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Old December 21st, 2008, 02:18 AM   #1 (permalink)
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cleaning tolex on fender amps

I am looking for the best way to clean the tolex on my 65' Fender Bandmaster. I would like to bring some shine back to the tolex, but don't want to damage the tolex in anyway. If anyone has any suggestions on the best way to do this I would appreciate it.


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Old December 21st, 2008, 02:38 AM   #2 (permalink)
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i usually use a touch of armour all...if that ain't around, then a bit of soap and warm water....
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Old December 21st, 2008, 02:55 AM   #3 (permalink)
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I've used the shoe polish that comes in a dauber with good results. It will cover scuffs decently and also give a bit of shine. Armor All works well too but sometimes is too slick.
MIM Tele, Gretsch 5120, Jazzmaster,Ibby EDA900, Ibby Mikrobass, MusicMan HD150, The "Other Princeton," too much other stuff.
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Old December 21st, 2008, 03:01 AM   #4 (permalink)
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I vacuum them first then Armour All them also. Great for when I'm trying to sell stuff.

Armour All is a wonder position for anything plastic based. Makes almost anything look new.
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Old December 21st, 2008, 03:05 AM   #5 (permalink)
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+1 on the armour all, it has my '73 vibro champ looking like I just took it out of the box, you'd think I just bought it new.
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Old December 21st, 2008, 07:33 AM   #6 (permalink)
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Meguiars........ Quick Interior Detailer Spray.
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Old December 21st, 2008, 08:32 AM   #7 (permalink)
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Simple Green applied with a sponge, then wipe with damp paper towels.
Dry it out; then ArmourAll or Scuffcoat. Wipe either off immediately with dry
paper towels to avoid buildup. Enough will remain to add a nice finish.
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Old December 21st, 2008, 09:10 AM   #8 (permalink)
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I can't believe all you guys who use ArmorAll. It's loaded with silicone, which is slippery for sure, but I hate the feeling on my hands. That greasy, slick feeling is awful. The silicone also makes it hell on the repair person if you get it on a guitar that needs to be resprayed or refinished. Products with silicone are banned from my shop. Save it for your tires.

If you want a good shine that feels right and probably helps restore the Tolex, use Lexol Leather Conditioner. Use Lexol on your car's dash, too. Don't use Lexol Vinylex--it has silicones, too.

I clean old amps with Murphy's Oil Soap and a bristle brush. A bit of shampoo or dishwashing liquid (not dishwasher liquid) will lift some stubborn stains, but will be gentle to the surface, like the Murphy's.

And if you really want a shine, use kitchen floor polish.
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Old December 21st, 2008, 10:12 AM   #9 (permalink)
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I like to use a small amount of dish washing liquid in warm water. Apply with a soft bristle nylon brush working in small circles. Dry with paper towels. I remove the amp, speaker, grill and all hardware before cleaning. I don't use ArmorAll.


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Old December 21st, 2008, 10:50 AM   #10 (permalink)
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hey all you ArmorAll fans - don't you think you should clean the amp with some soapy water before applying that stuff (like Red Rock said)? Otherwise you're just putting a coating over the dirt. Or is ArmorAll a cleaning solvent in it's own self? I always thought it was just a protective coating, but I haven't seen any for years.
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Old December 21st, 2008, 12:06 PM   #11 (permalink)
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I use beer and a bar rag to clean and nourish the tolex material. AmourAll will ruin the tone.
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Old December 21st, 2008, 02:13 PM   #12 (permalink)
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Originally Posted by Phat-o-Caster View Post
I use beer and a bar rag to clean and nourish the tolex material. AmourAll will ruin the tone.
I like it!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
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Old December 24th, 2008, 02:50 PM   #13 (permalink)
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Goo gone and a toothbrush - it got most of the unknown crud from the tolex on my 1994 Rivera. It's not 100% but it did pretty good - that stuff is very persistent - who know's what it is - probably a mix of beer, smoke, DNA and other substances I don't want to know about (I bought it used). I think a small wire brush would do better but it might be harsh on the finish.
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Old December 24th, 2008, 02:53 PM   #14 (permalink)
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So what cleans the grillcloth?
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Old December 24th, 2008, 03:01 PM   #15 (permalink)
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I never use Armor All. It might look nice for awhile but it eventually attracts more dust/dirt than an untreated amp would and the stuff sticks to it down in all of those treated textured areas and ends up getting dirtier than it was before. I'm also with Bill on that silicone feeling.

