Hello all,

 

I was just wondering if some of you might be able to give me some advice here.

The situation is as follows: I picked up an old, parlour-sized guitar a while back - somewhere around 1900-1920's - for a bargain price. Nothing wrong with it, until I lended it to a friend of mine who wantedto use it for a photoshoot of his.

 

When it returned, it had this nasty crack on the back of the body - about 12cm's long. There's no use in getting angry or upset with him, as I should have known better - an old guiter is much more fragile than modern-day builds. But hey, that's the way it goes.

 

Made we wonder on how to restore this properly, or if I should leave it 'as-is' and just stabilize the wood, so it doens't crack any further.

 

Attached is an image of the crack in question.

 

 

Thanks in advance.

I value your opinions and input.

 

Vincent

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I am jumping in, because I have a similar crack, but on the side of my tenor git. My idea was to sand down the sides to bare wood then put tape on the backside of the panel. Fill the crack with wood filler, sand down and remove tape. Then repaint the side. But I am not sure if this is proper procedure. Hope to get some advice here along with you.
Sometimes by glueing segments of  a  wedge shaped inlay into the crack works best. On the inside back up the crack with wood diamond overlays.

Can you press down on both sides of the crack and have the crack close up some? If you sight down the back or hold a straight edge along it is it raised up? It may be nesassary to first glue the crack and weight it down to push it back in alignment. If that does work then you follow up with very thin piece, or pieces of wood glued to the inside spanning the crack. It may be needed to find a like wood and make a repair by first gluing in the reinforcement to the inside and then fitting a repair piece in. Carefully remove the repair wood standing proud. Colin's idea sounds tempting, however filler will not bond to wood and in no time the filler will crack again or fall out without the inside being reinforced.

Don

Hi there,

 

First of all, let me thank you for the advice. I had been searching on the net, but did not find many useful intell there.

I am able to get the crack to close at most of its length - so I will just add some reinforcement to the interior and try and find matching wood to fill the remaining gaps.

 

It will be worth the effort - as the guitar has an amazing tone to it. Remind me to post a picture when it's done.

 

And I'll be more carefull nextime to lend out things like these - that can also help.

 

Thanks again,

Vincent

Here's the Frets.com page "of interest to luthiers" with all the repair information.  Down towards the bottom you'll see the section on dealing with various sorts of cracks.

This site is a gold mine of information; the guy is a professional luthier/repairman since the 60s.

 

http://www.frets.com/FRETSPages/pagelist.html#Luthier

Mark, thank you for the post. Great info there.

Mark Werner said:

Here's the Frets.com page "of interest to luthiers" with all the repair information.  Down towards the bottom you'll see the section on dealing with various sorts of cracks.

This site is a gold mine of information; the guy is a professional luthier/repairman since the 60s.

 

http://www.frets.com/FRETSPages/pagelist.html#Luthier

Go here ....

Crack Repair.

 

Scroll down about halfway there is a lot of crack info here.

 

 

AFKAM

Hi, I've done repairs like this. What I would do first is humidify the guitar and see if you can get the crack to close up further just with humidity. It may be a winter crack due to low humidity; in other words, your friend may not have abused the guitar in any way. It may take awhile to humidify it, like days, or weeks. You can use a commercial guitar humidifier, make your own from a sponge, or just let it sit down in the basement for a few months.

Then if you can get it to close up, before applying glue, see if you can devise a way to get it to line up. You may be able to do it by running painter's tape across the crack to pull it closed. You may need some kind of long clamp to pull the sides together and maybe a piece of clear acrylic running across the top. If the guitar back is slightly bowed and not perfectly flat, don't flatten it out; just get the crack edges meeting together.

Once you have accomplished all that, then the easy part is gluing. Clean up any squeeze-out with a damp paper towel. Let it sit in whatever clamping method overnight. If you have hide glue, use that, otherwise Titebond is ok.

