What to do about a crack in the gloss finish?

pix.fairydust

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Hi everyone,

So I was wondering about what to do when you get a crack in the finish (nitro-cellulose)?

I don't have to worry about humidity where I am, but in transit from overseas a crack developed in the finish (high gloss). Only small and only really visible if you're looking for it. It's just below the neck on the back.

I've tried searching on UU and online but couldn't find anything really that answered my questions.

So I've been assured the crack is in the finish only. Do I leave it completely alone or do I need to do something to "protect it"? I have no experience with this stuff!

Is it worth researching a luthier (it's a very expensive ukulele so they'd have to be very good which would involve some travelling on my part / expensive insured postage).

Any advice on what I should do would be much appreciated :)

Thank you UU!

PS. It doesn't bother me, I want to play it not baby it, but I don't want to not do something to safeguard it if I should.
 

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Jerryc41

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I'm sure someone will ask for a picture. A crack is different from a scratch, which would be difficult enough to repair. If the gloss finish is cracked, I think it would have to be refinished. That would be very expensive, and you would want a very talented person doing that. Will the crack be expanding?

As for getting it a good luthier, shipping might be expensive, but it would be nothing compared with going there yourself.
 

ProfChris

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Did the person who assured you the crack was only in the finish actually have the expertise to do so? If not, it's worth checking.

Does moderate finger pressure move the wood either side? If you can get a light inside in a darkened room, can you see light at the crack from the outside? Does naphtha (lighter fluid) appear on the inside if you drip it onto the crack on the outside? If yes to any of these, the crack is in the wood too. A crack in the wood should be fixed, to sop it spreading, and fixed as soon as possible because otherwise dirt will get into the crack and the repair will always be visible.

If the wood is cracked it needs fixing and that's pretty easy for a competent luthier (even I, an amateur builder, could do that, but although I'm only 40 miles or so from you I won't offer because I honestly couldn't get to it for several months, and anyway I'm amateur!). In Cambridge there should be several guitar luthiers, and violin repairers, most of whom should find that easy. Hot hide glue is best in my view, but Titebond Original is also acceptable. Any other proposed glue is suspect.

Fixing the finish depends on what the finish is. A crack in gloss finish is usually repairable invisibly, but only if the luthier is skilled in doing that. Find out what the finish is from the maker, because that defines the finish repair. But, in essence, all are the same - fill the crack with the same finish (or CA glue if it's poly), level and then blend in to the existing finish. Someone with my skill level might manage an invisible repair, but that would be more luck than skill!
 

KohanMike

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About 5 years ago I dropped my Kala glossy uke on a tile floor, it cracked the finish on the binding and on the corner of the headstock. Been that way ever since with no problems.


9 tenor cutaway ukes, 5 acoustic bass ukes, 11 solid body bass ukes, 8 mini electric bass guitars (Total: 33)

• Donate to The Ukulele Kids Club, they provide ukuleles to children in hospital music therapy programs. www.theukc.org
• Member The CC Strummers: YouTube: www.youtube.com/user/CCStrummers/video, Facebook: www.facebook.com/TheCCStrummers
 
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pix.fairydust

pix.fairydust

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Did the person who assured you the crack was only in the finish actually have the expertise to do so? If not, it's worth checking.

Does moderate finger pressure move the wood either side? If you can get a light inside in a darkened room, can you see light at the crack from the outside? Does naphtha (lighter fluid) appear on the inside if you drip it onto the crack on the outside? If yes to any of these, the crack is in the wood too. A crack in the wood should be fixed, to sop it spreading, and fixed as soon as possible because otherwise dirt will get into the crack and the repair will always be visible.

If the wood is cracked it needs fixing and that's pretty easy for a competent luthier (even I, an amateur builder, could do that, but although I'm only 40 miles or so from you I won't offer because I honestly couldn't get to it for several months, and anyway I'm amateur!). In Cambridge there should be several guitar luthiers, and violin repairers, most of whom should find that easy. Hot hide glue is best in my view, but Titebond Original is also acceptable. Any other proposed glue is suspect.

Fixing the finish depends on what the finish is. A crack in gloss finish is usually repairable invisibly, but only if the luthier is skilled in doing that. Find out what the finish is from the maker, because that defines the finish repair. But, in essence, all are the same - fill the crack with the same finish (or CA glue if it's poly), level and then blend in to the existing finish. Someone with my skill level might manage an invisible repair, but that would be more luck than skill!

Thanks, that's really useful! The crack is in the finish (nitro-cellulose) - I've been told this by a very reputable dealer and I trust them implicitly (good or bad you decide, but I do :) )
They've also said that in our climate it is unlikely to grow unless exposed to extremes in temperature again, ie being taken abroad. Also they definitely said crack and not scratch.

