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 Post subject: finish repair on a neck
PostPosted: Thu Apr 26, 2018 2:51 pm 
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Koa
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I've got a G&L bass guitar here that took a tumble and got a small dent in the back of the neck. The neck is finished with an incredibly thin satin coat and is well worn so it's nice and shiny. But the guitar is mint. So I steamed the dent out and then filled the crack with thin ca and then levelled and buffed the crack. The dent is gone now, and the crack practically invisible, but I burned through the finish around the ca spot. After buffing, the repair is invisible except when certain glare hits it, then you can see the shine of the neck and the ca, but it's dull around the repair. Any advice on how to fix this?



These users thanked the author Conor_Searl for the post: CraigG (Fri Apr 27, 2018 12:49 pm)
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PostPosted: Thu Apr 26, 2018 4:16 pm 
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Make it ALL dull.

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PostPosted: Thu Apr 26, 2018 4:28 pm 
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Chris Pile wrote:
Make it ALL dull.


That may work. It's a customers guitar though, so I'm not sure if he'll want that. My concern is that the burn through is leaving exposed maple which will take on the dirt and oils form a players hands more than the finish around it.

Just to be clear I'm not looking for a way to sneak out of this without letting the guy know. I just want to be able to fix it for him.


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PostPosted: Thu Apr 26, 2018 5:55 pm 
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Brazilian Rosewood
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Is the finish lacquer? Normal repair for that would be a mist of cellosolve acetate and several airbrushed coats of lacquer, another light mist of cellosolve and weeks of drying before rebuffing. Don't know what will happen with the CA fill over time though. Might stick out over time.


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PostPosted: Fri Apr 27, 2018 6:38 am 
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The original satin finish has refractory pasted in it to make it a lower gloss. Your CA does not..... So it will never blend any better, the edge will always light up in the right light at the right angle. Even if you make it all dull with steel wool the edges will still point out the repair. Especially if you know where to look.

Satin finishes are the absolute hardest to touch up!

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PostPosted: Fri Apr 27, 2018 9:35 am 
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Haans wrote:
Is the finish lacquer? Normal repair for that would be a mist of cellosolve acetate and several airbrushed coats of lacquer, another light mist of cellosolve and weeks of drying before rebuffing. Don't know what will happen with the CA fill over time though. Might stick out over time.



Haans - I see DOW makes several chemicals listed at CELLOSOLVEā„¢ - Buyle CELLOSOLVEā„¢ Acetate the one to use on Nitro lacquer?


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PostPosted: Fri Apr 27, 2018 2:34 pm 
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eek I can confirm the CA was a bad idea.

Help!

The sheen after buffing actually matches the rest of the neck nicely, it's not really a satin finish but kind of a semi-gloss. But the finish is so thin on the neck that it's impossible (at least for me) to level the high CA spots without taking some of the surrounding finish off leaving light patches around the darker CA spots and the original finish.

I've avoided learning things the really hard way so far, and I make it a point to do no harm and to not use customer guitars for my personal learning experiences, but this one got away from me. :( Anyway I've talked to my customer who is super understanding, and willing to wait for me to bring it back to the way it was when he brought it in. Is this even possible? It seems simple enough, but that's what got me into this mess, and I want to make sure I don't screw up this time.

I'm pretty sure the finish is a poly of some sort. I've got some more research to do to make sure this is right. My first thought was to take the neck off, remove hardware mask the fret board and scuff sand the entire thing, but it occurs to me if it is Poly it won't be that easy, so perhaps I sand all the way back to wood, but I don't want to disturb the serial number or logos on the headstock, so maybe mask that part and just do the neck, but then I worry about matching the wood color. If someone cared to let me know what they would do in this situation I'd love the feedback. Perhaps I'd be better off convincing the customer to let me sand the neck back to wood and then oil the neck.


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PostPosted: Fri Apr 27, 2018 3:09 pm 
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Dan, I've used both Cellosolve Acetate in the far past and Butyl Cellosolve more recently till I quit. Could even be the same thing, just labeling. Be aware that it is a very dangerous chemical to breathe.
Connor, finishing can be a horrible experience and mixing finishes only makes things worse. CYA is not a cure-all for instant finish repair. Trying to fix something twice usually makes things worse.
Now that I have thoroughly destroyed your life, if it were me, I would seek help from a professional finisher and eat the cost. Maybe Brian could suggest someone.
I'm sure you won't forget this experience. I really gave a wide birth in my time toward finish repairs. I have had my share of "hard knocks", some drastic. We've all gone through them...
Good luck!



These users thanked the author Haans for the post: Conor_Searl (Fri Apr 27, 2018 6:00 pm)
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PostPosted: Sat Apr 28, 2018 6:40 am 
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That needs striped to wood and refinished at this point.....

