Guitar Building: The Alder Esquire’s Neck
I have had this neck sitting around for a couple of years. It’s a Fender California Series, which dates it to about 1997. This neck was on a parts Strat, but I replaced it with an Allparts neck with a rosewood board, which looked and played better on that guitar. As the black Esquire project has come together, I decided to take another look at it to see if it would work here.
The first order of business was a complete level and crown. There was enough fret height to make that work, and I like the size and shape of the frets. At the same time, I rolled the fretboard edges a bit. The finish on this neck is very brittle, and there’s been some flaking on the fretboard. It doesn’t look great, but also doesn’t affect how the neck plays, so I’m leaving that alone for now.
Next up was a new set of tuners. I like the standard Fender vintage-style with the split posts. They’re made by Gotoh and work great, but I find it odd that the tuner bushings are always bigger than vintage spec. I always have to put the neck on the drill press and bore the holes out a bit to get a proper fit. By the time that’s done, the bushings press in pretty easily. Installation was painless because the screw holes were already there. I use a little Stew-Mac Guitar Grease to lube the screws, since the maple is hard, and the screws aren’t all that strong.
The neck still needs a bone nut. Meanwhile the Tru-Oil on the body is drying, and with the leather dye has given me a great deep black. I’ll apply a few more coats, probably five or six altogether. Waiting for finish to dry is seriously not exciting, but you can’t rush it. In fact, it’s time to apply the next coat!