Cracked top advice needed: Larrivee LV03

giogolf

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Hey All,

So I came into a beautiful Larrivee LV-03 (British Columbia made), approximately mid 2000's made. As you can see from the picture, there is a crack down the middle from the bridge to the binding. The previous owner said he thinks its was poor storage (low humidity). The crack can be felt from the inside as well and does not pass the bridge.

Any advice for a repair of this type without actually seeing it in person?

I was thinking of doing this based on articles read: Put the guitar in a plastic bag with a a humidity pack, strings loosened and see if the wood swells closed. Apparently this step informs the repair method of whether or not glue only or glue and splint is needed.

Lastly, if the guitar sounds good with no other issues, is this the kiss of death for an acoustic? Meaning, does it become worthless if it were ever to be sold?

Thanks, lastly, it has been decades since I last owned or played acoustic: Whats the best way to store it so this doesn't happen again or worsen in the future?
 

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howardlo

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Keep it in a HSC after repaired and use a humidifier to keep it 45-55 percent humidity.

First step would be to get the humidity within range. Then try to get each side of the split to align. I would then use a couple thin cleats glued and clamped inside the guitar.
Shouldn’t be a really difficult repair, but of course it will always show, but won’t affect playability.

Of course once the top has been split the value went down, but doesn’t really matter if you keep it and play it.

Maybe @Freeman Keller will have a better plan.
 

Esquire Jones

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I’ve had the same crack happen on a Martin. Yes, definitely have a pro do it. It isn’t that expensive really.

The stability of the guitar is effected. Also dirt and oils will get into the crack if not fixed.

Also it will likely need small cleats attached to the underside of the top to strengthen it.

It’s a very common repair.
 

Boreas

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If humidifying is step one.. Do I really need to pay a bench fee for this, is there something minimally invasive that I can try first?
Do you mean initial humidifying, or actually repairing the crack? Oh you COULD do it yourself, but unless you have the necessary tools to repair it properly, you are likely better off paying a pro, and getting better results. Because you had to ask, I would say go with a pro.

This often occurs along the top joint in the center, which is a little easier to hide the repair. This, unfortunately is a crack in the grain. Further complications can occur with failed glue joints on any of the internal braces and binding joints. Dry = death to wood and glue joints. Get a pro to check it out fully - they know where to look for problems.
 

giogolf

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I mainly meant me
Do you mean initial humidifying, or actually repairing the crack? Oh you COULD do it yourself, but unless you have the necessary tools to repair it properly, you are likely better off paying a pro, and getting better results. Because you had to ask, I would say go with a pro.

This often occurs along the top joint in the center, which is a little easier to hide the repair. This, unfortunately is a crack in the grain. Further complications can occur with failed glue joints on any of the internal braces and binding joints. Dry = death to wood and glue joints. Get a pro to check it out fully - they know where to look for problems.
I mainly meant me doing the re-humidification process, although the wood work is in my wheel house (I am a wood working hobbyist), but never with guitar repair. I would have no issues taking on the full fix; my concern is: 1. Repairing without compromising the sound 2. Repairing without compromising the value to much ( I have no plans to ever sell, but you never know :) )

So for this thread, all I would like to try out is to re humidify the guitar first.
 

JamesAM

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as boreas mentioned, this isn't in the center seam and is in the grain - fixing this will require at least one cleat after the guitar is re-humidified and will need to be observed for bracing issue. its fussy work inside the body and may require some specialized clamps, so it is likely best left to a pro. The good news is as others have mentioned the pros can knock this out quickly.

If you want to rehumidify it, go for it. just be sure to go slowly. and there's no guarantee you will get it to the specs of whatever luthier you take it to, so they may want to humidify it anyway.
 

giogolf

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as boreas mentioned, this isn't in the center seam and is in the grain - fixing this will require at least one cleat after the guitar is re-humidified and will need to be observed for bracing issue. its fussy work inside the body and may require some specialized clamps, so it is likely best left to a pro. The good news is as others have mentioned the pros can knock this out quickly.

If you want to rehumidify it, go for it. just be sure to go slowly. and there's no guarantee you will get it to the specs of whatever luthier you take it to, so they may want to humidify it anyway.

Sounds like a plan.. Ill take it to a Luthier...

