This is a guitar that I bought at an outdoor antique show. I believe it may be a Washburn, because of the truncated pyramids on the ebony bridge. It also has an ink stamped serial number, 6317, on the neck block, but no other label or stamp. The bridge pins are bone, with black dots, and there was an ivory end pin. In contrast, the fingerboard is dyed maple.
When I bought it the bridge was coming up and taking some top wood with it. The strings were still on it and the side was cracked. I suspect it had been in this condition for a long time, because the crack in the side had separated at the upper bout, and at the lower bout, but was overlapping at the waist. It seems as though the crack was pulled into this configuration by the string tension.
I have tried to ease the edges of the crack back together, but it just doesn't want to go.
Any ideas? Am I going to have to move it gradually back over the next 10 years, or is there some other approach?
That's a dandy! I'd place the whole thing is a trash bag to humidify it first. Before that, make a bondo caul of the opposite side...be sure to make a 'flat' surface to enable a clamp jig for it later. The bondo should be a match for the cracked side, for later use after humidifying.
After is WELL humidified.... affix the bondo caul over the cracked side...this will allow the crack to stay in alignment so the edges meet. (you may have to assist the alignment with a hand on the inside of the guitar.)
As you know, always 'dry clamp' first to make sure).
I'd use some 3" wide(min) boards on the top and bottom and begin tightening down bringing it together. I use thick flannel pads to prevent marring the top & bottom finish.
The side clamps , clamping the bondo in place (across the entire guitar top/bottom)...should not require much pressure, just enough to keep the 2 cracked pieces in alignment.
For this job I would prefer to use Tightbond glue, as it cleans up with warm water...should hold stronger than Hide glue.
Since this has been cracked for sometime, you may want to steam the crack edges first, using a high pressure steam hose unit. The stream should 'blow off' the old dust, etc.
While clamped for a couple days, be sure to place some cleats over the crack, cleat grain should run vertical to the guitar grain for more strength.
Hey, Jim and Chris,
Thanks for the help. Because the two sides of the crack overlap at the waist, I tried putting a jack type support between the top and the back in this spot. Although the split at the waist was then close, the top and bottom bouts were even farther apart. When I then tried to bring the split together at the top and bottom bouts, there was an ominous amount of resistance. That was when I asked for help.
I will try the humidification, but I suspect that this is going to take a long time to "warp" back to its original configuration.
No, all the wood is there, and seems to match up well, if only I could bring them together.
Here's a picture of the bridge:
You might get more flexibility with the side crack if you dampen the sides with a wet sponge, from the inside of the instrument.
If you had the back off the instrument, it might help, but I wouldn't remove it unless it was absolutely necessary. If the back is off, and doesn't want to line up when going back together you can add or remove wood, to the back, if needed.
Jim and Chris and you seem to have the right idea here. Humidity, and patience. A careful hand.
I would use Hide glue as Jim recommended though, rather than Titebond. It also cleans well with warm water, and in my opinion will hold just as well if not better. Certainly either would be a fine choice.
Best of luck. I love that style of guitar!
Thanks everyone for the input. I think Devin summed it up nicely with "humidity and patience."
If/when I get it back together, I'll post a picture.
Hi George- along with the other suggestion that you have for your repair, ( and they are all good ones)
I would also add some braces on the inside of the guitar in a configeration that is perpondicular to the grain
of the sides -- that way you will be giving the sides some more oomph if you know what I mean.The braces can be made of mahogny or spruce and can be only 1/4 in X 1/4 in and put about 3-4 inches apart.
Beas to you on your repair.....
I don't think there was much arch to the back when it was made. When comparing it to two other Washburn / Lyon & Healey guitars of that era, the amount of arch looks pretty much the same for all three.
I currently have the top and back supported on the inside over a broad area, with cutouts for the braces. (Interestingly, the top brace below the sound hole runs diagonally, from the waist on the bass side, to halfway down the lower bout on the treble side. The rest are all "ladder.")
There are spool clamps at the upper and lower bouts, and the whole body of the guitar is in a plastic bag with a humidifier.