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Truss Rod Damage.
I just purchased an older Optek SmartLight Model 30-C guitar via the internet, from a private party.
The body is in near perfect shape. It even still has some of the backings plastic protective film
cover still attached. I was surprised to see there were no strings on the guitar. And upon closer
inspection of the neck, I found that there are several cracks (the width of a hair) that run virtually
the entire length of the neck (2nd fret up to the end of the neck).
The neck has 21 frets with a 3/4" area at the end that has no frets. Here's the fret by fret
crack pattern, in hopes that you can better diagnose the problem...
1st Fret: Clear
2nd Fret: Cracked, just below 3rd string
3rd-5th Fret: Cracked, between 3rd & 4th string
6th-8th Fret: Cracked, directly under 3rd string
9th-10th Fret: Cracked, between 3rd & 4th string
11th-15th Fret: Cracked, between 3rd & 4th string - and also directly under the 5th string
16th-18th Fret: Cracked directly under 4th string - and also directly under the 5th string
19th-21st Fret: Cracked directly under 4th string - all the way to the end of the neck
As you can see, the cracks essentially run the length of the neck, and on either side of the center
of the neck. There is also what appears to be a 'surface' stress like crack in the body's 'cut-away'
on the 1st strings side (as opposed to the 6th), where the neck joins the body.
And so, I was wondering/guessing... "Is this typical neck resulting damage from an over torqued
truss rod?" It almost appears as if the entire length of the truss rod tried to bulge through the
center of the neck, in an upward manner (guitar layed flat on it's back) - causing the necks wood
to separate or come apart, resulting in hair like fissures (cracks).
Have you come across this situation before? What can be done to repair it? (filled and sanded?)
How much would this typically cost to repair?
You raise a good point about the possibilty of the truss rod being overtorqued, however there is another
clue you gave here that would almost disqualify that thought. You mentioned the crack begining in the
body at the lower cutaway where the neck joins the body. Truss rods even when overtorqued would not cause that.
There could be a number of things here to cause all this.
It could have been badly damaged in shipment, car wreck or even left in high summer temps in the trunk of a car.
Now that will damage a guitar more than anything I've seen yet. The crack at the body really gets my attention.
Someone may have used it temporarily as a weapon holding it by the neck. When swung like a ball bat when the
body hits something the shock would be delivered to the neck where it was held in hand and would split
the wood with the grain and also pressed hard enough sideways against the body wood to
start a small crack there too.
My suggestion would be to squirt clear industrial strength super glue into
all the cracks. Hot stuff glues at hobby shops will be fine. It nees to be the water thin type so it will flash
into the cracks. That should stop the cracks from getting worse and the glue will buff out clear like
laquer. Otherwise if it does not hold up then a new neck. That could get costly. The body has to be worked
on too. If it is a bolt on neck design then you can get a replacement fairly cheap but if it is a glue
in neck the body would have to be touched up after the neck removal. That is all a lot of work and that
is when you consider what the guitar is worth.
Also back to the truss rod . . . it would only bulge toward
the mid area of the neck as it does not press upwardly at the ends of the neck. One thing to remember
to do is loosen the rod completely and see if it apears to let the cracks close any. This would suggest
that the rod is pressing hard enough to open the cracks. Be sure and get the glue to rush into the cracks
very quickly as deeply as it can go into the cracks. Stringer 'er up and play it a while and watch it
closely before doing any major cosmetic repairs. If it don't hold then you didn't waste a lot of
time or money. If it holds true for a fairly long period of time then you can decide if it is
worth the cosmetic repairs to hide the cracks. Sure sounds to me like the guita got a hard lick
sideways. Someone may have even fallen off the stage while playing. Believe me I've seen a lot.
Hope this helps you.