Hi all, I'm new here, learnung luthier stuff.

Been working on the fret ends of this fender neck, they were sticking out on both sides in such a way, the thickness of a credit card. Not really acceptable.

So I used the lightest tape I had to project the fretboard when working on the fret ends, without taping over the edge, even taking care removing the tape in the length direction of the neck and even then some finish came off on some fretboard parts as you can see. After I filed off all the end, I still have to finish a lot of sharp corners, burrs... 2nd stage stuff, but I do not dare to put any tape on there. So, 1. how can I fix this the easiest way and 2. how to proceed for the rest of the fretwork ?


Views: 3474

Reply to This

Replies to This Discussion

Hmm.  I had a similar situation recently when refretting a Fender MIJ neck.  The poly finish kept cracking as I hammered in the frets even though I chamfered the slots first.  With the advice of several here, I had to refinish the finger board completely.  Apparently this poly finish (assuming this neck is new enough to be a poly finish - mid 70's plus, I think? correct me if I'm wrong on the date) is notorious for cracking off like that.  Don't take my word for that though, I'm like you and cutting my teeth as well.  I too look forward to seeing more responses to your question from those more wise than I.  Good luck to you.


Thx for the input. According to the serial number it is 89, as it starts with E8. Trying to figure out what finish this is exactly. If I can drop fill these spots and level sand....

I know real nitro lacquer is supposed to be relatively easy to repair, though less so then French polished shellac, but I don't know about this poly stuff exactly. I would say it's most likely polly given the age.  Hope others chime in soon. I'm curious as well.  Cheers!

I make my own fret-board protectors out of thin, but tough paper. It's actually the paper labels off of cans of tomato sauce, peas, etc. ( I take it off the cans before ever opening the cans, so no chance of tomato sauce on my paper guards) Basically like Stewmac's metal guards, which I think would be too thick for me. But with the paper I can wrap it around the neck and tape it to itself. Sometimes I just hold it tight with one hand. Depends how much work I'm doing on the fret. I've also made these type guards with aluminum from beer/soda cans. But with DIY metal guards, you have to make sure to get rid of any burs, 'cause that will scratch the neck finish.

made a protector from that though pastic wrap use for memory cards, heaphones etc in stores, these clamm shell types. worked as a charm for my 000 steel wool polish pass.

Now.... how to get that finish fixed...


Nasty sitution. If you want it to be perfect, gor for a refret nd respray. If you can stand 2nd grade repair, then you can make touchups with nitro lacquer after degreasing. Nitro would be my choice to touch-up because it does not leave witness lines. If you can't spray, consider wiping thin cyanoacrylate glue.

well, don't have the tools for a refret and looks a bit too heavy for this, no?

For retouch: Would you try to sand out the edge of the old lacquer first so Ilyou don't seal that ugly crack line under a new coat? I'd go for amber color. How to find that in glue....?

Strip out all the damaged lacquer between the two frets and refinish the fingerboards surface from fret to fret .  That way you only have to match one shade of lacquer to the remaining original lacquer shade and the fret barrier will help make the difference (and there will be a difference at this level) less evident. Use heavy weight brown drafting tape rubbed well to help strip out the remaining laquer, try not to scrape or sand as this will make matching the repair difficult. 

If it's a guitar that belongs to somebody else you have an obligation to have it professionally repaired, otherwise it's a learning experience.

This lacquer separation is a common fault and the appropriate repair/refurbishment is to strip the neck (excluding the peghead) and refinish after scraping, sanding/keying the wood surface.  This will ensure the neck does not deteriorate further and will remain serviceable into the extended future.    If appearances are not important superglue (CA) to stabilize the area , sand and respray the area with a shader coat or wipe on poly. 

Ideally, aspiring luthiers should have some kind of spray rig, even a 20 buck airbrush or a nitro spray-bomb from our friends at Stewmac can do a reasonable job at repairing these goofs (and we have all done them).



Thanks for the input rusty! Well I have a compressor, it is a smaller one so maybe not fit for bigger things but it should be okay for small things, so one of these days I'm going to buy a simple spray gun indeed.

Good point to avoid scraping. But since the tape did a great job of its own ... even with just my fingernail it comes off.

Only use superglue if I decide not to remove the damaged lacquer from fret to fret right or am I wrong ? Can I just apply nitro or polyurethane lacquer on the bare wood ?

I think I did a good job on the frets, it is much more comfortable along the sides of the fretboard, it was that sharp one could cut his hands with fast playing. I absolutely need to fix this, can't bring that guitat back to my friend with that lacquer damage, silly or almost unavoidable as it might have been. Learned a lot again, as on any guitar ... you always learn something on the way. Sometimes not so funny indeed.

"Only use superglue if I decide not to remove the damaged lacquer from fret to fret right or am I wrong ? Can I just apply nitro or polyurethane lacquer on the bare wood ?"

Use superglue to stabilize the existing lacquer, lightly sand flat and then apply lacquer over a clean secure surface (a lot of thin coats is better than a few thick ones, sand the lacquer flat and buff.  Otherwize, clean all the lacquer from the surface and wipe down the surface with acetone or thinners (being careful to not let it get on the existing lacquer (if it is nitro - poly doesn't react to thinners)) and then spray lacquer.

However, this is information just to keep you safe - refinishing and refurbishing guitar finishes is not a simple job and requires some reading and some skills - the medium to long term integrity and appearance of your work is where the skill lies.  

Now, without being overly schoolteacherish:   Stewmac (and others)have authoritative and useful DVDs on repair and refinishing guitars - the minimum requirement before even touching another guitar is to watch these, practice your skills on scrap guitars and then watch them again.  They also have an excellent book detailing guitar repair (Guitar Player Repair Guide) which will save you a lifetime of mistakes and wasted time.

I have no affilliation with Stewmac other than the knowledge that what they say works.   This is different from most of the well intentioned crap that is spruiked around the kids forums - the DVDs and books may seem an expense - they are, but the price of mistakes or sub-standard work is so much higher.  

There is no other way to do this job other than to become knowledgeable and skillful - guitar repair is not intuitive and we are not born with the skills required.   Spend the money to learn and you will enjoy yourself make money in return.  This I do know.


Thx Rusty,

Indeed, I have the Guitar player repair guide, great info ! but this specific issue on finish on maple necks is not discussed. Got some feedback from Dan himself, pretty cool, but since he is really bussy is were quick answers as well. But appreciate it a lot!

I have this beaten up squiere telecaster that I can use to experiment. Odd thing is the finish on that maple board does not come of, even with the craziest of tapes. But I'm gonna sand the little part after the 22th fret and see if I can finish that back to stock quality first.

"Stabilizing the exsiting layer with superglue" Do you mean applying supperglue to the cracky edge of the remaining poly so that that "border" is sealed and fixed ? If I look closely I can see that the first mm of that cracky edge is detachec from the wood. If I pinch my nail against it, it will probable chip of that easy.

I keep asking questions... ;) thing is I just love to work on guitars... i just forget time and place when I'm doing that.

I forget. Another way to use a home-made fret-board guard (if it's long enough) is to use a spring clamp to pinch it firmly around the neck. Attached pic.



© 2023   Created by Frank Ford.   Powered by

Badges  |  Report an Issue  |  Terms of Service