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  1. #1

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    Hello everyone,

    I posted a while ago about a crack I had in a blonde L-5. Picture attached. I noticed the crack the day after I had it shipped to me. Now, to be honest, I didn’t go over every inch of the guitar on the first day, so now I’m doubting as to whether it was actually there when I first opened the case, or if I could have caused it myself.

    Here’s what I mean. The seller shipped it with the strings very slacked, and after I tuned it up to pitch, I noticed the bridge seemed to have shifted out of place about a 1/4 inch toward the bass side. I could see it wasn’t exactly where it should have been because the strings were coming off the fretboard at an angle. So my question is, is it possible that having the top and tailpiece under tension with the bridge out of place could have caused the split in the wood? It cracked along the grain exactly where the inside edge of bass side brace is.

    Thanks for reading!
    Attached Images Attached Images Archtop crack-6aa3c13d-13ae-43b1-886e-14347b42ddcd-jpeg 

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  3. #2

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    Doubtful.
    Probably shipping damage.

  4. #3

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    Quote Originally Posted by PenderJazz
    Hello everyone,

    I posted a while ago about a crack I had in a blonde L-5. Picture attached. I noticed the crack the day after I had it shipped to me. Now, to be honest, I didn’t go over every inch of the guitar on the first day, so now I’m doubting as to whether it was actually there when I first opened the case, or if I could have caused it myself.

    Here’s what I mean. The seller shipped it with the strings very slacked, and after I tuned it up to pitch, I noticed the bridge seemed to have shifted out of place about a 1/4 inch toward the bass side. I could see it wasn’t exactly where it should have been because the strings were coming off the fretboard at an angle. So my question is, is it possible that having the top and tailpiece under tension with the bridge out of place could have caused the split in the wood? It cracked along the grain exactly where the inside edge of bass side brace is.

    Thanks for reading!

  5. #4

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    Highly unlikely, as skykomishone noted. Shipping damage (probably the box had something heavy set on top of it and pushed the bridge down on the top, ir it got dropped. The bridge should have been removed and placed in the case pocket before shipping for exactly this reason) or it was there before. Old cracks look different than new cracks. If it's a new crack, the wood edges will look fresh as the wood hasn't oxidized and gotten dirt, etc., in it yet. Old cracks will usually lose the flaky edges of the finish, too, whereas new cracks will have them.

    I'd contact the seller and look carefully at the pre-sale photos to see if the crack is there before shipping. And ask why the bridge wasn't removed for shipping as it should have been. He or she owes you some money to pay for the repair, which shouldn't be all that difficult and the guitar will be fine. The seller can take it up with the shipping company for reimbursement if they wish.

  6. #5
    Not a chance. The sheer amount of downward pressure under normal circumstances will support a person's weight and more. It's built for that. As a matter of fact, the +hundred lbs of downward pressure are what makes an instrument sound so good and that's what that carved arch is designed and meticulously carved to bear.
    Those fractures are the result of a MOMENTARY force trauma. To cause that much instantaneous and localized force to cause that crack would have had to have a significant inertial force. In otherwords, it was dropped with quite a bit of force, especially if it was inside the case.
    The endblock crack you photographed here strongly suggests an end drop, where the full weight of the guitar may have come down on the tail, and broken through sheer force trauma. If this is the case, your repair will be more complicated and there may be other damages. Gibson ships their guitars from the factory in special boxed with a LOT of end compression padding in their boxes (they have a formed plastic lower bout cradle in the box like a bike helmet for the guitar case).

    Now it's very possible that the top grain was cracked and the lacquer would have not have manifested the break until the pressure was applied, and like a fault line in a continental plate, everything looks ok until one side is pressed down, then it will be pushed out of alignment, and the reflecting surface of the top will make the break very evident. Still, the inherent break was there even before you put string pressure on.

    It's not a natural amount of force you'd EVER encounter normally in an archtop guitar (unless you're Pete Townsend). Shipping damage. For sure.

    Good news is, it can be cleated and the crack repaired IF it was done very recently and before any seasonal shifts and it should play virtually as good as it was. Bad news is you'll take a hit on any resale value in the future and to have it properly repaired (and addressing any other breaks you may not see) is going to cost you a pretty penny. Have a well experienced archtop luthier do this (and don't assume that this is somebody at a big box tech department can do well). Get a full inspection. Were I to do this, I'd strip the guitar down, remove all hardware, remove any tension and carefully inspect, repair, cleat and re-enforce any suspected breaks, and I'd also check the alignment very carefully at the neck joint and neck joins because there's no guarantee that being hit that hard would have just broken that one spot.