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These users thanked the author B. Howard for the post (total 2): Clinchriver (Sun Apr 29, 2018 6:21 am) • Conor_Searl (Sat Apr 28, 2018 9:41 am)
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PostPosted: Sat Apr 28, 2018 9:45 am 
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B. Howard wrote:
That needs striped to wood and refinished at this point.....


That's what I thought.

Is it a pipe dream to think a person could mask off the headstock, and then sand the shaft of the neck down to wood up to the contours of the headstock and have it come out not invisible but at least passable? The finish on the headstock looks thicker than that on the neck so there may be some wiggle room to ease the transition from the resprayed stuff to the original. Sanding the headstock down to wood and losing the serial number and logo is a non starter.

My other thought is that I could sand the shaft of the neck down to wood, leaving the head stock alone and then either oil it which would with the help of a little steel wool take care of any minor inconsistencies around the transition between sanded and non sanded wood or use a wash coat of 50/50 shellac and rubbing alcohol and do the same thing.

I think my second thought would look more purposeful and invisible in the end not to mention be more comfortable to play, although I imagine it would wear much faster in the long run.


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PostPosted: Sun Apr 29, 2018 6:12 am 
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Trying to blend finishes is how you got here..... Think that's gonna work out the second time? In these situations I will mask off the entire headstock face and not re-finish it. If there is a stamped on SN or other info on the back of the headstock that needs saved I mask it off with some tape nice and neat and sand the finish off around it then pull the tape and finish over that. When done it will look much like a rectangular decal under the clear.

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These users thanked the author B. Howard for the post: Conor_Searl (Sun Apr 29, 2018 9:06 am)
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PostPosted: Sun Apr 29, 2018 9:38 am 
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B. Howard wrote:
Trying to blend finishes is how you got here..... Think that's gonna work out the second time?


Haha, this is definitely true. Is there a way of telling absolutely what kind of finish is on this neck? From what I've read about G&L online I haven't found much info on their finishes, but some people say it's "poly" whatever that means. I've learned that finishing buzz words like "lacquer", "nitro" and "poly" used by gear-heads retail literature can cover an awful lot of ground and are often less than helpful. The bass is 15 years old and the maple on the neck is still pretty light, and the finish feels rock hard when I touch it with my fingernail.

I'm so appreciative of your advice here Brian, I'm sure people like me make you want to smack your head against a wall at times.

Recognizing that oiling bare wood is not fixing or repairing anything, but rather changing the factory finish, if a person were to go that route, are there any long term consequences other than the obvious difference in appearance? I've done it on a couple of my own guitars, one I built where I lacquered the maple fingerboard but left the rest of it oiled, and a strat I have that I didn't like the stickiness of the neck finish. Will the oil leach under the pre-existing finish causing it to fail, or make it difficult to potentially refinish down the road?


Last edited by Conor_Searl on Sun Apr 29, 2018 3:04 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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PostPosted: Sun Apr 29, 2018 1:28 pm 
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Poly is short for polyurethane. Nitro and lacquer are correct terms, and they go together. Lacquer can be nitrocellulose or acrylic. They behave the same for the most part. They are also the easiest to touch-up.

If you are worried about stickiness, try lightly rubbing the neck with a bit of Scotchbrite. You don't even have to dull the finish to make it easier for your hand to slide.

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These users thanked the author Chris Pile for the post: Conor_Searl (Sun Apr 29, 2018 3:05 pm)
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PostPosted: Mon Apr 30, 2018 6:38 am 
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Poly was short for poly-urethane but now like the term lacquer has been applied to other things over the years. Now referring to almost any closed finish system. This could be a single urethane , a poly-urethane, a polyester, an amino acid, styrene and even nitrocellulose if it has the right modifiers in it........ as well as many other compounds. The only common thing being that none will redissolve with normal solvents.

There are no really easy ways to tell these materials apart after they are cured. Most instruments made in the last 30-40 years are some type of a poly finish with the notable exceptions of some small companies and Fender,Gibson & Martin. Though Martin cheats and uses an acid catalyzed nitro variant,and Fender went all poly a few years back..... What I remember of G&L finishes is they remind me of a conversion varnish.

An oil finish will make the serial number area look bad if you save it like I describe...... I've seen this one already. The key here is making sure the customer is good with what you choose to use at this time. It was only original once..... and even if restored with a completely proper finish will still be a "repair". Oil will feel different, it will require maintenance and periodic reapplication and it will look different, and it will affect value more than a refinish in a more similar material. Is the owner OK with all of that? Does he understand it?

