The site recommended that I check both How do you care for you guitar? and Best method to clean guitar? before asking this question. But I couldn't find any information about this topic at all.

I have a very old stratocaster that has rust on the magnets of the pickups and I don't know what the most effective way to get the rust off is. Many people say it is a very tedious job and that attempting to clean the pickups is highly riskful and can result in broken electronics. How do you clean your pickups? Please help! If there are alternative options please write them down.

Question: How do you effectively clean guitar pick-ups?

3 Answers 3


I'm assuming you mean the individual pole pieces have rust on the top of them, as Stratocasters don't tend to have pickup covers (which can be easier to clean and polish)

First off, remember that removing rust isn't necessary to having the guitar sound good, and in fact that vintage aged look can be very desirable.

Second, most ways to clean them result in small metal shavings/flakes coming off, and you will never get these off your magnets, so your pickups may end up looking worse after cleaning.

But, if you do want to clean them, use some WD-40 or other penetrating oil on a rag or Q-tip and rub. This will get rid of the roughness. Then use a dry cloth to wipe up the excess. Dont get any on your paintwork though.

Personally I wouldn't bother, but if I got a guitar that had pickups that were so rusted they were flaking off everywhere - I'd just buy a new set of pickups :-)

  • 2
    Once again, Dr Mayhem with the good advice.
    – Kyle
    Aug 30, 2016 at 8:18

Try a dab of "Brasso" on a Q-tip. And I mean just a dab. Rub one end on a pole and then use the other end to clean it off. (I hope this lets you know just how little you need) Try not to let ANY drip into the pan, if you know what I mean.


You should be careful when cleaning pickups to not use steel wool or other ferrous material. Tiny metal pieces can be sucked in by the magnetic pull and ruin the copper wrapping inside the pickup, rendering it useless in some cases. I agree with the first answer, as well, but it may be best to take it to a professional, especially if you have valuable pickups.

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