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My mahogany guitar came unpolished from the factory. After several years of play, certain areas are now quite shiny -- from self-polishing due to contact with my body during play. Especially the back of the neck, the area where my arm rests, and the part of the guitar the rests on my leg.

The shine doesn't look bad -- only strange because it is in select areas.

I am wondering first of all if it is bad for the guitar (will it cause degradation of the original materials?) and second of all could this effect the tone of the guitar?

Would it be better to remove the 'polish' somehow -- or find some means of polishing the rest of the guitar to create an even appearance?

I imagine this happens to all sorts of instruments.

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2 Answers 2

up vote 4 down vote accepted

The sound won't change at all. I have seen people play guitars without a pick guard, straight through the body, leaving a new hole under the sound hole, and they still continue to play the instrument (though that will change the sound, haha). When you purchased that particular Martin, you paid for the choice materials, the quality of the construction, and the cavity dimensions (including placement and size of the sound hole). Those are the factors that will affect the sound of the guitar. As long as there are no cracks or unoriginal holes or warping, there is nothing wrong with wear on the finish. Do a google search for "best classical guitar players" or "best acoustic guitar players" and you'll see a host of mortal gods, often wielding very worn axes.

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I think it only adds to the character and value of a good instrument.

See the recent trend of pre-distressed vintage electric guitars with premium prices, or the much older tradition of bowed violin-family instruments with no varnish on the back of the neck so it looks rubbed off, and one worn shoulder where the left hand rubs.

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