Men and feral animals like to mark their territory and identify their belongings with urine. Sure, we men of the world may not always actually pee on our most pleasureful possessions, but we can still find a way to make something uniquely our own that no one else will dare to touch and, in the case of a new guitar, we proudly pee on them with naphtha.
Naphtha, in case you don’t know, is petroleum ether, also known as “Benzine” and “X-4” or “Lingroin” or, most commonly, “Lighter Fluid.”
I use Ronsonol to pee on my guitars — and when I say “pee,” I actually mean “clean” — because lighter fuel is a great solvent when responsibly used.
When I get a new guitar, one of the first things I do is squirt some Ronsonol into a real cotton ball and I wipe down the neck — but never the fretboard! — and the body of the guitar. The naphtha does a great job of getting rid of the shipping grime and other lingering stuffs.
Then, before the naphtha dries, I wipe the body with a lint-free cloth and the guitar just shines in my hands. The smell of naphtha is pretty strong, but it quickly clears the air as it dries and dissipates.
Sure, there are some dangers using naphtha to clean your guitar. You can spill it on other things and ruin them — like, for example, the finish on my old, wooden, desk — and naphtha can eat away at other beloved things, so be careful.
You can, of course, also set your house on fire with naphtha if you aren’t careful around an open flame or a spark, so use your naphtha wisely and cautiously. Respect naphtha and naphtha will love you back.
I even used naphtha to “wipe off” the faux “VOS aging” on my ’57 Les Paul because I didn’t appreciate the fakery of the final finish. The naphtha quickly ate away the “years of grime” Gibson put on the guitar to make it look used.
With the gunky VOS aging stuff off my Les Paul, I could finally see my baby much more clearly, and the other purposeful Gibson “aging technique” — of roughly scratching the glossy surface of the guitar with a buffing machine — was more pronounced, and in my estimation, much more authentic than the VOS crud.
Some people buy naphtha by the gallon and use it as a general cleansing agent for lots of things.
Naphtha is cheap, good and fast — three things of which you can usually only have two.
For me, naphtha cures a sticky neck, removes fingerprints, wipes away dried sweat over the ongoing long days and months and years of playing guitar — and it gets rid of any other substances I don’t want stuck to my collection.
Before you decide to use naphtha on your guitar — or elsewhere — always do a spot test first to make sure the naphtha cleans as you wish, and doesn’t ruin as you never want.
If you’re serious about keeping your guitar clean — and if you want a quick way to pee mark your territory — get some naphtha, and start squirting and flowing!