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Mr. Paul 01-16-2019 09:01 AM

Options for this back repair
I paid for this guitar last week and in the few days before it shipped it developed these two back cracks. There is an opportunity to renegotiate to a fire sale price, but obviously these cracks are major and very concerning.
Seller says there are "humidity issues." Well, yeah.

Wood is macassar ebony. I see that small pieces of this wood are available as pen blanks and wonder if using this material might somehow fit into a repair.

Crack #1 is the widest by Westcliffe Slim, on Flickr

Crack #2 is a long one and the location brings up serious repair concerns by Westcliffe Slim, on Flickr

Crack #1 appears to cross two braces

Crack #2 runs from bottom to waist along the center brace and obviously the necessary brace or cleats to repair will be clearly visible through the soundhole.

Interested to hear opinions about options for these repairs and what they will look like upon completion.

Also interested to hear recommendations for a luthier to do the work. I would have it shipped directly from the seller.

charles Tauber 01-16-2019 09:13 AM

I'd suggest taking it to a professional for repair: it sounds like that is your intention.

Neither are major repairs. Done well/professionally, it could look like new.

The first step would be rehydration. Then gluing and reinforcing the cracks/braces. If finish touch-up is required, that next. Including finish work, probably a few hundred dollars.

No pen blanks are necessary. Minimize shipping, particularly at this time of year.

Mr. Paul 01-16-2019 01:09 PM

Thank you, Charles. Does it make any sense to use macassar ebony for the repair cleats / bracing beside the center seam for the purpose of making the repair less obvious since it's in such a visible place?

redir 01-16-2019 01:51 PM

I can't really see crack #2 well enough but if what you are saying is that it goes all the way up to where the sound hole is and that you are concerned about the way it looks on the inside of the guitar then yes, using the same kind of wood would help hide that. Not all cracks need cleats though imho and that one does't look as bad as the other one, crack #1. In that case it's going to need to have a splint glued in place and due to the nature of that grain it's not going to be easy to match so well that it will look like new, again imo. There are people that are far better then doing this type of work then I am though and they command a high price. But non the less a fairly well matched splint and a good finish touch up will hide it from a distance (it's the back anyway) and structurally you will be good to go.

charles Tauber 01-16-2019 03:33 PM


Originally Posted by Mr. Paul (Post 5950377)
Does it make any sense to use macassar ebony for the repair cleats / bracing beside the center seam for the purpose of making the repair less obvious since it's in such a visible place?

You could request it if you wish, for cosmetic purposes.

If the centre crack runs immediately next to the central seam reinforcement - I'm assuming there is a centre seam reinforcement, as not all guitars have them - it will be difficult to cleat. That is, difficult to straddle the crack with a cleat.

The crack closer to the edge will likely close when properly humidified and might not need a splint. It will be fairly easy to put cleats that straddle that crack. Whether to have them Macassar ebony or spruce, your choice. Functionally it won't matter much.

mirwa 01-16-2019 07:03 PM

Easy repair for those that do it regularly, I personally would not use ebony for the cleat, spruce is light and strong - my choice


B. Howard 01-17-2019 06:02 AM

Common repair this time of year in the northeast. I see no purpose in ebony cleats myself. I also see the bindings are buckled a bit at the end of that one crack so this may not be the easiest re hydrate and glue job....

Looking at the width of the separation of the cracks I wonder what else may need attention? Loose or cracked braces? How is the top? I mean if the back dried and split that badly I would expect the top to not be far behind.

fetellier 01-20-2019 11:32 AM

If the seller let it get that dry be aware that there can be other issues.


John Arnold 01-20-2019 02:59 PM


If the seller let it get that dry be aware that there can be other issues.
I do question whether the guitar has been dried out excessively, or just built too wet to start with. If the latter, I would let the guitar acclimatize and proceed accordingly. That probably means adding a spline to the wide crack. I am not a fan of raising the humidity above the equilibrium level to close and repair cracks, because it will eventually dry back to equilibrium and possibly crack again.

phavriluk 01-21-2019 07:48 PM

Am I hearing OP purchased what he thought was an undamaged guitar and the seller - - - before shipping it, says, oops, these cracks just now appeared? I humbly suggest that OP cancel the sale and keep looking. The risk of a devalued guitar are being transferred to the buyer. Nah. Sounds like this guitar is a one-of-a-kind instrument which is hard to appraise anyway. With damage, not for me. The guitar is already in ambiguous shape, perhaps it was made during a humid summer and further drying adventures await. OP looks to be located in the tropics of New Mexico. Humidity problems ain't going away.

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