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I'm back and looking for advice !


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hey guys! Hope everyone is doing allright!

it's been a long, long, long, long time since I've last been here! sorry about that, I was very busy last year with work and building a new add-on to my house.

I would like your advice on the following: I recently bought a 30 year old custom built guitar ( by a local luthier, who unfortunately is not alive anymore). This luthier (Heins) was a big influence for me to start customizing and fooling around with guitars ( and ultimately building) and I've always wanted to find a guitar built by him. Now I have, and it's in need of a lot of TLC!

The wood ( mahogany as it seems) has been dented a lot below the pickups, probably through oils/sweat and stage-abuse. Also the builders name which has been inscribed in the body has faded a little. 

The challenge I'm facing is the following: I'd like to get the guitar in an 'as good as new' state and get rid of the dents. This will require sanding and refinishing with tung-oil.  I don't want to lose the builders enscribed name however.

How would you guys go about this? Happy to hear your thoughts and ideas!


all the best,






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Hi, that looks like some serious plectrum abuse over the years and is the problem with oil finishes, they don't protect the wood anywhere near as well as some hard like poly or lacquer.

 I just pulled some dents out of a mahogany body that I've been working on this week. You can use steam to expand the compressed fibres by using a soldering iron and some wet kitchen towel or cloth. It won't be perfect but will make the dents quite a bit shallower and greatly reduce the amount of sanding you need to do to make them invisible. Simply put the wet kitchen towel (folded up) over a dent, then press a hold soldering iron on top of it for a few seconds at a time. lift off if the towel starts to darken and you may need to keep soaking and steaming. 

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I second what @ADFinlayson said about a wet cloth and a soldering iron with the small difference that I would move the rag right when it seems to be dry, not waiting for a colour change.

Also, I wouldn't sand it. If tung oil is what the builder used, you should be able to just apply more oil for a refinish. Of course you should start on a clean surface. A slightly damp microfiber cloth is what I'd use for the most of it. If the guitar is really dirty, the Crimson Fretboard Cleaner and Restorative Set might be among the best alternatives. Despite the name the cleaner works on the finish as well. Marseille soap might work too, just wipe the soapy gunk off with a clean damp cloth immediately and don't use much water.

Be careful with the logo, it looks like a decal. I've managed to wipe a decal clean with a dust cloth!

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thanks guys!

I have done dent repairs like that as well in the past, usually on fretboards. The damp cloth and soldering iron works good on those small dents. I'm afraid these are to big for that, but I'll give it a try anyway. Not much harm to be done, it will improve to some extent.

@Bizman62 I'm not sure if it's a decal or not, but as the surrounding area is lighter then the rest it probably is. I haven't used decals on oiled finishes myself. Does that even work/hold? If so, I'll maybe create a new decall and apply that. Allthough the semi-faded one has something to it as well, given that it's a 31 year old guitar.

I'll keep you guys posted using this thread. There's some more work to be done as the wiring is messed up and I found out the middle pickup had it's ground-wire broken right at the pickup-cover. Too bad those EMG's can't be opened. I did manage to measure a resistance between the hot wire en the place where it's been broken, so I'll try to solder on a new ground wire on the remaining threads.

Overall however it's a great guitar. Nice woods, good quality build and top quality hardware: Kahler trem, Kahler Pro top lock, Schaller tuners, EMG pickups.

thanks again and I'll try to keep in touch from now on. Still have plenty of projects lyin around!


rock on



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As you most likely know, oil finishing is a process of applying and then wiping the excess off. If you apply more oil, it will blend with the old one which means you'll get some of the gunk off when wiping. Now if you add some thinner into the oil, it supposedly should remove more of the "old and dirty" oil from the surface while making its way into the pores. That's why I didn't recommend sanding. And I believe that the procedure mentioned should take care of those sweat marks. No restoration, only maintenance.

Also I wouldn't like to restore the pick abuse dents more than what you can do with the moisture and heat. After all, they're signs of the guitar being loved, although a bit roughly. But she seems to be in a pretty good shape otherwise, so the previous owner hasn't abused her. As I understood, Wim Heins started building guitars because he wanted to play but couldn't afford a quality instrument so he built one. Doesn't that mean that he wanted his guitars to be played rather than hanging on the wall beneath a "Don't touch" sign?

Wipe her clean, apply some "forever young" lotion and fix what's truly broken. But this is just my opinion.



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