This is about an 1977 Ovation "Balladeer" (solid wood top & neck). A working horse that has spent most of it's musical life outdoors, assisting a street artist.

It came to me with string buzz problems. The top cracks I noticed were of no interest to the owner, the buzzing strings did. So I explained that the cracks wouldn't stop expanding if they weren't fixed.


By now I re-humidified (??) it for about 48 hours, resulting in almost totaly closing the smalest crack. I have to get some glue in (I think CA) and have to later re-enforce using patches.

The problem however is that some of the -verry thin- braces cross with the cracks. I checked (and re-checked) these braces and am sure they're not loose. I have tried opening the cracks up, pushing outward on one side and inward on the other but that didn't do it and I am concerned that using more force will result in more damage.

So, what to do? Just work some CA in and clamp the top flat and after that glue in the patches or

would it be wise to remove the braces first (of course after I have marked their positions) expecting that that enables me to do open these cracks, and re-glue them later on?

I know it would be ideal if I could apply the glue from the inside (no clean-up and touch-up on the finish) but strangely there is no evidence of these cracks on the inside. (inspected with light and mirror, endoscopic camera and with my hands/ fingers).

A second problem area is the FB-tongue: it has a hairline crack in it too. I would just fill it up with CA (then scrape the exess off) or would it be better if I  would try to clamp that crack close?


I know you all like pics, so I'll add some.

Tags: cracks crossing braces

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And the last picture...


 Bart, when I use CA on cracks, I don't worry about opening up the crack to get glue into it. In fact, my worry is more focused on insuring that I control where the glue goes since thin CA will wick into almost anything and run EVERYWHERE.

 If you're positive that the braces are not loose, I wouldn't worry about them either. My focus would be on insuring that the cracks were tight and flat before I ran in the glue. It they aren't, you will need a very, very quick way to clamp them flat or accept the misalignment. I would also carefully line the cracks with good quality masking tape, keeping the tape right next to the crack on both sides. I use the blue 3M tape and stretch it as I lay it down. I also use a smooth "waxing" tool from a dental lab to press the tape down well on the edges and overlap the strips of tape at the end to create a dam for the glue. A credit card works pretty well too.  The glue really will run everywhere as well as through the crack when it is applied and it's not fun to have to scrape it all down to get it cleaned up so make sure the tape is well applied.


Once the tape is ready, run a small bead of thin CA down the length of the crack and clamp it up ( with wax paper) if it's needed. I don't much like using accelerator on my CA because I tend to get it everywhere and then make a mess with the glue. This means that it MIGHT take a few minutes for the  glue to set. (Don't count on this, it only happens to me when I DON'T need to clamp things. )  I like to remove the tape ASAP and you will probably need to scrape the seam just a bit to level it up then buff it a bit to blend.  I would leave this part until the patches are applied to the crack internally to reinforce things. 

Once the glue is applied, take a look inside and you will see that there is no problem getting CA through a crack unless the crack itself doesn't go through. If this is the case, great , if not it's up to you to decide if you want to try to scrape/sand away the excess glue. I usually don't unless it really makes a mess. Generally speaking, it really doesn't take a lot of glue to do this. Just don't skimp on the cross grain patches to support the crack after it's glued up.

BTW, I know that some people will run a strip of masking tape the length of the crack on the inside to help keep the glue under control. I just don't seem to be able to get that done with any accuracy through the sound hole.  If I have the back off or the top off, I will cover them. Otherwise, I just can't reach far enough inside to do it much good.

Looking at the picture again, it occurred to me that you might want to get some distilled water and try, gently, cleaning the cracks before you glue things up. It goes without saying that you will need to allow  time to dry before doing anything but the joint will probably do better if you can get some of the grime out of the cracks first.

I would have to add to Ned's reply that you should get the masking tape off ASAP before it stiks to the top.IF you are going to haft to clamp it just do part of the crack at a time. Bill......

You might want to see if the Ovation finish is impervious to acetone. Rest assured it is not nitro. Try under one of the tuning machines. If it doen't melt (and the finish on the neck is the same as the body...) you can really clean up any errant CA.


