Cleaning Old Components

Discussion in 'Vintage Gretsch Discussion' started by Nickels, Mar 20, 2019.

  1. Nickels

    Nickels Electromatic

    Mar 18, 2019
    Hey there, Baldwin Gretsch owner here. I’ve been having a small trouble with my ‘69 Duo Jet, and I was hoping someone could help me out!
    When I plug a jack into the guitar, it works great, but if it gets bumped or stretched at just the right angle, it seems to lose connection. The jack itself is tightened well, it doesn’t seem to budge.
    When I opened it up to check it out, I saw some of the components are getting a little bit rusty. It doesn’t seem to affect the performance, but I thought maybe that coating on the jack could be contributing to the loss of signal. Anyone have a good was to clean the old jack and the pots too?

    P.S. I included a photo of the jack plate. Does anyone have any idea how to properly loosen/tighten the nut without a pair of pliers? I’d hate to butcher it if it needs to be removed.

    Attached Files:

  2. YourBlueRoom

    YourBlueRoom Gretschie

    Jan 25, 2017
    Nashville, TN
    I recently used this stuff to clean the scratchy pots on my 6120 and it worked great. Good luck.
  3. Ricochet

    Ricochet I Bleed Orange

    Nov 13, 2009
    Monkey Island
    You can clean electronic contact points with a contact cleaner. WD40 if in a pinch, but remove any residue afterwards. If there's a couple of decades of gunk and or rust(always remove rust) on there, you may want to use a bit of sandpaper.

    The blades of switches and jacks lose a bit of their springy-ness over time and may have to be bent back for a full contact.
    loudnlousy likes this.
  4. Nickels

    Nickels Electromatic

    Mar 18, 2019
    Thanks for the reply! I’ve used contact cleaner to stop them sounding scratchy, I was wondering about a safe way to remove the rust without damaging the pots/jack!
  5. stevo

    stevo Country Gent

    May 1, 2012
    Ten times out of ten that someone has come to me with this problem, it was the actual solder connection of the jack - get a good close look at how that looks and you might find that the wire is starting to fray at the insulation's end.

    If you determine that a layer of rust is causing trouble (and it would have to be a lot), a bit of very fine sand paper like 600 grit or so can be helpful. One of the risks is that you rub off any chrome or nickel plating that is there to provide a clean connection and matters become worse over time.

    Ultimately, if there is rust and it really is the issue, it's easier and better to replace it with a fresh one with fresh solder joint.

    For your pots, not sure if you're saying that you want to remove rust. Not sure why you would.
  6. Nickels

    Nickels Electromatic

    Mar 18, 2019
    I was thinking the same thing. The problem now is that I can’t seem to find a good way to remove the jack! I included a picture in the original post, the jack is quite recessed and other than a pair of pliers, I can figure out how to loosen it safely
  7. drrohle

    drrohle Synchromatic

    Jan 3, 2014
    Hays, KS
    There are several good methods. One is to stick a 1/4" wood dowel in the jack hole and loosen the nut without turning the whole jack. If the dowel is too loose just wrap some painters tape around it so it's tight in the jack hole. When you get the nut loose you can either fish the whole thing out guiding it with the wood dowel or put a 1/4" phone plug in it with a fairly stiff wire soldered to it and use that as a guide to fish the jack out of the body.

    I also like to use a copper .38 caliber "gun cleaning" brush dipped in De-Oxit (or your fav. electrical cleaning solution) to clean up the jack sleeve.
    loudnlousy likes this.
  8. Ricochet

    Ricochet I Bleed Orange

    Nov 13, 2009
    Monkey Island
    You don't have a socket wrench?
    new6659 likes this.
  9. somebodyelseuk

    somebodyelseuk Country Gent

    Jan 22, 2013
    Birmingham, UK
    Re: WD40... it's a brand name, seemingly of a range of products, these days.
    Here in the UK, it's best known for it's light oil - I've never seen any other product by them, SO, make sure if you use "WD40" that you picked up contact cleaner and NOT lubricant. Using what 'we' know as 'WD40' on electronics will cause more problems than it cures.

    As for the rusty stuff, it's less hassle to replace the parts - save the originals in the case. Pots, switches and sockets are plated, to slow down the oxidation of the steel underneath. Once the plating's gone, as shown by the presence of rust, you're fighting a losing battle. You can clean it off, but unless the steel is replated, the rust will be back in a few days.

    Regarding removing the socket, before you loosen it, if there's any exposed thread, screw a spare nut on and run it back and forth a couple of times to clean the threads.
    Then, hopefully, you can just use a socket on the nut, loosen it and it should unscrew with no more than finger pressure, without twisting the wires.
    Last edited: Mar 20, 2019
  10. johnny g

    johnny g Synchromatic

    Sep 2, 2017
    union, ms
    I might think about replacing the rusty parts. Run some new wire also.
  11. markeebee

    markeebee Country Gent

    This sounds weird, but it really works on rusted ferrous material.....I use the method all the time when cleaning up old amps....

    Cut a potato in half or quarters or whatever and smear the cut surface with bicarbonate of soda (I think it's called baking soda across the pond) and then rub it on the rusted parts. The rust just disappears like magic. Not sure how it works on non-ferrous material (i.e. stuff that's not magnetic), but in the very worst case you could always make some delicious fries afterwards.
    Paul in Colorado and Ricochet like this.
  12. wabash slim

    wabash slim Friend of Fred

    Feb 10, 2010
    lafayette in
    WD-40 is a moisture remover, and a bit of a lubricant. WD stands for Water Dry. To clean electronics, you need DeOxIt, or pure ethyl alcohol (NOT rubbing alcohol). Stew Mac sells a 1/4" contact cleaning tool that works on jacks and plugs.
    audept likes this.
  13. audept

    audept Senior Gretsch-Talker

    Dec 1, 2010
    Sydney, Australia
  14. loudnlousy

    loudnlousy Friend of Fred

    Oct 18, 2015
    Hildesheim, Germany
    You can get rusty chrome parts perfectly shiny again with this one:

    Paul in Colorado likes this.
  15. Henry

    Henry Gretschified

    Apr 9, 2014
    I could be wrong, but inside the Jack itself there is a metal piece sticking out that touches the second part of the plug, and relies on simple flex/tension to push against the plug. Maybe that piece had over time been pushed away from the plug and could be gently pushed back to be more secure against the plug?

    I'm talking about the long metal thing.
  16. MrAstro

    MrAstro Gretschie

    Mar 5, 2015
    Sydney, NSW
    Yes but the "WD40" in the picture above isn't actually WD40.... It's electrical contact cleaner under the WD40 brand - because.... they just like to confuse people.
    Paul in Colorado and wabash slim like this.
  17. Ricochet

    Ricochet I Bleed Orange

    Nov 13, 2009
    Monkey Island
    "Tabs" for tip, and ring
    Henry likes this.
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