This Article Was Originally Published On: February 3, 2015 #Issue 15.
The Company Line
This is our first review of instrument care products. After meeting Charles Bennett, the founder of Zymöl®, at the Summer NAMM Show in 2013, his enthusiasm and “genuineness” was quite evident from our first meeting. Heck, it turns out he is a bass player, so of course, he’s all right! Founded 38 years ago, Zymöl is best known for car care products and car detailing services (using their products, of course). But they’ve taken that experience and branched out into instrument care, boats, aircraft, and even PDA device care! They have even expanded in other directions, with completely different products and services, but we’ll stick to the care products, here. As stated on their website, it all started with a Landau Carriage. Protecting enamel paint on wood and clay presented the challenge. They found a solution based on rendered animal fats, but revised the formula from there to use plant oils and their derivatives. Later, it was enhanced with carnauba from Brazil, and propolis (from honey bees). Being a collector of vintage basses, Charles developed a natural interest in protecting these investments, just like he protects his automobiles with his Zymöl care products.
Charles sent us a sampler pack, which includes small jars of the natural wood treatment GBCb™, the high gloss treatment GBC#™, and the fretboard treatment BRIDGE™, along with a couple applicators and microfiber buffing cloths. They also make cleaners and treatments for vinyl straps/cases and leather straps/cases, but those were not in the sample kit we received. All three products we received are essentially a wax product. I know that might seem obvious from the information already presented, but when you consider the BRIDGE product is for fingerboards, where oil-based products are most commonly used, that brings a fresh perspective on things. The containers are custom designed, and they talk about them on the web site. They’re specifically designed to support a “self-vacuumizing” process to keep the products fresh for extended storage periods. I actually tested this, as I’ve had these products for a while, now, and it really works! Both GBCb and BRIDGE products are essentially specially designed pastes, whereas the GBC# product is a wax in a more liquid suspension. It does not have a spray top, but could possibly be spray-able, just to give some perspective.
A Closer Look
I tried all three products, with great results. On point worth noting is that you really don’t need to use a lot of product. A little goes a long way! Starting with the BRIDGE protectant, the application method is interesting. You “melt” some of the paste with your fingers and rub it into the fingerboard grain. Finally, you buff it with a microfiber cloth until it’s dry to the touch. It smells really nice, and darkens the board nicely, though not as dark as when freshly oiled. But it does last longer than a typical oil treatment, and definitely makes the board feel smoother. The color change is pretty subtle, really.
I didn’t spend as much time with the GBCb product, as I don’t have any natural/unfinished instruments, but I did try it on a piece of wood that I’d sanded down to “near neck quality” smoothness. It went on smoothly, brought out more of the color in the wood, and did not leave a residue (after buffing). The treated wood felt great, and was less susceptible to marking or staining. On unfinished necks I’ve had in the past, I’ve typically used gunstock oil, but I would certainly consider trying this product as an alternative.
Finally, I did some buffing with the GBC# product, which is a cleaner, polish, and wax, all in one. It’s applied with one of the terrycloth foam-filled applicators, and buffed off with a microfiber cloth. Like many waxes, you want it to haze, but not dry, before buffing it out. The haze buffed off easily and left a nice high gloss shine. No residue or ugly swirls to deal with, and no need for maximum elbow grease to get it off. It does as well as any other polish I’ve used, though it’s pretty tough to tell a huge difference, subjectively. I have a feeling that would take a lot more use/comparison over a longer period of time in order to really tell a difference. I also tried GBC# to address some swirl marks on a pickguard. It actually cleaned it up pretty significantly. Of course, it’s not going to fill and restore to new condition, but it did a really nice job of minimizing the visual impact of the swirl marks, without fear of drying out the guard, itself.
Given the company’s rich heritage and level of respect, built in a community noted for being particularly demanding for quality standards, I would have absolutely no qualms using these products with the finest things I own. I will continue to use these products over an extended period of time and see what shakes out, but given what I’ve read about them and the time I’ve spent thus far with the Zymöl products, I have to say they have some fine offerings, and can recommend you give them a try with no reservations.
Contact: (800) 999-5563, (352) 540-9085, or customerservice@Zymöl.com
Made in: USA
GBCb (for natural & oil finishes)
Ingredients: contains montan oil, banana oil, carnauba wax (18% by volume), propolis (derived from bees), glycerl stearate (derived from glycerine) cetyl esters, cetyl cocoamide (derived from coconut oil)
GBC# (for high gloss & painted finishes)
Ingredients: contains #1 carnauba wax (11% by volume), bees’ wax (2% by volume), almond meal, micro-chalcedony crystals, shea nut butter, coconut oil, propolis (derived from bees), cetyl cocoamide (derived from coconut oil) and FD&C blue #1.
BRIDGE (fret board protectant)
Ingredients: contains apricot kernel oil, cocoa butter, coconut oil, cetyl esters, cetyl cocomide (derived from coconut oil), cocoamide, pure peppermint oil