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Does a neck HAVE to be finished?

Discussion in 'Tele-Technical' started by El Reclusa, Sep 25, 2009.

  1. El Reclusa

    El Reclusa Tele-Afflicted

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    Bought my Baja reeeeal cheap because the prior owner (don't ask why, I dunno) sanded most of the finish from the neck. Having played it this way for 6 months or so, I've kinda gotten used to the feel of it and kinda don't mind it, but I'm wondering if leaving it pretty much bare is a bad idea, since it's totally unprotected from humidity changes and whatnots...
     
  2. Jeremy Palmer

    Jeremy Palmer TDPRI Member

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    I'm pretty sure some tung oil or Watco Danish oil would give you the protection you need with most of the feeling you want. (Kinda reminds me of some weird-ass condom commercial I saw tonight...)
     
  3. fordfanjpn

    fordfanjpn Tele-Holic

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    I have 4 Tele's and one of those "other" guitars, all with the finish removed from the necks. And that "other" guitar has been like that for at least 10 years. I wouldn't have it any other way.

    Bill
     
  4. Zmatko

    Zmatko Tele-Meister

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    It is recommended that you put finish on thin necks, the reason is that denting might affect the stability in the long run.
    Thicker necks might be left without finishing.
     
  5. JasonRobert

    JasonRobert Tele-Holic

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    on my first guitar the finish wore off years ago. still plays good today. The only problem is that the maple gets a little dirty after a while.
     
  6. Rob52

    Rob52 Tele-Holic

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    If you look after your guitars the lack of finish on the back of the neck shouldn't have any ill effects. Manufacturers often state that they won't guarentee a neck that's left unfinished, but there's plenty of old necks where the finish has been worn of the backs and they're fine. ( Mind you there could be a certain amount of build up of oil from the players hand that has been worked into a neck over time?)
     
  7. dross11

    dross11 Tele-Meister

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    My Ernie Ball Albert Lee has no neck finish by design. You might check out their website on how to treat an unfinished neck.
     
  8. tonewoods

    tonewoods Former Member

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    Hell, half the guitars in the Blackguard Book have the finishes gone from both the front and back of the neck...

    Hasn't seemed to slow them down any... ;)
     
  9. jefrs

    jefrs Doctor of Teleocity

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    I have one guitar with the neck finish removed but I lightly oiled it with 'finishing oil' (a mix of tung and other stuff) which dries very fast and buffs up well. It keeps the dirt out and seals the wood. Still feels naked and very fast.

    My Baja has a very thick neck and it felt very slick until I ran some 1200 grit over it, still glossy but it lost the stickiness.
     
  10. WrayGun

    WrayGun Friend of Leo's

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    I don't know if they have to have a finish or not, but I know that not finishing your Warmoth neck voids the warranty. I finished mine with Tru-Oil; feels great.
     
  11. boris bubbanov

    boris bubbanov Tele Axpert Ad Free Member

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    Excellent point.

    There's a natural varnish that accumulates from constant use, that can protect the wood pretty well. Reduces the Perm rating a lot over newly sawn wood.

    Some of these necks are old enough, so seasoned that if they were gonna move they'd have done so by now. But if you move from the Beach to Telluride, don't blame me if your neck flakes out on you.

    I have a lot of tools, etc. which allegedly have no finish on them, but every time I have an acetone/nitro soaked rag from a wash down of a part I'm redoing, I apply what I can off that rag, onto that tool. I'm not the only one. People think that's the same thing as a brand new neck with a little schmutz rubbed on it.

    Wrong.
     
  12. refin

    refin Friend of Leo's

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    My '62 strat neck is nothing but hand oil...........love it.
    I have an unfinished Musikraft tele neck that is slowly getting there.......;)
     
  13. woodman

    woodman Grand Wazoo @ The Woodshed Gold Supporter

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    if "most" of the finish was sanded off, the wood pores are probably sealed just fine on a seasoned (i.e. not brand-new) instrument. if it were mine, i'd probably like it just fine as is, assuming the sanding job was baby-belly smooth. with just a little finish to wear off by playing it a lot, you're that much closer to the natural hand varnish Bubba was talking about — the state my first but now-departed Tele guru called "rat-hole smooth."

    he was an old farm boy who grew up during the Depression, so he spent a lot of time in the barn. he described the rat-holes in the wooden walls (many, many rat-generations old) as the smoothest finish he'd ever seen, said there was no way to create it except for something living to rub up against it a million times.