The oil should not leach under old finish. It could make a re-finish more troublesome down the road depending on what oil(s) you use......

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PostPosted: Mon Apr 30, 2018 7:26 am 
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One of the most difficult things about finish repairs that I have learned is knowing when to stop. Usually any attempt to fix something you have already done ends up making it worse.


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PostPosted: Mon Apr 30, 2018 9:45 am 
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Quote:
One of the most difficult things about finish repairs that I have learned is knowing when to stop. Usually any attempt to fix something you have already done ends up making it worse.


AMEN, BROTHER BARRY! Preach that stuff.

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PostPosted: Mon Apr 30, 2018 10:18 am 
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I guess I'm having a little trouble with the idea of experimenting on a customer's guitar without his total approval. I would bite the bullet, negotiate with someone like Brian who knows what he is doing to fix it properly (which in my opinion would be stripping it, protecting the decals and refinishing with the proper product ). I doubt that G&L ever used oil on their necks, why do you think your customer would go for it now? Once your customer approved the repair, send the neck off to Brian or whoever and eat the cost.

I have a record of turning down work that I don't know how to do and I always tell my customers if I'm experimenting on their guitar. I also have a strong disclaimer about any attempts at repairing finish - I know my limitations.


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PostPosted: Mon Apr 30, 2018 11:46 am 
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Freeman wrote:
I guess I'm having a little trouble with the idea of experimenting on a customer's guitar without his total approval. I would bite the bullet, negotiate with someone like Brian who knows what he is doing to fix it properly (which in my opinion would be stripping it, protecting the decals and refinishing with the proper product ). I doubt that G&L ever used oil on their necks, why do you think your customer would go for it now? Once your customer approved the repair, send the neck off to Brian or whoever and eat the cost.

I have a record of turning down work that I don't know how to do and I always tell my customers if I'm experimenting on their guitar. I also have a strong disclaimer about any attempts at repairing finish - I know my limitations.


I totally hear you Freeman. I had my customer over and showed him how it would look and how it would be different on my own guitars. He brought up the fact himself that he'd have to re-oil it occasionally. He bought the bass used and got a good deal on it around a $1000, so value wise we talked it through and at this point it will always be worth what he put into it. While this option may be a mickey mouse way of fixing my initial gaff, there are plenty of guitarists who do this all the time to stock guitars, and so in the end it will "look" like an intentional choice made rather than a repair and I don't feel will sway the resale value much. For what it's worth he likes the feel of the oiled neck, and said to go ahead with it.

I've checked with all the pros I can think of locally that are within a couple hours drive of me, and nobody can help. I just e-mailed Brian to see what he might charge for a job like this, and before actually finally pulling the trigger I will give my customer the option of me sending the neck away at my own expense if that's what he's more comfortable with.

I plan on only oiling the shaft of the neck, so I won't be disturbing anything else, and in the long run if he hates it, or feels he'll be able to sell the bass easier with a more original finish I can send it away at that point, or if I'm feeling more confident of what the outcome would be do it myself.

What got me into this mess, was my panic, and then my assumption. The reason I even floated the oil idea is because I'm much more in control of the outcome, or at least have a clear idea of what we'll end up with, and it's what I would do on my own instruments. If I were to persist at this point in trying to actually refinish the neck I feel I'd be firmly in the experimenting on a customers guitar camp, and that's not a place I ever meant to be in.


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PostPosted: Wed May 02, 2018 1:11 pm 
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Since, the only way forward was to sand this neck back any way I tried one more time at fixing with CA, although this time I changed my method quite a bit, I used thin CA and applied it over the whole mess with a frayed q tip then gently sanded the whole patch back with 400 - 2500 paper ending with steel wool. It turned out okay. There is still some discoloration in certain light, but you can't feel the repair and the wood is all sealed.

My customer is going to come take a look and see what he thinks, he already saw the previous mess I made and didn't shoot me. In fact he brought me another bass to work on when he came to check it out, (some people are awesome).

Anyway I have a call in to a professional guitar finishing shop and will offer that as an alternative if he's not happy. Or I can do the oil thing if he prefers.


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PostPosted: Wed May 02, 2018 2:42 pm 
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Looks better, Conor. Some suggestions.... Instead of the Q-tip, use the back side of wet-or-dry sandpaper. It doesn't absorb into the paper, and as long as you keep your strokes smooth it will glide on. Also - remember to lift before changing directions or stopping. You might glue your sandpaper to the neck. Finally - get rid of the steel wool. That's bad juju around electric guitars. Use Scotchbrite instead, OK? Non-magnetic, and as it breaks down - the little pieces won't hurt your fingers or worm their way into parts of the guitar.

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