New "Mint" Guitar with possible ebony fretboard crack: return?

Discussion in 'Guitars in General' started by McQ7, Jul 12, 2019.

  1. McQ7

    McQ7 Member

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    Hoping to get some feedback and advice on whether to return or be concerned about what I see between the high frets on this Epiphone I just picked up as a store demo in "Mint" condition from a reputable reverb.com seller.

    I’d noticed some strange pattern mark beneath the high strings, and then also saw that the fret almost appears to be pulling up some ebony? I can feel a slope in the spot and it appears to almost be cracking, for lack of a better term. What do you all think?

    I'm ok with some minor cosmetic blemish, but do you think this is a structural concern?

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]
     
  2. BadHiwatt

    BadHiwatt Member

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  3. Bossanova

    Bossanova Silver Supporting Member

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    Those look like file marks, who knows if it's from the Factory, the shop, or other.
     
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  4. PatriotBadger

    PatriotBadger Member

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    I know it's an Epi so we shouldn't expect perfection...but man, that looks pretty icky. The fretboard around that slot looks like it certainly received some, er, "love"...and the lifting bits aren't confidence inspiring. The fret next door looks pretty chewed too.
     
  5. Papanate

    Papanate Gold Supporting Member

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    I think like @BadHiwatt says it's definitely not mint. That 'lifting' has all the earmarks of being a poor fret set - when that fret was pushed in it damaged the ebony fret board. I would bring it to a luthier and get their opinion on whether it is a simple cosmetic flaw or the fretboard is seriously damaged - meaning you won't be able to refret the guitar.
     
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  6. Lung plunger

    Lung plunger Member

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    I'm far from an expert, but as long as the fret doesn't pop on out.. wouldn't bother me. It's not mint, but was a demo.
     
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  7. twoheadedboy

    twoheadedboy Member

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    It looks like the fret slot wasn't cut correctly and/or the fret wasn't pressed in properly. It shouldn't be a structural issue, and it would be a fairly simple repair if you wanted to have it corrected at any point. I don't think it would be unreasonable to return the guitar, as that's a fairly major flaw that was probably present from the factory. If you decide to keep it, I think you would be justified in asking for a discount.
     
    Last edited: Jul 12, 2019
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  8. twoheadedboy

    twoheadedboy Member

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    It's almost certainly not so serious that you wouldn't be able to refret the guitar. Even if the fret slot is a little damaged, it would be easy to repair with glue and ebony dust.
     
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  9. McQ7

    McQ7 Member

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    Thanks for the feedback so far, all! I do really like the guitar, and purchased knowing it had been a demo, so some minor cosmetic imperfections I expected. And I was able to get it at a major discount.

    Maybe just make sure from the seller that if this becomes an issue I would be able to return it in the future?
     
  10. Papanate

    Papanate Gold Supporting Member

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    That's if this damage is limited to what's visible.
     
  11. bluesoul

    bluesoul Gold Supporting Member

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    I don't see any structural concerns just scuffs on the board and fret. I would guess that happened from being on display. The ebony can be lightly sanded out smooth and the fret needs to be smoothed out and polished (or play it and the fret will work it's self out).
     
  12. Benz2112

    Benz2112 Supporting Member

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    It looks like sloppy workmanship. I clicked assuming it would be a crack caused by dryness, which can be pretty nasty on ebony, so it isn't terrible in the grand scheme of things. It doesn't look too bad to my naked eye.
     
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  13. Guitarworks

    Guitarworks Member

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    op,
    What you’re seeing are chips. The wood gets pulled out of place by the fret tang when a fret is removed. The only time I see those occur is during a re-fret, usually when the fret gets pulled out to be replaced. When that happens, the luthier is supposed to wick a tiny drop of Cyanoacrylate under the chip, press it back into place, and scrape the area clean with a flat razor, leaving no trace of a repair.

