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How to polish/clean black 1978 Tele?

Discussion in 'Finely Finished' started by max6166, Aug 3, 2017.

  1. max6166

    max6166 TDPRI Member

    Nov 14, 2010
    Toronto, Canada
    I am just trying to clean up my old black 1978 telecaster but I can't get it to shine.

    I think the finish is poly? I rub it with a slightly damp microfiber cloth and it briefly looks shiny again but then fades to a kind of smudgy matte.

    Ideally I would like it to stay glossy like it used to be. I am not looking at refinishing it though. I just want to clean and polish it up.

    While I am posting, what it the best way to clean up old hardware, like the bridge, pickups, and control plate?

    20170803_150156 copy.jpg

  2. Televised

    Televised Friend of Leo's

    Apr 26, 2009
    Portland, OR
    I use Dunlop Formula 65 on my Tele and it seems to work just fine. A couple of sprays on a soft cloth and rub till it shines. Seems to work.
    Really don't know what works best for hardware. I also use the Dunlop and cloth for that.

  3. notmyusualuserid

    notmyusualuserid Tele-Afflicted

    May 3, 2016
    In the South
    Has it been refinished? It's definitely non-standard looking...
    hrstrat57 likes this.

  4. El Tele Lobo

    El Tele Lobo Friend of Leo's

    Oct 21, 2014
    Is that a Kahler trem? 5-way switch? I kind of dig your Tele, Max...

  5. max6166

    max6166 TDPRI Member

    Nov 14, 2010
    Toronto, Canada
    Thanks El Tele Lobo! Yes, it is an early Kahler with 5-way switch. Black was a custom colour in 1978.

    It wasn't refinished, though Fender may have painted over a standard finish at the factory. At least, that's what I heard they often did back then.

    It was cool at the time, but I have fallen out of love with the neck. It has a thick D neck and I play flat thin necks now.

    I wound up rarely using the tremolo, but I actually love just using the Kahler as a high quality hardtail bridge with fine tuners.

    Anyway, when I try to polish the body, it returns to a glossy black for a few seconds and then clouds over and looks smudgy again. I don't know if I need to clean it more or what is going on, but I didn't want to experiment without asking you guys for advice first. ;)

    Here is my thread about it:
    El Tele Lobo likes this.

  6. dkmw

    dkmw Friend of Leo's Silver Supporter

    Mar 30, 2016
    Florida USA
    Have you used anything other than the damp microfiber? That should clean it ok, but it's not polishing. When it left the factory it had been buffed with polishing compound and wax. The wax finish wears off over time and needs to be replaced.

    Black is the least forgiving color to polish. It shows every swirl and flaw. So proceed carefully, using just a wax first. You don't want to needlessly create swirls with compound. It'll be easier to wax/polish if you take it apart (i.e. getting the bridge and pickguard out of the way).

    If just wax or guitar polish doesn't shine it up to your satisfaction, then you'd want to consider using polishing compound-swirl remover-wax as a more thorough ''ground-up'' re-polish.

    If it was me I'd leave it as-is, matte finishes are cool and it has that hard-earned mojo some of us like.

  7. Flakey

    Flakey Friend of Leo's

    What dkmw said.

    It kinda looks like your clear coat if full of tiny little scratches and that will make a black finish look gray. When you put your damp micro fiber on it the water is filling in those scratches making you clear coat flat and therefore the light doesn't get refracted away from your color coat (black).

    You can try using a rubbing compound to level the clear coat but I don't know if poly will buff out the same as lacquer.

    As far as cleaning the chrome part you could use naptha (lighter fluid), applying it with a soft tooth brush then wipe clean with a soft cotton cloth.

  8. max6166

    max6166 TDPRI Member

    Nov 14, 2010
    Toronto, Canada
    Thanks guys. What type of wax and/or rubbing compounds should I use? Is there anything I could find at the local hardware store?

  9. Flakey

    Flakey Friend of Leo's

    Try Turtle wax paste in the green container first. If the results don't last then then move up to the Red then. Keep rubbing until the red is completely removed then move back to the green and do the same. Then apply your polish.

    Try it out on a small spot first. I wold also suggest removing all the parts off the body so the won't get in the way.

  10. hrstrat57

    hrstrat57 Tele-Afflicted

    Nov 21, 2016
    Rhode Island
    I'd leave it, just make sure she's clean.

    Mojo=cash IMO
    Troubleandahalf likes this.

  11. max6166

    max6166 TDPRI Member

    Nov 14, 2010
    Toronto, Canada
    Yeah, someone else told me that too. It seems very counter-intuitive to this old guy. I guess beauty is in the eye of the beholder. :)

  12. jvin248

    jvin248 Poster Extraordinaire

    Apr 18, 2014
    Near Detroit, MI
    Look for 'kit' scratch remover at auto parts store. Use new clean micro fiber and avoid the cloth edge threads sewing (may add scratches). Chrome parts remove and scrub with aluminum foil and vinegar then rinse with clean water and dry.

    Look up my tele thread 'sweet sixteen'. Hth.
    max6166 likes this.

  13. Troubleandahalf

    Troubleandahalf Tele-Holic

    Jun 2, 2011
    Austin, TX
    Please don't touch the hardware. Or the neck. Straight Mojo. Love the Kahler.
    El Tele Lobo and max6166 like this.

  14. Dacious

    Dacious Poster Extraordinaire

    Mar 16, 2003
    Try Brasso. That's like a very fine cutting paste. Problem is, those early poly finishes are soft, they won't shine up super sparkly. Use something too abrasive it'll cut into it.

  15. Silverface

    Silverface Poster Extraordinaire Platinum Supporter

    Mar 2, 2003
    Lawndale CA
    It will almost undoubtedly need very vigorous polishing - like with progressively finer solid-stick polishing compounds and several cotton buffing wheels.

    It looks like that finish has either had an additional clear coat applied; is caked with siliconized "shine" compound (i.e. Armorall); or the original clear coat is heavily oxidized - like a car finish that has been exposed outside for decades without any garage time and with no polishing.

    Even with heavy polishing it's possible it won't get back to gloss black - it may wear through first. There's no way to tell without trying, and to polish it properly will require taking it completely apart.

    I'd take it to a tech that does finishing. It's the safest bet.

  16. brookdalebill

    brookdalebill Telefied Ad Free Member

    Nov 15, 2009
    Austin, Tx
    I have good luck with Vituoso Cleaner.

  17. dazzaman

    dazzaman Tele-Afflicted

    Aug 12, 2011
    Copenhagen, Denmark
    I also have a 1978 black tele. Yes, it is poly if it is original. I use Meguiars Scratch X and then Zymol on mine. It came up pretty well, though was hard work.

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