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Old 02-28-2008, 11:31 AM
lilphitz lilphitz is offline
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Default Restore Dry, Cracked Guitar?

I am currently looking a Tacoma EM9CE2. It costs about a $1,000 USD when new, and I can pick one up for $300 USD. The guy selling it bought it from a woman who kept her house VERY WARM. I suspect this to be the reason why there is a small crack near the soundhole. I also suspect this to be the cause of a dry guitar exposed to low humidity for a long period of time.

ANYWAYS, I want to know if the guitar is worth trying to restore. I've heard a little humidification and crack repair can go a VERY LONG way. If this guitar sounds good as is, I think I will take the chance and buy it.

Anyone have any experience with a dry, cracked guitar?
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Old 02-28-2008, 11:55 AM
PorkPieGuy PorkPieGuy is offline
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Be careful about mentioning prices on here. The moderators will probably come along and "x" out the numbers. Don't be surprised when they do.

Lots of others can talk much more proficiently about cracks than I can, so I'll leave that up to those guys.
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Old 02-28-2008, 11:58 AM
mcphersonnut mcphersonnut is offline
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I would buy it for that price of $xxx its worth it. You can watch that crack close up just buy useing 2 or 3 humdifiers, i have done that on a Used Baby Taylor i bought and it closed up realy tight. Try it
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Old 02-28-2008, 12:03 PM
jayhawk jayhawk is offline
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There are ways to rehumidify a guitar. I know the basic process is to put the guitar in a plastic trash bag and rehumidify it over the period of a few weeks. I don't know the exact details.

If you are thinking of having the crack repaired I'd find a luthier to do the repair that understands the how to humidify it. You want the dryness resolved before you repair the crack.

Jack
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Old 02-28-2008, 12:16 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by lilphitz View Post
...Anyone have any experience with a dry, cracked guitar?
Hi lilphitz...
Cracked and dry are danger signals to me when looking at used instruments - they usually mean repairs and sometimes playability issues. I'm certainly willing to set up guitars, but if they are severely mistreated they are sometimes more trouble than it's worth.

Hands-on before purchase would seem a ''must.'' For only a few dollars more, I've seen that model of Tacoma guitar on Craig Lists and cracked or damaged...for less additional money than repairing the crack would likely cost.

If the crack is low humidity induced, then the guitar may have suffered other stresses that probably need to be checked out because they could lead to future repairs.

Make sure it's not dipping or caving-in between the bridge and soundhole. Also, if you can take a thin sheet of paper and run it along the backside of the bridge to make sure it's not lifting. Also check the front and back bookmatched seams to see that they are holding.

Run you hand along the outer ends of the fret wires and see if they are protruding and need to be dressed. That indicates drying out (fret dressing means another tech job unless you have fret files). Also inspect the fingerboard for cracks. Be sure no frets have popped up at the end...

If you know how to sight down the length of a neck to see if it's warping, do so. You should be able to see if the truss rod is set close at the same time.

Hope this helps...
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Old 02-28-2008, 12:27 PM
TommyK TommyK is offline
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It wasn't cracked but I had a Norlin era Epiphone that I had neglected for a couple decades. It was quite dry. I cleaned all the dust bunnies out, then layed Epi on her back. I taped a piece of plastic over her blue label. Then, I took a shallow jar, filled it with HOT tap water then set it down in the sound hole. I then covered the sound hole with a flat plastic drain stopper. I left over night. I repeated this 3 days running.

This may rehydrate the top to the point the crack may close up. If it doesn't close completely up, try pushing the sides of the guitar together to see if you can force the crack to close. If that works you may be able to use a bar or strap clamp to pull the crack closed after gluing. The normal course of action then is to glue a cleat across the crack to reinforce it. This 'cleat' ( I think that's what they are called) is a square of spruce... maybe 3/4" across and 1/8" thick. The grain should run from one corner, through the center of the square, to the opposite corner of the cleat. Champher the edges. Glue this diamond shaped piece to the underside of the soundboard with the grain perpendicular to the grain of the top, spanning the crack. Clamping is a good idea until it dries/cools. Depending on how long the crack is, more than one cleat may be necessary.
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Old 02-28-2008, 03:22 PM
Chazmo Chazmo is offline
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lilphitz,

I damaged two mahogany guitars by negligence here in the northeast. They dried out over a period of a couple of years. Major cracks.

