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  #1  
Old 12-10-2020, 09:24 PM
hakkolu hakkolu is offline
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Default Is this a Surface Check or a Wood Crack on my L5???

Hi, I noticed a single crack on the surface of my Archtop guitar (Gibson L5).
I am taking it to a tech this weekend but a forum collective wisdom would be appreciated. Please take a look at the link below for 2 photos. Do you think this is a surface finish check/crack or Wood Crack? It is a 2012 model.
https://photos.app.goo.gl/AGbozP8C3ajMp9mT8

Last edited by hakkolu; 12-15-2020 at 07:21 AM.
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Old 12-11-2020, 05:27 AM
Howard Emerson Howard Emerson is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by hakkolu View Post
Hi, I noticed a single crack on the surface of my Archtop guitar (Gibson L5).
I am taking it to a tech this weekend but a forum collective wisdom would be appreciated. Please take a look at the link below for 2 photos. Do you think this is a surface finish check/crack or Wood Crack? It is a 2012 model.

https://photos.app.goo.gl/UrrbME5ngEimCLZaA
From one angle it looks like a scratch, but from the other a possible grain separation.

What I would do is get a small mirror that you can hold and place it underneath that area via the F-hole.

Then shine a very bright light directly at the suspected area. If you can cover the majority of the F-hole as well, and do this in the dark, I believe you'll see any possible issues.

Most cell phones have a very bright light that you can practically lay against the wood. Spruce allows the light to come through at the typically thicknesses used on solid top guitars.

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Howard Emerson
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Old 12-11-2020, 12:03 PM
hakkolu hakkolu is offline
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Thank you. I tried that and looks like there is no light seeping thru that area. Also visually the inside looks fine, solid when I illuminate that area from the inside. I will also request confirmation from the tech this weekend.

While looking at the inside with a mirror I suddenly wondered what it would be like to walk around inside a guitar.
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Old 12-11-2020, 12:55 PM
rmp rmp is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by hakkolu View Post
I suddenly wondered what it would be like to walk around inside a guitar.
I didn't realize L5s were that big???
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Old 12-11-2020, 08:19 PM
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ArchtopLover ArchtopLover is offline
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Generally, on all solid wood guitars of this quality, a true separation in the wood will almost always follow the grain pattern of the wood. It is very rare that a crack in an all solid wood instrument will run against the grain, and when this is the case, it is usually because of some catastrophic injury caused by a severe impact.

So, in this case, does the visible surface crack follow the grain of the wood, or does the surface imperfection wonder and meander across the grain anywhere along its length. In my experience repairing acoustic guitars, surface finish cracks, or "checking", looks as if it is meandering around on top of the wood underneath, often (although not always) without any sense of direction. A real structural crack in the top will follow the grain of the wood and will be parallel to this grain pattern along its entire length.

Hopefully this will help for now, until you get it checked out out by your tech.

By the way, I too find it fascinating to peer inside acoustic guitars .
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Old 12-12-2020, 07:03 PM
hakkolu hakkolu is offline
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Thanks. This line curves and passes the binding in a tangent. Sort of like the long half of an oval, and not parallel to any of the grain lines in the vicinity.
Looking more and more like a finish crack, maybe due to temperature humidity etc.
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Old 12-13-2020, 11:19 AM
hakkolu hakkolu is offline
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Archtoplover, Howard Emerson,
Unfortunately cannot go to the tech until next weekend, but I did take a few more shots under the light and added to the album. You can see that it kinda curves but is almost parallel to the grain and there is a Y shape at the end. Let me know what you think.
https://photos.app.goo.gl/AGbozP8C3ajMp9mT8
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Old 12-14-2020, 06:56 AM
cheer tunes cheer tunes is offline
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tough call from those pics. agreed, second pic looks like a crack but can't say for sure. is the exterior of the case damaged in that corresponding area?
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Old 12-14-2020, 03:54 PM
hakkolu hakkolu is offline
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No there is no damage to the case.
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Old 12-15-2020, 04:47 AM
Howard Emerson Howard Emerson is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by hakkolu View Post
Archtoplover, Howard Emerson,
Unfortunately cannot go to the tech until next weekend, but I did take a few more shots under the light and added to the album. You can see that it kinda curves but is almost parallel to the grain and there is a Y shape at the end. Let me know what you think.
https://photos.app.goo.gl/AGbozP8C3ajMp9mT8
The more I look at the pictures the more it appears to be a fracture in the wood, but only the 2nd picture gives any inkling that it may be just that.

The fact that the line continues past the waist toward the cutaway suggests (to me at least), that it was a 'hidden' fracture in the billet before they started carving.

The bottom line, though, is that it shouldn't be any sort of an issue in practical terms unless you let the guitar get dried out.

A really knowledgeable tech will be able to make a final determination, and it would do no harm to have the inside silked, or whatever is the accepted technique for reinforcing a suspected crack.

For what it's worth, here's my L-5, with many repaired cracks including through the heel & neck block sides, etc!



Howard
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Old 12-15-2020, 06:43 AM
RoyBoy RoyBoy is offline
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As noted by someone else, it is not following the grain lines so you have no worries about a wood crack. It looks more like a scratch in the lacquer which is easily filled and buffed by a good luthier. That is one beautiful archtop BTW, and I bet at 8 years in, it's sounding really nice!
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Old 12-15-2020, 03:36 PM
hakkolu hakkolu is offline
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Thanks. It is an L5 CT which is the thinner line George Gobel L5 but with pickups added. It has a beautiful acoustic tone and works well without plugging it. I also have a L5 Wes Montgomery which complements this one very well.

It definitely is a scratch at least, I can certainly notice it when I run my fingers across it. And it does not follow the grain line for sure, it is more like a curve that follows the grain only briefly.
Thank you for sharing your opinions everyone!!! Any additional insight is appreciated and I will update the thread as soon as I know more.
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Old 12-19-2020, 01:59 PM
hakkolu hakkolu is offline
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Default Good news

Hi all,

It turns out I this only a finish check/scratch possible due to temperature changes. I took to my usual place yesterday and 2 techs working there confirmed it.

Thanks for all the helpful thoughts and wisdom
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  #14  
Old 12-19-2020, 10:40 PM
flatopjazz flatopjazz is offline
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Looks like a scratch to me. Notice how the scratch has a slight arc or curve to it? The grain of this guitar doesn't arc.
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  #15  
Old 12-20-2020, 02:45 PM
hakkolu hakkolu is offline
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Yes exactly. I was worried about it but now it is cleared that it is just a scratch. Again thanks to all who shared their view.
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