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  1. #1
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    Default Wolfgang Guitar Neck Cleaning & Conditioning

    Hey All:

    At some point a while back I wrote up a bit about cleaning Wolfgang and other oil finish guitar necks to keep on hand for when I get asked about it (because that seems to happen a lot). I also published it to my website: http://www.andrewthomas.net/archives/00000122.html. By posting the same bit here, too, it can perhaps be easily found via search functions. Hopefully this will be helpful to some folks.

    --

    I'm frequently asked about safe and thorough ways to clean and condition guitar necks, so I've opted to simply publish that info here to my website/blog to hopefully help others. From having owned and maintained so many Peavey Wolfgang guitars over the years, I've done a lot of experimenting with different methods and products.

    Here's an approach I've found works very well for cleaning and maintaining your Wolfgang neck, or any guitar neck that is only oil-finished. (This method can also be applied to just the fingerboard of guitar necks that have a hard finished backside.)

    *Remove the old strings from your guitar. Remember to block off or remove the tremolo if you have one, as it will otherwise "pop" out from spring tension and possibly damage the finish (most common with Floyd Rose tremolos).

    *In a small bowl, mix a small amount of Murphy's Oil Soap (available at most hardware stores) with an equal amount of water. Use either a small bristled brush (like a fingernail brush) or a non-scratch Scotch-Brite pad and soak it in the soap/water mix. Lightly use the brush or pad to go over the entire neck and fingerboard in small circles. One pass should be enough, but you can do a quick second pass if the neck is especially dirty. Remember to not apply much pressure, as both the brush and pad can be abrasive.

    *Immediately use a clean towel to thoroughly wipe off the excess soap/water mix on the neck. Allow the neck to dry for several minutes.

    *Apply a light coat of lemon oil (also available at most hardware stores) to the entire neck and fingerboard. Allow it to dry for several minutes, then gently wipe off the excess.

    *Re-string your guitar.

    *Try to have this entire process completed in no more than one hour (from the time you remove the old strings to the time you put the new strings on). You don't want to damage the neck from a lack of counter-tension to the truss rod.

    I've found most lemon oils leave a little residue anywhere from 12-48 hours after you condition the neck with them. I've also started experimenting with applying a light coat of Howard Feed-N-Wax Beeswax & Orange Oil Wood Preserver. The original "finish" applied to the Wolfgang necks was similar to Birchwood Casey Tru-Oil and gunstock wax. I've been finishing my custom guitar necks with Tru-Oil and discovered the Feed-N-Wax serves as a nice sealer. It is not something that needs to be applied regularly, though.

    I've re-conditioned very dirty Wolfgang necks and maintained several others from using the processes above. Unfortunately the dirt is just a matter-of-fact when it comes to necks without a hard finish, but you can definitely thwart the build-up if you clean and condition the neck regularly.

  2. #2
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    Thanks for the great tips - I have an EBMM with a filthy neck and fretboard, sounds like a good holiday project.

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    Quote Originally Posted by mars View Post
    Thanks for the great tips - I have an EBMM with a filthy neck and fretboard, sounds like a good holiday project.
    You're welcome. If the neck is especially dirty you can call it a work in progress; if you repeat the cleaning process regularly (every string change), it will gradually get better with each cleaning.

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    I had a tech guy at Peavey once tell me that for their worst necks they actually use acetone and 00 steel wool to clean them, followed by lemon oil. It would have to be pretty disgusting before I'd try that method! I'm one of the weirdos with skin oils of a certain PH that don't discolor things I touch. I also always try and at least rinse off my hands before touching a guitar. My "real" job for the past 20+ years has been in IT, and I have seen people who wear all the letters off their keyboard in under a year due to the oils in their skin.

