Cleaning the back of an unfinished maple neck - Jemsite
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post #1 of 3 (permalink) Old 04-09-2015, 07:21 AM Thread Starter
Join Date: Jul 2005
Location: London, UK
Posts: 52
Red face Cleaning the back of an unfinished maple neck

Hey all,

Apologies if this has been covered off before, but whenever I search for cleaning a maple neck, I always get info about cleaning/shaving the fretboard, not the back of the neck itself. I'm restoring an '89 VDY and the previous owner had sanded all the finish off the back of the neck. It feels great, but it's got pretty mucky over the years. I've cleaned the majority of it with 600 and 800 grit paper (dry), but it's still not perfect. I've also used some household cleaner and a toothbrush. I'm reluctant to put the clear back on until it's spotless, but scared to try a coarser grit for fear of altering the profile too much. Is there a trick I'm missing? Also, do I need to oil the wood before applying the clear?

As an aside, it has a very small crack at the nut. it's totally stable and doesn't affect tuning, but I'd like to tidy it up cosmetically. Any tricks for that?

Thanks in advance
the ax murderer is offline  
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post #2 of 3 (permalink) Old 04-09-2015, 10:06 AM
Join Date: Mar 2014
Location: Louisiana, USA
Posts: 238
Re: Cleaning the back of an unfinished maple neck

Since the finish was taken off that means the gunk and dirt has sunken into the pores of the wood. Depending on how deep it's worked in there (I'm assuming that it's in there pretty good since it was played a good bit with no finish) you may not be able to get it all out. You can probably sand with 400 grit paper without altering the profile much & see if that helps. Other than more sanding I don't think there's too much else you can do.

If you're doing a lacquer finish you do not want to oil the wood. The lacquer won't stick well to the oil. A light coat of sealer before you spray the clear is what you want.

As far as the crack goes If it's good and stable I wouldn't mess with it much. You can do a quick sand over it to make sure everything is flush but I wouldn't try cleaning it or anything. That may make the wood swell and destabilize it. A few drops of CA or epoxy on the crack will also help to stabilize it more.

One last thought on it all, you maybe can try doing a light colored amber stain/finish. It may help hide the dirt and give it more of a vintage look.

Overall if I were you I would put some clear epoxy on the crack to make sure it's good and stabilized then give the neck one last light sand before applying the sealer. Let the bit of dirt and crack be part of the character of the guitar.
madasahatter is offline  
post #3 of 3 (permalink) Old 04-09-2015, 10:43 AM Thread Starter
Join Date: Jul 2005
Location: London, UK
Posts: 52
Re: Cleaning the back of an unfinished maple neck

All sounds like great advice, thank you!

I think I'll definitely go with the stain idea. The back of the headstock hasn't been touched throughout and has a much warmer, more amber hue as you rightly suggested. I guess if I can match this as close as possible, I'm onto a winner.

I've been a bit lazy with before pics, but I might try and get some 'during' and 'after' shots up.

She was always a real beater, but I've been living in guilt for years after giving her a DBK-esque barbecue finish (don't ask) so I'm going to get her back to glory.
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