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refinishing an SX neck

Discussion in 'Hardware, Setup & Repair [BG]' started by ElBajista, Jan 30, 2006.

  1. ElBajista


    Dec 13, 2005
    Sebring, FL
    Yet another thread about my SX project bass:

    I strongly dislike the sticky feel of the gloss finish on the back of the neck, and I was researching different options for other finishing products. I did try sanding the back of the neck down a bit with a fine grade steel wool, and whereas it did make it feel a bit better, it's nowhere near where I want it to be.

    I came across Tung Oil, which I happen to have already, and I was wondering if this would give me the same satin-y feel of, say, a MM Sterling. I had the happy chance to play a Sterling a couple of weeks ago, and I loved the smooth feel of the neck.

    Is it true that Sterling necks, if not those of all MM basses, are finished with Tung Oil? If so, are they finished with 100% tung oil, or some sort of mixture? I'd like to know the products and application procedure to achieve that kind of feel.

    As always, all help is greatly appreciated.
  2. I couldn't tell you what is on the back of a MM Sterling.

    What I can tell you, however, is that tung oil is a great choice for a satin-y finish for the back of a neck.
  3. ElBajista


    Dec 13, 2005
    Sebring, FL
    Alright, would I use straight Tung oil, or is there a special "guitar neck" formula?

    Being the first time I have ever attempted anything like this, I need step by step, or at least very detailed instructions. :help:

  4. if it were me,

    I'd take the wood to "white"...no finish...sand it smooth with 400 grit paper (maybe hit it with 600 as well, depending on the job)...and then I'd put on a coat of the tung oil...let it soak for about 5 mins and then wipe it off...

    8 hours later...i'd hit it lightly with the 600 grit, wipe it down with a 3M nylon scouring pad...wipe it with a clean cotton cloth (old T-shirts are great for this)...and then hit it with another bit of tung oil...5 mins later wipe it off...and then let it dry for about 5 to 10 days...
  5. AFlyOnGeddysWal


    Sep 27, 2004
    I did this to the back of my Fender J neck.

    * I took off the poly finish, down to the white maple wood, with a fine steel wool. I took me about 2 days, in the evenings after work.
    * DUST AND REMOVE all particulate matter before applying the Tung Oil.
    * I used Formby's low gloss Tung Oil, directions are on most of this stuff. After applying with a cloth, let it soak for 5-10 min. then brush off the excess. Most varieties will recommend between 6-48 hour dry time between coats. I put on 3 total, usually a 24 hour dry time, then light steel wool to remove bumps, then polish.
    * I finished with Beeswax & Orange Oil, then Lemon Oil, which you just rub on, wait a few, then rub off.
    * Some info, I found some info by searching here also.

    The result was VERY smooth.

    I'm sure you're aware this negates warranties, and can possibly lead to neck warpage, etc. I can live with mine, your results may vary. If in doubt, have someone else do it, or not at all.
  6. ElBajista


    Dec 13, 2005
    Sebring, FL
    Neck Warpage? how so? If my neck happened to warp, would it be correctable via the trussrod?

    Is the beeswax, lemon oil, and orange oil necessary? From the link you supplied, I see that it says, "for a glossy finish, buff and wax the surface. I don't care about having a glossy finish, I just want the satin feel.

    I'll be doing this to my SX, so no worries about warranties. :D
  7. Ned Starks Head

    Ned Starks Head Yis, actually.

    Sep 25, 2004
    Charlotte NC
    Hey, stranger.
    I think what he means by warranties has to do with Warmoth necks in general. I just bought a Warmoth bound and blocked J neck for a project and their warranty specifically states:
    "The warranty will be void if the neck is played without a hard finish, such as lacquer. We do not consider oil type finishes to be adequate".
    Actually I'm getting ready to put the first coat of lacquer on it tonight, first one I've ever done.