    i was impressed by this nugget of folk wisdom. this from a man whose life was Teles — people would come from five states to his stark and funky basement shop in the Carolina hills to work on their Tele ... a few Big Names even flew in from time to time. he knew the whole gamut, from finishing to fretwork to electronics to hardware to fine-tuned setup. (also a picker who ruled the foothills honky-tonks and roadhouses in the '50s and early '60s.)

    so, as the "rat-hole smooth" metaphor simmered in my brain, he went over and started rummaging in what looked like an ancient school locker and pulled out a case ... pulled a well-played '56 (IIRC — it was another customer's) Tele out, turned it over and ran his finger along the back of the neck. he said, "See? that's what i mean."

    so take that sparsely finished neck and play it til it's rat-hole smooth! :cool:
     
  14. El Reclusa

    El Reclusa Tele-Afflicted

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    "rat-hole smooth". I like it!

    To clarify, pretty much all of the finish has been sanded from the fingerboard and the playing area of the back of the neck- there's still some of the satin finish left near the heel and the headstock, front and back, is factory-finished (aside from the dude making a point to sand off the "made in mexico" print, of course). I'm not how sure I like it, really- I mean, I don't mind it, but I guess I'm used to the worn-but-originally-thick-and-glossy finishes on my '76 Tele and '78 Musicmaster. It's just so...different. And not quite in the same way that the '60s Mustang I used to own was- that was a thin finish worn by time and playing. At any rate, I kinda like it, I'm getting used to it, and I'm lazy and broke, so it's probably gonna stay that way, or at least not refinished, maybe I'll oil it or something. FWIW, it had pretty much no relief in the neck, just made some adjustments and waiting for it to settle and re-check with feeler gauges. I suppose I'm just concerned about it being stable as it is...
     
  15. woodman

    woodman Grand Wazoo @ The Woodshed Gold Supporter

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    i'd be really surprised if stability issues reared their ugly head at this point, but i understand your anxiety — been there. just keep an eye on things and play the snot out of it.
     
  16. pickinpete

    pickinpete Tele-Meister

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    On my old mandolin, a bubble came up in the finish on the back of the neck, so I scraped the whole back of the neck down to bare maple. Then a took a medium grade steel wool to it and just kept getting finer and finer steel wool. By time a rubbed awhile (just lightly, not bearing down) the maple got like glass and I played that mando for years like that, and it didnt really even get dirty. It felt sealed.
     
  17. Doubletriode

    Doubletriode Tele-Meister

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    Nice feel but... are your hands wet?

    I have had guitars since the early eighties with both maple and mahogany necks, maple or rosewood boards finished with linseed or tung oil and they are still in perfect condition. I LOVE THE FEEL OF THE RAW WOOD!!!

    On maple fingerboards, you get a very nice "relic" finish in no time as you play the guitar, and it wears out on the spots YOU use! Not a fake, "generic" kind of relic wear, isn't that good?

    Two caveats:
    - You must repeat application quite often the first months. I've heard of an old cabinetmaker saying: once a day the first week, once a week the first month, once a month the first year, once a year after that. Exactly how I did it :p
    - My hands are very dry and that helps a lot. I noticed that whenever I let a person with sweaty hands play my babies, I would have to clean and re-oil the necks because they feel sticky :(

    A very good solution is to wax the neck with beeswax, brush it, shine it and oil it afterwards. More durable but doesn't solve the sicky fingers problem...

    To apply oil, I sometimes use a very fine steel wool when I feel the need to remove some dirt that has accumulated over time

    Linseed oil is smelly and dangerous as it goes into spontaneous combustion on cotton rags, so I use paper towels... and it works just fine. Tung or lemon oils are good alternatives too. In fact any oil is fine as long as it polymerizes (is the spelling correct?).

    See for yourself what works best for you...
     
  18. fordfanjpn

    fordfanjpn Tele-Holic

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    Words to live by! :)

    Bill
     
  19. rangercaster

    rangercaster Poster Extraordinaire

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    what about Butchers Wax (for cutting boards) ??? any users here ???
     
  20. Rod.V

    Rod.V Tele-Meister

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    Why not have the best of both words and use some 000-grade wire wool to matt off the original finish, over the "playing" area of the neck, while being secure in the knowledge that you still have the wood protection afforded by lacquer?
    This appears to be what Musicman have done with a lot of their models, including the Albert Lee guitar mentioned earlier.
     
    Last edited: Oct 9, 2009
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