    Good luck. And sorry this has put such a damper on your NGD. :-(
    Last edited by Jimmy blue note; 05-08-2021 at 05:14 PM.

  7. #6

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    Ouch! Contact the seller and inform him to file for shipping damage. Only the seller can do this. You can’t. Send him photos of the guitar. FedEx or UPS will schedule an appointment to come out to examine the damage and the shipping box.

    It’s likely either company could deny the claim based on insufficient packaging. On the majority of guitars with shipping damage I see there was insufficient packaging. I double box every guitar shipped, no exceptions. And I reinforce the guitar on the inside to prevent damage. I’m triple boxed with extra cardboard and dense foam for added protection. I also elevate the guitar 4-5 inches above the bottom with a foam layering. Paranoid? You better believe it. Reason being is a single layer cardboard isn’t sufficient to ship a guitar.

    Your option is to return the guitar. If the seller refuses a refund contact your credit card company. If it was a PayPal payment don’t file a claim with them. Contact your credit card company.

    This is a mess. Accept it, but you’ve got options. We’re talking a $6500-$7000 guitar here, which isn’t peanuts!

  8. #7

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    Man, I'm sorry to hear of your predicament. FWIW, I agree with those who say the bridge probably didn't cause the crack. That seems next to impossible.

    Good luck, whatever your recourse may be.

  9. #8
    I might add, you took the tension off the strings immediately, didn't you?
    Take all pressure off the top, take the bridge off, and might as well remove the strings and wrap the tailpiece in some cloth to prevent any further scuffs.

  10. #9

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    Quote Originally Posted by Jimmy blue note
    Not a chance. The sheer amount of downward pressure under normal circumstances will support a person's weight and more. It's built for that. As a matter of fact, the +hundred lbs of downward pressure are what makes an instrument sound so good and that's what that carved arch is designed and meticulously carved to bear.
    Those fractures are the result of a MOMENTARY force trauma. To cause that much instantaneous and localized force to cause that crack would have had to have a significant inertial force. In otherwords, it was dropped with quite a bit of force, especially if it was inside the case.
    The endblock crack you photographed here strongly suggests an end drop, where the full weight of the guitar may have come down on the tail, and broken through sheer force trauma. If this is the case, your repair will be more complicated and there may be other damages. Gibson ships their guitars from the factory in special boxed with a LOT of end compression padding in their boxes (they have a formed plastic lower bout cradle in the box like a bike helmet for the guitar case).

    Now it's very possible that the top grain was cracked and the lacquer would have not have manifested the break until the pressure was applied, and like a fault line in a continental plate, everything looks ok until one side is pressed down, then it will be pushed out of alignment, and the reflecting surface of the top will make the break very evident. Still, the inherent break was there even before you put string pressure on.

    It's not a natural amount of force you'd EVER encounter normally in an archtop guitar (unless you're Pete Townsend). Shipping damage. For sure.

    Good news is, it can be cleated and the crack repaired IF it was done very recently and before any seasonal shifts and it should play virtually as good as it was. Bad news is you'll take a hit on any resale value in the future and to have it properly repaired (and addressing any other breaks you may not see) is going to cost you a pretty penny. Have a well experienced archtop luthier do this (and don't assume that this is somebody at a big box tech department can do well). Get a full inspection. Were I to do this, I'd strip the guitar down, remove all hardware, remove any tension and carefully inspect, repair, cleat and re-enforce any suspected breaks, and I'd also check the alignment very carefully at the neck joint and neck joins because there's no guarantee that being hit that hard would have just broken that one spot.

    Good luck. And sorry this has put such a damper on your NGD. :-(

    l’m just curious, would the back have to come off to cleat it? I know little about this stuff.

  11. #10

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    Quote Originally Posted by Woody Sound
    l’m just curious, would the back have to come off to cleat it? I know little about this stuff.
    Absolutely not. Even I know that. I previously had a 1973 Super 400 with excellent double cleats in the cutaway. I also had a 1998 L5CES with cleats in the lower bout. Each were professionally done and the guitars were as good as any.

