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How To Finish A Guitar Neck: Things You May Take Into Your Consideration

How to finish a guitar neck is a big issue right now! Each neck of either guitar is by far the most significant component in regards of usability. It’s the fundamental interface, and whether there are any issues (uneven frets, too many of / or just enough neck relief, for example), the instrument will become more tough to win. 

Nevertheless, it’s not just neck relief as well as fretboard quality that may affect an instrument’s playability; the detailed integration you use on the collar and fretboard could also affect. The following article will give you informative guides on how to finish a guitar neck perfectly when you are trying to finish it by yourself at home. 

The article will contain those contents:

  • Things you should consider when choosing a finish for your guitar
  • What is the finest material for your guitar’s neck finish?
  • How to finish a guitar neck correctly

Things you should consider when choosing a finish for your guitar

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Choose a finish which will provide you with excellent playability first or a pleasing visual appeal second. A harp neck will engage with your fingers in two ways. The top aspect of the ride cymbal, where the Fretboard are, as well as the rear aspect of the throat, where the palms of the hand are.

Rosewood Neck

If your neck is made up of only one component, it’s possible that the fretboard as well as back profile are made of the very same material. That’s often the case with Maple necks. If you’ve a two-piece body with an untreated maple back face and a rosewood fingerboard, the rear profile and top frets will often be completed in separate materials. That’s also especially true with “Rosewood necks.” They are generally Maple stems with a Blackwood fretboard slab affixed to the top. 

Rosewood may be polished with a tough finish, and it’s commonly kept open milled and rubbed with a wiping oil, the most common of which being citrus oil. Although the shine finish appears to be attractive, some players advise against using it since it causes greater neckwear than a semi gloss.

Moving chord voicings back and forwards the neck may feel slippery or unpleasant if you sweat a lot while performing. Satin texture is also attractive, but it does have a more matte appearance. The Satin treatment creates an Ultra-Fast performance guitar body, which is ideal for shred improvising or playing when hand placements on the guitar fretboard must be changed often.

Zakk Wylde will sandpaper down the sides of his favorite Les Pauls since they typically come with such a glossy coating, but he likes the sound of the necks above the appearance.

If you’re trying to complete a Raw Oak neck, you’ll need to add a polish to this and it may distort over time, which will happen faster in wet and humid conditions.

If you’re going to utilize a rosewood and ebony neck, make sure you lubricate it with lemon or drilling fluid to retain moisture. You could also use branded stuff like Music Nomad’s Formula 1 fretboard grease cleaning and conditioner. On the other hand, lemon oil should not be used on maple stems.

Scalloped Necks

The finish given to the top fretboard, where your hand works up and down the fretboard, may not be as important to your playing as the back profile, where your hand works up and down the fretboard. Since the wood here between chords is empty or absent where your thumb would ordinarily make touch, a tougher solid gloss treatment or an exposed grain Rosewood surface may have little effect on the musician.

The rear neck contour, which would be in constant touch with the teammate’s hand, will, nonetheless, account for the majority of the sensation the player has toward the head. A body with giant frets has a similar impact since they hold the player’s fingertips off the board more than a small vintage inspired fret. Each type of guitar will require the suitable ways of finishing. To know more about it, visit here for more information.

What is the finest material for your guitar’s neck finish?

Because Nitrocellulose is lighter than Polyurethane as well as Polyester, it echoes better but provides less damage and scratch resistance. Poly Finishes provide a stronger, more lustrous finish, but they also condense the tone by restricting the wood’s deformation.


It seems to be a porous solvent-based coating that is lighter than most other coatings. Although it lacks the toughness of a modern finish, antique admirers enjoy its personality and visual appeal. Users and builders think that guitars finished with Nitro have a greater resonant quality since this cellulose acetate finish becomes less restrictive on the frame. Prior to actually sanding / polishing, nitrocellulose will require more applications than poly coatings to start building adequate material upon the neck. They will also require less polishing in between applications.

Nitrocellulose finishes are prone to moderate to severe checking and breaking as they wear. They also have a tendency to “Yellow” or develop a condition known as bleaching, which essentially means that perhaps the Finishing will develop an antique tint / yellowish color with time. This, too, remains a part of the attraction that antique collectors enjoy.

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Poly Finishes

Polyurethane or Polypropylene finishes are used in today’s business for manufacturing guitars and instruments. They give a deeper, wetter, shinier appearance with fewer applications. Poly coatings, according to players as well as builders, provide additional protection, however the guitar’s capacity to resonate is harmed as a result of the tougher finish.

If we’re just talking more about finishing on a body, it’s easy to understand how a polyurethane polish on a wood neck may improve the staccato punch. However, a Nitro finishing on a mahogany neck may heat up or mellow the tone of a timber that is already brilliant.

All finishes have the same sound. Is it possible?

On equipment, everything counts acoustically and a guitar needs an appropriate amp which is offered clearly in this article. Regardless of how minor or insignificant an effect something such as guitar’s finish has on the item, it is still an element that may enhance or subtract from overall usability and tone.

