Removing finish on binding?

AJBaker

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I have a Japanese Les Paul type guitar by Edwards that's a joy to play and to look at.

There is just one thing that I don't at all like aesthetically:
On the edge of the neck, they used a very tinted, almost orange varnish, that to me just looks wrong.


Question:
How could I remove this varnish on the neck binding in a sensible way?



Follow up question:
Assume some idiot :))) decided to try removing it himself by scraping/chipping the edge on the underside of the neck, how would you smooth out the rough edges to fix the damage?

Thanks!
 
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AJBaker

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Freeman Keller

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When I finish binding I mask the tall side with 1/4 inch tape and scrape the short side with a box cutter blade, then I shoot several coats of clear as I do the rest of the guitar. It might be possible to remove the amber finish on yours but then you are going to have to shoot several coats of clear to smooth the transition. Frankly its going to be a lot of work and you stand a very good chance of screwing it up.
 

stratisfied

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Mask the parting line between the wood finish and binding and sand it with 800 grit wet followed by 1600. Drop fill the chipped areas before sanding. High end Edwards guitars are lacquer, low and mid-grade are polyurethane finished. This will affect only your choice of drop fill (lacquer for lacquer, CA for Poly).

If you leave the binding white as-sanded you will have to level the edge left by the masking by spraying with clear lacquer and wet sanding to level. For a final coat, spray the entire neck including the heel and back of the headstock masking only the top edge of the fingerboard. Lacquer will work fine over the polyurethane as long as you scuff sand it lightly for adhesion before spraying.

If you need to tint the biding slightly, a light coat of neck amber should be applied before removing the masking to apply the clear leveling coats.
 

stratisfied

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As you can see from all the above, this sort of cosmetic "fix" is a whole lot of work and you must decide for yourself if all that effort is actually worth it.

Yes, it is quite involved to make it come out looking like a factory finish. The lacquer/poly over the binding is put on pretty heavy, so sanding it away requires a lot of finish coats to level it back out and not show a "shelf" where you removed the original finish. I've done stuff like that but I would really have to hate the original finish to tackle that on a nice guitar.
 

Wyatt

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I have a Japanese Les Paul type guitar by Edwards that's a joy to play and to look at.

There is just one thing that I don't at all like aesthetically:
On the edge of the neck, they used a very tinted, almost orange varnish, that to me just looks wrong.


Question:
How could I remove this varnish on the neck binding in a sensible way?

Thanks!

Gibson does this as well, this is a '68 LPC RI...
LPC68VOEBGH1_FRETBOARD_PANEL_03.jpg


It's the mimic the way some old Les Pauls yellowed. The side of the binding is clear coated and yellows...the top of the binding is not cleared and doesn't. I have Gibsons from 1950, 1965 and 1972 and they have various degrees of yellowing on the side of their neck binding. But nothing this extreme.
 
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AJBaker

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Yeah, I'm pretty sure I should have just left it as it was.
On the side I already scraped, I'm going to need to fix it.
 

Jupiter

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the follow up question has sorta obviated the urgency of the original question, hasn't it? :D
 

AJBaker

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the follow up question has sorta obviated the urgency of the original question, hasn't it? :D
Well, fortunately I only scraped one side of the neck.

At first, I had just knocked off the blob of varnish on the side of the nut. That came off very cleanly with a good result.

Then, one evening, I tried the same on the binding on one side of the neck, though the result wasn't as pleasing.


Now, it's about smoothing out the damage, and maybe (but probably not) doing something on the other side of the neck.

Can I get passable results by gently sanding, then touching up with a paintbrush?
 

Sea Devil

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I think you're going to have to lose a little bit of finish on the wood to smooth things out, but that may not affect the color. If it does, it'll take a lot of finesse to cover it up, quite possibly requiring some grain-painting and tinting.

A paintbrush is not likely to be a good tool for that work. Mohawk Brush Tip Graining Markers in a couple different shades can work wonders in skilled hands, especially when combined with light applications of their Tone Finish aerosol tints. They're designed for on-the-spot finish repairs on furniture, meant to be sprayed in the customer's home, and they dry almost immediately. The markers are alcohol-based and the tints are some strange combination of alcohol-based and lacquer-compatible something. The Tone Finish Clear has every solvent known to man and melts everything together; it's sort of a "nitro plus" finish in that it's certainly nitro, but with some extra nasty chemicals that make it perform astonishingly well. All of the aerosols can be used effectively in short bursts as long as you mask for overspray, and only the clear has that toxic lacquer stink.

My inclination would be to make it totally smooth with zero finish on the binding, regardless of whether that exposes raw wood, and then touch it up from there. Probably not the right approach for someone who hasn't done it before.

There are a couple other approaches: replace the chipped-off yellowish tint and blend it in as well as you can; or score a perfect line along the edge of the binding with a scalpel-sharp blade and a straight-edge, chip the rest off, and then apply enough finish to level out the hard line along the binding's edge.

They're all difficult. Stripping and refinishing the entire back of the neck would be a lot more work, but requires less skill, so maybe that would make sense.
 
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Freeman Keller

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Frankly its going to be a lot of work and you stand a very good chance of screwing it up.

Yeah, I'm pretty sure I should have just left it as it was.
On the side I already scraped, I'm going to need to fix it.

Didn't listen, did you? Can we see a picture of what it looks like now. Also check what type of finish it is so we have an idea of how to go forward. Unless of course you would rather not have our advice.
 

Peegoo

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Didn't listen, did you?

It looks like one side of the neck was already done when @AJBaker asked the original question, so it was too late to warn him off :eek:

That flaking into the finish over the wood is going to be problematic. Matching the color there will be a lot of tedious work with lacquer and a teensy paint brush, followed by using a slightly larger brush to apply many coats of clear to the binding. Followed by level sanding, wet sanding, and polishing.

If you like this sort of work, you will be very content!
 

Sea Devil

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Yeah, you kinda screwed up! That can't be undone. I think I'd just aggressively take it down until it's smooth, even if it looks like crap. At least it'll feel good, and it'll be easier to touch up later regardless of what the current finish is. I sanded pretty much all of the finish off the neck of an old Gretsch Country Gent years ago, and refinishing (years later) was easy because it was a large, even area. I only had to blend it in at the headstock and the heel. Tiny spot finish repairs are a colossal PITA in comparison.
 

stratisfied

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While it's possible to remove the finish from the binding and restore it, it's not for the first timer or faint of heart. Here's an Ibanez that took a shot to the headstock and partially separated the fretboard from the neck taking chunks of finish with it. I reglued the fretboard and used Varathane stain pens, Mohawk toner and Mohawk UltraFlo lacquer to restore the finish. To recolor the exposed wood along the edge of the binding, I used a straight edge and a stain pen.

IMG_2815 (4).JPG


IMG_2843.JPG
 
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AJBaker

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Here's a quick update:
I took out some sandpaper and gently smoothed over the binding and the chipped finish on that side of the neck. I went from 120 to 240 and 320 grit paper, and used sime 600 at the end.

Good news: you can't feel anything wrong anymore, and visually it looks fine, except that it's not shiny.

Unfortunately, it still looks a bit funny in the cutout where the neck binding meets the body binding.
 




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