Quick & Easy: DIY Nickel Aging (takes 15minutes)

GuitarTalk

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Hey guys,

Introduction (skip if in a hurry):
So as you may know I finally got my hands on my favourite Les Paul a couple months ago, a Murphy aged 59 True Historic. It’s a perfect guitar but the one thing that stood out to me was how shiny the pickup covers were compared to the rest of the worn-in look of the guitar. I had ordered aged nickel Throbak pickups so I thought Id was to see them before doing anything to the originals. The Throbaks were barely aged at all (I had posted a “new pickup day” post about it), so unfortuneatly I hadn’t solved the issue of the pickups looking too new. So, I searched the vast inter webs... Etching solutions, cleaning detergents, etc. So I decided to experiment and found the following way of using table salt, apple cider vinegar (regular works too), and hydrogen peroxide.

Materials Required:

•2 pieces of toilet paper
•1-5 Q-tips
•2 table spoons of salt
•3-4 table spoons of vinegar (apple cider or regular)
•3-4 table spoons of hydrogen peroxide (over the counter disinfectant)
•a bowl and spoon to mix all this in
•something that you can scratch nickel with (sandpaper, a fork, iron wool, etc)

Step 1:
•mix the vinegar, salt and peroxide

Step 2:
•remove strings from the guitar (the cool part is you dont even have to remove the pickups with this method)

Step 3:
•get scratching: use whatever you have to scratch the pickup covers to your preference to make them look aged.

Step 4:
•Dip the Q-Tips in the solution from Step 1 and apply the soaked Q-Tips to 2 pieces of toilet paper. IMPORTANT: Don’t make the paper too soaked as you dont want the liquid seeping into the actual pickup if you decided to not bother removing the covers to do this.

Step 5:
•Apply the soaked toilet paper pieces to the top of each pickup cover. Use your Q-Tips to press down the paper into the cover. If you don’t do this, and the paper isnt pressed against the nickel, the aging may look patchy

Step 6:
Open a window and place the guitar next to it (to help the metal oxidize) for ~15-30minutes (light - medium aged results).

Step 7:
Remove the paper. If it’s still really wet, feel free to use a low-heat airdryer to speed up the process.

Step 8:
Enjoy and keep aging the pickup covers as you feel fit... maybe by actually playing hehe

:acoustic:

As a last note, the toilet paper allows you to age the pickups without removing them and taking the covers off. If you remove the covers and leave the covers in the actual solution, the paper is not required. IMPORTANT: if you decide to soak the pup covers directly into the solution, the oxidization happens much quicker so check the pickups every minute to not over do it.

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Sct13

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cool. I used this method, slightly different in application....I overdid the initial application and buffed the nickel slightly on a wheel and reapplied. and they came out great.

 

trapland

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Love the pickup covers. A few months of playing should give you some believable string shadows. I have to say though I’m not sure it’s such a great idea to risk acid leaking into those nice Throbaks. I’d take the covers off.
 

Tomburst

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Have done this a few times with bridges and tailpieces but not pup covers. I found just using ordinary malt vinegar alone worked fine suspending the parts above the vinegar in a plastic tub with a lid on. It's important not to handle the hardware with your hands after you've given them a quick clean with a rag before aging as although u won't visibly see any fingerprints prints on them you certainly will after the aging as the vinegar fumes will show them up.
There's no better way really than just gigging regularly where heat and sweat are involved,it just takes a little while tho.
 

Slick

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The nickel tailpiece and bridge of my es335 lost their shine with just a few months playing after buying it brand new
 

MikeyV

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Does anyone know a good way to blacken the pole screws? By pups look good with Wizz covers, but dayum, those shiny pole screws! They always look nice and black/rusty on the older, well played guitars.
 

Sct13

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Get some etching solution, depending on the metal it works good. Be careful, its acid …

Do different degrees of darkening....NOT All pole screws will react....I think it depends on when they were made and what material they used.
 


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