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    Quote Originally Posted by donkost View Post
    I had a tech guy at Peavey once tell me that for their worst necks they actually use acetone and 00 steel wool to clean them, followed by lemon oil. It would have to be pretty disgusting before I'd try that method! I'm one of the weirdos with skin oils of a certain PH that don't discolor things I touch. I also always try and at least rinse off my hands before touching a guitar. My "real" job for the past 20+ years has been in IT, and I have seen people who wear all the letters off their keyboard in under a year due to the oils in their skin.
    That's interesting, because there are also those folks with literally a lot of acid in their sweat, and those are the people who can put a brand new set of strings on and ten minutes later they'll be corroded and black! I guess the Elixir and similar type strings are good under those circumstances.

  6. #6
    Romeo Delight g60racer's Avatar
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    Weird. I think one of the cool things about bare maple necks is the build-up that stains the wood. I wouldn't ever consider cleaning it.
    Brendan

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    Quote Originally Posted by AndrewThomas.net View Post
    Hey All:

    At some point a while back I wrote up a bit about cleaning Wolfgang and other oil finish guitar necks to keep on hand for when I get asked about it (because that seems to happen a lot). I also published it to my website: http://www.andrewthomas.net/archives/00000122.html. By posting the same bit here, too, it can perhaps be easily found via search functions. Hopefully this will be helpful to some folks.

    --

    I'm frequently asked about safe and thorough ways to clean and condition guitar necks, so I've opted to simply publish that info here to my website/blog to hopefully help others. From having owned and maintained so many Peavey Wolfgang guitars over the years, I've done a lot of experimenting with different methods and products.

    Here's an approach I've found works very well for cleaning and maintaining your Wolfgang neck, or any guitar neck that is only oil-finished. (This method can also be applied to just the fingerboard of guitar necks that have a hard finished backside.)

    *Remove the old strings from your guitar. Remember to block off or remove the tremolo if you have one, as it will otherwise "pop" out from spring tension and possibly damage the finish (most common with Floyd Rose tremolos).

    *In a small bowl, mix a small amount of Murphy's Oil Soap (available at most hardware stores) with an equal amount of water. Use either a small bristled brush (like a fingernail brush) or a non-scratch Scotch-Brite pad and soak it in the soap/water mix. Lightly use the brush or pad to go over the entire neck and fingerboard in small circles. One pass should be enough, but you can do a quick second pass if the neck is especially dirty. Remember to not apply much pressure, as both the brush and pad can be abrasive.

    *Immediately use a clean towel to thoroughly wipe off the excess soap/water mix on the neck. Allow the neck to dry for several minutes.

    *Apply a light coat of lemon oil (also available at most hardware stores) to the entire neck and fingerboard. Allow it to dry for several minutes, then gently wipe off the excess.

    *Re-string your guitar.

    *Try to have this entire process completed in no more than one hour (from the time you remove the old strings to the time you put the new strings on). You don't want to damage the neck from a lack of counter-tension to the truss rod.

    I've found most lemon oils leave a little residue anywhere from 12-48 hours after you condition the neck with them. I've also started experimenting with applying a light coat of Howard Feed-N-Wax Beeswax & Orange Oil Wood Preserver. The original "finish" applied to the Wolfgang necks was similar to Birchwood Casey Tru-Oil and gunstock wax. I've been finishing my custom guitar necks with Tru-Oil and discovered the Feed-N-Wax serves as a nice sealer. It is not something that needs to be applied regularly, though.

    I've re-conditioned very dirty Wolfgang necks and maintained several others from using the processes above. Unfortunately the dirt is just a matter-of-fact when it comes to necks without a hard finish, but you can definitely thwart the build-up if you clean and condition the neck regularly.
    Hey Andrew - Great info regarding Wolfie necks... I am on the other side of the spectrum & I'm curious about my approach. I have a 97 Wolf and have never cleaned the neck (ever). It looks as dirty as you would expect after 12 yrs. Is that a bad thing? I have never had any tuning issues etc and I dig the "dirty" look. With that said, I want my Wolf to last forever. Thanks in advance - CV

  8. #8
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    Dirty necks have a cool look to them. But after a while it can get kind of gross. Plus, they look really cool when they're cleaned up. And it gives you a chance to dirty them up again.

