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How to Finish a Guitar Neck


Sand, Stain, and Lacquer a Guitar Neck



Page Update 3/7/2016

How to Finish A Guitar Neck

Learn some techniques on applying stains and lacquer to a guitar neck along with sanding and finishing a project guitar.


How To Finish A Guitar Neck With Stain and Lacquer

  • It's a good idea to use masking tape on the fret board if you do not plan on finishing the fret board.  Apply masking tape to the fret board where you do not want the finish.  Make sure your tape is secure especially on the edges and where the tape overlaps

  • Wipe down the Guitar Neck in order to remove any particles that may interfere with your finish of choice. 
  • It may be a good idea to use an old hanger or something to hang up your guitar neck in your finish room.  This will make it easier to apply stain or lacquer without getting fingerprints etc. on the neck.
  • Purchase a respirator to protect your lungs when applying finish or lacquer on your guitar.
  • At this point you'll want to apply your finish of choice to your guitar neck. It's a good idea to apply several coats of stain or lacquer to the guitar neck.  Make sure the finish is dry before applying more coats.  Apply the finish to your preferences.  Usually, several coats produces a nice finish depending on the brand and choice of finishing product.
  • Some people say after 3 or more finish coats have been applied to wet sand with #400 grit wet / dry sand paper.  Just a warning, it's still easy to sand through the finish at this point so be extremely careful NOT to sand through the finish. Edges can be difficult to sand as well and you must be careful here as well.  Use your best discretion whether you need to sand at this point.
  • You will want to repeat finish application and sanding as necessary at this point.  Again, this is a matter of your personal preference. 
  • Once you have applied your stain, paint, or finish of choice you may want to lacquer your guitar neck at this point.  Lacquer can protect your finish on the guitar neck.  There are many options for lacquer.  There are spray lacquers or paint on type lacquers as well.  Read the instructions carefully before applying lacquer.  Also, Lacquers have a strong smell to them as well so wear a respirator when applying it. 
  • Now that your guitar neck has dried (usually 2 weeks to a month), you can now remove the tape and remove any excess stain etc. that may have gotten onto your fret board.  Try scraping with a razor blade, but be very careful as you can chip the fretboard if you go to deep.
  • Also, if you prefer an oil finish to your fretboard, why not try some lemon oil on your mahogany fretboard.  This will bring out the fret board and remove excess dirt from it as well.
  • I did not perform this process, but if you feel it's necessary use #600 grit wet / dry sand paper and then #1000 grit.  Be very careful not to sand through the finish
  • Buff your guitar neck by hand with a glossy polish, and your guitar neck should be finished and ready to play.


*Any similarities to other guitar neck designs are purely coincidental*

Please consult a guitar technician in your area if your unsure about any guitar assembly or maintenance techniques. We do not guarantee any results by using the process described above, please consult a professional guitar tech if you have any questions on the process.