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Author Topic: Sticky guitar neck syndrome  (Read 1285 times)

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Offline lindy

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Sticky guitar neck syndrome
« on: June 23, 2021, 03:31:40 PM »
This is a much simpler problem than a lifting bridge. 3 of my 4 guitars have it.

It looks like the main thing I need to do is find some fine grit (1500 to 2000) sandpaper.

My questions are whether there's any commonly made mistake when sanding down a guitar neck that I should watch out for, and if there's any chemical solution I should apply beforehand/afterwards.

Thanks,
Lindy

Offline Stuart

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Re: Sticky guitar neck syndrome
« Reply #1 on: June 23, 2021, 08:17:11 PM »
Hi Lindy:

Without knowing the finish  on any of your guitars, I'm hesitant to suggest anything other than a mild detergent and water solution on a light colored cloth--on a small section of the neck--to see if any of the sticky stuff comes off. I'd stay away from anything that could possibly interact with the finish.

Stew-Mac has a product, but I've never used it:

https://www.stewmac.com/luthier-tools-and-supplies/supplies/cleaners-and-lubricants/colortone-clean-and-shine.html

Offline lindy

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Re: Sticky guitar neck syndrome
« Reply #2 on: June 23, 2021, 08:53:55 PM »
Thanks for the suggestion, Stuart.

From what little research I've done, sanding the neck slightly with the finest grit paper possible is the suggested method--not removing the finish, just the very top layer. But a solvent approach sounds safer and easier. The one you mention specifically states "This one step will help you avoid a sticky, hard to play neck and a grimy, potentially damaging finish and crusty hardware."

No mention of any effect on the crusty guitar player.

L

Offline Parlor Picker

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Re: Sticky guitar neck syndrome
« Reply #3 on: June 24, 2021, 01:23:37 AM »
Coconut oil is quite good for cleaning off the body. Not sure about the neck. It certainly should do no harm, but I'm not convinced it will be effective. Luthier of this parish, Rick Sellens, recommends cleaning the actual finger board with a little white spirit and then applying linseed oil once it's dry.

Whatever you do, good luck with it.
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Offline harriet

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Re: Sticky guitar neck syndrome
« Reply #4 on: June 24, 2021, 10:31:51 AM »
I don't have the problem but I think maybe it would be a good idea to state where the sticky part is on the neck of each, front, back or both and what the finish is on each an whether they are vintage or not, painted or not. 

Offline lindy

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Re: Sticky guitar neck syndrome
« Reply #5 on: June 24, 2021, 12:08:32 PM »
Thanks Parlor Picker and Harriet.

No vintage guitars for me: a Martin D-1, a Takamine F340, and a Ron Phillips-built resonator. I've had them all for 20+ years. The stickiness on all three is a recent thing. I'm talking about the backs of the necks, not the fretboards.

I've heard that it's a common complaint for "glossy necks" or "finished necks," and that a simple fix doesn't require sanding multiple layers and refinishing. One source even says a squirt of naptha-type cleaner and a Scotch brite scouring pad is enough.

I'll let you know how it goes.

L

Offline waxwing

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Re: Sticky guitar neck syndrome
« Reply #6 on: June 24, 2021, 12:59:35 PM »
For many years I have used Dr Duck's Ax Wax, a guitar cleaning and polishing agent that, actually, contains no wax, so no build up. It was recommended by a luthier. I actually use it on all finished surfaces on wood guitars but, yes mine are all well worn vintage and I'm not concerned with maintaining a gloss finish. During gigs I occasionally use a little baby powder to combat sweaty hands in warm venues and have never had a problem with the powder building up with Dr Duck's. I usually clean/polish all necks before a gig.

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Offline blueshome

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Re: Sticky guitar neck syndrome
« Reply #7 on: June 25, 2021, 01:41:50 AM »
I’ve always found that a damp cloth does the trick on the neck. Best not to let it build up too much.

Offline Stuart

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Re: Sticky guitar neck syndrome
« Reply #8 on: June 25, 2021, 09:54:51 AM »
Hi Lindy:

Before I used abrasives like steel wool, Scotch-Brite or Wetordry--or solvents like naphtha, I'd first try some household cleaners. After the detergent/water solution I previously suggested, I'd try vinegar to see how that works re: removing the sticky material that's on the necks of your guitars. If that doesn't work, I'd then try a Simple Green/water solution. I'd moisten a rag or paper towel and hold it against the problem area for a few minutes to let it work before wiping it off. If that doesn't yield results, I'd then use original Goo Gone, wiping a thin layer on the problem area and let it work for a few minutes. You could use the edge of a credit card, etc., to see if it scrapes off anything one the above cleaners has been applied to.