BTW, can I play it? I currently have it in the case with string de-tuned and humidity pack.. I just want to play it a bit, but if its gonna make it worse, Ill just take it in straight away.
 

tomasz

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Humidifying alone will not help you actually should then glue the crack, ideally with fish glue, and reinforce it from the bottom with cleats. You would need some good long clamps to keep it together. If the crack does not close it needs to be splined, before cleating.
 

giogolf

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Humidifying alone will not help you actually should then glue the crack, ideally with fish glue, and reinforce it from the bottom with cleats. You would need some good long clamps to keep it together. If the crack does not close it needs to be splined, before cleating.

Yeah, I am just going to take it in.. Its to nice of a guitar for me to be messing with
 
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Boreas

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Sounds like a plan.. Ill take it to a Luthier...

BTW, can I play it? I currently have it in the case with string de-tuned and humidity pack.. I just want to play it a bit, but if its gonna make it worse, Ill just take it in straight away.
A few strums shouldn't hurt, but could loosen a weak top brace inside. I would detune it and take it in to avoid further damage. The advantage of letting the pro humidify it is he assumes responsibility for doing it properly. He may not want it totally hydrated, allowing some gap to insert glue. Every tech is different.
 

39martind18

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Spackle the hell out of it and repaint! Oh, wait! You meant a guitar- I thought it was a wall. Oh, well!
 

schmee

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It seems to be an issue with Larivee's.... too bad. Obviously they forgot to properly age the old growth wood they used.
 

KokoTele

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It seems to be an issue with Larivee's.... too bad. Obviously they forgot to properly age the old growth wood they used.

This issue isn't unique to Larivee. All good manufacturers (and even most of the not-so-good ones) have climate controlled factories and keep the humidity right around 50%. Then the guitar goes to a player whose house is probably well under 50% in the winter. The wood shrinks across the grain, stretching it like a drum head until it cracks like this one did.

I think it happens less to cheaper guitars because they use lower quality wood. The tops are thicker, the wood is more rubbery, and it's often cut off-quarter. All of that gives it better tensile strength at the cost of sounding worse.

Like others have said, the standard fix is relatively simple, and it only requires a skilled luthier because it's a pain to work through the soundhole and around the braces. I use a combination of specialty long-reach clamps and strong magnets. After the crack is glued, you glue cleats on the underside and touch up the finish.

The problem is that if the guitar is allowed to dry out too much again, it's going to crack again. Though glue is supposed to be stronger than the wood grain, in practice in this particular application I've found the glue joint is just as likely to break open again as a different spot on the guitar.

I'm coming around to the idea that for most customers, a better repair is to put in a spline of new spruce and touch up the finish to match. Unless they start humidifying their whole home, they are going to be fighting a constant battle against low humidity, and most players are not disciplined enough to keep up with it.
 

giogolf

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Holy Smokes... Local Luthier wants $55 an inch to fix.. Ugh.. now I need to find someone reasonable and reputable in Baltimore or surrounding area.
 

KokoTele

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$55 an inch?! Baltimore is higher-rent than Albany, but I'm clearly not charging enough...

On the other hand, for repairs like this I charge by the hour, and people are almost always surprised that the price isn't higher.
 

Freeman Keller

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Sounds like a plan.. Ill take it to a Luthier...

BTW, can I play it? I currently have it in the case with string de-tuned and humidity pack.. I just want to play it a bit, but if its gonna make it worse, Ill just take it in straight away.
When I get an excessively dry guitar I put a damp car wash sponge in a baggie with a bunch of holes in it and put that inside the guitar. Cover the sound hole and put it in its case for several weeks. You can play it during this time, its a hassle to take the baggie out but it will need new water every week or so. The action will be very low, I shim the saddle because it know I'll want to take it out when the top comes back up.

IMG_7402.JPG


The fret ends will be sharp - its OK to dress the because the humidification process will not make them go away.

As the top returns to its normal dome the crack will close. There are several glues that can be used - each has its advantages. Hot hide is probably the best, the nice thing about HHG is it will wick into the crack and the clean up is very easy. Bad thing about HHG is you probably don't have it or know how to use it.

AR (Titebond) works almost as good as HHG and does clean up with water. Thin CA will wick into the crack and you can scrape and buff it to more or less hide the crack. My choice of glue depends a little on how bad the crack is and what the finish on the guitar is.

After gluing the closed crack I put a couple of little spruce cleats on the inside of the crack with the grain running across.

IMG_3988-1.jpg


Use a clamp that is deep enough to reach the crack and will not damage braces. Put something on the top to act as a caul.

IMG_3987-1.jpg


I like to use AR glue for the cleats because it has a long open time.

The guitar may not come back to its original geometry. Once it has settled down you'll have to do a complete setup. After that use a smaller humidifier and keep the guitar in its case.
 




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