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Time to clean the neck and I always start with the head. Take a 10mm socket and remove the tuner sleves and washers.
All loosened, just look at that surface. That's not dust, it's years of atmospheric buildup, assorted splatter, with a dust covering.
Let's introduce you to your rags. 1 will be used for clearcoat, pickguards, headstocks, keep these as clean as possible. The other (the yellow) is my neck rag, finger splooge, oil, and steel wool are not good things to be cleaning painted surfaces with, don't mix them up! ;-}
First thing I'm going to do is blow on the head (alright, I know what you're thinking!!!) just to move the loose dust off. Then use the rag to gently brush most of the rest. If the surface is extremely crusty I'll actually blot it with polish and just slowly smear it around letting the wetness break down as much heavy crust as possible, then wipe off. Sometimes the crust can be as scratchy as steel wool, this one's not that bad and I'll go straight to cleaning. To clean I typicaly use a cleaner polish, no wax or silicones. Anything extremely mild that's made for clearcoat will work. I have a favorite but they're out of biz now so my next bottle will be an experiment. Use just a *few* drops on the rag and work small areas at a time in small circles keeping it wet. Don't rub hard, you just want to break the crust up and mix it with the cleaner. We're not polishing, we're cleaning. To polish these polyester clearcoats you really do need machine power and a good pad. If the headstock is fairly clean my preference for cleaner is, don't gasp, spit. I hear you out there "Oh my god how gross, he's spitting on my guitar!" Yes I am, live with it! I learned long ago that saliva has forever been known as one of the best *natural* cleaners on Earth. You're going to use some in the next step :)
Face clean? good. Now start cleaning each tuner ferrule and washer. A little spit on your rag will do the trick, just rub till clean. As you finish each stick them back in their proper holes and when they're all done retighten them with your 10mm socket firm finger tight, you're only trying to keep them in place, not crack the clear on the headstock. Flip the neck over and clean the rest of the tuners. Here you see me with my metal mm ruler wrapped with my rag to clean between them, yup, just damp with spit. If the tuners are really filthy it's much easier to just remove them all. As always keep them in order, clean, then reinstall. Be careful not to over tighten the tuner screws as they are not very strong screws at all. The tight ferrule on the face is what keeps the tuner in place, the screw is just secondary.
While we're back here let's tighten the nut, 2.5mm allen wrench, just finger tight! The object is to snug up the nut not split the wood ;-) Your nut needs periodic tightening as wood shrinks slightly over time, worse in drier climates. Even slight shrinking will loosen the locking nut and other metal to wood connections like the tuner nuts. Most guitars I receive have a loose nut and a couple loose tuners. Loose parts will definitely impact tuning stability, tone, and create some very strange resonance's as they vibrate.
Ahhhh, now isn't that nice?
Cigarette break and we'll move on to the fretboard.
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