While putting up a guitar, every one of the small subtleties of these materials that go into making a great performing instrument must be taken into account. At the conclusion of each day, we’re all striving for an item that sticks out but has that “gasp” effect. Every instrument in a certain chart will be the same / “but distinctive,” as we constantly remark.

Even if all other factors are equal as well as product quality is rigorous, we must all recall that each plank of fabric on our instruments originated from a live tree that really was distinct in its shape and provenance. Even while they aim to provide a similar finish each time, each guitar built with an Artisan always behind the pressure washer will also have a somewhat distinct finish and thus help the guitar sound somewhat different.

How to finish a guitar neck correctly

When I began planning my instrument build, I realized I would have to duplicate that finish. It is a broad guide about how to complete this surprisingly straightforward activity, which is worth the time investment in my view. 

The First Step

The finish should preferably be put on a raw wood neck, therefore either buy something yourself, as I did here, or take the finish off an existing neck using flat surface sand. Here’s some close-ups of my bespoke collar, which is made of roasted herringbone maple. The term “roasted” due to high heat treatment is used to stabilise and enhance the tone of the timber in this situation. It boasts a stunning pau ferro fingerboard with noticeable grain streaks with or without a polish.

Examine the surface for flaws

After you’ve removed the previous finish, you may start applying the fresh one. Because Birchwood Collins Tru-Oil is much more of a lacquer and has a strong odor, it must be used outside or even in a well-ventilated environment to avoid inhaling the fumes. However, before you use the varnish, make sure that perhaps the surface of your collar can soak it uniformly. Using a flat surface aluminum foil, in this instance 0000, is indeed the best technique to remove any surface flaws. Make careful to go beyond the top of the collar equally to level out the rear – this isn’t essential before applying the finish.

Getting everything in order. It is a crucial step: Break out your favorite 0000 aluminum foil once the first or subsequent layer of oil has dried fully. To level out the finishing, run the yarn in even runs over the full length of the tail back backwards and forwards, as previously. For best results, I should pass across each application for about 10-20 minutes with extremely soft passages. This increases the slipperiness of the collar by giving it a highly “glassy” sensation. This should be done across each application of Dum to guarantee an equal finish.

Applying the guitar finishes

Putting the finish was simple – simply take your terry towel (or a bit of an old sweater t-shirt but none was available) then drop a very little dab of something like the oil finishing onto the fabric — I flipped the oil pour spout onto my fabric and fully back, using a percentage point quantity for my initial coat. Begin washing across the shoulders in large strides from the start to the finish. Make certain, but this is critical, that you wipe the finishing on with uniform pressure. If one pushes too firmly in one region compared to the next, the region with greater velocity will receive more finish, resulting in an inconsistent finish. 

Because the grease dries rapidly, take a couple of minutes to properly apply the finishing as equally as possible. This will be essential to apply extra finishing to the fabric once or sometimes more each season in order to cover the entire collar with a thin coating of finishing. As I previously stated, the thinner the coating, the finer – you could always apply more, as well as the finishing is far more difficult to remove.

You’ll need to take at least just a few hours for every coating to dry, and based on how often you finish each occasion, you may have to wait several hours. Touch its surface to see if it’s dried; if it isn’t sticky, it’s probably time for another coating. Begin applying the second layer in the same manner as previously. Following two coats, this was my accomplishment. Its grain is growing more prominent, almost hologram in appearance, and the golden hue is accumulating to produce a golden-brown oak hue.

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Wax applying

The Birchwood Irwin gun barrel wax enhances the polish beautifully. It simply provides the collar a more pleasing feel by minimizing any roughness and improving the smoothness. It’s difficult to put into words, and it’s a crucial stage that you really should not neglect. To administer the wax, place a reasonable dab on a cloth (ideally NOT the same towel that was used during the oil) then spread it along the full area of the collar as normal. The beeswax is less solid than the oil, so it doesn’t require as much attention. I wound up using 2-3 little coats of beeswax, so each moment I finished one, I could not stop myself from adding another. 

Fretboard oiling

After you’ve done your neck, take a breath and appreciate your piece of art. Now hold on! We’re not finished yet. Remove all tape remnants as well as the covering from the fingerboard. Decide whether or not the fingerboard deserves to be addressed after you’ve finished this. My board was Gua Ferra, a Bolivian Hardwood (as it’s known), and that was naturally dried and also it could do with some major oil to bring it back from the dead. I wound up applying 2 or 3 little coatings of distilled water to the fingerboard surface, which dramatically improved the appearance of the wood and provided it a special texture which was no more brittle, much to my delight.

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Final thought

To my amazement, applying an unique neck finish also wasn’t nearly as intimidating as everyone had suggested. That was a wonderful activity that tested my eye for detail while also allowing me to develop a better grasp of what takes to make a collar feel guilty. I am convinced that my collar finishing is the greatest I have ever felt, and that is mostly due to the fact that I was able to custom tune it to your specific taste. I strongly recommend people to do that and add their own finishing to a body that will be used to make their instrument – it is well worth the effort and work. 

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Thank you very much for your reading! We hope that this article will be helpful in case you are worried about how to finish a guitar neck by yourself at your own home. If you have any questions please give them under the comment box and we will try our best to reply. In case you are finding something such as a guitar for your own, this content is helpful.

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