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Thread: Best Way to Remove Wax from a Vintage Harmony Baritone?

  1. #1
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    Default Best Way to Remove Wax from a Vintage Harmony Baritone?

    I just took delivery of a beautiful 1950s Harmony Baritone ukulele. It's in fantastic condition but, at some point, a heavy wax coating was applied to the finish (body and neck). It looks good but it's got an annoying sticky feeling. What's the best way to clean this baby up and get it in playing condition? I've read that lighter fluid (Naptha) is a good solvent, but I'm a bit nervous about damaging the finish.

    Suggestions?
    Larry

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  2. #2
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    Naptha (Ronsonoil lighter fluid) normally does not attack finishes but YMMV so... try a little bit first on the back of the neck.
    Sopranos: aNueNue Khaya Mahogany 1, Bruko No. 6; Kiwaya KS-1; Kiwaya KTS-4; Kiwaya KTS-4K; Martin S-O
    Concerts:Cahaya CY-0112; Kiwaya KTC-1; Martin C-1 (ca. 1947-1955); Musicguymic's Kolohe
    Tenors: Cordoba 24T; Kiwaya KTT-2K
    Baritones: Cordoba 24B

  3. #3
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    Quote Originally Posted by Swamp Yankee View Post
    Naptha (Ronsonoil lighter fluid) normally does not attack finishes but YMMV so... try a little bit first on the back of the neck.
    Yep, I did a little more research and it seems that lighter fluid is safe, even for vintage finishes. I'm just back from Walmart where I picked up a can of lighter fluid and a tube of cotton makeup-removal pads (who would have thought to look in the sporting goods dept. for lighter fluid? ��). Ten minutes later, the sticky old wax is gone, the uke is clean, fretboard and bridge oiled, and ready for new strings. Now, just to wait for them to show up in the mailbox!
    Larry

    • COCOBOLO CEDAR/COCOBOLO CONCERT
    • ANUENUE UT200 MOON BIRD (ALPINE SPRUCE/ROSEWOOD) TENOR
    • KOALOHA KCM-10 PIKAKE KOA CONCERT
    • PONO ATD-CR CEDAR/ACACIA TENOR (LOW "G")
    • HARMONY MAHOGANY BARITONE (1950's)
    • VTAB TS2401 SPRUCE/MAHOGANY CONCERT

  4. #4
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    Same thing I said on FB: that’s the ticket!
    Glad it worked out so well for you.
    Sopranos: aNueNue Khaya Mahogany 1, Bruko No. 6; Kiwaya KS-1; Kiwaya KTS-4; Kiwaya KTS-4K; Martin S-O
    Concerts:Cahaya CY-0112; Kiwaya KTC-1; Martin C-1 (ca. 1947-1955); Musicguymic's Kolohe
    Tenors: Cordoba 24T; Kiwaya KTT-2K
    Baritones: Cordoba 24B

  5. #5
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    I got a stupid question.. how do you use it? Do you rub it in, I assume you don’t light it up right?
    Kamaka HF-1 || Martin S-1 Uke || Eddy Finn EFTS-20-S || Martin C1K Uke || Enya EUT-M6E
    Check out my ukulele themed paintings in UU forum thread

  6. #6
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    I wet a bit of clean white cotton rag with naptha and then gently rub the dirty/waxy bits. It cuts through grime/wax/grunge/gummy schmutz/sticker adhesive residue really well
    Sopranos: aNueNue Khaya Mahogany 1, Bruko No. 6; Kiwaya KS-1; Kiwaya KTS-4; Kiwaya KTS-4K; Martin S-O
    Concerts:Cahaya CY-0112; Kiwaya KTC-1; Martin C-1 (ca. 1947-1955); Musicguymic's Kolohe
    Tenors: Cordoba 24T; Kiwaya KTT-2K
    Baritones: Cordoba 24B

  7. #7
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    Thanks Swamp! I was advised previously on using white spirit but it didn’t dig out much. But then again it wasn’t any normal wax.
    Kamaka HF-1 || Martin S-1 Uke || Eddy Finn EFTS-20-S || Martin C1K Uke || Enya EUT-M6E
    Check out my ukulele themed paintings in UU forum thread

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by AustinHing View Post
    Thanks Swamp! I was advised previously on using white spirit but it didn’t dig out much. But then again it wasn’t any normal wax.
    In my research, I came across advice to never use household-type furniture polish (Pledge, etc.) on musical instruments because it contains silicone which penetrates through the finish into the wood and becomes next-to-impossible to remove, short of entirely sanding off the finish. Possibly some misguided soul decided that your lovely ukulele was a piece of living room furniture?
    Larry

    • COCOBOLO CEDAR/COCOBOLO CONCERT
    • ANUENUE UT200 MOON BIRD (ALPINE SPRUCE/ROSEWOOD) TENOR
    • KOALOHA KCM-10 PIKAKE KOA CONCERT
    • PONO ATD-CR CEDAR/ACACIA TENOR (LOW "G")
    • HARMONY MAHOGANY BARITONE (1950's)
    • VTAB TS2401 SPRUCE/MAHOGANY CONCERT

  9. #9
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    Like a dummy, I once waxed a uke that had an open pore finish. It had little tiny white streaks in the surface. A friend of mine liked the look so much, she bought it from me!
    I wonder if Goo-Gone would work?
    "Those who bring sunshine and laughter to the lives of others cannot keep it from themselves".

    Music washes from the soul, the dust of everyday living.

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by Nickie View Post
    Like a dummy, I once waxed a uke that had an open pore finish. It had little tiny white streaks in the surface. A friend of mine liked the look so much, she bought it from me!
    I wonder if Goo-Gone would work?
    I briefly considered GooGone, but I don't like that it's oil-based and seems to leave an oily residue. The lighter fluid (naptha) worked great. Cheap, quick, easy, and leaves no trace when it dries (which only takes seconds).
    Larry

    • COCOBOLO CEDAR/COCOBOLO CONCERT
    • ANUENUE UT200 MOON BIRD (ALPINE SPRUCE/ROSEWOOD) TENOR
    • KOALOHA KCM-10 PIKAKE KOA CONCERT
    • PONO ATD-CR CEDAR/ACACIA TENOR (LOW "G")
    • HARMONY MAHOGANY BARITONE (1950's)
    • VTAB TS2401 SPRUCE/MAHOGANY CONCERT

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