Advice on neck finish

Construction and repair of Classical Guitar and related instruments
Brandon Walker
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Advice on neck finish

Post by Brandon Walker » Sun Mar 03, 2019 5:10 pm

Hi everyone,

I have a guitar with a thinly lacquered finish. I would like to change the finish on the playing area of the neck to rubbed oil—only the playing area, much like a cello neck (not sure exactly how those tend to be finished but looks and feels like what I have in mind.).

How might I go about it? Are there dangers when sanding away the lacquer, for example? I have zero experience of this.

Thanks for any advice. :)

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Re: Advice on neck finish

Post by GerryM » Sun Mar 03, 2019 7:49 pm

This is very common in the banjo world. The call it a "Speed Neck" although the real reason is preventing the hand from sticking to the lacquer finish in hot humid conditions.

In fact I have one banjo where I had a luthier do this as I watched. He removed the finish with a scraper and thinned the neck, finishing up with sandpaper for the final smoothing. The applied finish was several coats of Tru-Oil. It certainly is easier to play in hot, humid conditions but it doesn't look particularly good.

Expect a significant decrease in value of the instrument if you do this. Classical guitarists don't need nearly as much speed as banjo players do so I would never do this to a valuable instrument. Or even a mediocre one.

I should add that a much less invasive solution is to dull the back of the neck with something like rottenstone or a microfiber sanding pad of around 1000-2000 grit, If done carefully you could always polish it back up if desired.

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Re: Advice on neck finish

Post by MessyTendon » Mon Mar 04, 2019 12:31 am

How thick is the lacquer? If it is quite thick you can start buy scraping it with a razor blade, peel large flakes off and then sand and repeat, Take your time it should be fine. Use a mask and make sure all the dust is contained. Lacquer is nasty stuff.

I oiled my neck after removing feels 100 times better. So if that's feel your after do it, void the warranty, kill the re-sale it's your guitar.

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Jason Wolverton
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Re: Advice on neck finish

Post by Jason Wolverton » Wed Mar 13, 2019 6:05 pm

Getting rid of the lacquer is the hardest part. Once you have it off, I'd recommend using something like TruOil gunstock finish. It's super easy to apply. Build it up as much as you wish. If you take some steel wool to it the feel will be nice and quick. Definitely my favorite feeling neck finish.
"I have discovered (to my joy) that it is life, not death, that has no limits."- Florentino Ariza

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Ken Whisler
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Re: Advice on neck finish

Post by Ken Whisler » Thu Mar 14, 2019 12:44 am

2nd on TruOil on the neck. Putting down a wash coat of shellac first will speed up the oil drytime considerably.
Ken Whisler, guitarist and luthier

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Amateur luthier
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Re: Advice on neck finish

Post by geoff-bristol » Thu Mar 14, 2019 2:42 am

I have always done violin/etc necks with several seal coats of clear shellac and rub with tung oil. Need to keep giving it a rub every day or so for a while. No doubt gunstock oil or truoil would do similar - but I have always used tungs because some dusty book told me so in 1980's !
We have more information these days - not sure its a good thing ?

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