I'm working on a crack on the top of an Ovation Custom Balladeer. First off, I hate Ovations, and normally turn down the job when asked. But this guy begged me to help him out. I don't have any pics yet. Anyway, it's a typical crack from the middle of the bridge back to the end. I've got the crack glued up all nice with hide glue, and the joint is as aligned as it can be. But, as with all cracks like this, you can see the crack in the finish. If it was a Nitro finish I'd open the crack up a bit and use cellosolve then nitro to make it "vanish". But this one is a catalyzed polyester, which I have not worked with very much. Before I start anything, I thought I'd come on here and ask what you guys would do. So, my question is, will cellosolve amalgamate a catalyzed polyester. I know there will be a ghost line, but I'd like to make it as invisible as possible. And, I know that poly won't melt into itself. But there must be some way of getting a better result than just leaving it like it is. So, what would you guys use or do??

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I'd go with the stable repair you've done and pass on the finish work.  You seem to already know that touch-up work on an Ovation is a hellish nightmare.

If you choose to proceed, make sure the customer is aware of your hourly rate and include your research time & failed attempts in your final bill.  He's probably looking at several hundred $$$ in hourly charges for what nowadays is basically a $400 undesirable guitar on the used market.

You may also wish to comfort him bu stating (factually) that 90% of Ovations have 1 to 5 cracks in their tops.  I've always suspected their poorly designed cases for this fact.

Best of luck Jeff (:

I decided to just leave it. The guy isn't paying me enough to fret over it, pun intended. But, I'm still curious if any of you have any ideas for future reference.
I'm in the, "Pass on the finish work", camp.  The customer's lucky to have anyone agree to work on his Ovation.

Paul, I had always thought that the reasons for all the cracks in Ovations tops was because the plastic bodies can't breath like wood, so the top IS the only thing that 'can' move. So the top is between a rock and a hard place. What do you think?


Great observation Kerry!  I hadn't considered that distinct possibility.

That could be one of the elements in Ovation's perfect storm of issues that makes all of us go "fizzle frakin howza whatza drat darn it?" like Ralphie's dad in "A Christmas Story".

As a note, I have an Korean built transparent red Ovation Celebrity w/hard plastic case in VG+ condition for sale for $200+ shipping.  It's one of the Ovations with Adamas style soundholes in the top. It belongs to an old friend of mine.  It's only issue is a non functional bridge piezo and a very well done concealment of a top crack right where the soundhole would be,  My buddy repro'd the design of the soundholes' applique and glued it over the crack.  From two feet away, it looks like it came from the factory that way!.

I adjusted the nut and gave it a fret dress. My friend is finding it difficult to find someone willing to deal with Kaman for a replacement pickup system, myself included.    Access to the inards are through a removable round plate on its back.  I'm simply through with tearing up my arms in order to do the pup system swap & interior work. He asked me to get rid if it for him.  A wise move from my perspective.

Have a good 'un (-:

Cellosolve will have NO effect at all on catalyzed polymer, and neither will any other of our usual solvents.  As a rule, catalyzed finishes have a permanent change in their chemical makeup when they harden, and are no longer soluble in much of anything.  So, any finish touchup has to proceed along the lines of a cyanoacrylate fill that will stick to the finish, but not become "one" with it.


WIth practice, such a fill can be quite effective, but it takes some time to get the process down, and, like any other touchup, it takes time to do, too.

Thanks Frank. That's exactly what I thought. I guess I was hoping someone had come up with something more interesting.
The top cracks usually happen because the bridges are glued directly onto the finish, and not the wood.  They use bolts to align them, and when the bridge joint inevitably fails, all the force is transferred to the bolts, causing the heaving and distortion of the top that ovulations are known for.  As for the finish, super glue can be fairly effective, if you're good with it.  Although once I did a top refin on one with a spray can of truck bed liner.  All the finish had fallen off, and I was looking for a cheap way out.  The customer thought it would be cool to have the top match the back, so I masked it off and sprayed away.  The truly crazy part is that it really didn't sound much different.

Keith Partridge would be mad at you, Hugh... ;)



Throw the thing into a dumpster!  I have 3 Ovations that have the tops distroyed that need to go there.  The tunners are great tho.



I use CA one for these repairs. Not perfect, but a pretty decent result, and customers are happy. I warn them that these finishes can't be repaired, and that I can only make it a little better than an obvious crack.


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