    As I put on my fretting technician hat and look at the area, I’d say something definitely happened to the original fret, though what, we can only speculate. I can tell you whoever did the work either replaced or re-worked the fret, did not tape off the board, gouged the board with their file repeatedly on both sides of the fret, and did not repair the chips they created when pulling the original fret, which you see sticking up along the fret slot. Somebody with no training attempted to do some work on that fret. That much is certain.
     
  14. McQ7

    McQ7 Member

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    Thanks for the details on the possible history of this chip and refret. Since the guitar will need fretwork and level to be its best anyway, maybe this is a spot that could be fixed during that time of service.
     
  15. ant_riv

    ant_riv Supporting Member

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    The three marks to the left of the fret look like indents caused by whatever tool was used to pry the fret up. There also appears to be a similar, but different mark to the right of the fret.
    The two marks appear to be similar to the other three.
    The grooves appear to either be from the tool, or from whatever might have been used as a fulcrum.
    While amateurish, if the price was right, and the guitar plays good as-is, it wouldn’t be cause for me to return it.

    However, since you are the one who will live with this, you need to decide if you are going to.
     
  16. McQ7

    McQ7 Member

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    Thanks again.

    You guys, during the lunch hour I swung by Sunrise Guitars here in Fayetteville, AR--a great store with excellent selection, superb service, and knowledgeable staff. Their repair tech wasn't in, but the head guy there said the tech's specialty is fretwork and could take care of it easily. I value his opinion as well as all of yours here.

    While I was there, I figured I'd finally plug in that Eastman T486 semi-hollow that I'd been considering before I bought the one in this thread for much less $$. The Eastman was impressively well-built looking. However, compared to mine, I found the Eastman neck to be slightly too wide and thin and the frets just barely too tall. Ok, maybe adaptable things. I played it through two different amps set up similar to what I have at home, and I did not have nearly as gratifying an experience as the one with the flaws in this thread. The pickups didn't feel as responsive or dynamic, the vol and tone weren't as usable throughout the sweep. It had a brightness, stiffness, or brittleness that seemed like I couldn't quite dial out. Put simply, it gave me the sense that it was kind of bland and that it had no mojo.

    Compare that to the experience I had playing my guitar two nights ago, one of those that the neck profile and width was just right, frets although needing a level were not too tall, in which every setting was musical and inspiring and useable. The bridge and neck pickups could be set to sound completely different, like different guitars almost. And it had that sort of air around the notes feeling, that alive feeling. Major Mojo. I recall thinking that it far, far exceeded my expectations. It gives my Edwards LP a serious scare--and that has boutique pickups (PAF neck, T-Top bridge), Russian PIO caps, RS pots. This new one is a heavier guitar but well balanced on a strap, and I don't play out much anymore anyway.

    This new guitar I'm talking about here that has the fret issue is the Epiphone ES-355 Bonamassa. Very impressive.

    I think I'll keep it and just get assurance from the seller (an actual retail store), that it can be sent back if the fret and ebony issue gets worse or is evaluated to be beyond repair.
     
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  17. killer blues

    killer blues Member

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    Looks like the feet was pulled out for some reason and it chafed the fretboard
     
  18. Jimmy3Fingers

    Jimmy3Fingers Member

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    I'm guessing, but I doubt a seller is going to give you an open-ended return policy to send back IF it becomes an issue in the future. It's probably a 'now or never' scenario and best evaluated by a competent tech/luthier.

    Personally, it seems to have after production work on it that qualifies as more than a demo...my .02
     
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  19. philiprst

    philiprst Supporting Member

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    My guess based on the pictures is that the fret did not seat properly when it was originally installed and was pulled out and it, or a new fret, reinstalled. The cross-hatching might be tooling marks from whatever they used to pull out the fret and the "cracking" of the fretboard is not unusual when the fret tangs are pulled back through the wood.
     
  20. McQ7

    McQ7 Member

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    Thanks all. I just played the 355 again and it’s really something else. So much fun. Puts out whatever I put in. Lively feeling. Such a satisfying playing experience!

    I’ll just have the repair tech fix that spot when I take it in for the standard fretwork.
     
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