Before :

unloaded picture, try CTRL + F5

After :

unloaded picture, try CTRL + F5

How to do ?
This victim is a 40 years old Bina Musicals sitar from Delhi.

unloaded picture, try CTRL + F5

What you need is popote and 2 pieces of clean cotton cloth.
Popote is a very strong natural cleaning product, especially made for shellack polished bodies.
It removes all dirt and grease, and makes the polish shining as new again.

unloaded picture, try CTRL + F5

Shake the popote very well and apply some on a piece of cotton cloth.

unloaded picture, try CTRL + F5

Rub it firmly on the dirty surface. Work in one small zone at the time. As the dirt comes off, the cloth becomes black and the surface looks mat.

unloaded picture, try CTRL + F5

Before the popote dries up, polish the cleaned zone with another clean cotton cloth. Then the surface becomes very shiny.

unloaded picture, try CTRL + F5

If the result isn’t good enough, repeat the process.

unloaded picture, try CTRL + F5

Complete the whole instrument, working on zone after zone.

unloaded picture, try CTRL + F5

The instruments’ polish looks like new.

unloaded picture, try CTRL + F5


Body Cleaning — 10 Comments

  1. Do you use the same stuff to polish the actual gourd too?
    What’s a good way to clean out the dust and debris between the decorating wooden leaves and the gourd too please?

    • This popote is only for cleaning purpose (also on the gourd). The polish is a shellac solution with alcohol. It is used on the gourd too. The technique is called “french polishing”…
      The dust and debris in the decoration can be removed with a small and rather stiff brush or with compressed air. It is very difficult to remove it all, so better is to prevent too much dust coming close to your instrument. Cover it with a simple light cotton cloth.

  2. I cleaned my celluloids with a rubber eraser this works fine and is not a to rigid procedure.

    I love your site, very good!!

    Sitar and Surbaharplayer since 30 years and always on the job of doing all kind of maintanance as usual.

  3. Hello Raj,

    Cleaning the celluloid inlays (removing the left-over varnish) can be done by scraping it off with a scraper.
    A scraper can easily be made from an old piece of iron saw.

    Click here for some samples of a scraper…

    Make it nicely straight and sharp, and scrape the varnish gently but fluently off the inlays. But watch out for sliding out. Keep your scraper almost perpendicular to the surface, and “feel” the edge of the scraper crush and scrape. Move steady. You can always have some practise first on a piece of cheap plastic or wood.

    unloaded picture, try CTRL + F5

  4. Hi,

    How can I clean the celluloid inlays used on old sitar which has tarnished?

    Your site is very informative and useful. Keep up the good work!


  5. Your website is great. I am based in Slough in England, I play the sitar and Surbahar. I have repaired several sitars and I do jiwaris regularly, I read your site regularly. it is one of the best, keep the good work going. Malkeet

  6. You should be able to find this popote at stores specialised in antique and restauration or at luthier stores. It cleans the shellack finish (cfr. french polishing, which is based on alcohol) very good.
    Here in Belgium, you can find a good special luthiers quality at CMB :


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

HTML tags allowed in your comment: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>