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May 23, 2022 - 3:56:38 PM
1076 posts since 11/9/2012

Just curious how the players keep the metal on their banjos from losing it's luster. I am babying my RK76 and noticed the nickel is getting real dull looking. For some weird reason I can never keep the shine going long. It would be nice to keep it looking new.

Thanks

May 23, 2022 - 4:05:16 PM

5291 posts since 5/9/2007

Clean, dry, soft cloth.

May 23, 2022 - 4:20:17 PM
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1076 posts since 11/9/2012

quote:
Originally posted by mrphysics55

Clean, dry, soft cloth.


I must be using the wrong type of cloth, as it's not helping much. 

May 23, 2022 - 4:28:33 PM
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152 posts since 7/26/2020

You can use a product called Simichrome, which is a polish to be used on the nickel plated hardware.

May 23, 2022 - 4:35:43 PM
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5291 posts since 5/9/2007

My oldest banjo is 16 years old. Hardware is nickel plated, StewMac. The clean, dry, soft cloth approach has kept it looking nearly new.

Wish I had some wisdom for you.

Edited by - mrphysics55 on 05/23/2022 16:36:59

May 23, 2022 - 4:40:03 PM
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csacwp

USA

3035 posts since 1/15/2014

quote:
Originally posted by RoCopickin20

You can use a product called Simichrome, which is a polish to be used on the nickel plated hardware.


Simichrome will remove the plating over time. Just use dish soap and water or let the party develop a patina . . .

May 23, 2022 - 4:45:42 PM
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Bill Rogers (Moderator)

USA

26044 posts since 6/25/2005
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I haven’t cleaned mine since the early ‘70s, and then just once. No reason to.

May 23, 2022 - 4:50:48 PM
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32 posts since 8/13/2021

My choice (if you can still find them) would be a clean, soft, old fashioned baby diaper.
Most any plated metal, or for that matter a glossy wood finish, responds well, keeping up with a wipe-off after each playing session.

May 23, 2022 - 4:56:38 PM
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8035 posts since 1/7/2005

quote:
Originally posted by RoCopickin20

You can use a product called Simichrome, which is a polish to be used on the nickel plated hardware.


Simichrome is an excellent polish for motorcycles. Or solid aluminum or chrome plated parts.

Nickel is somewhat softer than chrome, and thin enough to wear through if regularly rubbed out with an abrasive polish. That's why you see a lot of elderly banjos with worn-out nickel plating.

I think that most pickers tend to ignore oxidation on nickel plated parts--or if it's totally ruined--it can be polished and replated.  It depends on how badly you want it to shine like new. Banjo hooks tend to suffer the worst over time. Fortunately, new hooks are pretty cheap and can be replaced with new ones if that's your preference. 

I suspect that most of the corrosion on vintage hardware may be caused by out-gassing corrosive fumes from deteriorating celluloid. storing the banjo out of the case may slow that process.

Some players prefer the appearance of aged hardware, and specify new parts to be patenated to provide the 'earthy' look. It's a natural process, and can give the impression of a heavily-used instrument. Like a worn and faded black belt in karate. wink

DD

May 23, 2022 - 5:12:31 PM
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1852 posts since 5/19/2018

Me. NEVER. I have all original instruments from the 1900’s on up. Maintain them perfectly, but I never “clean” them.

Wipe dust off, yes. Polish, metal cleaners, no.

Some of those polishes and cleaners can do a real number over time. Best to leave off those and just use a clean cloth.

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May 23, 2022 - 5:13:23 PM
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137 posts since 12/27/2019

Spit and old socks.

May 23, 2022 - 5:17:46 PM
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1076 posts since 11/9/2012

Thanks folks. I honestly thought there was some kind of nickel polish that players were using. I had no idea folks just used a rag. Whenever I do this, it seems like I'm just pushing smudges over to a new spot on the metal. I have been using an old white tube sock. I think it works better on the strings though.

May 23, 2022 - 5:30:28 PM
Players Union Member

blazo

USA

388 posts since 5/16/2017

No shiny sh*t on my banjos... y.yarn.co/836069ee-b2f5-4361-b...4435c.mp4

May 23, 2022 - 6:21:39 PM
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roydsjr

USA

802 posts since 5/17/2007

I try not to touch the metal parts , by handling the banjo by the wood parts only. The nickel plating on Recording King banjos tarnishes very easily. I've bought several of them over the last number of years and usually use some polishing compound No. 7 to clean off banjos that I bought damaged on ebay. Some people hands will really tarnish the metal quickly it seems. I have run into some that won't polish out completely! I usually like to swap out the nickel for chrome parts for this reason. Not everyone cares what their banjo looks like. Some do, some don't . I'm not knocking them at all. I just like a clean looking banjo. I have a RB-4 Copy that I made (with the LORD's help) and it still has nickel parts on it. I just keep it clean like most has said by wiping it off if I touch the metal part. I've learned to handle it so I don't touch the metal parts. I always swap the armrest to a chrome one on all my banjos for this reason. They hold up so much better.

May 23, 2022 - 6:57:42 PM

14764 posts since 10/30/2008

I try to blow chunks off. If beer gets spilled on it, dab it up with a hankie or paper towel.

Otherwise get obvious dust off with a rag from an old t shirt.

Nothing else.

If you keep them in a case, banjos don't get dirty.

May 23, 2022 - 7:01:19 PM
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304 posts since 2/11/2019

I use Simichrome on my Deering Sierra. Brasso on my open backs. I give it a good cleaning every time I change strings which is usually every three months or so. Canned air to blow out dust in impossible to reach areas. Soft cloth. I used Lysol all purpose on the head and it works well to get the grime off. Some guys like that well worn, dusty, dirty look. I'm not one of them.

