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Repair - Fixing an older scratch built Guitar
Steve C

Total Topics: 2
Total Posts: 2
Hello all.

I have been reading the forums for a while and I must say: I am hooked! I am planning towards my first kit built guitar. And, I can hardly wait. I have been wanting to do this for some time and have already purchased 2 books to read. I have been inspired by my father how scratch built a Guitar in the 50's (BGK - before guitar kits). Bill, I am encouraged by your stories of building and have read your recent article in acoustic guitar. I am looking forward to getting your upcoming book.

Here is my question.

My father scratch built an acoustic guitar a long time ago, maybe 40 to 50 years ago. I believe it was based on a Gibson Jumbo. He played it for a few years and he has passed on, but I remember him talking about it. He quit playing it when the top cracked vertically. I do not know if it cracked due to poor building or transitions from warm to cold (I live in Kansas). Is it possible (and practical) to disassemble the guitar and correct the problem. The crack doesn't look too bad, but definitely needs fixing. How would brand new top wood react with 50 to 60 year old back and sides? Would I be best to refinish the entire guitar or just the repaired parts. I am not sure what kind of finish has been applied, but it is solid black.

This guitar has a lot of semintal value and I am still reading and learning to increase my knowledge and skills before tackling a project such as this. It would mean a lot to me to actually fix this guitar and play it (I never got to hear it being played.

Thanks to all in advance


Jul 22, 07 | 6:25 pm

Total Topics: 4
Total Posts: 42
"The top cracked vertically". Is that with the grain? If so, it's not a difficult fix. No need to disassemble the guitar. There are several good "how-to" books that deal with that situation- one that comes to mind is the "Martin Repair Manual" by Lester Wagner- got mine from StewMac several years ago. As for the finish- I don't have a clue. But someone on the Forum will know...

Jul 22, 07 | 7:43 pm

Total Topics: 22
Total Posts: 158
Steve - I fixed a small crack that ran with the grain on the back of my latest guitar. I was pleased with the result, very pleased.

That said, the wood was fresh, not 50+ years old. There was no grime build up etc.

If I was in your position I would get a pro to fix Dad's guitar or I would wait until I had tried a few dry runs to build up my skills.

My suggestion, go to a swap meet, buy a $5.00 guitar, crack it and then fix it.

Jul 23, 07 | 2:40 am
Ken Cierp

Total Topics: 58
Total Posts: 2262
I recommend Don Teeter's repair publications as the place to get an expert repair method. There are two giant hard cover volumes. Simple and complete no mystical "balogna" -- he truly shares. He is/was a certifiied Martin repair tech.


Jul 23, 07 | 3:06 am
Steve C

Total Topics: 2
Total Posts: 2
Thank you to everyone for the responses. I will checkout the book and the old swap meet guitar is a good one. I had not thought of that.

Thank You


Jul 23, 07 | 4:17 am
Ken Hundley

Total Topics: 40
Total Posts: 2169
Hey Steve, I fixed my jumbo after I cracked at. First, I cried a river, then got serious. It was a good exercise, and you can see it on my blog.

Crack Repair

It's not perfect, but it cost me $5 in materials, and a great education in some minor repairs.

Jul 24, 07 | 8:45 am
Steve C

Total Topics: 2
Total Posts: 2
Thanks Ken. I will check it out.

Jul 24, 07 | 9:50 am
Bill Cory

Total Topics: 158
Total Posts: 3584
Ken - I imagine you're in the market for a hard case, jumbo size?

Jul 25, 07 | 5:05 am
Ken Hundley

Total Topics: 40
Total Posts: 2169
LOL, I got one last year, thanks. I put it off for financial reasons, had just spent the money on the electric kit and my wife put the kybosh on guitar spending. What do you know, but the following Thanksgiving, same trip, same crack! It took one look at her when I opened the bag, and she said go get it as soon as you get home.

Same repair, and its been perfect since then.

Jul 25, 07 | 6:46 am

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