1. Before I replace the missing fretboard, I have to shape and glue in a piece of flat-sawn maple as a foundation
for the rosewood. 2. Shaping the edge of the new maple section. 3. Radiusing the maple surface before adding
a replacement piece of Brazilian rosewood. 4. Confirming the 7.25" radius after gluing and shaping the new
fretboard section. 5. Using a jig, Dremel tool, and 1/8" inlay router bit to cut a new nut slot in the fretboard.
6. An artist brush is ideal for applying the tinted nitrocellulose touchup finish.
Last month we launched a
series of columns on restoring
a 1965 Fender Strat in
Shoreline Gold [“Resurrectinga 1965 Shoreline Gold FenderStrat,” December 2011]. In the
first part of this series, I explained
the alterations previously done to
this guitar and how we needed
to develop a multi-step plan for
restoring this fine Strat to its
former glory. You may recall that
a previous owner had decided
to install a Floyd Rose locking
nut and tremolo. My job will be
to replace missing wood, patch
various holes, and re-install the
original Fender trem, which fortunately
stayed with the guitar.
After July 1962, Fender
replaced the “slab” board with
a rosewood fretboard that had
a convex bottom. At first, the
rosewood cap remained fairly
thick, but by 1963, this turned
into a thinner veneer. Fender
kept this design until mid-1983.
In the process of adding the
Floyd locking nut, a repairman
had previously removed a portion
of the maple neck and Brazilian
rosewood fretboard where the
traditional nut is normally positioned.
I divided this part of the
restoration task into eight steps.
Step 1: Using my Stew-Mac
Luthier’s Files (item #0842
from stewmac.com), I leveled
and squared up the neck’s
maple surface right to the
fretboard’s front edge. The Fret
Rocker (#3770) came in handy
to check the squaring.
Step 2: I selected a flat-sawn
piece of maple, and then shaped
and dry-assembled the part
until I got a desirable fit. I used
medium-viscosity Super Glue
(#7002) for securing the new
maple piece. Curing time was
around 25 seconds.
: Very carefully, I used
a Dremel rotary tool (#0358)
and sanding-drum bit with
fine-grit sandpaper to knock
down the front edge of the
newly added maple section.
Step 4: Before fitting and
gluing the Brazilian rosewood
fretboard section in place, I
needed to put a 7.25" radius
onto the top of the restored
maple surface. For this, I made
a sanding block with a 7.25"
radius bottom out of ultra-highmolecular-
and used double-stick tape to
adhere sandpaper to its underside.
I used my stainless steel
Radius Gauge (#5432) for referencing.
These two tools complimented
each other well.
Step 5: Once the maple
surface was ready, I selected a
replacement section of Brazilian
rosewood that would resemble the
grain pattern and overall performance
of the original fretboard.
(My reclaimed and salvaged
Brazilian rosewood is properly
validated and CITES-certified.)
Step 6: After using a belt
sander to trim and shape the
Restoring the Neck on a 1965 Shoreline
Gold Fender Strat BY john brown
Brazilian rosewood piece and give
it a 7.25" underside radius, I then
glued it in place. For the playing
surface, I returned to my set of
Luthier’s Files, a radius-sanding
block, and radius gauge to mimic
the original fretboard shape.
Step 7: Fortunately, I had
an old jig that was originally
designed for routing out the
shelf when installing a locking
nut. Using this jig and a 1/8"
carbide inlay router bit (#5154)
attached to a Dremel, I cut a
clean 1/8" slot in the fretboard.
To finalize the slot and add a
7.25" inside-pocket radius (this
is how it would have come from
the Fender factory in 1965), I
first used a 1/8" Nut Seating
File (#5055) and then turned to
an assortment of files and mini
sanding blocks to feather-in
and finish the restored section
of wood before gluing in the
newly fabricated nut.
Step 8: I used an artist paintbrush
to apply the first coat
of tinted nitrocellulose clear.
Sometimes I rely on an airbrush
for feathering-in touchup finish,
but in this case, the paintbrush
let me precisely control the
placement and volume of the
nitrocellulose finish. (These artist
brushes are also really nice
for drop-filling finish.)
All right—this phase is almost
complete! Once I’ve applied a
few more coats of nitrocellulose
finish and let it cure for two
weeks, I’ll sand the finish up
to 1000 grit and buff it out. In
this last step, it’s very important
to pay attention to the sheen of
the original finish and carefully
blend in the new finish.
We’ll continue working on
this guitar next month, so see
inventor of the Fretted/Less
bass. He owns and operates
Brown’s Guitar Factory,
a guitar manufacturing,
repair, and restoration facility
staffed by a team of talented
luthiers. His guitar-tool and accessory designs
are used by builders all over the world. Visit
or email John at