Now I've only the Deering a little over three years and with Simichrome it still looks as good as the day I bought it. Can't say how it will be after longer usage but that product was recommended to me by my banjo instructor who has been playing banjo 50 years.

May 23, 2022 - 7:09:28 PM

13309 posts since 6/2/2008

quote:
Originally posted by Toothless in Kentucky

I honestly thought there was some kind of nickel polish that players were using.  . . . I have been using an old white tube sock. I think it works better on the strings though.


I don't think Simichrome gently wiped on and off once a decade is going to do much damage. You just don't want to make a regular thing of it. 

It wasn't until the past few years that I knew Simichrome was potentially dangerous to plating. Fortunately, I never polished my banjos many times. 

For something really mild, consider one of the lacquer-safe instrument polishes. Liquids in pump bottles, not creams or aerosols. I used to use Ken Smith Pro Formula Polish. Not too many years ago, I bought some Gibson Guitar Polish in a package deal with a microfibre cloth.  It smells the same as the Ken Smith and appears to work the same. I'd feel safe dampening a cloth with it to polish plated metal. It's very gentle, yet leaves a shine. Of course, it's great on the finished wood parts.

May 23, 2022 - 7:35:49 PM
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148 posts since 2/16/2008

I use Nu-Finish. and I don't have any strange beliefs that it is somehow wrong to ever polish up you instrument.

Its a lot of work to do a banjo because of all the hard to reach places. I use a lot of Q tips too.

May 23, 2022 - 8:41:24 PM

304 posts since 3/2/2013

quote:
Originally posted by Toothless in Kentucky

Thanks folks. I honestly thought there was some kind of nickel polish that players were using. I had no idea folks just used a rag. Whenever I do this, it seems like I'm just pushing smudges over to a new spot on the metal. I have been using an old white tube sock. I think it works better on the strings though.


Your old sock is plenty good. Thats all I use. Im not one to spend much time keeping a banjo pristine....(thats time taken away from learning a new lick or two) but i don't let em get grimy either. Eventually if you play the thing a while, tarnish, age, etc. etc. are gonna win anyway. Gives it character and shows it's been a good friend and ain't afraid to work hard and get a little dirty : )

May 24, 2022 - 4:49:52 AM
Players Union Member

Texasbanjo (Moderator)

USA

27364 posts since 8/3/2003

If your armrest is giving you a problem with dullness, try using a wrist guard or the top of an old sock on your wrist/arm. That way your skin oils/dirt won't get on the metal and dull it. Also, cleaning the back of the neck and strings after each picking session with a clean, dry cloth helps keep everything clean and shiny.

May 24, 2022 - 5:00:18 AM

rmcdow

USA

1120 posts since 11/8/2014

I've worked with polishing different metals for years in the jewelry industry, and the most effective method for heavy tarnish is rouge. This can be found in rouge polishing cloths, available on ebay. There is another type of polishing cloth that uses chemicals and a very fine abrasive (this is how it is advertised) in it. Both these cloths are two cloths in one.  The inner cloth is for polishing, the outer cloth is for cleaning off residue after polishing.  I use both types of  cloths; the light colored inner cloths (the rouge has the red inner cloth) is a bit less aggressive than the rouge cloth.  I understand the light colored cloth also contains chemicals. Both these cloths remove some amount of metal, as can be seen on the cloth after use, but the amount is minuscule as compared with Simichrome or Brasso (Brasso is the more abrasive of these two). I have used both to clean up dust and grime on gold plating that is 100 millionths thick, much much thinner than nickel plating, without removing enough of the plating over time to have to resort to re-plating. The rouge in the cloth acts as a burnishing agent, just as it does on a buffing wheel, and there will be some rouge left on the part after rubbing it. The other side of the two layer cloth is there to remove the rouge after polishing.
These cloths will both work on nickel, and if used only when really needed, will not remove enough nickel over time to cause any real wear problems as you will see with more aggressive polishing compounds. You will be able to see the amount of metal removed by the color of the cloth changing to a darker shade in the places you use on it. I keep several of both kinds around to use on all the polished metal products in my house.

Edited by - rmcdow on 05/24/2022 05:03:53

May 24, 2022 - 5:22:57 AM

76231 posts since 5/9/2007

Rub it with some spit on a cotton cloth or maybe a smear of waterless hand cleaner.

May 24, 2022 - 5:26:29 AM

31 posts since 4/19/2014

I don’t polish the metal on my instruments, but I have a bass with nitro on it and when it gets sticky do to humidity, the builder recommended turtle wax. I’ve only waxed it once in three years but it worked.

May 24, 2022 - 6:11:42 AM

Dave Churm

Canada

106 posts since 7/24/2007

I was using Simichrome for years, but found it acted like a lubricant and loosened a couple of the J hooks

May 24, 2022 - 7:10:10 AM

221 posts since 4/2/2008

Been using Semichrome on my Stelling Superstar at least two-times a year for over 40 years. The nickle plating looks fine with no thin spots.
I really like the the Connoisseurs Jewlery Wipes (available on Amazon) for my gold plated banjos - very gentle and leaves the gold looking beautiful.

Edited by - Cessna172 on 05/24/2022 07:11:24

May 24, 2022 - 10:18:38 AM
Players Union Member

RioStat

USA

5791 posts since 10/12/2009

Non-abrasive, works really well.

I prefer a "patina'ed" look on nickel plated parts, so I don't keep the hardware on my banjos pristine and sparkly, but I will use this stuff, when I buy a banjo, and "clean" the hardware.

NevrDull

Edited by - RioStat on 05/24/2022 10:19:14

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