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Fret Board Finishing (or Refinishing)


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O.k. So I have a 2003 ES 335 dot reissue that I bought on ebay recently. The guitar appeared to have never been played, only displayed, in a very very dry climate. The body finish is amazing - no complaints - no problems. The neck however was completely dried out, almost greyish, and the relief was nearly 1/4 inch. It was really sad, and i was instantly worried I just threw a bunch of money away.

So I used my acoustic guitar humidifier, treated the fretboard w/Bore Oil (called Fret Doctor) and slowly adjusted the trust rod over 5 or 6 days back to straight. The neck looks great now, it's straight, the rosewood board is a nice dark healthy color (pours look healthy), and the action/relief is very serviceable.

The problem is that either Gibson did a very sloppy finishing job (I can see the file marks in the fretboard), or the unfortunate neglect by the prior owner made the fretboard a little rough in places. It's not the worst thing in the world by any mean, but it's not great., and man it could be a lot better.

I am also spoiled by a Don Grosh (DG) guitar I own, which has the most fluid comfortable neck/fretboard in the world. It is a thing of beauty. I love the 335, and want that kind of finish to the fretboard that the DG has.

The DG fretboard is very slightly rounded over the edges, and very very very very slightly scalloped. You wouldn't even call it a scalloped neck, not at all, but that's kinda what it is. Wery very slight, and it is the best feeling thing in the world.

So I have a Squirer Jagmaster that has a very clean, but rigidly shaped fretboard. I want to practice transforming that thing into something like the DG neck finish, and if successful apply the technique to the 335.

So anyway, after reading the "How to Scallop a Neck" on the tutorials page, I'm going to go for it on the Squire.

I have no special tools and hope to do this by hand with only masking tape, razor blade, toothbrush, 220, 320, 600, and 1200 grit sandpaper, and lemon oil (or I could use the bore oil). And this to be done completely by hand..

Am I fooling myself?? Am I going to screw this guitar up??? wihout a buffing machine, will I really be able to get back to a nice polished finish??

Thoughts, prayers, etc. Thanks!

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If you are willing to sacrifice you’re squire I don’t se any reason why this couldn’t work. Just take your time and read the scalloping tutorial again and again and when you think that you have memorised all details… read it again.

Regarding the oil: You can use almost every type of penetrating drying/curing oil. Tung oil, true oil works fine. I have used teak oil, which basically is just linseed oil with white spirit added. Not the best oil to use for this, but it worked.

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