    I've been afraid to confess my neck cleaning method out of fear that the Guitar Police will show up at my door and take my guitar away. But here goes:

    I don't have a Wolfgang, but I have a guitar with an unfinished neck.

    Step 1. Remove neck.
    Step 2. Using a toothbrush, scrub the neck with a mix of water and dish soap.
    Step 3. Rinse off soap and dirt under the bathtub spigot.
    Step 4. Blow dry with hair dryer.
    Step 5. Re-attach neck.

    I do this about once a year and I've never had a problem, but I don't guarantee anything.
    The positive side is that the neck is super clean. I hit on the idea of dish soap because it's formulated to cut grease and oil and it rinses off without leaving any residue. The neck feels amazing to play afterwards.







    Don't read this.

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bullwinkle View Post
    Dirty necks have a cool look to them. But after a while it can get kind of gross. Plus, they look really cool when they're cleaned up. And it gives you a chance to dirty them up again.

    I've been afraid to confess my neck cleaning method out of fear that the Guitar Police will show up at my door and take my guitar away. But here goes:

    I don't have a Wolfgang, but I have a guitar with an unfinished neck.

    Step 1. Remove neck.
    Step 2. Using a toothbrush, scrub the neck with a mix of water and dish soap.
    Step 3. Rinse off soap and dirt under the bathtub spigot.
    Step 4. Blow dry with hair dryer.
    Step 5. Re-attach neck.

    I do this about once a year and I've never had a problem, but I don't guarantee anything.
    The positive side is that the neck is super clean. I hit on the idea of dish soap because it's formulated to cut grease and oil and it rinses off without leaving any residue. The neck feels amazing to play afterwards.
    I did cringe a little when I read "rinse off soap and dirt under bathtub spigot." That kind of excessive water and moisture, I think, would run the risk of pushing the frets out/up over time. Ugh... I don't know, bull. Try the method I suggested next time; you might get a similar result WITHOUT all the water and blow drying.

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    Quote Originally Posted by cav View Post
    Hey Andrew - Great info regarding Wolfie necks... I am on the other side of the spectrum & I'm curious about my approach. I have a 97 Wolf and have never cleaned the neck (ever). It looks as dirty as you would expect after 12 yrs. Is that a bad thing? I have never had any tuning issues etc and I dig the "dirty" look. With that said, I want my Wolf to last forever. Thanks in advance - CV
    The only "problem" I could see with the dirty neck is the potential for that dirt to quickly and easily find its way onto your strings, thus affecting tone and shortening string life. But, hell, I'm not telling anyone here they HAVE to clean their guitar necks--just suggesting a way to do it. I like maintaining them. But we each do what we like.

    If you do want to restore your neck (which I imagine is kind of "gray" in some areas now), follow the method I offered. It won't look all that much better the first time, but after several cleaning and re-stringing sessions it probably will. You might also consider some very fine steel wool first.

  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by AndrewThomas.net View Post
    I did cringe a little when I read "rinse off soap and dirt under bathtub spigot." That kind of excessive water and moisture, I think, would run the risk of pushing the frets out/up over time. Ugh... I don't know, bull. Try the method I suggested next time; you might get a similar result WITHOUT all the water and blow drying.

    I know, I know. Just please don't report me to the Guitar Cops. They can be nasty.

    That neck turned twenty years old this year. I've been playing it for about 17 of those years. It was like new when I got it, and I took all of the finish off the neck, front and back, with Zip Strip. I had it refretted with the biggest frets the guitar guy could find, and then it was ready to go. I've never had to refret it ever. Once or twice, I had it dressed a little bit, but that's all.

    I still put in 20 to 30 hours a week playing time on it and have done so since I had it, in all kinds of weather. I'm probably just tempting fate, but I have the belief that, if it was going to fall apart, it would have done so by now.







    Don't read this.

 

 

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