Fender Telecaster Neck (one piece maple)
I have had mixed success aging down necks that are already finished. The ones that use a thin coat of urethane have aged without a problem, just a little slower than raw necks. This time I just bought a brand new Fender replacement neck for the test, made in Mexico and the same as their Standard/Player series necks except for the logo and the 22nd fret.
Unfortunately, it is already aged a bit. Not sure if it is the finish or the wood, but it isn't the "Vintage Tint" they use on some reissues, just darker wood than usual for a Fender neck. I've loaded a new set of Solacure SG-1-40, 4 foot aging lamps, ballasted them to 80w each, and going to do 3 days on each side. Typically, this gets us were we need to be. You can age longer, but it gets slower to see a difference. I'm not sure how much darker we can get this neck, but we are going to try. I will be adding to this page as the test comes in, so stick around to see what happens.
For this test, I decided to give it a full aging, which is 3 days on both sides of the neck. You can age for longer (or less) but 3 days is the magic number when you are running the bulbs at 80w each. Getting darker is possible, but takes a lot more time. I ran 6 of the bulbs, which is overkill for this and the outside bulbs probably did nothing, but the rig holds 6 lamps and was already loaded with a fresh set of SG-1-40 bulbs, so there we are. I used a little aluminum foil around the headstock for about half of the time, to get the sides of the headstock. Not required, but it does help it age down more evenly. The lamps were around 4 inches from the neck, which is a good distance. You can feel the neck get warm, but not too warm. Closer is always better when it comes to UV, as the power drops off exponentially with distance.
In a word, "wow!". The neck definitely got darker, even though it already had some color going in. More importantly, the color itself is so beautiful, so natural, that I'm very pleased with the result. No orange looking fake tint, no damage to the logo, just dark brown, naturally aged goodness. This is what I was hoping for. The finish is thin enough, and UV transparent enough that it really posed no problem for the UV penetration. I've had problems with other necks, but at least now we know, the Fender Mexico (and surely American) made necks will definitely benefit from UV exposure, turning them into instant classics, instant "relics" without the dings. It just looks like a 30 or 40 year old neck that has never been played. That was the goal, and we have easily exceeded my expectations.
I will upload the before and after photos along with more info later.