NVGD: 59' Junior - But Really a "Crack Versus Check" Question

DBDM

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Without seeing it in person, I really cannot say for 100% certainty but I will say that a crack in the wood in that location would require a fairly large traumatic event. If that had occurred, there would be a star shaped bump in the laquer finish from the impact itself, and a crack usually coming out of that star shaped impact point. No star shaped impact point (visible by the naked eye but CERTAINLY under black light) tells me it is VERY likely a check in the lacquer only. Hope that makes sense
 

Rwill682

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Looks like a crack. I would take it to qualified luthier to inspect. If it isn't and it costs you a little bit of money it's money well spent for peace of mind.



Sweet guitar, Just like you issues like choose like this are tough for me to let go. It's important to have someone you trust who can work on your instruments for you.
 

DBDM

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what a shame

zdog
Personally, I think checking is cool so I would say Congratulations! With all the attempts at aging and "Murphy" this and that, they still cannot duplicate checking. Fake checking=poser. REAL checking like this is (in my opinion) awesome! I fully realize different tastes. But to my tastes this is not only ok but preferred! I like mint as much as the next guy but I do love real honest play wear and real aged checking. Just my opinion, does not have to be anyone elses!

Edit--I live in Nashville where guitars and guitar stores are plentiful. My favorite Saturday activity is to go to pawn shops and ask to see the guitars that are not hanging on the walls. I love the beaters! I have found some real gems. Sometimes the old played checked guitars got that way for a very good reason. And that reason is frequently not because they suck! Someone loved them. A LOT.
 

T Willis

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I have a '59 Special with a very similar blemish. It appears to be in the finish but is very hard to tell.
 

Wheelr

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I recently decided to upgrade some of my "players grade" vintage to "no issue" equivalents. This included acquiring a 1959 Les Paul Junior. It is a wonderful guitar. All original and overall very clean. Faded like crazy, but still glossy with some checking. Plays amazing, and sounds better than I'll ever be able to do it justice.

One thing that caught my eye upon close inspection today was what initially looked like a continuation of a finish "check" but starts in the area in which heel breaks can occur. The actual finish around the heel is untouched, undisturbed, and blacklight perfectly (the same as the guitar as a whole). The "check" does not follow the grain, which is (in my limited experience) how cracks generally go. There's no indication of movement of the neck/body joint anywhere else. But it is one of those things that eats at your brain when you bought a "no issues" 59' junior. Is it a crack, or just a finish check.

Is there a way to tell? And yes, I'm keenly aware that I'm a cork sniffing asshole and that similar questions have been asked ad nauseam. I just want to know...

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Just play it till it doesnt play, then fix!!
 

timbraun

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Looks like the finish cracking in my 60s es-125, and in my 60s es-330. Your jr. is amazingly clean! The finish crack doesn't follow the wood grain at all. It's definitely been there a while, maybe grew over time as they do. It's actually pretty hard to generate a structural crack in a big chunk of mahogany like that jr.

Around here outside temperature varies from -40 to +40 C (+100 F) and humidity from 20% to 100% so everything gets finish cracks eventually.
 

Johnny Strabler

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I recently decided to upgrade some of my "players grade" vintage to "no issue" equivalents. This included acquiring a 1959 Les Paul Junior. It is a wonderful guitar. All original and overall very clean. Faded like crazy, but still glossy with some checking. Plays amazing, and sounds better than I'll ever be able to do it justice.

One thing that caught my eye upon close inspection today was what initially looked like a continuation of a finish "check" but starts in the area in which heel breaks can occur. The actual finish around the heel is untouched, undisturbed, and blacklight perfectly (the same as the guitar as a whole). The "check" does not follow the grain, which is (in my limited experience) how cracks generally go. There's no indication of movement of the neck/body joint anywhere else. But it is one of those things that eats at your brain when you bought a "no issues" 59' junior. Is it a crack, or just a finish check.

Is there a way to tell? And yes, I'm keenly aware that I'm a cork sniffing asshole and that similar questions have been asked ad nauseam. I just want to know...

yNSiYCP.jpg


SeijoYd.jpg


7MXiVBO.jpg


CWmGuCh.jpg


Uw1YQQu.jpg


dlm6Gcf.jpg


ZRNAT5f.jpg


MnwOpqK.jpg


oM3DHpQ.png


MWBJbXs.jpg
When all is said and done, this will go like so many opinion seeking threads; many will say it's finish checking, while a number significantly high enough to disturb you, will say "it's definitely a crack". Like everyone else who is looking at your photos, my opinion is worth squat, but I say it appears to me to be a finish crack. Since you're able to see the actual guitar, and hold it, and play it - go with your gut! If it only vibrates in all the right places, I suspect you'll be 'right enough'. Don't let a bunch of unqualified opinions (which is EVERYONE who is basing their opinion on photos) ruin your treasure!
 

WayneLawKid

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Thanks everyone for taking the time to weigh in on the crack versus check debate. Some really great points and insight. By way of update, here's how things have shaken out on my end.

