Acid-aging guitar parts

using muriatic acid to make parts look 60 years old!

Depending on their environment and how often they are played, guitars can start to deteriorate in appearance.  This can make a guitar feel and look more "played" and "broken in".  You can replicate this look on a new guitar in a number of ways using sandpaper, and various metal objects.  I personally prefer a subtle bit of aging that catches the eye, it's easy to go overboard.  

Muriatic acid replicates years of oxidation in a matter of hours, and can be purchased at your local hardware store.  Be mindful to use gloves and goggles when handling it, this stuff will burn your skin!  A respirator is also advised since the acid puts off gasses when aging metal, and do it in a well ventilated area away from children and pets.  


You'll need a plastic container (the acid will not eat away at plastic).  I used these old food containers.  I've got a 4 oz perforated with holes for the top and an 8 oz for the bottom.

Arrange the parts on a single layer in the perforated 4 oz dish.  Nickel parts age nicely, chrome and gold also work.  Place the 4 oz dish in the 8 oz dish to catch the acid.

carefully pour acid over all of the parts.  The liquid then drains into the bottom and the parts remain suspended.  I have found the gas does the best aging, rather than submerging the parts in the liquid.

Carefully place the lid on top to trap the gasses, DO NOT PRESS DOWN, exerting force on these containers could split the side, then you'll have acid all over!  Not good.

Let the parts sit and check on them periodically.  When they are to your liking, rinse them in water and dump out the used acid, or save it for another use.  Keep in mind as the parts dry they will oxidize a bit more.  I would not recommend doing this with tuners or bridges as the oxidation will eventually seize the parts together.  I also only age covers, poles, and baseplates, the pickup coil would not last long in acid.