PDA

View Full Version : Out, out damn spo... er crack.



Icelander53
08-01-2014, 12:40 PM
So then, I live in a semi dry area of the country near Eastern Oregon's High Desert. Summers are Mediterranean, dry and hot. So of course I humidify a dedicated closet for my ukes. But I read a lot here about some woods being more susceptible to dry air cracking or separation or just cracking in general. I got interested in a Mele Koa tenor after hearing a sound sample but saw a discussion from some owners that there's developed cracks and they had trouble with the company on the issue and it scared me off a little.

Now I've seen Willie Nelson's Guitar with a big ol hole in it and him playing it on stage. That got me to thinking of course and wondering if most cracks that are small and don't threaten the structural stability of the instrument actually negatively affect the sound of the instrument to any great degree. Because if I got a great sounding Koa and it developed some hairline cracks and it was just a cosmetic and resale issue that might not stop me from buying something that sounded wonderful.

Care to educate me on this?

strumsilly
08-01-2014, 12:48 PM
buy one that is already cracked, then you don't have to worry about it cracking, and they are usually cheaper.

Icelander53
08-01-2014, 01:23 PM
First I need to know if it alters the sound quality.

Patrick Madsen
08-01-2014, 02:12 PM
Willies guitar is amplified so the hole doesn't matter. For myself, out of respect for the uke, I'd have to have the crack repaired no matter if there was a difference or not

Icelander53
08-01-2014, 02:27 PM
Willie must not respect that guitar. :mad: I might have it fixed or I might not depending on if it bugged me or not or if I wanted to be without if for repairs or if I wanted to sell it or if I wanted to shell out the money but what I'm really curious to know is does it usually affect the sound quality?

stevepetergal
08-01-2014, 02:36 PM
I read a lot here about some woods being more susceptible to dry air cracking or separation or just cracking in general. I got interested in a Mele Koa tenor after hearing a sound sample but saw a discussion from some owners that there's developed cracks and they had trouble with the company on the issue and it scared me off a little.

Now I've seen Willie Nelson's Guitar with a big ol hole in it and him playing it on stage. That got me to thinking of course and wondering if most cracks that are small and don't threaten the structural stability of the instrument actually negatively affect the sound of the instrument to any great degree. Because if I got a great sounding Koa and it developed some hairline cracks and it was just a cosmetic and resale issue that might not stop me from buying something that sounded wonderful.

Care to educate me on this?

If a crack is related to any other failure, (separation from braces, dishing or other mis-shaping of the soundboard, lifting of the soundboard or bridge, other glue joint failure...) or if the crack goes from one edge to the other, completely bisecting the soundboard, sound production will likely be effected enough to notice. But cracks alone don't effect the sound in any way you'll be able to detect unless the sides rub together and buzz (pretty unlikely on a small instrument like an ukulele).

Resale value is another issue altogether. People don't seem to want cracked instruments. So, each of us must decide where resale value fits on the priority list.

On another note, I read all the time about Willie Nelson's guitar. Sorry to burst anyone's bubble, but there's no way that instrument is anywhere near what it was before the beatings. You can be sure, if it wasn't "Willie Nelson's guitar", it would simply be a worthless piece of junk. If he sells it to you, mount it. It's not worth playing.

TheCraftedCow
08-01-2014, 08:27 PM
WHY? knowing that koa is a humid island wood would you even want to get one? There are other woods which match koa for tone and are much more stable, and less expensive. They even have grain patterns which make koa blush in shame of being so plain. We have some pretty spectacular builders here in Oregon, as well.

Peterjens
08-01-2014, 09:28 PM
buy one that is already cracked, then you don't have to worry about it cracking, and they are usually cheaper.

I bought a late 40s Martin 3M that has a nicely repaired five-inch crack in the side of it. If it was a perfect vintage Martin, I wouldn't be able to afford to play it.

Oh, about the effect on the sound quality - I don't know. Sounds like a Martin to me.

hawaii 50
08-01-2014, 09:38 PM
WHY? knowing that koa is a humid island wood would you even want to get one? There are other woods which match koa for tone and are much more stable, and less expensive. They even have grain patterns which make koa blush in shame of being so plain. We have some pretty spectacular builders here in Oregon, as well.


when was the last time you lived in Hawaii..i live on one the wettest parts of Oahu....Wahiawa.... and the RH is always between 40-70% and on the Bid Island where the Koa is grown RH about the same...

I got a whole bunch of Koa ukes and have no problems....

I think the Mele Ukes are built in the Philippines so that is why they have problems with cracking.....if you want to talk humid...pretty humid there...

chefuke
08-01-2014, 10:04 PM
http://youtu.be/nDUW7OHifqE

Just Breathe.

Willie's Trigger sounds and is amazing.

http://www.texasmonthly.com/story/trigger

mm stan
08-01-2014, 11:30 PM
Please name me a wood that does not crack....educate me

UkerDanno
08-02-2014, 03:35 AM
I wouldn't buy a uke brand that tends to crack. A small crack may not affect the sound, but it could be problematic.

perep
08-02-2014, 04:54 AM
Nice to see ya back Bill, yes there are great luthiers in Oregon & I use them but KOA is my favorite wood so far. Myrtle is grown here & it is fantastic in looks , will try that next, got some figured stuff already
Seems like in the VALLEY here the humidity is pretty stable, have not had problems YET with my ukes, incl MELE which I have a couple of

Icelander53
08-02-2014, 06:19 AM
I'm in southern oregon towards the High Desert and we dry out in the summer. Winter is no issue.

FourSilverMoonbeams
08-02-2014, 09:56 AM
I have a Mele mahogany tenor. Two cracks on the soundboard, one on the back and one on the side and it still sounds great. The cracks haven't affected the sound at all (although the soundboard hasn't been bisected). I don't think the problem with Meles cracking is just due to humidity as the UK isn't exactly dry!

BlackBearUkes
08-02-2014, 10:26 AM
I have a Mele mahogany tenor. Two cracks on the soundboard, one on the back and one on the side and it still sounds great. The cracks haven't affected the sound at all (although the soundboard hasn't been bisected). I don't think the problem with Meles cracking is just due to humidity as the UK isn't exactly dry!

More than likely, the wood was not properly cured before it was made into a uke. Its bad enough that wood is subjected to all kinds of temperatures and humidity levels even if the wood is cured before construction begins. It doesn't stand much of a chance if the wood is wet to begin with.

Cracks are not good, ever. If you let them go, bad things happen. If the crack is bad, get it fixed by someone who knows how to do it right. I charge double if I have to undo a bad repair job.

strumsilly
08-02-2014, 10:45 AM
Most vintage instruments I've owned and played have cracks, and I've never noticed them affecting the sound, Both my Favilla baritones and my Martin tenor have cracks, and they sound fantastic. I also live in the desert, in North Central Washington. I don't think Koa that is properly dried is any more likely to crack than other woods. None of my newer koa ukes have cracks, just the vintage Mahogany ones.