I humidified both guitars, and my luthier cleated the cracks, as Tommy described. Humidifying the guitars all but closed the cracks on one of them, but the other was misshapen and remains permanently damaged although completely playable.

The answer to whether a cracked guitar is OK is twofold. First, can it be restored to playability -- a luthier can help you answer this. Second, assuming it can, can you live with the cosmetic effect of visible damage -- that of course depends on the extent and location of the damage.

I will say that you'll be amazed what humidifying a dried out guitar can do (take a look at the Taylor website for a couple of great videos on this subject). I would *not* use the method that Tommy described as the danger of getting the wood actually wet is too much. Just buy a few dampits and store them in the case. Or, get a room humidifier and leave it out.
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Old 02-28-2008, 03:42 PM
darkburnout00 darkburnout00 is offline
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But the closed crack aren't closed permanently are they???

I don't know, never heard of this method... seems strange how humidifiying a guitar can mend Broken WOod
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Old 02-28-2008, 03:44 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by darkburnout00 View Post
But the closed crack aren't closed permanently are they???

I don't know, never heard of this method... seems strange how humidifiying a guitar can mend Broken WOod
Hi dbo...
He did suggest cleating it after the crack swells shut...that involves wood and glue being attached to the underside of the crack.
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Old 02-28-2008, 08:21 PM
Chazmo Chazmo is offline
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Yeah, the cracks are closed permanently.

Let's be clear; the cracks in my guitars were caused by severe drying out of the wood due to New England winters and baseboard heating. Sigh.

Anyway, it dryness is the reason for the cracking in your guitar, then when you humidify the guitar, it will gradually swell back to it's normal shape and the cracks will seal themselves. It's permanent as long as you keep the guitar properly humidified.

The cleats are advisable if the crack is just big, or in a location on the guitar that gets some stress -- like near the neck.

Here is an example of a cleated repair on the mahogany back of my 12-string (the neck block is at the top of the photo, looking in the soundhole:

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Old 02-29-2008, 08:46 AM
bransonb bransonb is offline
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Default Bob Taylor does !

You can watch Bob Taylor of Taylor Guitars bring a dry, cracked guitar back to life.

http://www.taylorguitars.com/see-hear/

Click on the Understanding Humidity link.

It's also a great testimonial for Dampits!
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Old 02-29-2008, 08:50 AM
lilphitz lilphitz is offline
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Default Thanks!

You guys are a HUGE help. Thanks a lot. Instead of buying a dampit, I'm just going to make my own: http://www.bryankimsey.com/humdifier/index.htm. I'm also going to buy a cheap room humidifier for when its out of the case. As long as I monitor the humidity level, I should be fine.

Again, thanks guys. I'll post pics of the before and after treatment if it goes well.
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Old 02-29-2008, 09:22 AM
PastorSteve PastorSteve is offline
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It's probably a good deal as you like the sound at the current price. I would place the guitar in a hard case and place humidifiers in the case for a week or two. You'll see/hear a change in that time. As the guitar has been in its state for years, I doubt you'll have more problem with that crack once it's kept humidified.
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Old 02-29-2008, 03:10 PM
TommyK TommyK is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by darkburnout00 View Post
But the closed crack aren't closed permanently are they???
...
In a word, No.

If you can get the cracks to close up by humidifying them, they still need to be glued. If the crack is completely closed, try to force it open by securing the heel and pushing on the button end... or let it dry a bit, it may open a bit as it dries. Force glue into the crack, then push the sides of the guitar together to close it back up. This can be done with properly padded barclamps or a fabric, web clamp. This all depends on patience and dumb luck getting the crack to close up. But gluing and cleating is essential to keeping it closed.

You may have to repair one at a time.
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"Epi" FT145-SB 1970-ish
"Stella" Harmony Stella
"Jean" not so old Yamaha FG something or other
"Tillie", Short for "Otilda" Applause classic AE-33 (had to have an "O" name.)
"no name yet" S. Armienteras Spanish guit tar

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Old 02-29-2008, 03:37 PM
jyee jyee is offline
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One thing to be careful of with a dry guitar is other parts that might have come unglued or cracked. remember there are braces under the soundboard, so a significant crack visible on the top side should make you take a closer look at all the bracing on the inside.
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