Waxing a roasted maple neck without oil?

Hodgo88

Tele-Meister
Joined
Feb 10, 2021
Posts
168
Location
Eastern Oregon
Curious here - both Musikraft and Warmoth claim no finish is required over roasted maple. EBMM necks are famous for their feel which is wax over oil, but do I really need oil? Or can I just send to 320 and apply a few coats of wax as a sealant to prevent oils and grime from permeating the wood?

The thought comes from research I read being done by Joseph Nagyvary on Stradivarius violin varnishing, where he postulates:

"Many violin makers swear by oil-based varnishes; Nagyvary asserts that their instruments would be better off bare. 'First the oil penetrates deep into the wood. Then it dries and becomes gummy. That dampens down the vibrations.'

On the most pristine surviving Stradivarius violins, by contrast, the finish has a brittle, almost glassy look. 'It's like a toffee apple,' says Nagyvary. He believes that there are good reasons for this. A toffee apple's surface is hard and shiny because the molecules that make up its sugar coating link to form long, interlocked chains. If the Stradivarius varnish contained sugar or a polysaccharide, the molecules would have attached to one another and to the wood, stiffening it so it could vibrate more efficiently, the opposite of what happens with oil."

Now, wax isnt a sugar varnish or anything nearly even close to what's being described here, heck they're both oleoresins, but in the spirit of KISS - why not just wax a roasted neck?
 

tomasz

Tele-Holic
Joined
Dec 18, 2007
Posts
943
Location
Europe
I would suggest, that violin varnishing techniques have no effect on electric guitars. You can sure do well with just waxing the neck. I personally keep my roasted necks without any finish, as I like the touch of it. The sound will not be impacted by any finish you choose to apply.
 

Wyatt

Tele-Afflicted
Joined
Nov 3, 2004
Posts
1,264
Plenty of people burnish the roasted maple neck up and through 2000 grit, some then follow by sealing with wax afterwards.

But I see little in comparing a theory about an acoustic violin and bolt-on guitar neck. Use whatever you fancy, most established ways work well...lacquer, tung oil, Tru Oil, Danish oil/BLO, oil with wax (I read that the EBMM places one thin coat of oil then wax, I guessing the former helps with adhesion), burnished raw, etc. are all good. There is no age-old hidden secret to be unlocked.
 
Last edited:

gb Custom Shop

Tele-Meister
Joined
Jul 20, 2020
Posts
159
Age
29
Location
Winnipeg, Canada
There's no wrong answer here. If you like the raw wood feel, then leave it bare.
If you want some protection from grime, sweat, etc, then all those product suggestions mentioned by @Wyatt will work.
I personally use Osmo Polyx on all my necks, torrefied maple included, which typically have some flame figuring to them. I like to highlight that figure, which a finish will provide.
 

Si G X

Friend of Leo's
Joined
Dec 8, 2019
Posts
2,638
Location
England
My understanding of musicman necks is that are are 'almost' naked, one coat of a 'tru-oil' type oil, left to soak in for 20 seconds, wipe off excess, a thin coat of wax, wipe off.... done.

I wish I could remember where I heard this (It was on a podcast/youtube video) the guy had visited the factory and this is basically what he said about the neck finishing.

I don't see why you couldn't just wax polish the neck.. with a suitable wax of course, or just leave it alone .... it seems like a personal preference to me.
 

hepular

Tele-Afflicted
Joined
Feb 17, 2019
Posts
1,293
Location
abilene, tx
1. dig a little deeper on Nagyvary & the whole strad con game.



2. guitar neck and violin top not equivalent needs.
3. Sand to 1500 or 2000.
 

Hodgo88

Tele-Meister
Joined
Feb 10, 2021
Posts
168
Location
Eastern Oregon
You know, I realized I inadvertently asked two different questions here - one about finishing, another dredging up the myths and traditions of resonance and sustain and such. I'm not going to lie, I had already started to scrutinize why I'd even care about electric guitar neck resonance on the first place shortly after posting.

It sounds like the consensus is that roasted/torrefied maple offers a number of options given the inherent stability of the wood, and if wax is the way I want to go, I should go for it. Also, that there is a lack of empirical support for Stradivari's being superior to other violins. I love this forum, y'all are great.
 

stratisfied

Tele-Afflicted
Joined
Dec 17, 2019
Posts
1,654
Age
69
Location
Midwest
I remember reading that on contemporary instruments, lacquer based color finishes were preferred over oil-based penetrating type finishes because the oils penetrate the wood and change its characteristics by softening and counteracting the drying process the wood went through that made it more resonant in the first place. A thin lacquer coating of translucent color and clear topcoat was preferred by Gibson in particular, as the finish sat on the wood rather than penetrating it and deadening it. The thin lacquer was actually very porous so as to allow the wood to resonate and more closely approximated how unfinished, dried wood resonates. If one were to look at lacquer under a microscope, it does not form a continuous film. The apllied lacquer film fractures in the drying process leaving a web of microfractures that do allow the wood to gain and release humidity in response to atmospheric conditions as opposed to being encapsulated in a steady state as with a urethane, polyurethane or polyester finish. Varnishes also dry with same characteristics as lacquer.
 

