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Fixing An Old Guitar

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  • Fixing An Old Guitar

    Back in 1975 I graduated high school and joined the US Army. In 1976 I found myself stationed in Hanau, Germany. In downtown Hanau I found a music instruments store and bought a Hofner acoustic as my first guitar ever. That guitar traveled with me throughout the entire world where the Army sent me, so it is a very good old friend.

    Back in 1993 I made a wooden hanger that grips the neck just below the head. That hanger has been attached to many different walls, but today it still lets me know exactly where in my music room my is Hofner.

    My question is this: The guitar still plays like it did back in 1976 but, between the whole and the side edge of the front, the clear coating has a total of seven cracks. These cracks are all parallel to the wooden grain running horizontal.  What is the product that I need to get to apply a clear seal on these cracks so the wood is totally sealed again, and the cracks do not lengthen further?

    Suggestions will be appreciated.

    Just as a bit of further information... My last move forever happened some months ago, but our property was required to be stored for a month and a half in sealed storage. This was towards the end of the summer so the guitar was in a hot sealed storage unit. I first saw the cracks when I took it out of it's case after storage. 

    Please give me an idea on fixing my old German friend.

     

    motorbroken55HofnerTaylorTelecasterEpiphoneGibson

  • #2

    Id just clean er up good and apply some wax. Some guitar polishing product, or just some good Cornuba car wax shouldd do the trick. Then keep it stored at the proper temp and humidity. Thats about all you can do other than refinish it, which I wouldnt do. 

    And from now on, dont keep your guitars in a hot storage facility.

     

    Comment


    • motorbroken55
      motorbroken55 commented
      Editing a comment

      Thanks for the post, wax had not occured to me. I'll be getting the Cornuba wax. It won't be stored ever again because I'm in my last house forever. The long storage was cause by problems with finding and getting the right house in the right place.

      Thanks for your thought!


    • Stophe88
      Stophe88 commented
      Editing a comment

      that won't have any adverse effects on tone or resonation?  this sounds like a great solution to me, but i always prefer to have a practice run on something i don't care quite as much about before trying the real deal.


  • #3

    You haven't made it very clear whether those cracks are simply surface finish cracks or if they are cracks in the wood itself. Before you do anything to that guitar, you need to be sure what the problem is. If there are real cracks in the wood, they might need to be glued up. If there is wax in the cracks, glue won't bond to the wood. Wax might be the worst thing you could do to it.

    Let a luthier or a good guitar tech look at it first.

    Sounds like the guitar is worth a little extra effort and expense to put it right... and in the future, you might want to take better care of it, like paying more attention to the environment that it is put in... and not trying the first fix you hear on the internet.

    Proud reject from the HCAG Civil Posters Society, Martin snob, vitriolic sociopath, and tantrumist

    Comment


    • Pine Apple Slim
      Pine Apple Slim commented
      Editing a comment

      If your cracks are anything more than finish cracks, fretfiend is correct. From your description I assumed you had finish cracks. I should have made no such assumtion given how you treated the guitar.

      If you really value the thing, get it looked at.

       


  • #4

    motorbroken55 wrote:

    . . . between the whole and the side edge of the front, the clear coating has a total of seven cracks. These cracks are all parallel to the wooden grain running horizontal. . . .

    Just as a bit of further information... My last move forever happened some months ago, but our property was required to be stored for a month and a half in sealed storage. This was towards the end of the summer so the guitar was in a hot sealed storage unit. I first saw the cracks when I took it out of it's case after storage. . . .


    What the heck does "parallel to the wooden grain running horizontal" mean? Are the cracks along the grain or across the grain? If they're across the grain, they're probably finish cracks. If they're along the grain, they may be cracks in the wood. It's likely the place where your guitar was in storage wasn't a healthy environment for an acoustic guitar. It may have been exposed to extremes of temperature. That and the age of the guitar makes it likely the wood is dried out. Some years ago, my 12-string spent several months in a pawn shop and it was never the same again. At minimum, your guitar probably needs to be humidified. There are various articles online that describe how to do this or the fine folks hereabouts can help as well. A couple of wet sponges in the case in plastic baggies with holes in them will work as well as anything else. That said, you need to get your guitar looked at soon on principle just because it's a 37 year old guitar.

