "Tarnish" on gold:  If there is any observable "tarnish," it is not coming from the gold plating itself, but rather molecules leaching through from underlying metal or plating, such as copper or nickel underneath.  That's the "patina" look you have no choice but to keep, because it's not coming from the gold.  Some call crud "patina," but crud is crud. smiley

Edited by - Alex Z on 01/02/2020 07:15:40

Jan 2, 2020 - 9:48:53 AM

6700 posts since 8/28/2013

Feed it a good diet (no junk food), make sure it gets plenty of exercise, at least eight hours of sleep every night, and make sure it brushes after every meal.

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