Neck Treatments, Cleaning, and oiling DIY - Jemsite
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post #1 of 20 (permalink) Old 06-21-2011, 08:41 PM Thread Starter
 
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Neck Treatments, Cleaning, and oiling DIY

PART ONE : Information! *DISCLAIMER* This article is written as a "ground up" restoration if you will. I will explain parts that do not need to be done. Also, this is not intended to be done all the time. Its a once or twice a year thing to clean a guitar this thoroughly, IF that. Depending on your playing (I play QUITE a bit, and I do my necks once a year) Wiping down and simple cleaning maintenance will keep your neck in sterling condition!

"Why do I need to clean/oil my neck?"


Neck woods are subject to the same extremes of temperature and dryout that ANY other wood is. Your neck isnt "special", no matter how high or low quality it was made. The potential for a neck "drying out" is either a) the wood shrinks or b) the wood expands. In the case of "a)", the fret wire can lift on the edges causing it to buzz; or in the case of "b), the fret can get squished in the middle causing it to rise, and again... causing fret buzz. Im not saying your neck WILL be that extreme as to cause fret damage, Im just saying it IS a possibility. Another GREAT reason to clean and oil your neck... aesthetics and playability. A dry/dirty rosewood fretboard is nasty to look, and maple isnt too much better. Also, dirt and grime on the back of the neck can cause drag or just feel uncomfortable.

"What do I need to clean and oil my fret board?"

Taking care of your fret board is simple, cheap, and makes it look great. Simple products, such as an oil based cleaner (Oil soap), your favorite oil, some sandpaper, high grit steel wool, and rags is really all that is required.

"What are some products used to oil my fret board?"

There are tons of legitimate cleaners and products, as well as "snake oil" (pun intended.) Products used from distilled petroleum do NOT work to penetrate the wood and offer no real protection. They provide a great, but short term aesthetic improvement. Products like "Big Bends Fret Juice" are made from mineral oil and some other chemical additives. It looks great but doesnt offer any real protection. Want some proof? Go get a tube of vaseline or neosporin and compare that with your "Fret Doctor" solution. Those products last until your fingers absorb them, or they evaporate (albeit slowly).

Some products that work great-
-Boiled linseed oil. This is my personal favorite. Its somewhat tedious to work with, but its hard to "mess up" and it leaves a great shine and luster, and has zero drag like paint or shellac. The downsides, this stuff WILL darken the wood. It takes a LONG time (years and years) for this to happen, but it is something to precaution you about, it also kind of stinks lol. This finish requires "polymerization" to harden (explain later)

- Tung oil. Very similar in effect to linseed oil. Its much thicker and easier to apply at first (builds coats faster), and is just as good as LO. It doesnt darken over time and doesn't stink. Its a bit harder to work with then linseed oil.

- Bore Doctor. This stuff is made by a guy (Dr. for that matter!) that KNOWS what he's doing. He's been a source of information for myself on a lot of this stuff. His solutions are NOT distallates, and offer real protection. I do NOT know whats in it (he wont say, "duh" lol). Easy to apply and work with as well.

- Plant oils. Sunflower, corn, olive, etc. All work well, but degenerate and will literally rot over time lol. I would say it would work "in a pinch". I have personally used olive oil with great success!

- Wood and nut oils. Walnut, Rosewood, Peanut oils. These wore FANTASTIC, but are very expensive. Nut oils will rot akin to plant oils.


*WARNING* "Lemon oil" and cheap "bore oil" is nothing more then mineral oil with scents of lemon. Real lemon oil is HIGHLY acidic and cause also damage your fretboard. Ok on maple, not ok on rosewood or any other wood of that nature. Also, avoid silicone based products, as they literally do nothing but add a nice sticky layer of shinyness.


POLYMERIZATION
Polymerization is when the oils require a heat catalyst (either heat over time, or direct applied heat over a short term). Once polymerized, the oils harden like shellac and provide a nice luster. This is why some of your necks get really shiny when you play them a lot.

Last edited by linuxpenguin; 06-22-2011 at 12:22 AM.
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post #2 of 20 (permalink) Old 06-21-2011, 08:51 PM Thread Starter
 
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Re: Neck Treatments, Cleaning, and oiling DIY

PART TWO : REFINISH/OILING/FRET POLISHING.

*WARNING* LOTS OF LARGE IMAGES!

The supplies:


These are the supplies I am using.

- Various grades of sandpaper-> 240, 400, 600, 800
- Masking tape
- 0000 Steel wool
- Paper towels
- Boiled Linseed oil
- *Not shown* Microfiber towel and a sock






FRET BOARD INITIAL :

Note the grime build up, dirty frets, and general miscoloration and poor condition of the board.












