New boutique guitar w/ finish cracks. No issue, little issue, or big issue?

Discussion in 'The Small Company Luthiers' started by wrxplayer, Mar 5, 2015.

  1. wrxplayer

    wrxplayer Supporting Member

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    Before I get to the nitty gritty, I know there are three replies possible.

    1. Do nothing.
    2. Seek an adjustment.
    3. Unwind the deal.

    My question really boils down to this: What effect, if any, do the finish cracks have on a guitar like this sold as a new instrument?

    Back story: I have never bought a new boutique guitar in my life, and as a result I'm curious what those of you who are more experienced than I think. As some of you know, I've been swapping/buying/selling stuff for a while, all as a hobby, and this scenario is new to me. Never had an issue on a guitar deal.

    I recently traded for a boutique instrument. Seller is a little known dealer and builder is not well known. The guitar was sold as New. The guitar arrived and, for the most part, looks GREAT. It also plays really nicely. It sounds great. My initial impression was very positive.

    I was giving the guitar a visual once over and found possible issues. They're the same but in different places.

    The guitar has some finish cracks. I've been told by one of the better builders around that this isn't terribly unusual and won't effect sound but that it's likely that more cracks will develop. One of the prime motivators in my buying the guitar is its beauty and in particular its top. Cracks on the top would not be acceptable at all. More on the guitar here: http://www.mylespaul.com/forums/other-single-cuts/329800-new-guitar-day-continuing-story-2.html

    I shared my findings with the seller. Seller's reply is that many guitars have these (including in his experience $15K Gil Yaron guitars). This may or may not be true.

    Thanks very much in advance for your counsel.
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  2. thiscalltoarms

    thiscalltoarms more gadgets than Batman. Gold Supporting Member

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    Adjustment or return would be my vote. Those cracks are noticeable enough that it'd bother me personally if I bought it new. I've only really bought two truly boutique guitars new (and a dozen PRS / CS Gibson / Ball Family Reserve etc), but it'd be too much for me unless the guitar was something absolutely incredible.

    Put it this way- if you ever have to flip it, those lines are probably worth 15-20% value.
     
  3. daa2202

    daa2202 Silver Supporting Member

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    Tough call.

    It seems to me like it's very early in that guitar's life to develop finish cracks. I presume it's a nitro finish (or what is considered "nitro" these days), and even modern versions of nitro take a while to fully harden. Seeing multiple cracks (assuming that the guitar hasn't been subjected to crazy temperature extremes) would make me concerned.

    To put things in some perspective, I have 7 Thorn guitars, all nitro finished, the oldest of which is now 8 years old. Not a single crack on any of them. None of my PRS guitars with nitro finishes have any cracks. In fact, the only guitar I have that does have finish cracks is 30 years old (a 1985 ES-335.) So while it's common to see finish cracks on vintage (old-style nitro) guitars, it's not so common on modern finishes.

    On the other hand...finish cracks are superficial. They don't reflect on the stability of the wood. You say the guitar plays well and sounds great. And of course, there are people out there who pay extra for finish cracks! (not me, but they're definitely out there.)

    Given your three possible choices, I would seek an adjustment. If I liked the way the guitar played, sounded, felt, and looked (except for the cracks), I wouldn't unwind the deal - it's an unusual instrument. But it obviously bugs you (and I understand why), and I wouldn't just eat it, either.

    The other option is to contact the builder for his thoughts. Nitro finishes tend to be fairly "repairable" - maybe he can correct them? It would be interesting to gauge his feedback - whether he's like "meh, happens all the time", or "WHAT! Let me see that thing!", or somewhere in between.

    In any case, I hope it works out to your satisfaction. It's a beautiful guitar.
     
  4. anyone

    anyone Member

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    I would just embrace it.
    The workmanship is impeccable and finishes can't stay perfect forever. (And I think it's pretty likely that those cracks are from extreme cold...)
    Just play it and enjoy it!
     
  5. wrxplayer

    wrxplayer Supporting Member

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    It is nitro.

    And UPS left it on my doorstep in freezing temps. My kid brought it in 6 hours later. It then lived in its box and case for 30 hours before I unpacked it.
     
  6. narad

    narad Supporting Member

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    If you don't want finish cracks in your guitar, don't get nitro. How many original LPs have a pristine finish with no cracks? As soon as you decide not to use modern advances in chemistry for an old school finish, you doom it to the same fate, sooner or later. It's unfortunate to have them right out of the box even when you follow proper unboxing technique, but it can also go through significant temperature fluxes in transit and that's just a reality of life.
     
  7. fretnot

    fretnot Gold Supporting Member

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    I dig it. I've had guitars sent to me perfect and arrived with nitro checks everywhere. When nitro is shot thin (ideal) it is prone to cracking over time. If that is the only "issue" I wouldn't worry about it.
     
  8. stealthtastic

    stealthtastic Supporting Member

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    It's inevitable with nitro.
     
  9. Ron Thorn

    Ron Thorn Gold Supporting Member

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    I bet the damage was done then, or even prior to, at the airport, or in the plane, or somewhere else freezing cold.

    I've got 3 guitars with nitro finishes waiting for weeks to ship to customers in the New York area for exactly that scenario.
     
  10. yucatown

    yucatown Theory-free noodling enthusiast Gold Supporting Member

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    Those cracks don't look like graceful aging of nitro. They do appear to be weather-related. I wouldn't chalk them as builder flaws, but rather as the result of exposure to the elements.
     
  11. Jim Soloway

    Jim Soloway Supporting Member

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    Have you considered asking the builder if he could or would be willing to fix the damage? One of the benefits of nitro is that it is repairable.
     
  12. Mike R.

    Mike R. Member

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    That will definitely cause finish cracking. Not saying this is what happened to yours, just adding a data point.
     
  13. Glowing Tubes

    Glowing Tubes Gold Supporting Member

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    Looks like the neck got stressed, probably during shipping. Id let the dealer and builder know what happened and see what they say.
     
  14. theanalogdream

    theanalogdream Supporting Member

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    I had a guitar built from Rob @ Prairiewood. Very early on after receiving it it developed some of those cracks. At first I was heartbroken, but then I realized that it was from the cold weather (I'm in Canada). I eventually grew fond of it! I do like relics though...
     
  15. goodwater

    goodwater Member

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    I wouldn't worry about it
     
  16. cmatthes

    cmatthes Member

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    It doesn't sound like the builders/seller's fault based on this revelation.
     
  17. s2y

    s2y Member

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    I'd imagine that weather and shipping was much more likely to be a culprit than the builder. I personally wouldn't worry about it. People around here pay good money for relic'ing. :hide
     
  18. Jon Silberman

    Jon Silberman 10Q Jerry & Dickey Gold Supporting Member

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    The way I see it, you have 3 choices:

    - send it back for repair (nitro flows, as Soloway notes, it's way it's relatively easily repaired versus other finishes)
    - embrace it as is
    - put it outside again and this time open the case immediately (then it will look today like it took my '67 Hagstrom decades to achieve)

    That's pretty cool, to have 3 legit choices. Choose one and don't look back!
     
  19. wrxplayer

    wrxplayer Supporting Member

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    Thanks everyone for your input. The guitar rocks. I'm keeping it. :)

    It really is nice to have such a resource of informed people here. Particularly appreciative of Ron Thorn who provided input. I got a very similar reply from Chuck Thornton who I emailed privately.

    In case anybody's curious, here the rest of it.
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    Last edited: Mar 5, 2015
    Brpaddler likes this.
  20. yucatown

    yucatown Theory-free noodling enthusiast Gold Supporting Member

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    Good lord, that's nice.
     

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