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Will A Neck Warp With Just An Oil Finish?

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hi guys! Need enlightment!

I want to finish a strat rosewood/maple neck.

I prefer teak oil finish as it looks ok and feels sweet when i play the neck...however is this dangerous for the neck ? will it warp more easily? should i shoot nitro to protect it? can i shoot nitro over the oil? (i ve already applied three coats..)

your help is super appreciated



p.s. -remember me? i built esperanza some months ago and she also has an oil finish ,should she worry? thanks

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if it doesnt make a difference why is it warmoth dont offer a garantee on their necks unless they have a hard finish, and why is it G&L charges so much more for oiled necks...

The fact is that an oil finish doesnt give as much protection against the elements as a hard finish will


with carefull wood selection and a proper maintenence schedule it will be fine. basically it will need re-oiling every so often and like any stringed instrument you should avoid any high/low heat or humidity situations

So companies like warmoth and G&L have to cover there backs because some people wont look after the necks properly and will blame the company for a defective product

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...and i am fairly sure you know to look after them properly

I am definately not saying oil necks cause problems, i am certainly not saying an oil finish will cause warping and its certainly not dangerous, in fact i am rather fond of oiled necks and would always choose them over lacquered ones because the feel is so much better to me

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Yeah, exactly. I wasn't refuting your previous post; I agree with you in fact.

I guess I didn't state my point very clearly though: I meant that there's nothing inherently worrisome about an oiled neck, and I wouldn't hesitate to buy or make one.

They do require some minimal care.

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The woodworkers handbook has a handy reference section giving a little test data on the effectiveness of different finishes. Do a quick web search for woodworkers handbook chapter 15. The entire book can be downloaded off the web and has a LOT of very good information.

At a glance here are a few types of finishes, 3 coats, and relative effectiveness against moisture transfer on day 1, 7 ,14. Have a look in the handbook for more information about the test itself, and further information as this is just a snip of info from that chapter. Note; 3 coats of a thin finish like tung oil or shellac is no where near the thickness of one coat of paraffin wax, and more coats will increase protection up to a point, how well they stay in tact can vary.

Type - day 1 - day 7 - day 14

Tung oil- 52% - 6% - 0%

Nitro - 79% - 37% -19%

shellac - 91% - 64% -42%

for reference,

Acrylic latex- 84%-39% -16%

(house paint)

Paraffin wax-100%-97%-95%

(1 dip)

Yes, there is a difference in finishes, and yes some are better suited to different needs.

No film finish will stop the transfer of moisture due to humidity(they are able to slow the transfer). Most offer great protection against liquid (rain or what have you). For a finish to offer the best protection it needs to be evenly applied, and have total coverage. Finishes do not have to be dead smooth, but this helps confirm an even complete coat of film. Finishes on wood have to cover a ruff, porous surface, this can make it tuff for very thin close films to evenly coat the ruff surface and pores completely. If the finish soaks in this may make it even more difficult (although you can still achive fine liquid protection with these finishes) to achive even coats. Since we all want as light and thin a finish as possible, while still effective, it is best to lay the finish on as evenly as possible. This allows the most effective finish per coat.

How much protection or slowing of transfer is required? Well that kinda depends. First of all this has nothing to due with initial drying, this is all related to changes in moisture content due to seasonal changes in humidity, or travel from area to area. If you are a touring musician, if you move your equipment around a lot exposing it to rapidly changing ambient moisture and temperatures(relative humidity) then you want to really slow down that transfer. If you keep your instruments in a relatively climate controlled space pretty much year round(say your house). Then all you are going to face is normal seasonal changes for your area. If your area is prone to very rapid and strong swings in humidity, it is a good idea to slow or buffer those changes with a good finish. If the space is pretty pretty consistent, and seasonal changes are very mild you could get away with nothing more than light protection(just in case your drummer spills his beer on your guitar). Remember this is a buffer to slow the transfer. Your neck WILL eventually reach equilibrum with the ambient moisture levels (can't stop that).

If you are a manufacturer that is shipping necks all around the world. Who knows what kind of changes it will face. You would have to use a good finish that could buffer those changes to. So as Wez put it, these companies have to cover their backs. Which is smart, and best for the instrument and customer.


Edited by fryovanni
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no, a neck wont warp any different that with another finish. it really doesnt make a difference


but you do have to maintain a bare wood neck (tung oiled or whatever).

My 1987 Ibanez Jem is still fine and that has a simple oiled neck, no finish, 1 piece maple with scarfed headstock. Its a little more sensitive to humidity variations though so a quikc turn of the truss rod every season change is the norm.

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