G'day All,

Just wondering if there is a preferred type of varnish to use on a bare neck, i.e no fret board. Something that wont peel off or wear to quickly. I notice the neck of the cbg I built late last year is getting grubby. Not that my fingers are dirty as such, but just general use staining. You can actually see the clean lines where the strings are! (It looks much worse in real life.)

I have an electric guitar with a varnished neck (no fret board) & I would like to do this to future cbgs.

Any advice would be muchly appreciated !

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The fretboard and rest of neck on pro instruments are usually finished differently. I currently use a polyurethane for the back of the neck and organoil brand hard burnishing oil on the fingerboard. Danish oil or similar finishes have also been widely used. I did the tour of the Kamaka ukulele factory and they used Whatco Danish oil. 


You're correct Mr. Titch. Backs and fretboards should be finished differently for best results. The majority of fretboards are rosewood, followed by ebony and maple. Fender finishes maple fretboards with a gloss finish that stands up over time. I don't know what it is. Poly, lacquer, or equivalent finishes will not stand up. The strings will wear  through them quickly leaving a mess that is difficult to repair.

Oil finishes that penetrate are a good choice. They don't work well on maple however, because of its density.

Back of the neck, anything works.

I use D'Addario Hydrate. It darkens and hydrates raw wood. It requires reapplication at string changes. Works well.

Just my observations.

Thanks for the input fellas, all appreciated! I'm recon I'll give the polyurethane a go on the front of the neck (no actual fretboard) & regular varnish on the back of the neck & body. Here's a pic of an old electric of mine with no fret board, the frets are quite worn but the coating between the frets isn't even scratched. My cbgs don't get thrashed too much so I'll see how it goes.

Tru-oil...cheap n' easy!

G'day Beetlejuice!, I didn't know if oil would prevent a stained fret board, so that's why I'm going with the polyurethane, but I'm going to look into this Tru-oil though.

I once heard someone on this site call out polyurethane as plastic. And never put plastic on something you love. I prefer tung oil, it leaves a great finish on a guitar neck.

Each to their own I guess, but if it does what I want it to do, then I'm happy to use it. I will check out Tung oil though. I just used linseed oil on a neck this morning (it's all I had...), looks & feels good so I guess time will tell!


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