BACK OF THE NECK :

Now, not an overly "dirty" neck as I had it sanded flat, but it is completely dry, unprotected and does have a bit of dirt. Dont worry, you WILL see a difference.





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post #3 of 20 (permalink) Old 06-21-2011, 09:19 PM Thread Starter
 
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Re: Neck Treatments, Cleaning, and oiling DIY

STEP ONE : SANDING!

If your neck is INCREDIBLY DIRTY, or bare like mine, start with 240 grit sandpaper and work your way up through 800 grit. You do NOT want to reprofile the neck or cause any other shaping, so be careful and light here. If your neck is just a bit dirty, start with 600 grit. *NOTE* ALWAYS SAND WITH THE GRAIN!

After 800 grit, take your 0000 steel wool (SW) and run it over the board, smoothing it out.

As you can see the neck is now very bright and pale. No shine to speak of, but looks very clean. Try not to touch it too much with your grubby little hands






If your fret board is EXTREMELY DIRTY, like mine, then proceed with sandpaper. If your neck just need some tidying up, then simply clean it with a good oil based soap and a toothbrush. Follow up with 0000 steel wool.


For the fret board, start out with ~400 grit sandpaper. It can clog up pretty quick, so make sure you have a lot to work with. Run it over the neck, again, be VERY careful with the fret board as you arent trying to "thin" it or ruin the radius. Follow the contours of the board and take your time. Make sure you are careful and work all the way up to the fret. This part takes some time, grab a beer and relax if you get ancy.

As you sand you will remove a lot of dirt and grime. Heres an image of half done neck, with 400# sand paper




As you work up the neck, it will be harder and harder to work in between the frets. I roll up some sandpaper and create a nice wedge shape to work in.

No jokes here





After working your way up the neck with the sandpaper, run it back over with 600# sand paper and then do a good once over with the 0000SW

It should come out like this :

AFTER. Sorry for the crappy quality


Last edited by linuxpenguin; 06-21-2011 at 10:39 PM.
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post #4 of 20 (permalink) Old 06-21-2011, 09:26 PM Thread Starter
 
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Re: Neck Treatments, Cleaning, and oiling DIY

STEP TWO: INITIAL OILING!

Ok for this part, start by shaking or stirring your oil as it can settle out.

You are going to use a paper towel to apply the oil in THIN LIGHT COATS!

Ok take your lint free rag/ microfiber and give your guitar a GOOD wipe down.

Start out you are going to use a SMALL amount of oil. It WILL absorb fast, so you will need to "reload" quite frequently. Avoid the temptation to gob it on just yet ( that will come )






Start applying WITH the grain. remember to reload and only use small amounts at this point.

This was after one pass. It will absorb in a matter of minutes! Looking better already!








Ok go sit down, have a cigarette, do something for a few minutes.

Come back, and lay it on fairly thick. It will be REALLY shiny and get you excited! Dont... It will absorb fairly quickly and become satin again.

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post #5 of 20 (permalink) Old 06-21-2011, 09:42 PM Thread Starter
 
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Re: Neck Treatments, Cleaning, and oiling DIY

STEP THREE: FRETBOARD OILING


Ok this is pretty simple. Your going to apply oil to the fret board in a similar fashion to the back of the neck. Rosewood is VERY porous and will absorb a LOT of oil, so be a little more liberal here. this part is pretty self explanatory and doesnt need a ton of images.

Starting with unoiled board.






guess which fret I didnt do? Haha. "But linux, you missed some spots!" No I didnt. The oil absorbed THAT fast. Again, take your time and make it even.





This was about 2 minutes after putting the oil on. Just keep touching it up for about 5 minutes.







Let EVERYTHING sit for about 15-30 minutes. NEXT PART-> POLYMERIZATION!
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post #6 of 20 (permalink) Old 06-21-2011, 10:09 PM Thread Starter
 
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Re: Neck Treatments, Cleaning, and oiling DIY

STEP FOUR: POLYMERIZATION.

This is where the magic happens. Put a (hopefully) clean sock on your hand like a glove. Your going to use it to rub oil on the neck.

Your neck should have a nice satiny glow at this point. It wont absorb oil AS fast, but its still thirsty, I promise.

Sit your fret board on carpet fretboard down of course.

-With your sock, put a SMALL amount of oil on your finger.
-Apply the oil in a smallish spot.
-Rub HARD. You want it to get HOT. Be careful, as you rub you CAN/WILL get it hot enough to burn yourself. Use common sense here.
- As you rub, you will notice it start to get REALLY shiny. Make sure you work evenly and across the neck. You cant mess this part up, but you can miss spots, so watch for that. Just run the neck under the light to see any spots you missed.