My go to luthier looked at it in hand. He was somewhat flummoxed. He noted that there's no obvious signs of trauma that would usually accompany a break. The at-issue check/crack doesn't follow the grain and has a "squiggle" path. You can feel it under the finger, but the same is true of some other checking on the guitar. And there's no sign of neck movement or any disturbance to the finish surrounding the heel. But the location is a common area for a crack in the wood, although there is nothing structurally concerning about it. Prefect neck angle, no movement of the neck. He said for pricing, treat it as a crack but he wouldn't place a money-bet on what it actually was either way. Whatever it was, he said (his word) I was a brat for caring with how nice the guitar is overall.

The second luthier I took it to said "crack" within ten seconds. The explanation was where it is located, but that was it. He didn't seem to want to entertain the crack versus check debate, but said it would make no difference to him in deciding whether to purchase the guitar. The neck was solid, with nothing concerning, and it was otherwise original (without turning screws). He also offered to buy it, so there's that...

When I communicated the concerns to the seller, he offered to refund and for me to ship it back. That was it. Having spent a weekend with it, and considering the price paid, I just decided to keep it. Whatever it is, I'll just deal with it on the back end some day in the future. Perfect neck, frets are original and still big, and the P-90 sounds perfect to me. Hot, but not too hot (8.1k). It just checks all the boxes for me. I've just been ripping really bad ZZ Top Tres Hombres and Led Zeppelin riffs though it and my Tweed Deluxe since I got it. My wife may divorce me if I play Jesus Just Left Chicago again. But it sounds so good...

Anyways, here's a fun shot of what I've been playing it through. Also, the finish is original with no signs of touchup or repair anywhere. Unfaded cherry under the guard and P90 cover (see photo below), and it black lights uniformly throughout.
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Whatever it is - crack or check - it's mine now. Until, of course, I GAS again.
 

Travis D

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I would say that you most likely paid up for this guitar so if this really bothers you then send it back and find one with no questions
 

calieng

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It is a crack in the nitro that is inconsistent with the other checking cracks and given that it radiates from a high stress point (90 degree angle) at the neck pocket where the body wood is the thinest, it is likely from some flexing of the wood at the neck joint.

The guitar may have been compressed during shipping (other heavy packages on it) enough to stress the joint and the crack in the finish did not propagate to the surface immediately.

I would leave it alone and see if it gets any worse before considering a repair.
 

nkd

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Send it to me, I'll return it when the neck falls off. :fingersx:
 

WayneLawKid

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I would leave it alone and see if it gets any worse before considering a repair.

Yup. According to the professionals, there's nothing to repair at this point. I'm just going to keep playing it until my wife throws me out of the house. It just rips. How a neck that measures as large as it does can be so comfortable is a mystery to me. Wizardry....
 

moreles

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It's almost certainly a crack caused by imp[act of one kind of another at the weak point of the guyitar design/build: where the lever of the neck meets a very weak neck/body joint. It looks to me like the crack may go into the wood itself -- it goesn't have to follow the figure in the grain to be a wood crack -- but seemingly superficially. I have an old SG, perfectly undamaged, where I think I could snap the neck off by hand, so I would be cautious doing this, but I would (myself) try flexing the neck slightly to see if there's any "give" resulting from this damage. I don't expect you'll find any, because I do think (guess?) that it's superficial, but if you do, well... uh oh. But based on the pics, I'd be surprised if there's a structural problem resulting from that impact crack. Looks to me like the kind of thing that happens when a careless and undeserving owner turns with the guitar and the headstock whacks something levering a crack into the finish and body.
 

WayneLawKid

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It's almost certainly a crack caused by imp[act of one kind of another at the weak point of the guyitar design/build: where the lever of the neck meets a very weak neck/body joint. It looks to me like the crack may go into the wood itself -- it goesn't have to follow the figure in the grain to be a wood crack -- but seemingly superficially. I have an old SG, perfectly undamaged, where I think I could snap the neck off by hand, so I would be cautious doing this, but I would (myself) try flexing the neck slightly to see if there's any "give" resulting from this damage. I don't expect you'll find any, because I do think (guess?) that it's superficial, but if you do, well... uh oh. But based on the pics, I'd be surprised if there's a structural problem resulting from that impact crack. Looks to me like the kind of thing that happens when a careless and undeserving owner turns with the guitar and the headstock whacks something levering a crack into the finish and body.

Appreciate the response! It does not move with pressure applied (thankfully). It feels rock solid. Funny how that is the first thing a luthier does! Start trying to flex the neck joint to see if it moves. Terrifying to watch. But neither luthier who examined it thought it presented any practical issue. Again, thankfully.

Having now had the guitar for a few weeks, and whatever it is, I'm very happy to not have over reacted when I discovered it. Such a great guitar. Something to be disclosed if it ever gets sold, but it's one of those issues that "is what it is" to a buyer. After playing it for 30 seconds, no one who actually intends to play it will care. And it's pretty darn clean otherwise.

Again, appreciate everyone's comments and attention. I'm smitten with it. And I'm usually the guy that sees the worst in things like this.
 

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