R/E/P > Klaus Heyne's Mic Lab Stickies

How To Safely Remove Tape Residue And Other Stains From Mic Bodies


Sometimes you will want to remove stains or residue from adhesive badges or labels on mic bodies. The art: to remove the stain without irreversibly altering or removing the micís surface plating.

Here is the general rule when choosing chemicals or mechanical means to remove foreign objects or dried, staining film from mic bodies: start with the lowest impact chemical and work up from there. The ultimate cure, mechanical abrasion, will usually also cause ultimate and irreparable damage to the surfaces they are applied to.

Here is how I usually proceed, in the order from mild to aggressive:

1. VM&P Naphtha - the same stuff luthiers use when they need to remove pickguard adhesive from even the most expensive acoustic guitars: it will not harm the surface of your mic but in many cases will dissolve the adhesive.

2. 100% or 99% Isopropyl Alcohol. Again, in this case it will not affect the nickel-plated surface of your mic.

If that still does not remove the yellow stains, and if you are sure that the letters embossed into the surface are anodized black, rather than painted black, choose:

3. Acetone. It's the most aggressive of chemicals I would use on a mic body. It does not affect or bite into metal, but if the lettering is painted, it will affect or dissolve the paint. If the lettering was black-anodized, acetone will not affect the anodization.

Test the acetone on a section of the lettering that is hidden or not in the center of viewing: put a small amount of acetone on a Q-Tip, and lightly rub it across a lettered area. If the Q-Tip turns black, the acetone dissolved paint. Even with painted letters, you can still use acetone on this mic, if you are very careful: remove the yellow film around lettering, and don't rub the acetone into it.

I would stay away from abrasive cleaning pastes: at minimum they will later the sheen of the affected area and make it brighter, at worst, they will leave scratches that cannot be removed without causing ugly shiny spots, if you try to buffer them out.

I have one of those older reissue 67's. For whatever reason years ago I gave it a little exterior cleaning with Isopropyl. It dissolved areas of some sort of lacquer.

Neumann used a water-based lacquer on the U67's metal housing parts. Prepare a warm water bath with a bit of Dawn, and soak the housing parts for an hour. The stuff will just peel right off.

Thank you, I will consider that. I have no idea why I tried to 'clean' it way back then. Probably just trying to remove finger marks or whatever. In all cleanings I would follow your pattern, but starting with distilled water when unsure of the contaminant,  and including White Spirit, Turpentine, somewhere along the road.
I do a lot of Live Mixing and Recording. PVC tape is used for everything. Often the worst Chinese stuff which uses melted toenails as glue!  Everything feels tacky to the hand. This is bound to get into connections and moving parts sooner or later.
Drives me mad. So I ban it from my client venues and use releasable Cable Ties.

Best, DD


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