Question: I own three Taylors: a 210e, a 414ce and a DN8e. The frequency of use is in that order. The back sides of the necks on the 210 and 414 behind the first and third frets feel a little tacky even when clean. The surface is visually smooth and there is no discoloration, but when I run my hand or finger along the neck, there is some resistance. I know that these two areas are where my hand sits on the neck when I play. Obviously there is some sort of chemical reaction from my sweat and the finish of the neck. Having discovered that this is a problem, I now make sure I wash my hands before I play, and I clean the necks of my guitars every time I am done playing. I usually use Turtle Wax Express Shine, as shown in one of the videos on the Taylor website, to clean the neck.
Several questions: Is there anything else I could or should use to clean the neck after I play? Is it possible to clean the guitar too much or too often? Is there any way to refinish the neck to get the smoothness back? Is there any way to prevent this problem from occurring? — Aaron V., CPA, JD, Edinburg, TX
Answer: Aaron, I wish I could see it for myself to make sure that the finish isn’t softened from either your hands or from the cleaner. I’ll tell you a few things and you see if they make sense to you, from knowing your own guitar. First, yes, you can clean it too much. Next, shiny parts of the neck are stickier on your hand than the dull, or satin parts. So, probably what you want more than anything is to dull your neck, and get it drier. Think of a pool cue. What do they use to make it glide on your hand? Not wax, but talcum powder. Yep, baby powder makes a pool cue slip through your hand. High gloss is the enemy of dry, pool-cue-gliding action. So the more Express Shine you use, the worse it gets, except for the five minutes after it’s waxed. If the guitar were here in my hands, I’d take some 800-grit wet or dry sandpaper (available in an automotive paint store) and sand the back of your neck and remove all the gloss, and then call it a day. You’re done. It will be pool-cue-slippery, nice and dry. Then I’d clean it with a soft dry rag, and twice a year, when my hands have polished it back to a shine, I’d do it again. Don’t sand all the finish away, just take the shine off. A few strokes back and forth should do it. If you’re not a do-it-yourself kind of guy, a repairman can read this and do it. I think that’s your answer.