supper fine steel wool
it makes a mess
but it cleans up chrome and shiny stuff like no other
supper easy and supper quick
just make sure you get the fine stuff
if you use the wrong kind it can scratch the surface
The problem is, I really don't want it to shine, I just want a more 'consistent' blemishing...if that makes sense. I actually like the aged or worn look too, but not like this. I figure that if I can get some of the 'patchiness' cleaned up ti will look more consistent.
Thanks for the replies. Is it safe to use this stuff near the nitro-cellulose finish? Is it better to try to remove the gear being cleaned?
I have accidentally rubbed the MAAS on the nitro-cellulose finish on my banjo (several times actually), and there wasn't an effect. This happened when cleaning the tone ring -- which is a PITA to remove from the wood rim, so I don't. I'm always careful to minimize contact with the wood finish, but I know I'm getting it on there. Still, no problems though.
Okay, do not use anything like 000 steel wool or other abrasives. Depending upon the degradation of the plating, you could work through any break-through very quickly and it only gets worse from that point.
Nickel does not tarnish, but rather oxidizes and some folks tend to gain appreciation for the darkened patina that tends to develop.
If you wish to try and restore the plating to a more original appearance, you can use phosphoric acid by cutting it 10:1 parts water and acid respectively and soaking your plated materials in the solution overnight. Naturally, you'll need to take your time in removing the parts from the guitar and under no circumstances should you apply the solution to the plating while its attached.
Once you've soaked the parts, dry them thoroughly and using ultra-fine polishing compound, you should hand-rub rather than attempt to use a wheel unless you've had experience doing so. The reason is that depending upon speed, wheels and polishing compound can burn the plating, producing variability in its finish.
Also realize that if break-through is evident and the copper base has begun to react by breaking down, you'll see black pitting around areas of the nickel that have detached to some extent and rough to the touch. If this is the case, then you should consider foregoing the attempt to restore the nickel and opt to replate the pieces if you want a more clean and bright finish more representative of the finish when it was new. It should be stated here that if you are considering doing this to parts belonging to a true vintage instrument, then you risk seriously damaging its market value based upon observable characteristics which demonstrate age-appropriate curing and authenticity.
Hope that helps guide your decisions and good luck.
Don't let re-plating it scare you too much. I was restoring a '67 Univox and the chassis was rusty. A local shop replated it for me at no charge; I don't think even if they do charge you it will be much...however prepping it for plating is another subject. I happen to have a blasting cabinet, and I blasted all the parts beforehand.
They did the chassis, corners, and handle hardware...came out nice: