Gibson finish cracking

452varmint

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Hi, Im mostly a Fender player but i do have a soft sport for Gibsons and i enjoy other brands, im just looking for some opinions on a problem with a Gibson Les Paul Junior.

I purchased it almost 2 years ago, right from the start the guitar would not stay in tune at all, it was really unstable.

The guitar started to develop some checking which i wasn't too bothered about, i put it down to changes of temperature or whatever during transit.

The guitar hasn't been used due to change of circumstances during the pandemic, its been stored in its case in my guitar room which is a very stable environment along with around 30 other instruments, 10 are Gibsons but i have Fenders and others with nitro finish.

The guitar has not left my home since it arrived.

The finish cracking has continued to get more severe and all the cracks are running along the body in the direction of grain / joints.

No checking or cracks on neck, headstock or around the neck joint, only on the body.

The guitar still wont stay in tune.

The dealer told me the checking is perfectly normal and actually desirable ........ also that Gibson will say tuning instability will not be linked to surface checking.

The dealer has spoken to Gibson who say surface checking is normal and not covered by the Gibson warranty.

I'm not new to Gibsons, i have been buying them for over 30 years and none of them have ever cracked like this, i have a couple of surface checks around headstock inlays but nothing like this.

To me it looks like the body has not been stable before manufacturing or exposed to "conditions" during manufacturing and its been slowly settling since.

I would have thought if the finished guitar had been exposed to changing environments , hot / cold / dry / humid then finish checking would be all over the instrument not just the body ?

I also would imagine the checking would be random patterns if it was just in the finish rather than following grain / joints ?

Im also not convinced that the tuning instability is not related to the cracking which is continuing to develop after a long time in a stable environment and the guitar still hasn't settled.

Difficult to photograph and actually worse than the photographs look.
EB29-B8-AA-BB76-4-DAB-BAAE-2799-BADE408-A.png


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53625-E57-B018-432-A-BA9-E-93-EC8-F0-AA4-A4.png
 

452varmint

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Gibson have given the standard reply "Organic material", "Temperature and Humidity variations", "The finish checking is not considering a defect, and certainly is not affected at all to the guitar structure".

Considering the guitar has been stored from new in a very stable environment along with so many other instruments which show no signs of this issue i don't agree that it has been caused by temperature and humidity variations and given the cracking is along the body and the guitar has been unstable then i would say there is an issue with the guitar structure.

Random photographs from my guitar room, i have Gibsons from 1991 to 2019, approx 30 guitars and this is the only one with a finish problem.


AC1-D84-FA-4593-4147-84-A4-0801-CE66-CF2-C.png


14-F02420-9-E1-E-4185-AFA7-20-F879-CD9-D26.png


BA44-B8-F4-A7-E1-478-C-A95-B-D9-E76-A1-AE836.png


The SJ200 was purchased about 3 or 4 days after the junior and has been kept in exactly the same environment, if temperature and humidity variations are an issue i would expect an acoustic instrument to shows signs of problems before a solid body instrument ?
 
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452varmint

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I also owned a 2017 Les Paul Junior, same spec and that was stored in the exact same environment when not being used but it was also played out on various occasions and that guitar did not have any tuning issues and did not develop any of these "desirable" cracks ..... :rolleyes:

36-D89639-C612-4-F42-877-E-863485-C389-F3.png
 

452varmint

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I don't think it should be checking at all, if the wood is stable, the guitar finished properly and the guitar stored in a stable environment why would the finish crack ?
 
Last edited:

Boreas

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EDIT: IMO, the checking (finish cracks) seems to originate at the tailpiece/bridge. I don't really see checks between the studs or far outside of them. But with Gibson and most manufacturers, it is your problem now, not not theirs. I suspect string tension on the tailpiece is creating rotational stress on the tailpiece which cracked the finish when transferred to the studs. Or the tailpiece was simply installed incorrectly causing stress in the finish. Doesn't matter much at this point.

As far as tuning, it is certainly a problem with friction at the nut. This is extremely common in 3x3 pegheads because of the string break angles at the nut - both horizontally and vertically. If you don't know how to do it or don't have the tools, a GOOD tech can adjust and polish the nut slots to minimize friction. If it is a plastic nut, I would replace it with a bone or preferably TUSQ XL nut.
 
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452varmint

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Thank you, i believe its still Gibsons problem because they offer a two year guarantee and its still within the two years.
I also informed the dealer of the tuning issue within a week of purchase.
If Gibson installed the bridge incorrectly or the nut needs work i believe Gibson should do it, no ?
 

Boreas

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Thank you, i believe its still Gibsons problem because they offer a two year guarantee and its still within the two years.
I also informed the dealer of the tuning issue within a week of purchase.
If Gibson installed the bridge incorrectly or the nut needs work i believe Gibson should do it, no ?

If it is still under warranty, give it your best shot - especially if you have a written statement from the tech showing an earlier date. I didn't realize it was under warranty. Good luck!
 

kafka

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I've never thought of finish checking as occurring in long straight lines. I've always thought of it in being those ~half dollar sized polygons.

I suppose I'd be inclined to ignore it if it were only a cosmetic feature. However, this and the tuning issues make this seem to be related more to an issue with the guitar twisting. Maybe it's just a wonky piece of wood. It happens. I have kiln dried wood that's been in my stash for decades. You wouldn't believe what happens to some of those pieces, while others just stay straight. You could call Gibson and see what they say.
 

John C

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Unfortunately the best solution for this one was probably to return it instead of keeping it since you were having issues with it from day one.

It seems like you just got a guitar with issues - there has to be something with this particular instrument and it's going to take going through some hoops with Gibson to see if they can take care of it - realistically the best option would be a replacement instrument instead of trying to rework a "problem child".
 

clayville

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The tuning instability is something inherant to the geometry between the nut and tuners (friction in the slot) and you can fix that issue with a piece of sandpaper in about ten minutes. Just loosen the strings and remove from nut slots, fold a small piece of sandpaper in half, draw it carefully through the slots gently widening the tuner end without eroding the bottom of slot "take off point" on the fretboard side so your intonation stays good. Imho, though it's unnecessary, you *may* be able to get your dealer to address it but never Gibson.

That finish checking is very unusual to my eye, especially how it travels from the top to the sides/bottom edge of the guitar. Imho that's an improperly cured slab of wood, perhaps unlikely to stay stable and greatly devalues the guitar if you ever want to sell. It'll be a hassle, but I think you should make every effort to get the dealer or Gibson to replace it under warranty. Good luck.
 

Sax-son

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Long term nitro cracking is usually caused by the nitro releasing the solvents as it ages. However, there is something that may not be fully addressed here. With Gibson building hundreds of guitars at one time, it is almost impossible to address every piece of wood they may be working with. I had a Fender guitar that had all kinds of finish problems, both neck and body. It was cracking and flaking off. One thing that I noticed was that the wood plug around truss rod adjustment had just popped right out. Why? Because the wood in the guitar was shrinking. Most likely not that much in the big picture, but enough to be causing problems. Most likely the wood was not fully cured, and they began working with it anyway. Because I threatened to expose Fender on the net, they agreed to replace the neck free of charge. I was happy and they had a repeat customer.

PS: I have (3) Gibson guitars, and SG, Les Paul Standard and Les Paul JR dc. All have been built in the last 10 years and not a crack on any of them. So, what does that tell you?
 

6String69

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I have something very similar on my Fender with a nitro finish. It is part of a nitro finish.
 

KelvinS1965

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Just to say that I've got a similar age Junior, that also isn't played much (I really ought to sell it), stays in the case all the time and no checking at all. When I have played it, no tuning issues with it and I have nut files, etc, but it's one of my few guitars I haven't used them on as it seems to be cut well.

Tl;dr. Something is very 'off' with that particular Junior.
 

Paul G.

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Doesn't stay in tune -- that's probably a setup issue. If the neck is stable, then it needs a professional setup, including nut work.

"Checking" -- that's not checking, that's not normal. Either the wood wasn't seasoned, or wasn't properly prepped for finishing, or there was pressure when the bridge was installed, of a glue joint is bad. I've never seen anything like that on a quality guitar. I'd see about trying to use the warranty.
 

jvin248

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.

Players chase Nitro for 'that real world authentic relic process' and the smell when you open a guitar case.

Modern Nitro is not old nitro either, so a lot of differences in chemistry, some factories use other finishes on the body and then top coat with nitro just enough to say it has nitro on it, but causes fewer problems at retailers.

Do you have hot muggy summers and cold dry winters? That's enough to get the wood moving. Then when the wood moves and the paint does not, things like the metal parts can easily be 'the sources' of cracks. Get a handful of M&Ms warm and you can crack them in many different ways, or squash bugs in the summer time and see how the hard outer shell and soft core work most of the time but not all of the time.

If you want showroom perfect looking guitars then demand polyurethane finishes. Otherwise you risk nitro giving you the inconsistencies you are observing.
Just like if you drop that guitar or a cheap import guitar the headstock will famously fly off the Gibson -- just the nature of the product they are selling and some buyers seem to want to keep it that way.

.
 

jayyj

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I think really the two issues need to be taken separately.

