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  #1  
Old 12-07-2017, 02:23 PM
ChrisE ChrisE is offline
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Default Getting rid of vintage/used guitar smell

I inherited my grandfather's 1982 HD-28 a couple of months ago and have been playing it a lot lately.

While it's not exactly "vintage" (I'd say it's a decent "used guitar") the smell of it is just awful. While my new D-18 smells sweet like mahogany should, grandpa's old guitar smells like a box of old newspapers that have been in the attic for 50 years.

Any suggestions on how to freshen it up a bit? I vacumed a pretty solid amount of gunk from inside it when I first got, but it still is pretty yucky.
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Old 12-07-2017, 02:36 PM
Todd Yates Todd Yates is offline
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Quote:
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...grandpa's old guitar smells like a box of old newspapers that have been in the attic for 50 years...
Charlie Derrington spent years figuring out how to get that smell IN new mandolins. I'd leave it as is. Seriously, unless there's a smell from mold or animals (cats usually) I'd leave it exactly as is. Otherwise....

http://www.frets.com/FretsPages/Luth...riceclean.html
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Old 12-07-2017, 04:13 PM
downtime downtime is offline
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I've used coffee grounds to successfully get rid of cigarette smoke smell in a guitar so they might also work for the stale smell of a vintage guitar.

I bought the filter pouch type so there were no loose grounds and just dropped a couple of them in the sound hole. Worked very well at absorbing the odor.
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Old 12-07-2017, 06:04 PM
BradHall BradHall is offline
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I repaired a particularly bad smelling dread a while back. Following advice I found on this site I dumped a small bag of rice and a couple of teapoons of baking soda inside. I taped up the sound hole, shook it vigorously several times throughout the day, dumped and vacuumed it, and all odors were gone.
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Old 12-07-2017, 07:30 PM
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fazool fazool is offline
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Common topic. You will hear lots of wacky ideas (coffee, febreeze, baking soda, etc.)

None of those work.

The only way you can really remove odors is to oxidize the odor particles.

Get an ozonator (ozone generator). A real one, not a toy. You can buy one on Amazon for about $120 or rent one from a tool rental store for about $30/weekend.

This is what hotels use to remove smells (like cig smoke) from rooms and it is the only scientifically-foundational way to remove smell.

I've used one and it was nothing short of miraculous.

There are cautions however. The ozone is a serious respiratory irritant (not deadly just irritating) and it removes breathable O2 from the air (converts it to O3) so pets can suffocate if enclosed with it. I would put my guitar/case/whatever in a car and run it for 4-8 hours. It makes the car smell clean too.

You have to leave a window slightly open so there is a source of oxygen to supply the ozone.
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Old 12-07-2017, 07:50 PM
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Todd Tipton Todd Tipton is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by downtime View Post
I've used coffee grounds to successfully get rid of cigarette smoke smell in a guitar so they might also work for the stale smell of a vintage guitar.

I bought the filter pouch type so there were no loose grounds and just dropped a couple of them in the sound hole. Worked very well at absorbing the odor.
I dare you to brew a pot of coffee with them when you're done...LOL
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Old 12-07-2017, 07:52 PM
The Bard Rocks The Bard Rocks is offline
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Baking soda is always a good idea to try. I had luck once with sage leaves and a little sunlight and time.
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Old 12-07-2017, 09:02 PM
Truckjohn Truckjohn is offline
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Get it out of the case and on a good stand or wall hanger. Let it sit a couple months. It needs to air out...
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Old 12-07-2017, 09:14 PM
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Years ago I was told to fill the guitar with cedar shavings for awhile.
Never did it but remembered the suggestion.

I do have an ozone generator. They do work.
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Old 12-08-2017, 04:37 AM
Jabberwocky Jabberwocky is offline
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Cedar blocks work well. Refresh the blocks with cedar oil.

A good going-over with the orange Gibson Polish in a Pump helps.

I'd also try dried oregano, basil or mixed Italian herbs in a porous bag or sock. The smell of herbs sure beats the smell of old newspapers left in an attic.
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Old 12-08-2017, 05:22 AM
Gasworker Gasworker is offline
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There are expert answers to every question imaginable here in the AGF. Of course most of the answers are different. I don't know what grandpa did with this guitar but I do wonder if it's the case that smells like 50 year old newspapers. Any ideas as to what the "gunk" was?
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Old 12-08-2017, 06:52 AM
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Kind of depends on what the source of the odor is. If it's mildew, an ozone generator is pretty much the only thing that will work. If it's just general dirt and nastiness, a number of the other solutions (perhaps in combination) should do the trick. The rice thing will scrub the inside of the guitar and get rid of any accumulated dust. The wood on the interior of the guitar often will actually look nicer after being cleaned that way. Coffee grounds, cedar chips, herbs, etc. will perhaps mask odors but not really eliminate them. Baking soda will absorb airborne odors but won't do anything about eliminating their source. That may be enough if the odors aren't too terrible.

But mildew is tough stuff. Sometimes, it's in the case primarily rather than the instrument. If so, you can leave the instrument out of the case, wipe it down with a clean cloth, and it may improve. But if it's in the instrument, it's ozone time. Other remedies may work temporarily by masking the smell or briefly suppressing the mildew. But it'll come back as time, moisture, and nature work their "magic." Ozone is what it takes to actually kill off the mildew. Anything else that can do that (like chlorine bleach) is likely too harsh for use on a guitar.
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Old 12-08-2017, 07:43 AM
ChrisE ChrisE is offline
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Default Getting rid of vintage/used guitar smell

Quote:
Originally Posted by Gasworker View Post
There are expert answers to every question imaginable here in the AGF. Of course most of the answers are different. I don't know what grandpa did with this guitar but I do wonder if it's the case that smells like 50 year old newspapers. Any ideas as to what the [emoji33]"gunk" [emoji33]was?


It's not the case. I haven't had it in the case since I got it a couple of months ago. Whenever I play it I can pick up that aroma of dust coming out of it. Here's a picture where you can see some of the funk that was in it when I got it. I vacuumed a lot of it out but there's probably still some in there. I think I'll try the rice trick first and maybe some baking soda and see if that works.

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  #14  
Old 12-08-2017, 09:49 AM
Zorker Zorker is offline
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I've used these for the same issue and they worked, I just used 2 and would revitalize them by putting them in sun for a few hours. From Amazon, I think they sell 2-packs too.

Jalousie 12 Packs 100g Each Mini Bamboo Charcoal Bags Natural Air Purifier, Shoe Deodorizer and Odor Eliminator (Pack of 12 Bags)
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  #15  
Old 12-08-2017, 10:25 AM
ChrisN ChrisN is offline
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Lots of good ideas here. I bought an otherwise great guitar that smells, to me, like cheap aftershave, old urinal cake, or something not right, so I'll work through some of these.
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