Using a wax or polish specifically formulated for guitars is probably a good idea since it adds a layer of protection between the guitar's finish and the environment.

My guess is that the sticky stuff (grime, crud, gunk, sludge, etc.--whatever you want to call it--take your pick) is a combination of oil and perspiration from your skin, plus anything else that has been transferred from the environment to the neck via your hands. We're only human after all...

As a tangentially related aside:

https://www.shootonline.com/video/director-mark-zibert-broken-heart-love-affair-are-unapologetically-human%C2%A0-kruger-products



Offline MarkC

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Re: Sticky guitar neck syndrome
« Reply #9 on: June 25, 2021, 01:11:45 PM »
Another vote for naphtha, but skip the scotch brite and just use a lint-free rag.

Offline lindy

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Re: Sticky guitar neck syndrome
« Reply #10 on: June 25, 2021, 08:34:25 PM »
Thanks for all of your suggestions, my original request was to warn me about mistakes to avoid and y'all responded in that vein. Results, all with a cloth rag:

Mild household cleaner, very little effect.
Vinegar, very little effect.
Diluted denatured alcohol, good effect on one guitar, not much on the other two.

Conclusion: the problem is with the finishes on those two guitars. I'll gently use something abrasive, probably fine-grit paper.

L

Offline Stuart

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Re: Sticky guitar neck syndrome
« Reply #11 on: June 26, 2021, 12:25:20 AM »
Hi Lindy:

Thanks for the update. It's interesting denatured alcohol worked on one, but not the others. I've only used it when working with shellac. Browsed a few threads and saw that not all denatured alcohol is the same as it's ethanol with additives that make it undrinkable. So it's those unknown additives that would be of concern to me.

https://www.finewoodworking.com/forum/alcohol-disolve-lacquer

From the limited amount I read, it appears Goo Gone is safe as long as it's not left on too long on nitrocellulose lacquer (Martin). But the detail guy in me says that without knowing the finish on each instrument, it's a crap shoot whether or not a solvent would react with the finish under the sticky stuff that you want to remove.

You might call around to ask what the local music stores carry--Maybe they have the Stew-Mac product. And since The Trading Musician probably gets used instruments that need a cleaning, you might give them a shout. It's worth a try.

The local auto parts stores probably carry the fine grit paper you're looking for.

Online dj

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Re: Sticky guitar neck syndrome
« Reply #12 on: June 26, 2021, 04:46:28 AM »
Just one caution.  If you go into any big box hardware\lumber\home store, you'll see 150 grit sandpaper labeled as "Fine".  That's not what you want.  Find a store has 400 and 600 grit and get some of each.  Start with the 600, and if that doesn't work, try lightly using the 400.  I wouldn't go any coarser than that.

Offline Stuart

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Re: Sticky guitar neck syndrome
« Reply #13 on: June 26, 2021, 08:56:50 AM »
Good point, dj. In his initial post, Lindy wrote that he was going to use 1500 to 2000 paper, so I just used "fine" in reference to that. 3m Wetordry comes in a pack of assorted grits, but I didn't see it in stock at the big box stores in this area.

https://www.amazon.com/3M-Wetordry-Sandpaper-03006-Assorted/dp/B005JPGTNI/

The autoparts stores appear to have their house brand in stock in 1500 and 2000--and up, but not 3M products.

Offline lindy

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Re: Sticky guitar neck syndrome
« Reply #14 on: June 26, 2021, 09:41:44 AM »
Thanks, guys.

Agreed, very strange that the neck on my Takamine is now OK, but I just tried both my Martin D-1 and Ronzanator this morning and they're both still sticky. Also, I agreed with your concerns about the denatured alcohol, Stuart, which is why I cut it slightly with water and immediately wiped it clean.

It's a 20-minute walk from my place to the Trading Musician, so I'll give them a visit once the heat wave is over. 110 degrees predicted for Monday here in Seattle! Yikes!

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