    I have the same SX J that you do, the '75 in natural, and it did get sticky. For me, the steel wool trick was enough.
    ....but.... I've never played a Sterling.
  8. centralharbor


    Nov 21, 2005
    is there a satin finish that i could get, maybe like a wood finish in a spraypaint form and then just shoot it a few times?
  9. PasdaBeer


    Nov 2, 2002
    Santa Rosa California
    SandStorm Designs
    spray poly wont do it.

    Oil is great stuff, many ways to do it right, i prefer 100% pure tung oil, but it takes forever to dry compared to most retail mixtures ( which have lots of turpintine/other "flash" drying chemicals compared to the real stuff )
  10. Ned Starks Head

    Ned Starks Head Yis, actually.

    Sep 25, 2004
    Charlotte NC
    Go here.
  11. centralharbor


    Nov 21, 2005
  12. I think Warmoth's caution should be taken fairly seriously for all necks but especially WRT maple necks. AFAIK the issue is all about protecting the neck from seasonal changes in humidity, which is a big issue as far as neck stability is concerned since there is a lot of concentrated force on the neck. What I have been told is that maple expands and contracts with changes in its mositure content even more than some other woods so it tends to be a bit more vulnerable.

    My experience seems to bear this out as the one instrument I own that has a maple neck and a too porous finish on that neck requires many more seasonal truss rod adjustments than anything else I have ever owned. Not scientific - I know it may just be one crappy piece of wood - but still something I think about.


  13. you're right, it's not very scientific...

    the reason warmoth makes such a statement is to keep people from relying on soft oils like lemon oil and linseed oil on their necks....this will leave the necks subject to the elements

    however, tung oil is a hard oil and is used by MANY musicians...it works fine...

    heck, Carvin even has a tung oil neck finish as an option on their instruments...
  14. ElBajista


    Dec 13, 2005
    Sebring, FL
    Hey Sam! I tried the steel wool and I'm not satisfied with the result. I guess I got instantaneously spoiled by the neck on that Sterling. I might hit the SX neck again, just to see if that might help.

    By the way, I found out that Sterling necks are finished with some sort of gun(?) oil and a "special wax blend" for protection.:eyebrow: That was only one source though, but pretty vague.

    Let me know how that finishing goes! I'm interested to hear the result.
  15. ElBajista


    Dec 13, 2005
    Sebring, FL
    I didn't know that about Carvin. I was thinking about a custom fretless neck for a future project, and just the fact that they have that as an option puts them on my "potentials" list. Thanks!
  16. gun oil = Hoppes (sp?) gun oil is used to clean and protect the metal on guns but also works as a protectant for wood, can be found in ANY place that sells guns or ammo.

    wax = probably a mixture of beeswax and orange oil...a common furniture protectant, can be found in most places like Lowe's and Home Depot...regular reapplications are required (I'd say, 1-2 per year)

    me? I'd still go tung oil...
  17. sb69coupe


    Aug 9, 2004
    Raleigh NC
    If you want the neck slick and satiny, you will have to remove all of the thick polyurethane on the back of the SX neck before you can get that oiled/satin finish. As PilbaraBass mentioned, you need to sand the back of the neck with very fine sandpaper to remove the finish and get to bare wood before you can apply anything else to change the feel of the neck.
  18. Greg Clinkingbeard

    Greg Clinkingbeard

    Apr 4, 2005
    Kansas City area
    Setup and repair/KRUTZ Strings
    Birchwood-Casey Tru Oil is a gun oil used by Smith and Wesson to finish their stocks. It is very popular in guitar building. I used a few coats of it on my maple neck and followed with a rub down of steel wool and Johnson paste wax. It feels slick and smooth and seems to protect the wood. So far so good.:D

  19. Except that Warmoth now allows HARD OIL coatings to fall under the coverage of the warranty. This isn't stated in the literature but it has been confirmed here in TB by bwbass who is a top employee of the company and is registered here as a Manufacturer. These coatings would be the TruOil type or a polymerized tung oil finish.
  20. Ned Starks Head

    Ned Starks Head Yis, actually.

    Sep 25, 2004
    Charlotte NC