Once you have it fixed, keep the guitar humidified in the winter to prevent further cracking.

If you can't get the crack to meet back up, then you can insert a spline of a the same type of wood running in the same direction. I've glued cracks much worse than that and got them to meet up, so I don't this will be the case, but then I don't have the guitar in front of me. If you have to do the spline, then you'll also have to match the finish. The finish on a guitar that old would most likely be French polished shellac.

If you're really concerned about the crack opening up again, then you can put some reinforcing patches on the inside.

Hopefully, the guitar has a round soundhole and you can reach the crack from the inside. That will make the job a lot easier.

Definitely read those links from Frets.com aka Frank Ford - he's the man and I've found his site to be both inspirational and informative.

Good luck and let us know how it turns out.

 


Good advise here.

As mentioned, the crack is most likely due to drying out, possibly combined with heat. Would need to see it to be sure, but thats what it looks like to me. Usually with patience you can get those closed up and repaired well enough to be barely visible and not negatively effect sound.

Do not use filler, and avoid a major patch if you can. Once closed up and repaired as already described, you may want to apply a minimal patch of spruce wood on the inside to reinforce the area. A few special tools really help as far as working through the sound hole, gently clamping etc. If you study some of the content at Frank Fords site you will get the idea, and you may be able to improvise a bit and do a nice repair your self. However, if the guitar has any real value you may want to defer to the experience and equipment of a luthier as it isnt an easy repair for a first timer.

Whatever you choose, good luck and enjoy!
Skeesix said:

Hi, I've done repairs like this. What I would do first is humidify the guitar and see if you can get the crack to close up further just with humidity. It may be a winter crack due to low humidity; in other words, your friend may not have abused the guitar in any way. It may take awhile to humidify it, like days, or weeks. You can use a commercial guitar humidifier, make your own from a sponge, or just let it sit down in the basement for a few months.

Then if you can get it to close up, before applying glue, see if you can devise a way to get it to line up. You may be able to do it by running painter's tape across the crack to pull it closed. You may need some kind of long clamp to pull the sides together and maybe a piece of clear acrylic running across the top. If the guitar back is slightly bowed and not perfectly flat, don't flatten it out; just get the crack edges meeting together.

Once you have accomplished all that, then the easy part is gluing. Clean up any squeeze-out with a damp paper towel. Let it sit in whatever clamping method overnight. If you have hide glue, use that, otherwise Titebond is ok.

Once you have it fixed, keep the guitar humidified in the winter to prevent further cracking.

If you can't get the crack to meet back up, then you can insert a spline of a the same type of wood running in the same direction. I've glued cracks much worse than that and got them to meet up, so I don't this will be the case, but then I don't have the guitar in front of me. If you have to do the spline, then you'll also have to match the finish. The finish on a guitar that old would most likely be French polished shellac.

If you're really concerned about the crack opening up again, then you can put some reinforcing patches on the inside.

Hopefully, the guitar has a round soundhole and you can reach the crack from the inside. That will make the job a lot easier.

Definitely read those links from Frets.com aka Frank Ford - he's the man and I've found his site to be both inspirational and informative.

Good luck and let us know how it turns out.

 

im not sure your friend did any thing to your git - i think it was a lack of moisture - old guitars need humidity - i know from past experience - get a sound hole humidifier youll be glad ya did

Vincent Slegers said:

Hi there,

 

First of all, let me thank you for the advice. I had been searching on the net, but did not find many useful intell there.

I am able to get the crack to close at most of its length - so I will just add some reinforcement to the interior and try and find matching wood to fill the remaining gaps.

 

It will be worth the effort - as the guitar has an amazing tone to it. Remind me to post a picture when it's done.

 

And I'll be more carefull nextime to lend out things like these - that can also help.

 

Thanks again,

Vincent

Thanks from me as well, glad I jumped in this one. Even though this fix is not my next project, glad this info is here.

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