The tuning issue sounds like it's probably a set up issue. With a wrap tail the nut slots are the main point of contact where the tuning can go awry. I'd be inclined, especially since you logged the complaint with the dealer early on, to gently but firmly say look, you need to sort this out - by all means keep it a while and play it so you can see for yourself, but I don't want it back until it plays in tune. If you can demonstrate it going out of tune so much the better (bending the A at the second fret third string up a tone is a quick way to put a Gibson with an iffy nut out of tune).

The checking unfortunately I think is something you have to live with where Gibson are concerned. It is strange that a minority check and the rest don't, I wonder if it's something to do with varying thickness of coats but that's just a guess. Modern Gibson lacquer rather different and is more flexible than the vintage stuff so doesn't check anywhere near as easily as 50s and 60s lacquer did, and when it does check it most commonly goes in long, deep lines that look like a cracked mirror. It's not wonderfully attractive compared to the delicate spider webbing of the old guitars. The checking on this guitar doesn't look out of keeping with others I've seen, although I see it more on acoustics than electrics. I do sympathise with your frustration about it.
 

EugeneWeemich

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Hi, Im mostly a Fender player but i do have a soft sport for Gibsons and i enjoy other brands, im just looking for some opinions on a problem with a Gibson Les Paul Junior.

I purchased it almost 2 years ago, right from the start the guitar would not stay in tune at all, it was really unstable.

The guitar started to develop some checking which i wasn't too bothered about, i put it down to changes of temperature or whatever during transit.

The guitar hasn't been used due to change of circumstances during the pandemic, its been stored in its case in my guitar room which is a very stable environment along with around 30 other instruments, 10 are Gibsons but i have Fenders and others with nitro finish.

The guitar has not left my home since it arrived.

The finish cracking has continued to get more severe and all the cracks are running along the body in the direction of grain / joints.

No checking or cracks on neck, headstock or around the neck joint, only on the body.

The guitar still wont stay in tune.

The dealer told me the checking is perfectly normal and actually desirable ........ also that Gibson will say tuning instability will not be linked to surface checking.

The dealer has spoken to Gibson who say surface checking is normal and not covered by the Gibson warranty.

I'm not new to Gibsons, i have been buying them for over 30 years and none of them have ever cracked like this, i have a couple of surface checks around headstock inlays but nothing like this.

To me it looks like the body has not been stable before manufacturing or exposed to "conditions" during manufacturing and its been slowly settling since.

I would have thought if the finished guitar had been exposed to changing environments , hot / cold / dry / humid then finish checking would be all over the instrument not just the body ?

I also would imagine the checking would be random patterns if it was just in the finish rather than following grain / joints ?

Im also not convinced that the tuning instability is not related to the cracking which is continuing to develop after a long time in a stable environment and the guitar still hasn't settled.

Difficult to photograph and actually worse than the photographs look.
EB29-B8-AA-BB76-4-DAB-BAAE-2799-BADE408-A.png


74-D0-BE91-AC6-A-4-A2-D-A786-9-E9-DB6773423.png


3-C75-A1-BD-2-CD8-4-C1-E-B867-A59470-B34-FF4.png


3-A008261-879-B-4-C0-C-8-E73-68820-AEEEC62.png


53625-E57-B018-432-A-BA9-E-93-EC8-F0-AA4-A4.png

Introducing.... Gibson CASE-WORN guitars... ;)

Sorry this is happening to you...
 

452varmint

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Posts
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Location
NI
IMO, the checking (finish cracks) seems to originate at the tailpiece/bridge. I don't really see checks between the studs or far outside of them.

Looking at the guitar again that made sense so i removed the pickguard and can now see that the cracking runs along the grain the full length of the body, right through the bridge mountings and there are also cracks from the pickguard screw holes to the neck joint which had been hidden by the pickguard.
Even running from the strap button and pickup screws.

78-E5-B768-F084-40-AF-9161-B4-E519-D7-D242.png


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The screws appear to have all been overtightened during assembly, screwed in without pilot holes or screwed into unstable wood but the cracks are definitely from screw holes not the usual surface checking due to "Temperature and Humidity variations"

This could possible explain both the tuning instability and the cracking as the cracking runs through screw holes to either side of the neck joint and the full length of then body through the bridge.

53-AE6-E7-B-2-C2-D-4834-880-F-C688-FACA4550.png


D16-A8-C1-A-6-A19-4-EA3-893-A-ED56559410-B0.jpg


The screws being to blame would also explain why there is no cracking on the back of the body / neck / headstock.

The crack at the bottom is interesting, it runs through the two lower pickguard holes even though the body is cut away which would seem to indicate a problem with the wood having a pre existing crack / stress or not being seasoned properly as there is obviously a weakness along that line that the screws have individually highlighted through the cut away.

7-B3-F960-B-3-C9-C-48-F2-9-D57-54054-FC8-A747.jpg
 




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