After you''re done with the sock, you're going to apply a dime size amount of oil and rub it on your hand. Youre going to repeat the process rubbing down the neck with your bare hand. It gets MUCH hotter much faster, so again, be careful. You will reflex away before you get burnt, but it doesnt make it hurt any less

Youre going to do this about 3-5 times. It will be extremely shiny when you're done. It will also be dry to the touch. DO NOT HANDLE IT! Let it sit for about an hour.

Come back... it will be satin again. Do this process one more time.

Between these "sessions" apply more thin coats of oil to the fret board.

By doing this process you also eliminate any "raised grain" problems people have with simple apply-and-dry method.

After you do this 2 or 3 times (depending on how bad your neck is!), it will look like this. *NOTE!* It will "feel" dry, but do not handle your neck at this point. You need to let it sit over night to harden.




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post #7 of 20 (permalink) Old 06-21-2011, 11:48 PM
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Re: Neck Treatments, Cleaning, and oiling DIY

There is so much bad advice in this thread, I really don't want to break it down point by point. Anybody is free to do wehatever they want to their guitars, but if this is regular "maintanence", it won't be very long before you don't have a neck left.

You had a bare neck, which you wanted, but then just put a finish on it, which you didn't want if you obviously wanted the bare wood. Confused?

Sanding anything is doing one thing, removing material you cannot ever replace. Do it ONCE? Maybe. Continually? Welcome to scalloped board before you know it, and sooner or later, there will be no wood left if you keep going.

Of course the linseed oil on the fretboard alters the way it feels [and smeels, yuck]. and is a permanent alteration. The only way it's coming off is, to sand it off. Of course if you like it, be my guest, but I personally hate it with a pasion and would never recomend it to anybody else.

Do that to something collectible and you have just devalued it, significantly in my book.

Your dark wood boards need nothing more than you to play it to keep nurished. Your fingerprints are all they need.
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post #8 of 20 (permalink) Old 06-22-2011, 12:04 AM Thread Starter
 
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Re: Neck Treatments, Cleaning, and oiling DIY

Quote:
Originally Posted by Rich View Post
There is so much bad advice in this thread, I really don't want to break it down point by point. Anybody is free to do wehatever they want to their guitars, but if this is regular "maintanence", it won't be very long before you don't have a neck left.

You had a bare neck, which you wanted, but then just put a finish on it, which you didn't want if you obviously wanted the bare wood. Confused?

Sanding anything is doing one thing, removing material you cannot ever replace. Do it ONCE? Maybe. Continually? Welcome to scalloped board before you know it, and sooner or later, there will be no wood left if you keep going.

Of course the linseed oil on the fretboard alters the way it feels [and smeels, yuck]. and is a permanent alteration. The only way it's coming off is, to sand it off. Of course if you like it, be my guest, but I personally hate it with a pasion and would never recomend it to anybody else.

Do that to something collectible and you have just devalued it, significantly in my book.

Your dark wood boards need nothing more than you to play it to keep nurished. Your fingerprints are all they need.

I guess my rebuttal would be this.

1) Sanding is extreme. My neck was already sanded down because it had a poly finish.
As far as sanding the back, I guess ernie ball needs to stop making guitars, because they clearly arent doing anything right.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=24yWr2LRmJY

sanding with 600 and 800 grit is removing nanometers of wood. You're not reshaping the neck with 600 grit sandpaper.

lastly, "sanding" is done once, maybe twice a year if you play the bejesus out of it.

2) The human body does not have any oil secretion capabilities on your hands. That "hand oil" is nothing more then the sweat, grime, salt, and WATER from your hands.

3) Why would you want to sand it off? You say you can feel it. If applied PROPERLY (i.e. thin coats like I directly specify), it produces an unnoticeable effect. You CAN NOT feel it. If you gob on the oil, yes it produces a thick "resin" feeling that can not be removed. It darkens the rosewood (ideal result and why most people oil it anyway). A permanent solution to a common problem? Im not seeing the issue

I also guess stewmac is an idiot, but what does he know about guitars....
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=srJNu...eature=related

look at the contents of this.
http://www.stewmac.com/shop/Finishin...shing_Oil.html


4) And finally yes, this is NOT intended to be on high dollar, collectible instruments. This is for the players and people that want a good, clean guitar. Thats it.
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post #9 of 20 (permalink) Old 06-22-2011, 12:16 AM
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Re: Neck Treatments, Cleaning, and oiling DIY

Thanks for telling everybody once or twice a year. See, if you don't say that, they'll do it every time they change strings. And 400 is taking off more than nano's, but is very mild, I will grant that.

