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  1. #1

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    I know checking is just a fact of life. What I don’t like is if you use a guitar polish it will turn them bright white. Is there any way to seal a check so polish won’t seep in ? I know some will say don’t use a polish but I don’t like a yucky sticky guitar. I was wondering if a car ceramic coating would seal a check without damage to the nitro. I have also seen checks that turn black from dirt. I am not looking to fix them just seal them from dirt and polish getting in if at all possible.

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  3. #2

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    In general:

    No polish until the checks get filled.

    Otherwise you are just filling the checks with crap.

    I am sure one of the luminaries will fill you in on how to clean then fill in the checks.

    It is not hard, but not necessarily a collector/hobby-ist process.

  4. #3

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    Slightly off-topic, but are there other factors that cause checking rather than just temperature fluctuations? I'm almost disappointed that my ES doesn't have any checking after being beaten around in a crummy softcase in temperatures as low as -15 celcius and being brought in and out of heated rooms during these harsh winters..!

  5. #4

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    Don't use polish...use naphtha.

  6. #5

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    I believe Gibson's modern cellulose lacquer contains some softening agent that makes it more flexible and less prone to shrink than the old stuff. It somehow feels soft to the nail. In my aeromodeling days we added a few drops of castor oil to the dope to prevent cracqueling of the silk-covered surfaces. Don't try this at home, as can't remember how much was too much.

  7. #6

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    Quote Originally Posted by ptchristopher3 View Post
    In general:

    No polish until the checks get filled.

    Otherwise you are just filling the checks with crap.

    I am sure one of the luminaries will fill you in on how to clean then fill in the checks.

    It is not hard, but not necessarily a collector/hobby-ist process.

    What process do you use to fill the cracks?
    MG

  8. #7

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    Quote Originally Posted by Marty Grass View Post
    What process do you use to fill the cracks?
    Hi Marty,

    This is all regarding lacquer finishes:

    For shear-line cracks and checking - normal enough around the neck joint - I have always drop-filled. I am old enough to have tried the brittle lacquer sticks, but was never really happy wth the results. I know some have real expertise with them.

    The huge trick with drop-filling is to let it all fully sink back, which can take weeks. If you rub out the drop-fil too early it will later sink back revealing the original problem. Modern “Cardinal” lacquer has some alkyd resins in it (according to the guy on the phone) and seems to sink back (or at east stabilize) more quickly than others.

    Stewmac promotes a very useful scraping technique to level small drop fills. This can also work on larger areas, but I have found it more work than less clever methods.

    I know some use CA as a drop-fill, and it melts into lacquer extremely well - too well sometimes. I used CA for quick and dirty fixes back in the late 70’s and early 80’s when the owner also understood that it was going to be a workable solution, but with some downsides. I ended up only using it over the long haul for spider cracks around the output jacks on polyester finished guitars. Works great for that.

    ***

    For a dent/ding I try to first lightly steam (or just plain “wet”) the wood to lift the ding. This does minor added finish damage usually, but gets a better final result. Then drop fill, and finish with a little airbrush lacquer after the drop fill has fully sunk-back. (Shrink-back, sink-back, the same thing.)

    A huge drop fill on a ding takes months to sink back and often looks pretty bad. But that is my result, others may do far better with deep drop-fills.

    ***

    For large area overall checking (like an airliner freeze) you have to hope it is a natural finish. Then I have done a sort of French-polish fill - much like a shellac finish on a violin. This means you wipe it on, which partially softens the top coats on the existing finish, so not for the faint of heart. Belen makes (or used to make, anyway) a retarder which combined with the Behlen SIL and a drop of trans-tint amber (if needed) made a surprisingly good French-polish application if you moved quickly and did not go back and fix your streaks. Then wait for a long sink-back period, do it again, then sand/rub/etc.

    I can imagine someone suggesting adding a bit of tung or linseed oil for a French-polish style fill, and it might work extremely well and avoid my need to move quickly. But I do not like the idea of having the checks then filled with a complex mix like that.

    Of course modern lacquers are already an amazingly complex mix. Funny to think that there would be alkyds, unknown (to me) plasticisers, and even silicone in there.

    For large-area checking on a sunburst (like the airline freeze-up scenario) I have only done clear sprays and then sand/rub. The cracks show. Very much. I have never tried spraying in various colors on a sunburst for this sort of situation.

    For local checking such as around the neck joint on a burst 175, it is worth using trans-tint Dark Mission Brown for the careful drop fill and light overspray. The 175 can have the peculiar burst that fades to natural on a mahog’ neck and it is well worth preserving this in my opinion.
    Last edited by ptchristopher3; 08-21-2019 at 12:32 PM. Reason: so many spelling errors

  9. #8

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    I am sure others have great and better methods; will be interesting to hear.

  10. #9

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    Quote Originally Posted by ptchristopher3 View Post
    I am sure others have great and better methods; will be interesting to hear.
    Mine is the Aladdin Method: New (lacquer-check free) Guitar for Old. New (lacquer-check free) Guitar for Old.

    Complete with a Will Smith as a blue-skinned Hollywoodised "Arab" in it.

  11. #10

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    Why has there not been a blue-burst Aladdin genie guitar yet?

  12. #11

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    I think when evaluating methods, we need to carefully distinguish between aesthetic repairs vs. sealing the cracks if the goal is to keep fluids from eventually getting to the wood.

    I see using anything but lacquer for the fill as being no better than letting the cracks fill with dead skin, oil, and polish - which likely does absolutely no harm anyway.

    I have never done it, but a simple fill of boiled linseed oil will fill, then polymerise to seal.

    I just do not see how that is any better than a general crud fill really, except that it would not be the dark gray of dead stuff and oil, or the chalk white of dried polish remnants.

  13. #12

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    I hope that people from Poland do not think I mean their remnants.

  14. #13

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    I cannot unsee it now that I have seen it: chalk white dried polish remnants in lacquered czechs.

    I can blame autocorrect for that...

  15. #14

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    Just listen tio Jimi.
    Castles made of sand...
    "Somebody get me out of this chair." - BOB WILLS
    Hammertone is a registered Hofnerologist.

  16. #15

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    To clarify:

    I mentioned airliner freeze-ups earlier.

    I do not at all know for a fact the temperature in the baggage area of most common airliners.

    I only mention airliners because I have had guitars presented (over MANY decades, so this may be no longer be common at all) that had widespread checking after a flight.

    I would have better said “some sort of unexplained traumatic event that cause checking over much of the guitar”. But that is wordy.

  17. #16

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    I wouldn't worry about lacquer checking, how bad could it be?






  18. #17

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    This reminds me of a photo of an older Chet Baker.

    Quote Originally Posted by wintermoon View Post
    I wouldn't worry about lacquer checking, how bad could it be?





    Last edited by AKA; 08-23-2019 at 01:32 PM. Reason: Added photo

  19. #18

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    Guitars age. Accept it, embrace it, or buy a new one.
    MG