    Official HCAG “Theory-Challenged Hack”
    Member of the IBANEZ ACOUSTIC ASSASSINS
    Proud Member of The Alvarez Alliance
    Person-2-Person on the Web

    Comment


    • Freeman Keller
      Freeman Keller commented
      Editing a comment

      Please don't wax it or use any silicon product on it - they will make if very difficult to do any refinishing work in the future.   In general "fixing" things like this may only damage the guitar and certainly reduce its value.   Finish cracks frequently are due to humitity swings - learn to love them as part of the age of your guitar.

      OTOH, if there are structural issues, get them properly fixed.

      I'll add that if you do decide to have the finished "fixed" first test it to see if it is nitrocellulose lacquer - if it is (and based on the age that is a good call) it is relatively easy to burn new nitro into the old and it will largely remove the flaws.  Not something you can do at home, a good repair tech can help you.   But if you wax it you'll make the repair almost impossible.


  • #5
    Thanks to you folks posting!

    Here's more info. My Hofner sits hanging on the wall hanger with the strings not retightened since I unpacked it. It spent its time in storage in its original case. The tearing is not in the wood. The tearing are lines that go horizontal from the vent hole beneath the strings to the edge close to the strap knob. By horizontal I mean as I'm holding the guitar on my knees with the strap behind my back the tearing of the clear finish is parallel to the floor going from the vent hole to the edge close to where the strap knob is. Again there is no tearing of the wood at all.

    I am guilty of playing either an electric, or my Taylor plugged-in, and just looking at the Hofner hanging there with the loose strings because I am afraid to tighten those strings.

    From the posts, I'm beginning to think I might be making too big of a deal out of cracks on the clear finish when it comes
    To tightening the strings to tune the guitar to normal tone.

    I am wondering though what might be the overall best way to re-seal those cracks in the clear finish. Auto polish???
    motorbroken55HofnerTaylorTelecasterEpiphoneGibson

    Comment


    • DeepEnd
      DeepEnd commented
      Editing a comment

      motorbroken55 wrote:

      . . . I am wondering though what might be the overall best way to re-seal those cracks in the clear finish. Auto polish???

      You've already been told, repeatedly, not to use wax on your guitar. Take it to a professional and let him/her look at it. It may not be possible to do anything short of refinishing the guitar.


    • Freeman Keller
      Freeman Keller commented
      Editing a comment

      motorbroken55 wrote:
      Thanks to you folks posting!

      Here's more info. My Hofner sits hanging on the wall hanger with the strings not retightened since I unpacked it. It spent its time in storage in its original case. The tearing is not in the wood. The tearing are lines that go horizontal from the vent hole beneath the strings to the edge close to the strap knob. By horizontal I mean as I'm holding the guitar on my knees with the strap behind my back the tearing of the clear finish is parallel to the floor going from the vent hole to the edge close to where the strap knob is. Again there is no tearing of the wood at all.

      I am guilty of playing either an electric, or my Taylor plugged-in, and just looking at the Hofner hanging there with the loose strings because I am afraid to tighten those strings.

      From the posts, I'm beginning to think I might be making too big of a deal out of cracks on the clear finish when it comes
      To tightening the strings to tune the guitar to normal tone.

      I am wondering though what might be the overall best way to re-seal those cracks in the clear finish. Auto polish???

       

      Picture #5 here shows typical finish cracking due to low humidity (and believe me, if your guitar is hanging on the wall it is subject to low humidity)

      http://www.larrivee.com/features/humidity.php

      If that is the case, the damage to the finish is done and you can't do anything about it.    There are probably some other issues which affect playability and  can be fixed - read the whole article.

      And I've told you once before to keep any kind of abrasive or polish or any other crap off of your guitar unless you know exactl what you are doing.    "Polishes" are abrasive - they work by lightly grinding finish off the high places - they won't fill the low spots.   Just play it and put it back in its case when done with a good humidifier.


    • Greg.Coal
      Greg.Coal commented
      Editing a comment

      motorbroken55 wrote:
      ....
      From the posts, I'm beginning to think I might be making too big of a deal out of cracks on the clear finish when it comes
      To tightening the strings to tune the guitar to normal tone.

      If it's lacquer, some lacquer thinner applied over the crack could re-dissolve it and allow it to "melt" back together. I don't think you have to repair anything, old guitars in normal use accumulate cracks and many get better with age. Not saying there's a correlation .....

      Greg



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