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Tru-Oil, Minwax Wipe-On Poly, or Nitro Finish on Maple Neck?

Discussion in 'Telecaster Discussion Forum' started by rajprods, Dec 1, 2008.

  1. rajprods

    rajprods Tele-Meister

    Nov 4, 2008
    Washington, DC
    Just ordered an unfinished Tele neck with a 1 3/4 nut width. I like the Poly glossy finish which is on the Squier Classic Vibe, but I've also seen some other finishes like Tru-Oil and Minwax Wipe-on Poly which had the same look (but not sure about the feel). I've read some good and not so good things about Nitro which concerns me a bit. The guitar/neck will not get a lot of use, so it will sit on the stand for more time than it's played.... which seems to be an issues with Nitro and the stand surface. I ordered the Vintage Amber tint from Stewmac to stain the wood. Which would be the best and most durable application between Tru-Oil, Minwax Wipe-On Poly, and Nitro? It would also be nice to be able to use the guitar without any potential surface issues in no more than two weeks after I get the neck. However, I'm sure it's best to have a little patience for the right finish.

    Which one would you go with and why?

  2. Bogo

    Bogo Tele-Meister

    Dec 25, 2006
    Tru-Oil because I like the smell! Seems more a natural finish vs. the Poly. I do not think you would go wrong with either choice and it's very subjective.
    Do up a couple samples on scrap wood and pick what you like. Most you'd lose is about $12 if you go Tru-Oil.

  3. rajprods

    rajprods Tele-Meister

    Nov 4, 2008
    Washington, DC
    Is the Tru-Oil durable?

  4. red57strat

    red57strat Friend of Leo's Silver Supporter

    Oct 4, 2003
    I put satin Minwax Wipe On Poly on my USACG T-Style 5 years ago and it feels great! It's not a typical thick, shiny poly finish. It feels very natural. I don't think I'd use Wipe On Poly for a shiny finish.

    BTW, I played an MIA Tele Deluxe this weekend and hated the thick finish on it! I like my Wipe On Poly a lot better.

  5. rajprods

    rajprods Tele-Meister

    Nov 4, 2008
    Washington, DC

  6. I've used nitro and poly. For the neck, I definately prefer the feel of matt nitro. It doesn't shine like the poly or gloss nitro, but it feel way better especially on hot, humid gigs. Also, the nitro finishes better in my opinion and handles knocks better.

    I've had poly "chip" off in layers from a knock. Apparently poly, unlike nitro, does not "melt into" the previous layer, it actually becomes a distinct layer over the previous one.

    But like they say (and I never do) use a piece of scrap first ;-)

  7. RodeoTex

    RodeoTex Poster Extraordinaire

    Sep 14, 2005
    Nueces Strip
    Tru-Oil is not actually a finish, mostly just oil. That's ok for closed pore woods like rosewood or ebony but maple, being an open pored wood wouldn't be protected from humidity and sweat with Tru-oil alone.

  8. rajprods

    rajprods Tele-Meister

    Nov 4, 2008
    Washington, DC
    Is it true the Nitro finish can stick to the grip or cushion on a guitar stand like the ones made by Hercules? If so, why does this happen? Is it because of the Nitro chemicals have not cured or something else? I don't play the guitar that much, so I'm afraid if finished the neck in Nitro, it would be stuck to the stand in a matter of a few days!

  9. PJ55

    PJ55 Poster Extraordinaire

    Mar 27, 2003
    Philadelphia, PA
    You can get Wipe-on Poly as siny (or dull) as you like, depending on how you buff it. But, for necks, the nice thing about using a liquid finish that comes in a can, is that you can mix in a little stain, for just the amount of tint you like.
    And, wiping-on enables you to control where it goes.
    luckyno888 likes this.

