Lacquer crack?

scottnfld

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Hey guys! Recently purchased this les Paul trad and noticed what looks like a crack/lacquer checking on the neck near the headstock....looks like lacquer checking to me but thought I’d see what you guys thought...
I apologize for the crappy photo but it’s hard to get a good shot of it.

0D622A90-2E59-41E7-B561-148555CEF3D6.jpg
 

MP4-22

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Embrace it... It's part of the charm of a lacquered guitar. ;)

If you are worried about cracks put it under a black light for inspection.
 

ARandall

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Thats not a good looking crack.......although its not obvious enough in the pic to see just what it is.
The jagged nature of the edges (if it is a crack) would indicate a trauma. Checking doesn't do that (unless the guitar is very old), it merely forms a line.
 

scottnfld

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Thats not a good looking crack.......although its not obvious enough in the pic to see just what it is.
The jagged nature of the edges (if it is a crack) would indicate a trauma. Checking doesn't do that (unless the guitar is very old), it merely forms a line.
Yeah, that’s what I was thinking as well. Looks like it got bumped for sure but when I look at it really close it seems to be in the nitro finish but It’s hard to tell. Guitar was packed really well when I got it.
 

scottnfld

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EC2C9517-25D9-4747-8013-4BC2DA07FE0B.jpg

Here’s another shot guys, looks to be originating from the nut....
 
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musicmaniac

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That's more than just checking. Too bad you didn't mention it when you got it.
 

kakerlak

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Is there one on the other side, too? Those cracks aren't a huge structural deal, since they can be super-glue wicked and are self-closing. Typically occur from either an impact to the front side of the headstock, or a whiplash-style trauma inside the case from a well-secured neck heel and floating headstock, where all the energy is transferred to the headstock, such as the shipping box getting dropped on its back. The neck stays rigid and all the downward energy is transferred to the headstock, like a whip. Could also be a scratch from a slip in fret dressing or nut filing (or from the guitar scraping along something it was resting against, like an amp's knobs, etc.).

You can try to confirm it by loosening the strings all the way and pressing on the front of the headstock and looking to see if the crack opens, but you might not get it to budge, even if it is a wood crack.

Bottom line, it's not a typical place for lacquer to check, particularly if you're not seeing checking elsewhere, like along areas of dissimilar materials/grain (glue joints, binding lines, etc).
 

scottnfld

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Is there one on the other side, too? Those cracks aren't a huge structural deal, since they can be super-glue wicked and are self-closing. Typically occur from either an impact to the front side of the headstock, or a whiplash-style trauma inside the case from a well-secured neck heel and floating headstock, where all the energy is transferred to the headstock, such as the shipping box getting dropped on its back. The neck stays rigid and all the downward energy is transferred to the headstock, like a whip. Could also be a scratch from a slip in fret dressing or nut filing (or from the guitar scraping along something it was resting against, like an amp's knobs, etc.).

You can try to confirm it by loosening the strings all the way and pressing on the front of the headstock and looking to see if the crack opens, but you might not get it to budge, even if it is a wood crack.

Bottom line, it's not a typical place for lacquer to check, particularly if you're not seeing checking elsewhere, like along areas of dissimilar materials/grain (glue joints, binding lines, etc).
Thanks for the input! But to answer your question no there isn’t anything on the other side at all. It has a couple of tiny bumps and bruises but nothing concerning. If this is just lacquer I don’t mind but I’ll take yours and everyone else’s advice and see if I can get it to open up. It’s really strange though as it looks to begin at the nut and follow along down the neck binding before it appears on the neck.
 

kakerlak

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Thanks for the input! But to answer your question no there isn’t anything on the other side at all. It has a couple of tiny bumps and bruises but nothing concerning. If this is just lacquer I don’t mind but I’ll take yours and everyone else’s advice and see if I can get it to open up. It’s really strange though as it looks to begin at the nut and follow along down the neck binding before it appears on the neck.
That makes sense, directionally. Imagine pushing on the top edge of the face of the headstock so hard that you break it off and envision where the crack would most likely start/travel/end if you did that. You'd be more or less prying the headstock and back of the neck away from the fretboard -- those cracks usually start at/around the nut and travel along the fretboard a bit, before skewing out into the neck wood at an angle, exactly as yours appears.

Or, if it's easier, imagine whacking the back of the neck against your knee as hard as you could, right where it rests in the cradles of the case -- hard enough to snap it. Where would the crack start/travel/end? That scenario is the exact physical action that occurs in the shipping damage scenario. Drop on the face, the back of the headstock cracks/breaks, drop on the back, the fretboard/neck runner crack happens.
 

LPTDMSV

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Is there one on the other side, too? Those cracks aren't a huge structural deal, since they can be super-glue wicked and are self-closing. ...

