Sticky Neck


Wondering if there’s a way to reduce friction on my acoustic. My hand struggles moving towards the headstock on my acoustic. I’ve wiped it down, wash my hands and I still struggle sliding. I’ve read so many articles but I’m reluctant to use 0000 steel wool or any type of chemicals or powders. Any other suggestions would be appreciated. Thank you

First thing is to know what the finish on your neck is. Different finishes have different remedies to solve a sticky neck.

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This is something that I have struggled with in the past. I agree that you should do your best to avoid steel wool and chemicals.

In addition to washing your hands, you might try using a wet cloth and and good bit of pressure when wiping down the back of the neck. This can help to remove any dirt or oil.

Also, when you are playing, practice relaxing your hand so that it doesn’t have contact with the back of the neck when you move it. Over time you will learn to be able to slide with just a minimum of contact between your hand and the back of the neck.

Even with all of these steps, you will still find that there are times of high humidity where your neck still feels sticky. With more experience, you will be better able to adapt your playing to different conditions.

It is also possible that the neck on your guitar is particularly sticky (either due to poor finish or some other dirt or chemicals having effected it) and will require sanding or cleaning, but I would only look at this as a last resort.

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your post suggests the problem is in the back, but I have played guitars at the store that have dreadfully corroded strings and who-knows-what on the fretboard and I cannot hope to slide around on those. If you are noticing trouble at your finger tips, then maybe a string change and cleaning of the fretboard are useful. You said acoustic, so my comment is for steel strings.

For the back, I keep my hands really clean, but some days I just have damp hands making my hand sticky. I have tried a couple things mentioned above, but they don’t last long enough. In part, I am learning to grip lighter, but sometimes I just need to grab the matte finished neck.

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Thanks for your help. I just posted a pic to show the finish.

Picture really doesn’t help. What you need to know is a nitrocellulose lacquer like Gibson an older Fender. Is it polyurethane finish like most inexpensive or something different.

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Its definitely the back of the neck or me? I just changed the strings and conditioned the frets.
I’ve tried washing my hands with different soaps. I’ve cleaned the neck and it may be a combination of finish and being fairly new. I have no problems going with gravity. Its going towards the headstock that I really struggle with. My index finger missing on my fretting hand. Ive recently noticed how the neck of my guitar sits deeper into my hand. It could just be ergonomics. Im not sure what it really is, other then me. Really appreciate your help😉

Its no Fender or Gibson. Its a Washburn so more likely to be polyurethane finish. Its not a gloss finish more like a satin finish.

I just thought of one more thing - are you actively trying to hold the head up with your fretting hand? you want to avoid that and it can cause you to grab more fully and that may be part of the sticky problem. I have trouble with a head-heavy guitar and notice myself holding the head and having trouble moving around the neck.


I think your on to something about technique as my situation is different. I’ve noticed a lot if tension in my hand. I would like to be able to slide my hand with minimal contact like you mentioned. I have a missing index finger on my fretting hand and have recently noticed how far the neck sits really deep into my hand. My situation is a little different but I think your right, it’s most likely technique.

Your right. My neck position is on an angle and not horizontal. I’ve noticed most play with a slight angle but I’ve been playing with more of an angle in order to reach more chords because of my hand shape. I will lower the neck while playing. That would help the resistance. Thank you for your helpful insight. :+1:

I wasn’t thinking of changing the position more if you were needing to hold it in place.

I actually reach better with the neck up near my shoulder, like a classical position.

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An easy place to start is with some “Finger Ease”. Your local guitar or online shop should have some.

I spray it on a micro fibre cloth and wipe all over strings and neck. Makes a difference.


I just picked up my guitar to verify how I move my hand and I noticed that often, my thumb will fully lose contact with the back of the neck as I move between chords.

One thing that you will find as your fingers become stronger is that you don’t need to press with your thumb nearly as hard, this will make it easier for you to release the tension as you change chords (because you’ll be using less tension to begin with).

Another thing that will help with this stickiness over time is that you will experience some subtle wearing or callusing of the skin on your thumb and the areas of your hand that contact the neck. This will help your hand slide more smoothly as well.

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Never done this but remember seeing a guy playing at an outdoor venue on a humid night wearing fingerless gloves. He was joking that his fretting hand was cold ( it was about 90 degrees fahrenheit ) then said it was because of the humidity not allowing his hand to slide up & down the neck.
Personally, I use FingerEase… Works great, it’s cheap & a can lasts a long, long time!