  12. #11
    Quote Originally Posted by Woody Sound
    l’m just curious, would the back have to come off to cleat it? I know little about this stuff.
    Unfortunately it's not as simple as a violin. You need to go in through an opening in the top. That's where the pickup openings are really helpful.
    Ideally, the two halves are aligned perfectly (hence taking pressure off the top so it doesn't tend towards misaligning) and the surface cleaned by scraping from the inside with a fine scraper (not easy, that's why we get the big bucks). Then glue is worked into the breach, worked and wiggled into the breach and clamped with neodynum magnets, clamps or what ever your prefered and tested method is. Then a cleat is fashioned with cross grain orientation and glued in place.
    Pretty nifty, eh?

  13. #12

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    Quote Originally Posted by Jimmy blue note
    Unfortunately it's not as simple as a violin. You need to go in through an opening in the top. That's where the pickup openings are really helpful.
    Ideally, the two halves are aligned perfectly (hence taking pressure off the top so it doesn't tend towards misaligning) and the surface cleaned by scraping from the inside with a fine scraper (not easy, that's why we get the big bucks). Then glue is worked into the breach, worked and wiggled into the breach and clamped with neodynum magnets, clamps or what ever your prefered and tested method is. Then a cleat is fashioned with cross grain orientation and glued in place.
    Pretty nifty, eh?
    Ah, for some reason I was thinking of an acoustic L5, where there are no pickup holes.

  14. #13
    Quote Originally Posted by Woody Sound
    Ah, for some reason I was thinking of an acoustic L5, where there are no pickup holes.
    Repairs through the F holes is not a joy. Doing the job neatly and professionally is why real fully trained luthiers learn to make themselves tiny and crawl inside a guitar. Wizardry is part of the craft.
    Learning to do justice to the work by playing really great music, that's the art.

  15. #14

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    Sometimes you have no choice but to make a very tiny pinhole and apply a cleat directly to the crack pulling it up from under top. It can happen but hopefully not the last recourse. The actual cleat once in place will be fine and no issues really. It just devalues the guitar in the market mindset.

  16. #15
    Quote Originally Posted by deacon Mark
    Sometimes you have no choice but to make a very tiny pinhole and apply a cleat directly to the crack pulling it up from under top. It can happen but hopefully not the last recourse. The actual cleat once in place will be fine and no issues really. It just devalues the guitar in the market mindset.
    +1
    I don't want to turn this into a luthiers thread. But yes I have a little crank and almost widthless fishing line for this. Have you used an endoscope? My life has been different since I got one. I've become quite comfortable cutting lever cams on the bandsaw from scrap wood, then levering anything (fulcrum on the back, lever through the soundhole) to place and clamp anything from cleats to piezo elements to brace repairs and even installing bouchet braces in classical guitars.
    Time consuming and nerve wracking but it's changed the way I operate inside a guitar. It lets me apply all sorts of clamping pressure directly from the inside. I even have a set up for marking active regions of the top after determining the nodal areas from a frequency sweep and chladni patterns. This lets me find the optimum placement for a 3 element K & K piezo pickup system. Then it's easier to precisely pinpoint and secure the pickup for a good strong frequency sweep sampling.
    Endoscopes rule!

  17. #16

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    Man, there's a pickup line in there which is pretty much guaranteed to fail: "hey baby, I have an endoscope and I know how to use it." If it doesn't fail, run. Fast.

  18. #17
    Quote Originally Posted by Cunamara
    Man, there's a pickup line in there which is pretty much guaranteed to fail: "hey baby, I have an endoscope and I know how to use it." If it doesn't fail, run. Fast.
    It's all in the delivery. It's not the length of the endoscope, it's knowing what to do once you get in there. If you know what you're doing, you don't need to obsess on your tools.

  19. #18

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    If bridge shifts while strings tuned into pitch that means that the tailpiece string holding ends are in wrong place either because the tailpiece have and angle, either other reason. I know the OP is not about this, but I would like to add to the diagnostic investigation, that it not necessary a new issue on that particular guitar. I mean, it is possible to stabilize the bridge in the correct position *while* giving the tension to the strings, (either by your third hand, or approprite laquer friendly tape), and after the strings have their tension, they pushes enugh the bridge to the top so it can resist to the force to go off center. It is an amateurish solution of course, but it is possible the prev. Owner used the guiar that way.

    Anyway, I just wanted to add, it is possible that it is an older issue, it is possible some damage caused both the crack and the off centered tailpiece, and despite of this issue the guitar was properly centered bridge and strings before.

    if there are pictures on the advertisement site, that may help, to reexamine them.