Refinishing my SX STL50 neck

AlexanderTheSo-So

TDPRI Member
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Feb 11, 2022
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DeepInaHartaTexas
Hello, all.

I bought a SX STL50 several years ago but just didn't like the thick finish used on the instrument and soon lost interest in it. I still think it's a solid guitar that would make a great modder but if I invest any time and money in it, I'm going to want to remove the finish and start from scratch. My biggest single complaint is the awful thick and glossy finish on the maple(?) fretboard, but I'm at a loss as to the best way to remove and refinish it. So the big question is, how do I handle the frets? Will I need to remove them, and if so, can they be reused or will they need to be replaced? I'm open to replacing the entire neck if that is a better solution. Seems that there are a fair number of STL50 users in this forum and some of them may have addressed this issue. Can anybody help me out with this? All ideas and suggestions are welcome.

Thanks much
 

Freeman Keller

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Hi Alexander and welcome to TDPRI. I wasn't familiar with this guitar so I had to take a quick search - with what I found I think you would be better off either scraping the guitar and looking for something you like or replacing the neck, again, with something you like (assuming that SX uses the Fender standard neck pocket which is always a crap shoot).

My reasoning is as follow, one piece maple necks are fretted first, the frets are dressed, then the entire neck if finished right over the frets. Finish is scraped off the crowns of the frets leaving it on the board and and the bottom of the crowns. It is honestly a lot of work - I regularly refret necks but having done one maple one I have decided to let someone else have this hassle. If you want some idea of what is involved


Lets look at a couple of other aspects of this. There are two possibilities for the type of finish on your neck - lacquer or a catalyzed modern poly finish. Lacquer can be removed with acetone or lacquer thinner or paint stripper - its a messy job but can be done. Poly finish is very difficult to strip - a heat gun is about the only way. Once you get the old finish off your really should sand the board, but that means pulling the frets, which again, you don't want to do on a 270 dollar guitar. But assuming you do get the old finish off, now you have to apply something that you will be happy with - nitro, thin poly, some sort of oil.....

Trust me, you don't want to open that can of worms...
 

AlexanderTheSo-So

TDPRI Member
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Feb 11, 2022
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Age
72
Location
DeepInaHartaTexas
Hello Freeman, and thanks for your reply.

Looking around the web for other suggestions, I ran across a post that addressed my exact issue. The author used a citrus-based paint remover called Citrustrip and is a pretty messy process but it may be my best option. I don't believe a Fender neck will fit the pocket and since I have far more time than money, I'm going to give it a shot. I've used Citrustrip before on other projects (non-guitar) and have had good results with the product. This is my first guitar refinish project. Considering the cost of the instrument (about $110.00 in 2007), I really don't have much to lose. I was concerned about the possible need to refret and the associated costs and complications, but I think I can live with a chemical strip and cleanup. I appreciate your experienced opinion.

The can of worms will remain unopened.
 

bgmacaw

Doctor of Teleocity
Joined
Feb 11, 2006
Posts
10,541
Location
Near Athens GA USA
On mine (purchased in 2003), I just used 2000 to 3000 grit sandpaper to wear down the gloss and smooth it out. It was a slow process but it yielded the desired results.

One thing I will mention is that the STL-50 isn't a great platform for modding. There are several non-standard quirks that make retrofitting Fender parts on it tricky. I haven't measured the neck pocket so I don't know how well a replacement would work. For example, a SX Hawk (Strat style) I have has a non-standard neck pocket that wouldn't work for a regular Strat neck without considerable work.

Here's what mine currently looks like, after 3 rounds of modding over the years.

sxstl50.png
 




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