Lacquer cracks on neck of '91 Tele

thijst

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This here is my '91 American Std Tele, in gunmetal blue. I bought this new in '93 and stupidly sold in 2007. Regretted the sale shortly afterwards, tried everything in my power to find the new owner but I had not saved his contact details. But the force was with me this week, the planets aligned, the universe on my side - and through sheer luck and a number of coincidental events, the guitar is now back where she belongs: in my hands.

The past 14 years have left their marks though ... there are some cracks in the neck lacquer. This seems to happen more often to '90s Fenders, so some of you may recognize this. The wear along the fretboard was already there when I sold it; it's basically where the lacquer chipped of, and the wood has darkened due to playing residue. I don't mind that, it does not affect playability in any way. The back of the neck has become less comfortable though, the cracks are uneven patches that you can feel.

So, the question is: how can this be fixed? I have fine sanding paper, I have tru-oil, I have poly lacquer spray, all in the cupboard. So I could simply sand the patches down lightly to make them smooth again, but I'm not sure whether the same issue will arise on other parts of the neck. I could also sand the whole neck and leave it like that as it would probably be satin-feel. I could also finish it with either lacquer or tru-oil.

Basically I'm open to any suggestion, from leave it as it is to replace the complete neck, and everything in between.

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WingedWords

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This has been reported before in 90s necks. My 96 American Standard P Bass has had finish cracks like yours for years and they haven't got worse. They don't bother me, but as far as I remember what people have done in the past is to work some poly into the cracks and then sand down with good results.
 

Matthias

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So many 90s necks with finish issues. From what I’ve seen, I’ve gathered after they started experimenting with finishes in the late 70s, Fender didn’t hit on a truly robust one for necks until the late 90s.

Does it need a refret? If so I’d take the opportunity to pull the frets then sand everything off except the face of the headstock then refinish with some form of poly. It looks like the adhesion is compromised.
 

57joonya

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I would start by sanding that polyurethane finish off the back of the neck , see how it feels . Maybe u don’t have to sand it all the way off . But I would eventually take it to some one and have them strip the whole neck and spray it with a thin coat of nitro , or if u prefer poly , thin coat of that . But at least sand down those big flakes and see how it feels for starters
 

thijst

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Thanks guys. I started by smoothing the back of the beck with a green Scotch Brite pad. It already feels a lot better. I will continue that for a while and see how far I want to take it. If at some point I have shaved off too much I can always apply some tru-oil. We'll see.
 

Boreas

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So many 90s necks with finish issues. From what I’ve seen, I’ve gathered after they started experimenting with finishes in the late 70s, Fender didn’t hit on a truly robust one for necks until the late 90s.

Does it need a refret? If so I’d take the opportunity to pull the frets then sand everything off except the face of the headstock then refinish with some form of poly. It looks like the adhesion is compromised.

I agree. The main issue should include the condition of the frets. My Strat had the fretboard chipping, but the frets were still in decent shape so I just stabilized the chips with poly. In your case, I would lean heavily toward a refret and total refinish. If the headstock is in decent shape, you could leave that alone and try to match the new finish to that.

Another option would be to simply refinish the back of the neck. Sand down totally (but not deeply into the wood!) then stain/refinish with poly or nitro. Those black cracks or streaks may not go away, but will probably be less obvious.

Yet another option is a new neck - especially if you cannot do the refret yourself. A refret + refinish will likely cost more than a new neck if you have to farm it out.
 

Sax-son

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I had the same thing happen on my 1995 Fender Lone Star Strat. Fender was experimenting with different finishes(water base lacquers) around that time, and it was a disaster. I took the guitar back to the dealer whom I purchased it from and after some intense negotiations with Fender Corporate, the sent us a brand new neck. They knew that they had a big problem on their hands, but mine started within a year after purchase.

If it is just happening on the back profiles, take a scotchbrite to it and get it off of there. It's only going to get worse. The fretboard still looks pretty good.
 

Telekarster

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I think I'd probably just get some 600 - 2000 grit and wet sand the problem areas, smooth em back out, and call it good.
 

Boreas

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Who knows - perhaps these flaking/cracking/failing 90s finishes will be viewed down the road as desirable as a 50s well-worn lacquer neck. Perhaps not... But my feeling is if it affects feel or playability, fix it or replace it with a new one and save this one for originality. It would look mighty nice with a roasted maple neck!
 

thijst

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I have used a Scotch Brite pad to smoothen things up. This worked really well, the neck has become remarkably smooth. No sanding necessary for now. The pictures show little difference on first sight but it really is a lot better. I'll leave it for now, we'll see how things develop over time.
 

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Telekarster

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I have used a Scotch Brite pad to smoothen things up. This worked really well, the neck has become remarkably smooth. No sanding necessary for now. The pictures show little difference on first sight but it really is a lot better. I'll leave it for now, we'll see how things develop over time.

Looks good! I'd say you're good to go!
 

Telecaster88

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Just wanted to say, I'm always amazed at these stories of people selling a guitar and years later finding it again... What are the odds?!? Gives me hope in some strange way.

Glad you got the neck sorted out, OP!
 




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