  10. rajprods

    rajprods Tele-Meister

    Nov 4, 2008
    Washington, DC

  11. John Lipfert

    John Lipfert Tele-Meister

    Jun 23, 2005
    I did a neck in tru-oil recently and it wouldn't really polish out to a shine. I have seen pics online of people who have been able to get a nitro or poly shine out of tru-oil, but it didn't work out for me. I might not have had enough patience with it, or maybe not the right sandpaper or something. Also, if you have a maple fretboard, I would finish that with a spray can rather than a wipe on. Wiping on a finish leads to a build up against the frets which was incredibly difficult to sand out.

  12. Home Grown Tele

    Home Grown Tele Tele-Holic

    Aug 21, 2006
    The Queens
    Actually Tru-Oil is a finish similar to varnish and will protect your neck. It was designed for gun stock finishes so it's not subject to humidity and sweat problems.

    It's easily applied in thin layers to a beautiful finish and if you use a buffer and any good scratch remover such as 3M Finesse-It you can get a pretty good sheen to it. Not like lacquer, but pretty close.

    Maple is not an open pored wood. It's actually quite closed and can be very difficult to stain properly because of that fact. Staining maple is easier if you use water as it gives the stain more evaporation time and the wood can accept the stain more evenly.

    One of the best receipes for Tru-Oil finishes can be found on the ReRanch FAQ page.
    Doghouse_Riley likes this.

  13. It *does* happen until the nitro cures. Now I hang them from the tuners for the first couple of weeks after I'm done just to be safe.

    I don't know the science, just the effect. Fortunately for you, you don't have to make my mistake which I had to fix or live with ;)

  14. rajprods

    rajprods Tele-Meister

    Nov 4, 2008
    Washington, DC
    Nitro just seems like it could really be a problem based on a number of variables.... So, I think I will rule it out and consider another type of finish. Thanks!

  15. Good luck and enjoy it

  16. RatherBeFishing

    RatherBeFishing Tele-Afflicted

    Jun 29, 2008
    where the trout are
    Has anyone tried to put nitro over tru oil, using the Tru oil as a stain?

  17. jkingma

    jkingma Super Moderator Staff Member

    Admin Post
    I like them all for different reasons... but when I am doing the finishing myself, MiniWax Wipe-On Poly is probably the easiest and most hassle free one of the three. IMHO.

  18. mojo2001

    mojo2001 Tele-Holic

    Feb 5, 2008
    I'm Tru-Oiling a neck right now. Have another Tru-Oiled neck sitting next to a Deft neck and a Minwax neck. The nitro necks are 8 months old.

    I would say that Tru-Oil isn't much of a stain. A moderate tint of yellow/amber but very moderate. The two slightly-aged nitro on bare wood necks are more or less in the same color density range.

    Tru-Oil does bring out grain and figure quite nicely...better than nitro shot on an untinted neck.

    Two things I will say about Tru-Oil: It is real easy to apply (use thin coats, applied with finger) and the feel is excellent (smooth but not slick, even when it looks glossy).

    Personally, I like the feel of a lacquer neck better, but my spray booth is the great outdoors and it is too cold for lacquer.

    I read that lacquer goes on well over Tru-Oil but I haven't tried it yet.

  19. Smokestack

    Smokestack Former Member

    Oct 27, 2008
    Loogootee IN
    I like the idea of a little shellac wash before the tru-oil. Tru-oil is most definitely a finish and is very very good at keeping moisture out of the wood...even sweat. I've seen necks that were fretted when the oil was applied. As long as you go sparingly near the fret edges (afterall, most of the wear is usually in the between the frets, eh?) and be quick to clean any build-up near the frets:) VERY fast necks. Easily re-finished later, too. :) The secret with the tru-oil is to put on THIN consistent coats. You can always build up easily. Patience is not just a virtue, it is a rule. A little care goes a long way. :)

  20. jrich99

    jrich99 Tele-Afflicted

    Sep 28, 2009
    I love the look of gloss nitro. It can be a pain to work with, but it makes for the nicest looking result IMHO.

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