Peegoo

Doctor of Teleocity
Joined
Oct 11, 2019
Posts
12,851
Location
Beast of Bourbon
A Warmoth neck is not really nekkid when you recieve it. They apply a thin solvent-based sealer to help protect the wood in storage and transit. So unless you sand it or scrub it with steel wool, there will be a very thin coating on the wood that you can wax.

Most folks use a paste wax like Johnson's, or the Gucci stuff sold by hipster furniture joints called Restoration Wax. It's the same stuff as Johnson's, except it costs more. Another option on bare wood is Howard Feed 'n' Wax. It contains beeswax and carnauba wax, orange oil, and a few other things; it applies really easily and buffs to a nice smooth feel.

I use Howard's on my rosewood and ebony fretbooards too.
 

Hodgo88

Tele-Meister
Joined
Feb 10, 2021
Posts
168
Location
Eastern Oregon
Thank you for the recommendations. I was looking at Birchwood Casey gunstock wax, which is beeswax, caranuba, and silicon (I assume for lubrication, not sealing).

I'd love to see various instrument finishes under a microscope, but Im skeptical about the idea of oil counteracting the drying process. Oil is inherently dry (hydrophobic), so in theory it should repel any water molecules it encounters in the wood.
 

gb Custom Shop

Tele-Meister
Joined
Jul 20, 2020
Posts
159
Age
29
Location
Winnipeg, Canada
Thank you for the recommendations. I was looking at Birchwood Casey gunstock wax, which is beeswax, caranuba, and silicon (I assume for lubrication, not sealing).

I'd love to see various instrument finishes under a microscope, but Im skeptical about the idea of oil counteracting the drying process. Oil is inherently dry (hydrophobic), so in theory it should repel any water molecules it encounters in the wood.
Interesting they have silicon in there, however I wouldn't guess it's purpose is lubrication, but rather a sealant, as it will inhibit absorption of moisture (same reason it's around our bathtubs). 'Gunstock finishes' are formulated to provide protection in outdoor conditions. Beeswax, caranuba, and silicon can all effectively inhibit moisture absorption
 

Boreas

Poster Extraordinaire
Joined
Nov 3, 2019
Posts
8,680
Age
67
Location
Adirondack Coast, NY
I would leave it unfinished and simply CLEAN it (gasp!) occasionally. Naphtha should remove almost anything you smear onto it. But if your skin has a lot of exudates, wipe it down every time you play it.
 

Sea Devil

Friend of Leo's
Joined
Sep 23, 2006
Posts
3,477
Age
59
Location
Brooklyn, NY
Another vote for Feed 'n' Wax. That stuff is fantastic on raw wood. Don't use anything with silicone.

I read stratisfied's post, at least the part about lacquer being "very porous," with my eyes popping out of my head in horror and disbelief. That assertion is utterly, completely wrong unless the finish has checked to an extreme degree.

I also read it right after his post about masking a bolt-on neck before refinishing the body, which is one of the most irrational suggestions I've ever heard. These two posts taken together almost seem like some form of trolling. I have never noticed stratisfied saying things like this before; could there be an Invasion of the Body Snatchers scenario going on here?
 
Last edited:

Sea Devil

Friend of Leo's
Joined
Sep 23, 2006
Posts
3,477
Age
59
Location
Brooklyn, NY
Let me revise the post above slightly: lacquer is intended to be impervious to moisture, vapor, and gas, but in reality, it usually isn't. If you spill water on it, it's not likely to seep through, but it is in fact somewhat permeable to all of the above. But "very porous"? Not a good choice of words. I think our apparent disagreement may be more about those specific words than the principles involved.
 

Beebe

Tele-Holic
Joined
Jun 1, 2021
Posts
643
Location
Atlanta
I believe Violin makers usually seal the wood before applying oil varnish.

I'd consider misting some shellac on there.
 

Boxla

Tele-Holic
Joined
Aug 25, 2017
Posts
858
Age
48
Location
Jahmerica
I own 3 EBMM Axis Sports and one Sterling Axis. I also just bought a Musikraft neck for my Tele that is lightly roasted with an oil rubbed finish.
1- Nothing beats or compares to the EBMM necks. I don't know what they do, or how they do it, besides knowing that it's an oil/gunstock wax finish. They are easily the greatest feelings necks I have ever felt.
2- The Sterling neck is interesting. It's still has that raw/satin/oil rubbed feel but just not at pronounced as my EBMM. It's a great feeling neck just much larger than the EBMM
3-The Musikraft neck is nice, very nice. I love the feel of it. Again, it's not as pronounced as the EBMM necks but it's close. I ordered it that way to be as close to my EBMM necks as they could get. I'm happy with it on my Tele.
4- My PRS Custom 22 has a glossy neck. It's not bad but I am done with glossy necks.
 

Boxla

Tele-Holic
Joined
Aug 25, 2017
Posts
858
Age
48
Location
Jahmerica
Also, that there is a lack of empirical support for Stradivari's being superior to other violins. I love this forum, y'all are great.
I did not know this, I guess I figured they have proven over the years to have the best tone. Good info to know!

But, I do know, and find it interesting, that even in the world of million dollar Stradivari's they are referred to as fiddles and not violins.
 




Top