View Full Version : 1950's Grille Cloth Cleaning

03-14-2017, 10:55 AM
This is my first post so be gentle. I'm a big fan of 1950's and early 60's audio so that naturally includes vintage JBL. I picked up a speaker over the weekend that has smoke stained grille cloth. My concern is keeping this speaker original and doing no harm if I decide to try and clean the cloth. It has a light coffee color to it instead of the off white it should be. Has anyone had good luck cleaning grille cloth like this? I would rather leave it alone than risk destroying it.
Thanks for any advise you can give.

Mr. Widget
03-14-2017, 11:23 AM
I'm a big fan of 1950's and early 60's audio...Well, that was your first mistake! ;)

Welcome to the forum, unfortunately I can't help, but with luck someone here will have experience with your grille. Please post a photo so we are sure which fabric you have.


03-14-2017, 08:44 PM
Thank you for the welcome Mr Widget. Even if there isn't much to the grille cloth on this little speaker I want to do right by it. I thought JBL speakers from the 50's were supposed to be big.
https://c1.staticflickr.com/1/674/32633870873_0a25f15e42_k.jpg (https://flic.kr/p/RHK7S6)DSCN2622 (https://flic.kr/p/RHK7S6) by , on Flickr

Mr. Widget
03-14-2017, 11:00 PM
I love the Bel-Aire! What a beautiful little speaker.

Good luck cleaning the grille up... certainly worth the effort.


03-15-2017, 07:12 AM
What about taking it to a professional dry cleaner? :dont-know:

03-15-2017, 08:52 AM
My inclination would be to leave it alone unless you were able to locate replacement material first.

03-15-2017, 10:02 AM
Dry cleaning might melt the fabric.

Does that "grill" piece come off?
If its natural fiber, you should use nothing more than Woolite and a lint-free cloth to wipe it down. Be aware that natural fiber can shrink and split.
If its synthetic fiber it will be pretty brittle but plain old soapy water will clean it.

03-15-2017, 10:18 AM
What I have done in the past on more modern speaker grills that are really dirty and have plastic frames is to lay them face down in the bathtub with about 2" of soapy water in them. Keep them submerged, very important to do that as lifting them will cause the heavy wet fabric to stretch out of shape. Swish them around and move them to the other end of the tub. Drain the water and you will see all the dirt left behind on the bottom of the tub. Clean the dirt out with paper towels and refill the tub with clear water, swish them out again to get the soap out. Drain tub and let the grill sit a bit so most of the water drains out of the fibers. Very carefully tilt the grills up, if the material sags, stop and let it drain out some more. Once it has released most of the water they can be air dried. It's important that you don't rush, if the cloth is heavy with water, they will sag.
Best to practice with something not so important.


03-15-2017, 10:24 AM
Is that the BelAire from this sale?


03-15-2017, 12:10 PM
I love the Bel-Aire! What a beautiful little speaker.

+1, I love that late 50's early 60's look.

03-15-2017, 10:15 PM
Yes, it is. I like the advise grumpy, the cloth is evenly stained by the smoke and still presentable. The cloth is a darker hue in person than the picture.