how to clean satin black guitar

How To Clean Satin Black Guitars: Cleaning Satin Guitar Finish

One of the most important things that owners of non-glossy finished instruments should learn early on is how to clean a satin black guitar. Satin finish or known to some as matte finish, may not be the most difficult finish to maintain, but there is a proper way to keep it neat and free from any unwanted dirt and grime.

For some time, non-glossy finishes were simply a trendy response to the glimmer of glossy stringed instruments of past decades. However, there are legions of guitar players out there who prefer satin or matte finishes, whether it is in vogue or not. Satin evokes a distinctive look and feel that is incomparable to gloss finish, making it a favorite among guitarists who aren’t into varnish-coated guitars.

For metal guitar players, satin black or black satin is one of the most popular finishes and it’s easy to understand why, as soon as you see the axemen of bands such as Aeon or Behemoth wield one onstage. Whether it’s an ESP or a Schecter, satin black finish looks beautifully dark, gritty and ominous, blending perfectly with the raw, brooding atmosphere that extreme metal bands are trying to summon.

Before you raise those horns up in the air and proclaim “Hail Satin,” we need to clarify that satin black is not exclusive only to the most brutal death and black metal bands of today. Guitarists of all shapes and sizes can actually go for this finish, regardless of what brand of guitar or genre of music they are playing. 

In fact, some blues and country players have even converted their telecasters into satin black and the outcome is very satisfying. Meanwhile, some jazz and rockabilly musicians will love the satin black finish of 1950s-inspired archtops such as the Godin 5th Avenue Kingpin.

Satin finish: A brief explanation

If you find the terms “satin,” “matte,” and “semi-gloss” confusing, that’s because they are often used interchangeably to refer to anything non-glossy. Most matte guitars are just high gloss finishes that didn’t undergo buffing. You can actually make the gloss appear by rubbing and polishing a matte guitar, which is something that you must be wary of when cleaning your instrument. 

Although satin and matte finish is cheaper, easier and takes less time to accomplish, some guitars with this kind of finish can still be considered among the top tier when it comes to instrument pricing.

Vintage guitar aficionados will definitely dig the aesthetics of a worn down satin-finished guitar, while most guitarists still prefer the shiny bling of a glossy-looking guitar. So if you are torn between non-glossy and glossy finished guitar, always remember that your decision-making should ultimately lean towards your personal needs and taste.

Why choose satin finish guitars?

Aside from the fact that they look so badass and don’t reflect as much light as those glossy guitars, there are more legitimate reasons why guitar players prefer satin finish.

Guitar players are attracted to the more natural look of satin, as well as its more organic and rough feel. Since only a thin amount of satin finish is applied on guitars, the pores are still open, which is why you can feel the texture of the wood. 

Fingermarks and scratches are not too visible on satin finish guitars and they can endure harsher treatment (this is why they are well-loved by metal guitarists). Moreover, satin finish guitars will not get as sticky as glossy finished guitars when too much oil and sweat has been secreted by your palms.

Unfortunately, due to the lack of protection that guitars with full varnish coating enjoy, the wood part on a satin finish guitar is more vulnerable to damage caused by humidity, extreme temperature and sudden weather changes.

How to clean satin black guitar

Before cleaning your satin black guitar, make sure that you have already washed and dried your hands, since the oils and sweat that comes out of your palms are your instrument’s primary enemies. They are the main reason you need to clean up your guitar regularly, so if you are suffering from uncontrollably sweaty palms, you might want to consider using a non-abrasive pair of gloves during this process.

A vast majority of experts agree that a soft dry cloth is all you need to clean your satin black guitar. A dry microfiber cloth and light dusting would be enough to remove any unwanted dirt on your guitar. In case there are some gunk that can’t be wiped off easily, you may dampen your cloth a little bit for thorough cleaning. Just make sure that you follow up with a dry cloth to avoid leaving any wet spots.

The drawback of satin black finish is that some areas on your guitar could become shiny the longer you use your instrument. This is very hard to avoid, but at least it’s a natural part of guitar aging and is more acceptable than wiping it too hard with abrasive material and unintentionally bringing out the gloss.

One more important thing that you need to keep in mind when cleaning your satin black guitar is to avoid guitar polish at all cost. Applying guitar polish on your satin or matte finish will ruin it by making the shine appear, which is exactly the glossy characteristic that you wouldn’t want on a satin black guitar.

Guitar polish only works well with instruments that have a glossy finish, as they could help remove fingerprints and make your guitar shine but it is definitely not a recommended agent for cleaning your satin black guitar. So keep it simple and grab a clean, soft microfiber and lightly dust your satin black guitar everyday.