Heavy wear on a Stratocaster neckClick to enlarge the picture

Heavy wear on a Stratocaster neck

A friend of a good friend of mine, Ovidiu of Guitar Flame contacted me recently about how one might go about fixing the wear on this 1971 Fender Guitar Stratocaster neck. This is an example of extreme wear, it reminds me a bit of “Lenny”, Stevie Ray Vaughn’s guitar. It has a similar amount of wear. Basically, one can fix this wear and preserve the value of the guitar. In many cases repairing the neck of a vintage guitar is a wise avenue to take in an effort to maintain the guitars value.

Another choice is to replace the neck. I would suggest reading the article “Want To Choose The Best Fender Stratocaster Guitar Neck?” Changing necks provides you with several options. It may be more cost effective to buy a well made neck from Stewart-MacDonald or Warmoth Direct guitar parts company. You also have the ability to choose a different type of neck. This give you options on neck contour, width, wood type, headstock and fret size. The best selection I have seen is from Warmoth Guitar Direct, the site is full of excellent neck information, more to the point every available or custom neck you have dreamed about is available at Warmoth.

One technique that has been used successfully is get the damaged surface clean by using a 600 grit wet or dry sandpaper to put some tooth (grip) on it. You will need some slow drying, viscous super glue. Stewart MacDonald has it. It can’t be the fast dry thin stuff. Then you need to find a small piece of wood that is the same as what your neck is made of. Turn the wood into shavings then to a dust.
Ok, you need to prop the guitar up so the damage is facing up. Mix some wood dust with the viscous super glue, then carefully and slowly drop it into the damaged area. I buy little teensy turkey baster looking devices that are very small from Stew Mac to apply my concoction. It will flow and flatten out smooth by itself. Let it dry over night and then see if it is flat and full in each ding. Repeat if necessary. I warn you and beg you to practice on a piece of scrap, don’t trash a neat old neck. Once you have it to where you want, go ahead and use the 600 grit to level out and smooth the filler, then graduate to 1000 grit and then smooth with 2000 grit. I use micro mesh paper from Stew Mac that goes to 12000 grit, which basically burnishes the finish into a shine. Based on the wood dust color and clarity of the glue, in most cases it is undetectable.

An other very popular technique I’m familiar with is as such: Depending on the wood type your neck is made out of would determine the filler type. A paste wood filler is preferred on open pored woods such as rosewood, mahogany, ash and walnut. Generally speaking a filler is not needed for closed grain or on tone-woods such as alder, maple, spruce and cedar.

Using some powdered colors mixed with the filler can make the repair almost undetectable. Your mix of filler and color should be viscous like a heavy cream. Make sure you tape off any areas you do not want to disturb first with some masking tape. Then apply/ paint the filler on with a small artists touch up brush. Take enough time to smooth it out, you can even smooth it with very clean fingers. Do this before the filler becomes hazy.

Once it is filled and sanded, it is a good idea to let it sit for a few days to let the filler shrink, then re-sand the area smooth for some finish. I use micro mesh sand papers that range in grit from 4000 grit to 12000 grit. 12000 grit is a final touch that burnishes the finish to a shine. However, I only use the 4000 grip micro mesh before finish is applied if necessary. If no finish is necessary, then I just micro-mesh the area gradually until I have finished it off with 12000 grit micro-mesh. It may be available at your local auto body supply.

Applying finish is a whole new vibe. That is a complete post in itself. This type of repair is not for the average DIYer, it is a very delicate procedure that is successfully performed by experienced guitar repair and set-up shops. In other words, practice and experience are the keys to success. If you must do it yourself, go buy a cheap pieces of scrap and practice first. That is how I learn something new before I try it on a guitar.

Now that Guitar Players Center has exposed some successful wood repair techniques, it is probably fair to say that any tools or supplies you may need can be purchased through Stewart Macdonald.

I need to mention that you should never choose a guitar repair shop by price only. Make sure you are dealing with a quality guitar repair shop, call the BBB and see if they have any unanswered complaints. A good repair beats a low price any day.

Hopefully this will help out. If you have more questions, please ask me. If anyone has more techniques to share, please do so. You can subscribe to our blog for free and have our posts delivered to your door. Please feel free to comment or Share It with other guitar players. Enjoy

7 Responses to Repair techniques for a heavily worn guitar neck

  1. You are some luthier, Danny (even with a blue thumb….is that like a green thinb?)

  2. Hope you’re thumb feels better! My daughter’s guitar is in great shape, right now — but you’re my luthier, for sure!

  3. Cheap Guitar

    Excellent article! Thanks for the info.

  4. Thanks for mentioning me, Danny! Great techniques exposed 😉

    I used to build airplane models and boats while in my teenage period and I remember this thing with fixing damages in wood with a mixture of glue and wood powder resulted after using sandpaper on wood.

  5. Thanks Ovidiu. Your referral gave me the idea.

  6. bass guitar repair

    Thanks so much for this! This is exactly what I was looking for.

  7. playstation 3

    Great post & Fantastic blog! I would definitely love to begin a blog too but I have no clue where to begin. I possess the ability to do it (not that challenging on the technical part) but I really feel like I am too lazy to post regularly. That is the problem, if you start you have to go all the way. However blogs like yours inspire me to have a go at it.

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