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View Full Version : New uke day--advice needed



pdxuke
02-11-2013, 06:09 PM
So I won a very nice 1969 Silvertone (Harmony made, I'm guessing) off of ebay. Really nice condition. Strung them up with Southcoast linears and it sounds fab.

BUT...

There is a powerful, musty smell from the sound hole. What do do? How can I safely get rid of that really horrible smell?

Ideas?

I've read the following:

Fill the sound whole with unground whole coffee beans.
Get a bag of those cedar shavings one uses in the hamster cage.

Or..?

coolkayaker1
02-11-2013, 06:57 PM
I had that once with a guitar. No kidding, Thom. I could smell it every time I played it--heck , I just had to walk by it and I could smell it!

I got a spray bottle, put in a small amount of bleach, mostly diluted with water, and I tested it first to make sure it was spraying in a fine mist. Then, I covered the guitar completely with old t-shirts, or maybe it was an old bed sheet--something I didn;t care about-- and some duct tape (if you get bleach on the finish it'll ruin the instrument) touching only the cloth (if you're taping to the instrument, obviously painter's tape only)and I misted the soundhole. I let it dry overnight and it was still a little musty but much better. Then, like a teenage driver squealing out of the high school parking lot after having their license for one week, I let 'er rip and sprayed a crapload in the hole. It worked wonders! It smelled much better. Sort of like a swimming pool for a couple weeks, but no mustiness. It was completely mustiness free. Musty is from fungus/mold.

Couple of cautions... I;d dilute it pretty well, like one part bleach to four parts water. And, two, if there's a label in there, it'll get faded. You would either need to carefully remove and replace it (frets.com has a tutorial on that), or cover it within the soundhole well first with painter's tape. If it was me, I'd use Saran Wrap gently over the label, and the painter's tape applied in a square to the wood around the label so the tape is not directly on the label. The guitar I had did not have a label.

PS Nix the frets.com label idea--it was how to install your own label. Here., Thom:
http://frets.com/FretsPages/Musician/GenMaint/Label/label.html

itsme
02-11-2013, 07:09 PM
I think I'd be leery of spraying bleach, but here's something involving rice and baking soda that sounds less risky. Never tried it, though.

http://www.frets.com/FretsPages/Luthier/Quickies/RiceClean/riceclean.html

pdxuke
02-11-2013, 07:14 PM
Thanks guys. Two good ideas. I may also try the cedar shavings. Also just leave it out a bit with air circulation.

coolkayaker1
02-11-2013, 07:17 PM
UV Light bulb might work, too. Mold hates light-- and dryness.

pdxuke
02-11-2013, 07:19 PM
UV Light bulb might work, too. Mold hates light-- and dryness.

Great idea! What's a UV light? Like a plant light?

coolkayaker1
02-11-2013, 07:34 PM
http://www.amazon.com/LEDwholesalers-Ultraviolet-LED-flashlight-7202UV395/dp/B001Q70A0G/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1360650758&sr=8-2&keywords=uv+light

Don't know if light alone would be enough. Putting it in the sunshine would be UV light, but that din't work for my guitar.

Plus, the rice and Amr and Hammer, like itsme wrote, is drying, so maybe some of that if the light alone isn't enough. Bleach last (but it does work, just have to be ultra careful).

808boy
02-11-2013, 08:31 PM
Aloha PDXuke,
My friend and fellow UUer is an avid Vintage Uke collector. This subject came up before and his remedy is white rice enough to shake around after you tape the sound hole with painters blue tape. Let it sit a few days then remove. Repeat if necessary. You can send him a PM for more info....RyanMFT
Good luck..................Bo.................
The blue tape will not harm the finish but if it leaves any sticky residue, use Goo Gone on it, available at hardware stores.......

pdxuke
02-11-2013, 08:44 PM
Aloha PDXuke,
My friend and fellow UUer is an avid Vintage Uke collector. This subject came up before and his remedy is white rice enough to shake around after you tape the sound hole with painters blue tape. Let it sit a few days then remove. Repeat if necessary. You can send him a PM for more info....RyanMFT
Good luck..................Bo.................
The blue tape will not harm the finish but if it leaves any sticky residue, use Goo Gone on it, available at hardware stores.......

Many thanks. With all these Ideas I'm sure I'll solve the problem. The uke sounds sweet--now to get it smelling that way!

hmgberg
02-12-2013, 02:15 AM
I've used baking soda in a small, open canister placed inside the sound hole. I covered the sound hole with a towel. The odor was soon gone, but it was not "powerful" to begin with, just annoying. There was no mold inside the uke, though. It had most likely inherited the odor from being stored somewhere musty. I would suspect that if there is something growing inside your uke, Thom, you have to kill it...the mold, not the uke. In your case...er, instance...I would use Steve's rice method first. It's the same idea, but the rice has an advantage if there is something inside the ukulele; you can shake the rice around as a kind of abrasive. There are other approaches...UV light, just letting the uke dry for a while. Typically, you want to proceed with the least aggressive methods first.

coolkayaker1
02-12-2013, 02:29 AM
Good advice. Plus, another benefit of the rice method...you can then eat the rice! Lol. It might have a few dry spiders and lint on it, but they'll cook off, I'm sure.


I've used baking soda in a small, open canister placed inside the sound hole. I covered the sound hole with a towel. The odor was soon gone, but it was not "powerful" to begin with, just annoying. There was no mold inside the uke, though. It had most likely inherited the odor from being stored somewhere musty. I would suspect that if there is something growing inside your uke, Thom, you have to kill it...the mold, not the uke. In your case...er, instance...I would use Steve's rice method first. It's the same idea, but the rice has an advantage if there is something inside the ukulele; you can shake the rice around as a kind of abrasive. There are other approaches...UV light, just letting the uke dry for a while. Typically, you want to proceed with the least aggressive methods first.

hmgberg
02-12-2013, 03:54 PM
Good advice. Plus, another benefit of the rice method...you can then eat the rice! Lol. It might have a few dry spiders and lint on it, but they'll cook off, I'm sure.

Yes, but another advantage of the baking soda method is that you can brush your teeth with it when you're done.:D I suppose the answer is to do both, the rice first, eat the rice, then the baking soda, brush your teeth. Thom, this can work out very nicely for you.

ScooterD35
02-12-2013, 04:45 PM
Frank Ford is one of the most respected, experienced Luthiers in the world as well as being part owner of Gryphon Stringed Instruments.

From his incredible website frets.com :

http://www.frets.com/FretsPages/Luthier/Quickies/RiceClean/riceclean.html


Scooter

PhilUSAFRet
02-12-2013, 04:49 PM
I recently read an article that stated alcohol based, sugar free, medicated mouthwash works better than bleach. Also re: tape residue, WD40 works as well as goo gone and most of us already have a can of it. Hasn't hurt any of the ukes I've used it on. I just moisten a paper towel or peice of cotton cloth and gently rub until the residue comes off....matter of several seconds at most.

pdxuke
02-12-2013, 05:12 PM
If it's good enough for Frank, good enough for me. This weekend I'll detune the strings, pull them off and do it. Then restring and try again.


Frank Ford is one of the most respected, experienced Luthiers in the world as well as being part owner of Gryphon Stringed Instruments.

From his incredible website frets.com :

http://www.frets.com/FretsPages/Luthier/Quickies/RiceClean/riceclean.html


Scooter