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Crack in Les Paul finish


MattN3NTJ
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I have a Epiphone Les Paul Standard (from approx. 2010) purchased new from a music vendor on Amazon.com. Where the back of the neck spreads out (just above where the neck meets the body), there is a nearly crescent-shaped crack. The crack has gotten slightly longer over time. I can stick my fingernail in the crack and feel it's entire length, just to give a better description of the crack. I took it to Guitar Center to have them take a look. The GC guy said the neck's wood is not cracked but rather it appears to be 'a finish crack'. When he put some pressure on it to determine what it was, I noticed that the crack got longer. Any idea if this warrants repair or is this solely a cosmetic thing? The guitar has never been dropped or bumped as to explain what caused the crack. I noticed the crack (very small at the time) about 2 years ago, but its considerably larger now. Does this happen to fall under any type of warranty from Epiphone. Please see photos. Thanks.

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post-69512-040502400 1419290999_thumb.jpg

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If the next flexes enough to widen, or lengthen the crack, you have more than a "finish crack!"

Take it to an authorized Epiphone/Gibson repair service, and have it evaluated. They'll either

repair...or, if under warranty, ship it to Epiphone/Gibson, for a replacement.

 

Did you drop, or seriously bang this guitar, against something? That looks to be a "stress" fracture!

So, it may not be covered, in the warranty?!

 

CB

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stress fracture for sure..

 

I used to teach a few afternoons a week at a music store. The repair guy (good friend of mine, and at the time, the assistant manager) had a guitar on the bench one afternoon, for some unknown reason, while were where shooting the manure in between lessons, he leaned on it while the neck was elevated on a work pad with a neck rest. CRAAAAAAAACK!

 

 

Looked just like the one in these pictures...

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Looks like a pretty big finish crack. While the GC guy might be right, I doubt it. It would be rare for a crack in this type of finish to be this much if not for something causing it.

 

As for a good luthier, it's going to be easy to determine what is the cause of the crack. Being able to determine if it is a defect or caused by humans, that's going to be harder. I don't pretend to suggest I can tell from these pics, but what I can see looks like chances of it being a defect are slim.

 

Being honest, chances that the wood somehow gave way on it's own are probably less likely than something happening to the guitar you were unaware of or forgot about.

 

Epiphone, I understand they have a real good warrantee. Might be time to put it to the test. If you had bought it from a dealer, as in, a guitar shop, you would have a much better shot. Buying from Amazon, and 4 years later, I don't know.

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Looks like a pretty big finish crack. While the GC guy might be right, I doubt it. It would be rare for a crack in this type of finish to be this much if not for something causing it.

 

As for a good luthier, it's going to be easy to determine what is the cause of the crack. Being able to determine if it is a defect or caused by humans, that's going to be harder. I don't pretend to suggest I can tell from these pics, but what I can see looks like chances of it being a defect are slim.

 

Being honest, chances that the wood somehow gave way on it's own are probably less likely than something happening to the guitar you were unaware of or forgot about.

 

Epiphone, I understand they have a real good warrantee. Might be time to put it to the test. If you had bought it from a dealer, as in, a guitar shop, you would have a much better shot. Buying from Amazon, and 4 years later, I don't know.

 

I found some warranty info and it lists Amazon.com as an authorized retailer. I have never dropped or hit the guitar against anything so the crack is not due to any exterior mechanical damage on my part. I will contact Epiphone again and see what they say. Thanks.

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  • 2 weeks later...

I had the same thing happen to an epi acoustic (aj18). In my case, it was a crack in the finish at the headstock. Epiphone did not cover it because they said it was due to not being kept in the correct environment. I am not sure what means, but all my other guitars are fine. It was not too much of a loss because I did not like that acoustic anyways. It was a rare case of guitat center giving me more money than craigslist.

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  • 2 weeks later...

I wish they would make all there necks laminate....much stronger

 

I believe the problem in this instance is the neck blank, the heel block, and the body blank can be three different types of wood on an Epiphone. If the paint is going to crack, it sure will be right there if different woods are used.

 

rct

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One of my Gibsons has the same 'issue' where the body fairs into the neck. In my case, it's to be expected: it's a fairly common thing with SGs. It's a finish crack. The neck itself is fine.

 

Supposedly, polyurethane is more brittle and prone to cracking and chipping than, say, lacquer, so this may explain why it seems worse on the Epis.

 

And how much you play a guitar isn't going to change the fact that strings have tension on them. The neck is always stressed.

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  • 4 years later...

I have had lots of guitars with finish cracks most of them Epiphone or Gibson. You can tell if it is a finish crack by looking at it in a shallow angle with a good light source behind you. A finish crack will only be as deep as the finish is thick and ends where it meets wood and properly lit from a shallow angle that becomes quite obvious. Finish cracks can propagate with no effect on the instrument beyond aesthetic.

It does not matter if the instrument was dropped or not. If you have a wood crack it will propagate over time and if serious will break so play on before it does. One of the problems with Les Paul's is that the thin or low profile neck is not anywhere near as strong as the thicker neck. I think that is called a 'C' neck.

The physics of this is actually quite simple: all materials have a coefficient of expansion and a yield point. Stress applied below the yield point does not affect the material. However past the yield point is the point of plasticity where the material permanently deforms; past the point of plasticity is the fracture point which is a fancy name for a crack and it is permanent.

Some neck cracks are repairable some are not. A someone earlier said composite necks would be preferable. Other than being stiff, straight and holding the frets in place the neck has no effect on tone.

Finally all materials have different rates of expansion and contraction with temperature change. Rapid temperature change is real bad and can cause cracks of many kinds because each material will change dimension (shrink with cold, lengthen with heat) at different rates and  this is exacerbated by rapid temperature which will cause problems at the interface between these materials. A Les Paul has three interfaces where the finish meets the binding of the neck. Look there for problems.

You can no more undo a crack than you can return to yesterday (this is called irreversible).

To lower the tension in the neck (the pull force along the strings) play with the lightest gauge string possible ("Boy why you working so hard?" is what BB King said to Billy Gibbons on string gauge, Billy went light and never looked back) and avoid open tunings that raise tension above standard tuning. Open E is particularly bad as is Open A. If you need open E drop down to Open D and put a capo on the second fret. Open A is useless as far as I know.

My $0.02

P.S. I have had a lot of guitars with finish cracks. They appear in both the women and guitars we love.

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