This is Why You Suck at Guitar: Your Neck Finish Sucks! (oil and wax tutorial)

Discussion in 'Luthiery, Modifications & Customizations' started by HumanFuseBen, Sep 7, 2015.

  1. HumanFuseBen

    HumanFuseBen SS.org Regular

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    Hey kids!!!
    Uncle Ben here with a brand new episode of This is Why You Suck at Guitar. Typically on this series, i've been giving you the straight poop on how to improve your playing, but this time, i'm gonna give you the straight poop on how to improve what you're playing on!
    I've always loved those dry, satiny Ernie Ball Music Man/Ibanez Jem/Universe neck finishes. They just feel and look great! So years ago, i started trying to perfect my own oil and wax finish. I started off with tung oil, which is alright, but didn't quite do the job... until i started using Birchwood Casey Tru Oil and wax!!! This is the secret. I've heard tell thats what EBMM uses themselves.
    In this video, you'll learn what supplies you need to buy, how to prep, how to sand, how to montage, how to thug life, how to apply the oil and wax finish your body craves, and how to maintain said finish for a lifetime of glory. I recommend this for bolt-on neck guitars or any kind!

    Check it out!
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RiDm4JKtICk
     
  2. 7 Strings of Hate

    7 Strings of Hate Mid-Level Asshole Contributor

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    It feels better, but be ready for more truss rod adjustments more often.
     
  3. HumanFuseBen

    HumanFuseBen SS.org Regular

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    honestly i've never had that issue!
     
  4. MaxOfMetal

    MaxOfMetal Likes trem wankery. Super Moderator

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    Not really if you seal the neck properly first or make sure to keep the oil pristine, which the wax aids in.

    Just like fretboards, as long as the wood is well oiled it's not going to move very much as humidity can't penetrate oil easily and the oil will prevent the moisture still in the wood from seasoning/manufacture to leech off.

    Of note, you can still put an oil/wax finish over a not completely stripped down neck. You can even just buff the finish into a matte sheen and then wax. It's not as smooth usually, and it's harder to get right, but it is possible.

    Technically, you can just wax the neck even, but then you'll run into issues as the oil is there to protect the neck from outside climate.
     
  5. 7 Strings of Hate

    7 Strings of Hate Mid-Level Asshole Contributor

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    I'v done this to many necks. It absolutely does. I know from much experience.

    Keeping it oiled and sealed obviously helps. But you have to maintain it by reoiling a few times a year. Also, living in stlouis, we have super humid summers and dry cold winters. The weather was playing hell with my oiled necks ever season change while my hard nitro finished guitars didnt.
     
  6. MaxOfMetal

    MaxOfMetal Likes trem wankery. Super Moderator

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    You might not be oiling things right or keeping up on it. Have you been waxing them too? The wax will easily double the time you have between re-oiling.

    Hard finishes aren't special, they just make it so the moisture content of the wood stays the same, water can't go in and out with a non-permeable barrier.

    A proper oiled and waxed neck, not just oiled, has the same impermeable qualities as a hard finish as long as it's well maintained.

    I'm in Wisconsin which has a similar climate, and before lived in Arizona and Florida which are on the extremes as far as climate, and the oiled and waxed necks of my various guitars never really faced more neck issues compared to my solid finished necks.

    If your necks are moving a lot, you might need to change your method and re-do them.

    In a climate controlled, low humidity room strip the neck down to bare wood. Let the neck sit for a few days. Oil it up with your oil of choice. Sand and re-oil until the neck is well saturated and the finish is even. Then go over it with some wax, a few coats helps but be careful, too much and the neck will be sticky to the touch as the wax melts from body heat.

    I've used the Birchwood Casey Gun Stock Wax, and it's great. SC Johnson made a wax a few years ago that worked great, but I don't think it's around anymore.
     
  7. HumanFuseBen

    HumanFuseBen SS.org Regular

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    yeah, i've never had any trouble here in TN either. Super humid summers, super dry winters.
     
  8. aesthyrian

    aesthyrian SS.org Regular

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    Would it happen to be the paste wax?
    [​IMG]
     
  9. HumanFuseBen

    HumanFuseBen SS.org Regular

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    Nope! Birchwood Casey wax!
     
  10. MaxOfMetal

    MaxOfMetal Likes trem wankery. Super Moderator

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    Not sure if that's the same stuff, the SCJ stuff wasn't a paste, but perhaps it was reformulated.
     
  11. warped

    warped SS.org Regular

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    Could you finish a guitar body&Top this way? Tru-Oil followed by rub on wax?
    If you used ColorTone water based stain on top of a flamed maple cap could you follow that up with Tru-Oil then wax on the entire body? Or is there a better way to get a clear/satin finish than that?
     
  12. MaxOfMetal

    MaxOfMetal Likes trem wankery. Super Moderator

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    You certainly can, but the same maintenance applies. So only finish this way if you're willing to re-oil and re-wax the entire guitar on a regular basis.

    Of note, finishes like these are extremely thin and not at all protective from scratches and dents to the wood.

    I'd recommend a spray on clear urethane finish, cheap and very forgiving if you're new to finishing.
     
  13. warped

    warped SS.org Regular

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  14. TheWarAgainstTime

    TheWarAgainstTime "TWAT" for short

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    Watched the whole tutorial earlier today and definitely want to test it out on one of my cheaper guitars :) I slready know I like a "raw" feel, so I just want to get used to the process before I try it on a more expensive guitar

    Thanks, Uncle Ben!
     
  15. HumanFuseBen

    HumanFuseBen SS.org Regular

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    awesome dude, good luck with your project!!!
     
  16. Cake Machine

    Cake Machine Banned

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    I always just used oil to refinish - good tip with the wax,

    I've done it on a recent neck refinish. I'd done it slightly differently (stepped up through sandpaper grades to like 1200 grit) and tried it with Carnauba wax instead of the branded gun wax. I can definitely report a slight perceived improvement on the finish quality there, and it also masked the lingering scent of the oil. Time will tell on the longevity of the carnauba on the maple, but nice video, thanks. Makes total sense and I feel like a spaz for not thinking about it before.

    I'm going to try it on a plain wood body that's due a re-oiling now, as well.
     

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