I go strictly with a toothbrush and either Murphy's Oil Soap, mild dish detergent, or a little bit of Fantastik or Simple Green if the thing is really nasty. I also use as little water as possible so it doesn't soften the glue up or anything. Then I blot it with a clean rag or paper towels and repeat if I need to.

Sometimes those spray on foam carpet cleaners work good for the grill cloth. You have to be careful on some amps not to get it too wet because the black paint on the baffle can start to come off and dye the cloth.
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Old December 24th, 2008, 04:47 PM   #16 (permalink)
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Heck, I've stripped and pressure washed them before if they're bad enough.
I bought one that had been 'painted' to look better in pics and had no choice.
It turned out pretty good all in all.
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Old December 24th, 2008, 10:28 PM   #17 (permalink)
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Tolex is God's gift to us guys that like to clean up old amps. IMHO the best way to go is to clean the Tolex as much as possible and I find that Tolex when clean is remarkably shiny and new looking. I find that Armor All leaves the amp with a sticky feeling. You have to remove the chassis, ALL the hardware, and the baffle. This leave s you with the bare cabinet with the tube chart to be protected. An old plastic package that strings come in is usually perfect to cover the tube chart and the wide blue masking tape that is sold for painters won't lift the finish from the inside of the cabinet. I like a stiff scrub brush of about fingernail brush size and Dawn dishwashing liquid or Fantastic and a circular motion in small areas. Rinse with warm water and repeat till clean. I keep a couple of old towels to keep the cabinet from getting too saturated. Clean all the hardware and polish with metal polish which leaves the baffle to clean. Obviously the speaker and the logo have to be removed. Particle board baffels probably won't lend themselves to too much water but if it's plywood I'll spray the grill with Fantastic and scrub with the same brush and motion as the cabinet. Then rinse with a hose and nozle or a pressure washer if you're careful. Now use a few more of those old towels and prop in front of a fan but NO HEAT. Grills can get really dirty so you may have to repeat the grill cleaning. Once everything is dry and all the metal is polished reassemble. If there are loose bits of the Tolex use contact cement to tack these bits down using more of the blue tape to hold everything in place till dry. It's amazing how the old Tolex amps clean up and you know you play better when your amp looks better.
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Old December 24th, 2008, 11:29 PM   #18 (permalink)
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I laid this on another cat a few weeks ago, here it is in a little more detail.
Scrub with toothbrush (firm bristles, not soft), DIPPED in Formula 409. Dry with terry towel.
Rinse brush, then carefully DIP (not spray) into Blechtwhite tire cleaner. Clean again.
Leaves a thin residue, not greasy like Armor-all. Wipe it off with a clean terry towel.
I've restored lots of pawnshop amps and cabs this way, stay clean a long time.
If the Tolex is really scratched or faded, Nu-vinyl helps, but you have to wipe it off real well, it's a little slippery, not as bad as Armor-all, though.
Good luck.
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Old December 24th, 2008, 11:44 PM   #19 (permalink)
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Light mineral oil.
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Old December 25th, 2008, 11:01 PM   #20 (permalink)
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I use hand sanitizer (ethyl alcohol in a mousturizing gel). I use a bristle brush to work out the dirt, and wipe the hand sanitizer off with a paper towel. I finally coat with Armour All. Some folks prefer Son of a Gun.
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