Wednesday, February 24, 2016

1984 Ibanez RoadstarII RS130BK - [3] Neck Refinish

This post is the third of a five-part series on a gloss black Ibanez RoadstarII RS130 strat-styled guitar. In this post, I will focus on the neck refinish job I had to carry out. Readers might remember that my last post was about refretting the neck. Well, having done that, it was time to remove the masking tape I had used to protect the fingerboard from files and such.

So I carefully peeled off the tape segment by segment. Mind you, I'd previously "de-tacked" the tape by sticking it onto my t-shirt. But, as luck would have it, I'd seriously underestimated the fragility of the lacquer. It just peeled off in strips along with the tape. It was a total disaster, with finish flaking off the fingerboard face, edges, and even the back of the neck. I'd worked on old guitars before, but this was the first time something like this had happened.

Resigning myself to my fate, I gingerly removed all the tape and cleaned up any glue residue with lighter fluid. Then I realized that tiny slivers of semi-decayed maple had come off with the lacquer. "Way to go," I thought to myself. That settled it. I'd have to refinish the whole neck, and here comes more scraping and sanding!

Subsequently, the fingerboard was scraped clean with a razor blade, while the back of the neck was sanded down to bare wood (I stopped at 600 grit). The face of the headstock was left untouched, to avoid removing the patina or damaging the decals. I decided on a superglue finish for the fingerboard face and edges because it would soak into the wood, halt the decay, and fill up the numerous craters that had appeared.

Thus began the tedious process of applying a thin layer of superglue (trying my best not to get any on the frets), waiting for it to dry, wetsanding, applying the next layer, wetsanding, ... you get the picture. As I had feared, superglue did get onto the frets. It was a total PITA removing it and repolishing the frets without scratching the fresh fingerboard finish. For the back of the neck and headstock, I decided on a teak oil finish, which gave it a smooth, sensuous feel IMHO.

In retrospect, I should have been more thorough in assessing the condition of the fingerboard before refretting the neck. I should have scraped off all the lacquer, refinished the fingerboard, and then only carried out the refret. This is one painful lesson I'm not likely to forget!

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