Sunday, 28 December 2014

Refinishing my Charvel maple fretboard

I’ve wanted to tidy up my Charvel So-Cal fretboard ever since I’ve got it. The So-Cal has an unfinished maple fretboard. It was great to play on, but had some build up from previous usage (I’ve bought it used).
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Some guys like the look and feel of an aged unfinished maple. I would probably mind it less though if it was my own gunk. After extensive googling I’ve decided to sand it down, cover it with Gunstock Tru-Oil and Wax.
For sanding I’ve used a fine sanding sponge (220). It worked fine for the first 5 frets, but I had to cut the sponge up to smaller pieces to effectively work on the higher frets.
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Music Man for it’s unfinished maple guitars recommends Birchwood Casey Gun Stock Tru-Oil Finish and Wax. These are not cheap, but are considered a high quality stuff so I went with it. Had to get mine from Ebay.
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First I removed the strings from the guitar, removed the neck from the body and loosened the truss rod. I’ve then cleaned the neck with lemon oil just to take everything I could off the surface and proceeded to sanding.
Gentle sanding took about 45 minutes for the entire fretboard. I was careful not to take too much of the wood off. I could have sanded it a bit more, but it already looked much better.
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Then I’ve applied the Tru-Oil. It can be a tricky bastard to work with. I’ve found it works best when just applying it with a finger. Since the oil is very liquidy it will spread pretty evenly on by itself.  The key is not to try washing it off your hands (or everything else you gooche on) with water. You want to use mineral spirit, nail polish remover or something of that nature.
I’ve applied 2 layers of Tru-Oil with 20 minutes for each to harden up, then cleaning the residue with a dry cloth.
Then I’ve waxed the fretboard. This is the fun part: just apply some of it on the whole area and polish with a dry cloth. I’ve added 3 layers of the Birchwood Case Wax.
This is what it ended up looking like:
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I am quite please with the results. It feels cleaner and just gently finished, I like that very much.

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