This is a Martin 1-42 from 1917 that I have owned for many years. At one point somebody had glued on a pickguard that had then been removed or had fallen off. I do not play with my finger resting on the top. The way it looks now is exactly the way it looked when I got it (honest). It has great action and sounds like a guitar twice its size.
There is a fairly distinct outline of where the pickguard had been, and some very intact varnish within that area. There are also some significant scuff marks outside the area where the pickguard had been attached.
For years I had assumed that the damage had been done by the removal of the pickguard. Now I suspect that the pickguard had been used to try and cover up previous damage.
My question is, what, if anything would you do about it? Or would it be best to just leave it alone?
Have a look at this video.
Using the chemical to clean the dirt from the scar, the next move it to put on some shellac or sprit and shellac based lacquer. It will look nicer but preserve the patina.
I am a hobbyist. I believe Frank has an article on gentle cleaning with de-ionized water. Beautiful guitar. And of course Naptha.
I would recommend against doing anything beyond gentle cleaning. This is all part of the history of a hundred year old instrument.
Thanks to everyone. I certainly appreciate the input, and it coincides pretty closely with my own instincts. The fact that I have had the guitar this long, and have done nothing yet, probably speaks to this as well.
Don't touch the finish .. I agree. It's a pretty desirable guitar even though not a 'golden era' Martin. Doesn't look too bad as-is..Tom