1. Please take 30 seconds to register your free account to remove most ads, post topics, make friends, earn reward points at our store, and more!  

Dirty-sanded-oiled neck relic finish

Discussion in 'Luthier's Corner' started by drums1977, Jan 21, 2017.

  1. drums1977


    Mar 31, 2008

    I love the look and feel back of the necks of the Fender Custom Shop's Pino Palladino and Jaco Signature models. You know, they are not only sanded and oiled, much like an US Lkland, but they also appear dirty, almost grey sometimes, like here:



    The new journeyman relics are similar too. My guestion is, how could I achieve that look and feel with a standard lackered neck? I have sanded and oiled necks in the past (using orange oil ang howard products feed-n-wax), and the feel is perfect, just like those Fenders or the Laklands, but I dont know how to get the "dirty" look. Ash? Tea? Charcoal? What do you guys recommend (please don`t say play the hell out of it...) :)

  2. Scoops

    Scoops Why do we use base 10 when we only have 8 fingers Supporting Member Commercial User

    Oct 22, 2013
    Sugar Creek, Wisc
    I am me
    You could try aniline dye. That stuff really gets into the pores of the wood. very doable as well
  3. I believe they use graphite power. Use a very, very small amount on a rag.
  4. Axstar


    Jul 8, 2016
    East of Eden.
    I heard of some technique that involved corroding steel wool with vinegar.
  5. Manton Customs

    Manton Customs UK Luthier

    Jan 31, 2014
    Shropshire, UK
    Luthier, Manton Customs
    Those examples looks quite contrived to me if it's supposed to simulate natural wear....wear shouldn't be that even. As mentioned above, dye will get you there. Remove the lacquer in the areas you want to (hint- not all of it like those ones) dye to your desired shade (something dirty coloured), then refinish.
    Axstar likes this.
  6. drums1977


    Mar 31, 2008
    Mmmm, not sure the aim of those is to actually simulate just natural wear, but wear and dirt over an already sanded/treated neck. I used to own a gorgeous 1960 PBass (not CS, the real thing). The neck on that one had been sanded donkey years ago in the same manner, and after years of playing it kind of looked greyer, have a look:



    Actually very similar to those CS models (I've owned both the Jaco and the Pino). I have just purchased another CS (HERE), which neck has been sanded and oiled, but as the body is heavy reliced, I would like to acheave a more consistent look on the back of the neck. Maybe the trick is just to play it with filthy hands!

    So what kind of dye would you recommend? Isn't aniline very strong stuff? I wouldnt like to damage that neck in any way. And about refinishing after applying the dye, I wouldn't think that is necesary. I presume a final hand of orange oil should be plenty to protect the dye and keep that natural unfinished feel, IMHO.

  7. drums1977


    Mar 31, 2008
    Any more advices/ideas about this? Thanks!
  8. This is what I've always heard too.
  9. drums1977


    Mar 31, 2008
    Could you describe that technique? What kind of vinegar?
  10. Will_White


    Jul 1, 2011
    Salem, OR
    White vinegar and steel wool, it doesn't look those necks though.
  11. drums1977


    Mar 31, 2008
    Yeah, I wonder what that black and grey material in the wood pores is. Someone mentioned graphite powder?
  12. Ross W. Lovell

    Ross W. Lovell

    Oct 31, 2015

    Never been a fan of bare wood on the back of a neck. I like it smooth, though. Wetsanding with succesively finer paper until I get to #2000....without breaking through the finish.

    Bare finishes absorb perspiration and eventually the wood will rot in extreme cases.
    Sartori likes this.
  13. Will_White


    Jul 1, 2011
    Salem, OR
    Could be graphite powder (pencil lead) or charcoal powder, if put old strings on and put one of those on a rag over your thumb then play a scale in all positions a couple times you could probably get a more honest looking neck then what's shown in the pictures, after that just put on a few coats of oil to seal it in and you'd probably get a semi close facsimile to natural wear. I have a guitar with a lightly oiled oak neck that has similarly coloured wear but not nearly that uniform.
  14. DiabolusInMusic

    DiabolusInMusic Functionless Art is Merely Tolerated Vandalism Supporting Member

    The previous owner of my Stingray liked to play his bass immediately after doing automotive work. This worked to darken the neck including the fretboard since it is also oiled maple. This might take a while though, he did have the bass for years.

    I thought the teabag/coffee stain trick was commonly used in the relic process but I really don't know. I would be interested in your results though, I also like the look.
    BassFishingInAmerica likes this.
  15. ThudThudThud


    Jun 4, 2010
    You could also try a little shoe polish. I 'aged' a stripped neck before I finished it, and the results were similar - albeit in a different colour; I used a brown polish.
    Will_White likes this.
  16. rojo412

    rojo412 Sit down, Danny... Supporting Member

    Feb 26, 2000
    Cleveland, OH.
    I was going to suggest changing the brakes on your car, don't wash your hands, then just play scales. But auto work has already been mentioned.

    While working on a recent project, some ebony dust that got into the pores of the wood and won't seem to go away. Very fine dark woods could help add a "patina". Rosewood, ebony, walnut... just a thought.

    Dirt and grime get in there and stay pretty well. If you sanded a neck bare and then played it, got it to where you liked the look, then covered it in a finish like TruOil, you'd have a more permanent dirt look. But dye would probably get you there, too.
    Will_White likes this.
  17. Manticore


    Feb 27, 2016
    Play the thing, a lot...
  18. JIO

    JIO Gold Supporting Member Commercial User

    Jun 30, 2010
    Oceana (Pacifica) CA
    musician/artist/owner - Gildaxe
    My '66 P for reference - more pics of various distressed basses here - SHOW YOUR DISTRESSED FINISHES! visualize a 'look' based on an actual worn neck and go from there. That B4ss Club Chicago body is silly bad distressing. It's key to use an actual example as a reference source.

    drums1977 and Will_White like this.
  19. drums1977


    Mar 31, 2008
    That's lush.
  20. bolophonic


    Dec 10, 2009
    Durham, NC
    A bass neck might "rot" if it were left outside, buried in leaves. Even if you played it regularly with wet hands, a bass kept indoors would never accumulate enough moisture to cause the wood to decay, unless it was stored under a roof leak.
    Pbassmanca and JGbassman like this.

Share This Page

  1. This site uses cookies to help personalise content, tailor your experience and to keep you logged in if you register.
    By continuing to use this site, you are consenting to our use of cookies.