You can fill the FB ccheck with black CA from Stew Mac, colored epoxy, or CA covered with ebony dust. You won't be able to close that crack without loosening the FB tounge and its not worth it. I would be tempted to ignore it.



I'll second what Joshua said. I'd be surprised if acetone had much if any effect on that polyester. Clean up should be easy- don't bother with masking tape.

For the fingerboard, plain thin CA will do fine; no need to try to use wood dust to color it. Once the crack is filled it will just look dark and be inconspicuous.

My preference would be to use either HHG or Titebond original and let the extra working time, over CA, give you some time after a dry run of course... to get cauls and clamps or rare earth magnets in place to level both sides.

If the braces are not loose great but if they are where they span the crack I would shoot for a gluing and clamping regimen that permits you to glue the brace and the crack all at once.

We see a lot of cracks here in the midwest where forced air heating systems and cold, dry winters with folks who don't humidify their home just add to the problem/opportunity... ;)

Step one for me, and I am only saying this for some of the newer repair folks so you old pros please excuse me in advance...  Step one for me is to wash my hands...  I use a finger or two to manipulate the crack to facilitate getting glue in there.  A dirty finger can very quickly create a dirty crack... forever...  And no I am not trying to be funny and if your mind went there so did mine too... ;)

Anyway I manipulate the crack, rub in glue, use a mirror and light to see what I am hoping to see and that is little beads of glue coming through the crack on the inside which tells me that I got the glue in there.  Squeeze out is your friend, mine too...  Once I see glue on the inside I use a flat caul, waxed paper to prevent the caul from becoming part of the top... and either clamp or use the 3/4" rare earth magnets which produce approx. 40 lbs of clamping pressure.

The last step is to cleat as need be and Bob's your uncle...

Personally I think that I did pretty good getting through this entire post without even mentioning the name Ov*tion... or suggesting using a Claymore on the thing... ;)

BTW (by the way) rare earth magnets with appropriate protection for the top may be slid into place from the outside permitting us to access some of the tougher places inside the box.

Thanks for putting up with me Bart - I really do mean well...

Hello Hesh! Congratulations on your new business venture! I have an Ovat... that has the same type of issue being discussed here. I've been wondering the same question of how to approach the crack. I've hydrated the guitar and the crack has closed real tight. I also prefer to use HHG and am wondering if I should thin it - or do you go at it full strength? Also, do you warm the top before working the HHG in? 

By the way any one of these Ovation I have come across the bracing run the same way the cracks do ,and have allways been right along side of the brace. Bill...........

Hi Lee and many thanks my friend for the congrats!!!

Typically for top cracks we won't thin the HHG, just manipulate the crack from the inside to open it up a bit as we rub glue in the crack.

Warming might be a good idea too if the crack is difficult to open back up and you need a minute or two to get the glue where you want it.

An unintended consequence of warming the crack too much though is the risk that Keith Partridge might materialize out of the sound hole as a holographic, three dimensional image and then start singing that awful theme to the Partridge Family...  This is where the claymore is useful to get him our of our shops if he does show up.... ;)

Oh my god, had to look up Claymore, and then get myself back up off the floor from laughing. Exactly the fate I had envisioned as I've read through these posts. Touche.


In trying to keep as many Claymores in reserve as we can, we had an Ovation with the same problems in the shop last week.  I discussed procedural options with the store owner. After a long and careful deliberation, we implemented a new standard to the store's policy regarding the repair of Ovations:

We will cut the neck off the guitar.  We will remove the top from the guitar. 

This particular instrument will become an appropriate sized food dish for his purebred Mastiff.

All future Ovations will be converted into planters and birdbaths using the same approach....with several color and material options for decorative bases.

So, you may wish to secure your Claymores to reinforce perimeter defenses because all the local hillbillies swear "there's a revolution a'comin'."  I don't know who we're gonna be fightin', but the hillbillies predict it'll be fierce!!!!!

Later on buddy,

Paul V.

Executive Vice President of the Jacksonville, IL, Liars Club.... or AM I?


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