The kind of issues that we all experience with a Nitro Cellulose finish on a guitar are generally thus:
Dull, grimy finish with little or no luster
Sticky or milky effect on the body
‘Tide mark’ on body of the guitar where your arm sits
Gummy feel to the back of the neck Hand / finger prints that won’t clean off
I’ve tried to deal with many of these problems with everything from guitar manufacturers polishes to mildly abrasive car cleaners, domestic and industrial products and I’ve even made up some of my own, but nothing really worked. I realised that many of the so called guitar polishes are in fact just domestic car care products in a different bottle.
There is no way that these products can care for you nitro finished guitar. Chemically, they were never designed to work with nitro cellulose.
The worst of them compound the problem because when nitro hasn’t cured properly it can be a nightmare to deal with.
Thankfully the good people at Virtuoso Guitar products tackled the problem and eventually came up with an amazing product.
A year or so ago I had a real problem with a Gibson J45 guitar that belonged to a famous footballer that had been “serviced” somewhere, and returned with 7 or 8 misty white palm prints on the body and neck. The guy that had worked on it had had a natural reaction with the nitro cellulose finish (this is quite common) and the finish had become slightly sticky where he had handled it.
I’d heard that its a rare blood type that reacts with the finish (a customer confirmed this with me a few years ago), as well as some manufacturers finding that sometimes their finishes don’t seem to cure as quickly or consistently as they’d like. I’ve known for years that no polish available over the counter in guitar shops could help – most end up making it worse in fact.
I looked long and hard for something new and found (amongst other brands) Virtuoso. I bought one of everything available on the market and gently tested them all on my own Gibson guitar. Once I knew it was safe I tried it on the J45, which was becoming a sticky, milky coloured mess.
The Virtuoso polish was as close to a miracle cure as I could have ever hoped to find!
Since then I’ve become a lot more relaxed with these finish problems, this stuff just seems to always do the trick.
Companies like Gibson have been asked many times why they use a finish that can have minor issues like this when a cheaper guitar with a poly finish is far less fragile. Their reply is best summed up as this:
“If you has a Stradivarius violin, would you dip it in plastic to get a tough finish, or would you continue to use a fine thin finish that allows the instrument to breath, vibrate and sound its best?”
Every guitar that has a Nitro finish that comes into the workshop gets polished with this stuff and its great to open the case when the owner returns to collect and have them see their guitar looking its best again, I know that they won’t have been able to get a gloss to shine like I can with this stuff!
I primarily use it on Gibson, Martin, Fender Custom Shop, PRS and Rickenbacker as they all still use Nitro Cellulose, but it works extremely well on all finishes. I use a clean new polishing cloth each time so there’s no chance of putting a swirl in the finish.
Finding that no one in the UK seems to sell Virtuoso, we became a dealer for it and now offer it for sale to all those people with nitro cellulose finishes. Feel free to get in touch any time or drop in to discuss whether we can help you bring that guitar back up to its beautiful shine.
Please be aware that due to import taxes and VAT the cost seems higher than buying from the U.S, but with those taxes included its actually cheaper – plus quicker to your door, sent via Royal Mail Recorded Delivery (so you’ll get a card through the door if it doesnt fit through the letter box)
There’s also a cleaner available which is great for taking the gunk and spills off before polishing. I’ve had guitars in the workshop that I thought would need to be re-finished but tried Virtuoso Cleaner before hand and its taken the grime away with a couple of minutes effort and left the finish feeling harder and more ‘cured’ than ever before. Continual treatments seem to help the finish become hard and glossy and drastically reduce the stickyness – reversing it in fact.
Another great thing is that you only need a small amount each time. One bottle lasted me over a year – and I use this stuff a lot! With normal domestic use I would expect the bottle to last several years.
Before and after photos:
Both Virtuoso Polish and Cleaner cost £12.49 per bottle, or £23.99 for 1 bottle of each. P&p is £2.50 for one, £4 for two. I use Royal Mail Recorded Delivery in the UK, so you know it’ll reach you & I’ll have a tracking number if required. For Europe: I’ll send via air mail without tracking. My details are on the back of the package so if there’s a problem it’ll be returned to me and I’ll let you know.
For the rest of the world, please contact me for shipping costs.