Help Cleaning a Lacquer Finish


Silver Member
Hey guys, I have a 95 set of yamahas I bought about 2 years ago. One previous owner and the drums are in almost perfect condition, except the finish is a little hazy. It's a glitter finish and it still shines up but you can tell when you remove the lugs that the shell has a thin layer of haze over it. The light doesn't bounce off the glitter exactly like it's supposed to. I don't know if it's from sun damage or if the other owner was a smoker or something, but I’m not sure what I can do about it and I was wondering if y'all had any advice?


Senior Member
Assuming you are talking about a gloss lacquer finish (not matte):

Step 1: Clean all the surface dirt off with Windex and a microfiber towel. Then buff with a terrycloth towel.

Step 2: Apply furniture polish lightly with a microfiber towel. Buff with a microfiber towel, then buff with a terrycloth towel.

Step 3: Apply a good quality car wax, like Turtle Wax with the included applicator. Buff off with a microfiber towel and then buff again with a terrycloth towel.

That should really make those shells shine. If it still has a haze to it, you may have to wet sand and re-lacquer, but I would leave that to a professional, or you might try 3M Headlight Restorer on a small, inconspicuous area of a small tom..


Platinum Member
...or you might try 3M Headlight Restorer on a small, inconspicuous area of a small tom..
I would stay away from that. If it's the one with a paste and Powerball, the paste is an abrasive and actually removes a small layer of the headlight plastic to restore them. It will remove the lacquer. If it's the chemical wipe headlight restorer, the first step bonds to the surface and dries hazy, the second step removes the first step and the plastic it bonds to. It can still dry hazy in some instances, and will probably remove lacquer if step one bonds to it.

Plastic headlights get oxidized from the sun. That stuff might work on a wrap. I'd be willing to bet it destroys lacquer. You do have to mask off the cars paint so it doesn't get ruined by the restorer. I'm sure finished drums are no different.

FWIW, you can restore headlights with just sandpaper too. I'd avoid that also.


Platinum Member
I have a set of 1988 black lacquer Yamahas. I've mostly used mild cleaners similar to Windex without ammonia. Then your typical furniture polish, like pledge or Endust Etc they still look great except for a few scrapes and scuffs that have occurred over the years


Senior Member
If it is sun damage then it shoudn’t be on the bottom of the bass drum and I would expect other drums to have much more haze on one side than the other. I would expect smoke or dirt to be more even.

Dirt/smoke can just be cleaned off with mild soap and water. Haze on lacquer usually means water has penetrated the finish or it may be sun damage. If you truly have a lacquer finish it can be buffed with a very mild polish.


Gold Member
A few things I have had good luck with on my lacquer finish drums sets ( including two Yamaha Recording Custom kits). For light cleaning I use a 100% cotton cloth or microfibre cloth and Endust ( just the regular version not the lemon version). This works well for quick touch ups .

For deep cleaning about once a year . I remove all the hardware from the shells ( lugs, tom mounts etc.) then use the same type of cloth I use for light cleaning with Martin Guitar polish . It really brings up a wonderful lustre to the lacquer finish .


Staff member
I use Meguires Paint Restorer on a drill attachment. Then Meguires Carnuba Wax by hand. Superb results every time. :)

9Y0A6901 by Kevin Frost, on Flickr
On synthetic lacquers, Meguires stuff is really excellent. Paint restorer for really dull / damaged finishes, but should be used sparingly, and within the same ownership, probably only once. Their ultimate polish is a safer bet for a more regular regime, followed by wax of course. BTW, your finish looks really sharp :)