You permanently alter anything you want, the repercisions of which should be made perfectly clear to anybody that reads this. Your guitar will never be the same again, period. You cannot go back to unfinished roasewood until it's refretted and the board sanded down.

If you can't notice the difference in linseed oil I cannot explain your lack of perception, because I can immediately see it and feel it, and please don't say "it must not have been done right".

I respect Dan emensely but that will never mean I'll agree with him on everything. He comes from a period they used linseed oil on EVERYTHING. And unfortunately it's still on EVERYTHING it was used on.

The EB necks are wax/oil finished. The 600 isn't taking off anything but the wax/oil.
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post #10 of 20 (permalink) Old 06-22-2011, 12:23 AM Thread Starter
 
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Re: Neck Treatments, Cleaning, and oiling DIY

Quote:
Originally Posted by Rich View Post
Thanks for telling everybody once or twice a year. See, if you don't say that, they'll do it every time they change strings. And 400 is taking off more than nano's, but is very mild, I will grant that.

You permanently alter anything you want, the repercisions of which should be made perfectly clear to anybody that reads this. Your guitar will never be the same again, period. You cannot go back to unfinished roasewood until it's refretted and the board sanded down.

If you can't notice the difference in linseed oil I cannot explain your lack of perception, because I can immediately see it and feel it, and please don't say "it must not have been done right".

I respect Dan emensely but that will never mean I'll agree with him on everything. He comes from a period they used linseed oil on EVERYTHING. And unfortunately it's still on EVERYTHING it was used on.

The EB necks are wax/oil finished. The 600 isn't taking off anything but the wax/oil.
Ok I edited my disclaimer.
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post #11 of 20 (permalink) Old 06-22-2011, 08:08 AM
 
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Re: Neck Treatments, Cleaning, and oiling DIY

I don't mean to pile on, but as I said in my PM, I strongly disagree with your advice to sand the board. If the neck you used as an example really needed this, then you picked a bad example because this would not apply to most necks out there.

The advice Rich gives on his site to use 0000 steel wool is much better, as it will have extremely minimal impact on the fretboard wood. In fact, on most boards I've even stopped using that. Unless they are super nasty, a stiff brush will remove everything and not scratch up your inlays. I use the plastic bristled brush from this set:

http://shop.advanceautoparts.com/web...CGRP2107_____#

The bristles come to a nice point that allow you to get right up next to the frets. Obviously don't use the brass or steel brushes on your guitar!

If you have a fretboard that truly is messed up and requires sanding, the frets should be pulled and the board should be leveled and radiused.
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post #12 of 20 (permalink) Old 06-22-2011, 10:14 AM
 
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Re: Neck Treatments, Cleaning, and oiling DIY

As far as getting off the dirt, muck and grime, wouldn't naptha be a better solution than sanding?
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post #13 of 20 (permalink) Old 06-22-2011, 10:53 AM Thread Starter
 
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Re: Neck Treatments, Cleaning, and oiling DIY

Quote:
Originally Posted by Dr.StrangeNote View Post
As far as getting off the dirt, muck and grime, wouldn't naptha be a better solution than sanding?
If you're talking about the back of the board, on oiled necks, naptha will start stripping the oil. A good OIL based soap and a microfiber rag would be sufficient at getting most surface dirt off. Over time though, you start putting in permanent marks. Ernie Ball suggests sanding with 600/800 grit sandpaper on their necks before applying more oil to get it smooth and get it really clean. As well, you're not doing this all the time, we're talking once or twice a year if you take care of your neck.


This particular neck had paint on the fretboard and back of the neck, years of grime of the fretboard (Thick black nastiness), and was basically a complete mess.
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post #14 of 20 (permalink) Old 06-22-2011, 12:09 PM
 
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Re: Neck Treatments, Cleaning, and oiling DIY

Interesting thread, I never realised there was so much to cleaning a guitar neck.

I usually just wipe with an old sock (used smelly and with holes in, and probably chewed by my dog)
then use sunflower or olive oil,

if its very dirty a quick rub with washing up liquid and maybe a toothbrush.

Works for me, I dont claim its the best way but it is practical.
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post #15 of 20 (permalink) Old 06-22-2011, 12:53 PM
 
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Re: Neck Treatments, Cleaning, and oiling DIY

vegetable oil? NO! that will rot over time. i just use eb wonder wipes for my fret board, then a paper towel on the back of the neck. If it's really grimmy( maybe once a year) i will use 400 grit sandpaper, thats it for me.
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