You can try to confirm it by loosening the strings all the way and pressing on the front of the headstock and looking to see if the crack opens, but you might not get it to budge, even if it is a wood crack.

Bottom line, it's not a typical place for lacquer to check, particularly if you're not seeing checking elsewhere, like along areas of dissimilar materials/grain (glue joints, binding lines, etc).
Do you think it's possible that in that shock/stress scenario that the lacquer could crack without there being a split in the wood? i.e that the lacquer, being quite hard, had insufficient resilience to absorb the bending but the wood *did* have enough resilience and sprang back to its original shape without cracking?

That might be a bit hypothetical but I seem to have seen it happen, where underneath the cracked lacquer there was no sign of a crack in the wood. In this case, I can't really tell from the photographs.
 

scottnfld

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That makes sense, directionally. Imagine pushing on the top edge of the face of the headstock so hard that you break it off and envision where the crack would most likely start/travel/end if you did that. You'd be more or less prying the headstock and back of the neck away from the fretboard -- those cracks usually start at/around the nut and travel along the fretboard a bit, before skewing out into the neck wood at an angle, exactly as yours appears.

Or, if it's easier, imagine whacking the back of the neck against your knee as hard as you could, right where it rests in the cradles of the case -- hard enough to snap it. Where would the crack start/travel/end? That scenario is the exact physical action that occurs in the shipping damage scenario. Drop on the face, the back of the headstock cracks/breaks, drop on the back, the fretboard/neck runner crack happens.
Do you think it's possible that in that shock/stress scenario that the lacquer could crack without there being a split in the wood? i.e that the lacquer, being quite hard, had insufficient resilience to absorb the bending but the wood *did* have enough resilience and sprang back to its original shape without cracking?

That might be a bit hypothetical but I seem to have seen it happen, where underneath the cracked lacquer there was no sign of a crack in the wood. In this case, I can't really tell from the photographs.
yeah it’s so hard to tell guys, it looks to be in the lacquer to me but I’m no expert. I’ll take to my local guy and see what he thinks. Again I really appreciate the input! I’m hoping it’s nothing to worry about
 

Cjsinla

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That’s not checking. It looks like a stress crack to me. This is what checking looks like.

1611124375173.jpeg
 

Michael Matyas

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What is the return policy? The consensus here seems to be that the crack runs deeper than the finish. Was this guitar bought in person, or was it shipped in a box or a case? I have bought three guitars from mail-order or online sites, and each time I paid for a hardshell case and requested that the strings be loosened before shipping. None of the guitars were damaged after taking these precautions.
 

scottnfld

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What is the return policy? The consensus here seems to be that the crack runs deeper than the finish. Was this guitar bought in person, or was it shipped in a box or a case? I have bought three guitars from mail-order or online sites, and each time I paid for a hardshell case and requested that the strings be loosened before shipping. None of the guitars were damaged after taking these precautions.
Hi, yes the guitar was shipped in the case and box and seemed to be packed very well. Strings were loosened.etc. Sadly it was purchased used so returning may not be an option, however the guitar was insured.
 

kakerlak

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I think strings loosened probably increases the likelihood of this sort of damage -- the whiplash effect when there's no tension on the headstock. OTOH, I'm sure it lessens the likelihood of the traditional broken headstock, where the string tension is pulling in the direction of the breaking force.

Best shipping practice is to try to get the guitar where it's ever so slightly floating inside the case, firm, but not rock solid, so that it's got some suspension/cushion effect to it if it suffers an impact, and ditto case-in-box -- have that floating. You want to insulate against anything so firmly packed that an impact force travels largely unmitigated through the box-case-wood. And avoid things like neck tightly wedged in the case, but headstock freely floating. Those cases that only have a neck block down at the heel are the worst.

Anyway, as for yours, definitely contact the seller if it's a recent arrival -- assuming it's shipping damage, the shipper should be involved. If it's been too long, it's not an end-of-the-world crack. A good repairperson can wick water-thin super glue into that crack, which will also heal the finish crack, and then buff it down smooth. It probably won't be totally invisible, but I bet it mostly goes away and it'll feel perfectly smooth and be 100% structurally sound. It's better to do that now, before hand oils, dirt, and/or polishing residue works its way into the crack and discolors the wood or inhibits the glue's ability to soak in and hold.
 

Gitter

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Looks like a stress crack in the lacquer to me. That doesn't necessarily mean it was dropped or banged against anything. I don't know where you live or how cold it's been, but after you received the guitar, did you allow it to get acclimated to the temperature change? Did you happen to tweak the truss rod soon after it arrived? Little things like tightening the truss rod or even tuning slacked strings fresh out of a cold box in a warm house before it settles can cause problems in that area. Then there's the obvious...did the seller provide photos of the area before you bought it?
 


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