I have a piece brought in by my first repeat customer that isn't a friend or relative. It's a 1976 Tele in great shape with few nicks, dings or checking.  He wanted it set up, frets dressed if needed - yes, they needed it - and a new nut.  I finished dressing the frets and began to slowly pull the low-tack masking tape off of the fretboard to find, that despite kid gloves, some of the finish has pulled off the neck edge.  Attached is a photo of the worst spot.

It seems like I've read here that Fender used polyester or some such like on necks at this time.  Is that the case?  If so - or even if not so - what is the finish type and how might I touch this up?  I've not contacted him yet about this, but doubt he will want the neck refinished and I do not have the equipment or know how to do it right on a vintage guitar like this anyway.  Is this something that can be spot repaired, sanded and buffed out? Or will I have to eat the cost for the fret dressing and send him on to an expert.  What am I looking at here?

Many thanks!


Tags: 1970's, Fender, finish, neck

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That happens a lot. You can use nitr oand blend the two together just beautifully. I never fixed any PE finishes, only PU. I am not exactly sure how well will nitro bond to PE, but I think it will be okay.

Wait at least three days before you start sanding.

Next time before you apply the masking tape touch the tacky side with your fingers and if possible leave the board dirty until you are in the finishing stage. Chalk powder on the masking tape works too

Also, something that works well, is heating the tape with a hair dryer. Be VERA slow pealing it off too.

I also take allllll the 'tack' off of the tape by repeatedly putting the sticky side on my shirt or pants to pick up all the fluff there. It works a charm...

Hi John,

Touch it up with thin CA to bind the separated poly edge to the wood surface and then drop fill/cotton bud on a good build of nitrocellulose and after the nitro cures sand back with progressive grit grades on a small block and then buff.   If you don't have this stuff take it to a pro and buy some fret shields - taping a vintage poly board is inviting disaster and just about everybody here (including myself) has chanced using tape to great (financial) disadvantage.   Fret shields cost two bucks each and do not lift lacquer.


Thank you all for your replies.  Some very good preventative measures, all around.

Rusty, I assume by "CA" your talking about cyanoacrylate glue - right?  Also what do you mean by "drop fill/cotton bud"?  The use of spray nitro lacquer, letting it cure sanding and buffing is something I can do if it's not a large area (like a whole instrument though I've been working on that since discussing here the Malmsteen neck I needed your all's help with several months back - it's alive and well now), but I'm unsure about the drop/fill cotton bud part.  Is this a method of applying the nitro or something else?

Is this the guard you were talking about?

fretboard guards

Many thanks - cheers!


HiJohn, yep, thin cyanoacrylate to glue and hold the remaining lacquer (which has become detached from the wood substrate - that why it flakes off) and then layering on nitro with a cotton bud, small brush or similar to fill  up the area that the flake has come from - not spraying it just means its easier to do every three hours or so until the lacquer builds up - go over the edges and build it up higher that the existing lacquer (because it will shrink back as it cures/hardens).

The fret shields take the place of tape and you can bend them to sit over the fret while you work on the fret.  Its not as easy as taping up the board but it beats the hell out of respray/and refurbish cause by the tear out of the lacquer.


Got it.  I thought this might be where you were going, but wanted to be sure.  I just didn't know the terminology. 

I have to put this all on hold for a bit, as I have to head out of town for a bit, but I'll report back about the developments.  

Thanks!  You guys rock!

If the CA glue makes a good color match when applied to the wood; I have had good luck just building that up and buffing it out.


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