Hmm, even more to think about now. Best to get it seen to, or just for aesthetic reasons?
 
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pix.fairydust

pix.fairydust

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I'm sure someone will ask for a picture. A crack is different from a scratch, which would be difficult enough to repair. If the gloss finish is cracked, I think it would have to be refinished. That would be very expensive, and you would want a very talented person doing that. Will the crack be expanding?

As for getting it a good luthier, shipping might be expensive, but it would be nothing compared with going there yourself.

I'm told it shouldn't expand. Is it a need to repair thing, beyond just aesthetics?
 
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pix.fairydust

pix.fairydust

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About 5 years ago I dropped my Kala glossy uke on a tile floor, it cracked the finish on the binding and on the corner of the headstock. Been that way ever since with no problems.


9 tenor cutaway ukes, 5 acoustic bass ukes, 11 solid body bass ukes, 8 mini electric bass guitars (Total: 33)

• Donate to The Ukulele Kids Club, they provide ukuleles to children in hospital music therapy programs. www.theukc.org
• Member The CC Strummers: YouTube: www.youtube.com/user/CCStrummers/video, Facebook: www.facebook.com/TheCCStrummers

Thanks for that!
 
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stevejfc

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Sounds like a superficial crack or "craze" in the finish. I would leave it alone unless it increased in size.
 
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pix.fairydust

pix.fairydust

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I included a photo in the original post showing it close up. Looking at the back from slightly further it's just visible
 

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pix.fairydust

pix.fairydust

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Sounds like a superficial crack or "craze" in the finish. I would leave it alone unless it increased in size.

Yes, it definitely looks superficial. If I hadn't been told "crack" I'd have thought it was a scratch
 
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ProfChris

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Thanks, that's really useful! The crack is in the finish (nitro-cellulose) - I've been told this by a very reputable dealer and I trust them implicitly (good or bad you decide, but I do :) )
They've also said that in our climate it is unlikely to grow unless exposed to extremes in temperature again, ie being taken abroad. Also they definitely said crack and not scratch.

Hmm, even more to think about now. Best to get it seen to, or just for aesthetic reasons?

Nitro finish is something any good guitar luthier should be able to fix invisibly. Violin repairers don't tend to use nitro. You won't find a uke specialist locally but you don't need one.

As it's cosmetic, your choice. I'd not expect it to be very expensive, it's a few hours work spread over a few weeks as the finish cures for levelling and buffing.
 
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pix.fairydust

pix.fairydust

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Possibly the first of several if you take the uke out of the house a lot and play it all the time. One of the only ways to avoid cracks and scratches on a gloss finish is to leave the uke in the case for ever.
Still it is annoying when it happens.
There is a lot of information, some of it accurate, about repairing nitro cellulose finishes on the internet. You don't have to do the repair, but you can learn what might be involved and the chances of success and you may feel more relaxed. Since the crack is on the back of the uke, a flat surface to work on, I don't think it would be a complicated repair. It can't hurt to find a competent local repair person and ask for a quote. Even if you don't go ahead with the repair, you might find some nice ukes to look at in the workshop.

Oh, I don't mind a bit of play wear, ukuleles are to be played! But I just want to make sure the crack in the gloss isn't something that's going to turn nasty!

You're right, no harm in getting some quotes. I've looked a bit online at what a repair would consist of and most of it seems a bit extreme for a little thing...

If it's "safe" I want to leave it as it is. If it gets more little scratchy friends through play, ah well, more love to it :)
 
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pix.fairydust

pix.fairydust

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Nitro finish is something any good guitar luthier should be able to fix invisibly. Violin repairers don't tend to use nitro. You won't find a uke specialist locally but you don't need one.

As it's cosmetic, your choice. I'd not expect it to be very expensive, it's a few hours work spread over a few weeks as the finish cures for levelling and buffing.

If the finish crack is considered purely cosmetic that's fine with me, I won't touch it! After all I'm flawed, why shouldn't my instrument be too?! All added value and interest :p
 
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pix.fairydust

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Thanks to everyone that replied.

I'm going to research a good luthier near-ish to me (because that would be useful on so many fronts!) but most likely I'm going to leave the slight crack alone. It's not big or deep and it's barely noticeable from more than 30cm away.

Appreciate all the help :)
 
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Jerryc41

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Thanks to everyone that replied.

I'm going to research a good luthier near-ish to me (because that would be useful on so many fronts!) but most likely I'm going to leave the slight crack alone. It's not big or deep and it's barely noticeable from more than 30cm away.

Appreciate all the help :)

Good decision.
 

mm stan

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Is this an expensive ukulele, meaning thousands? To me, leave it as is, you'll get m9re battle scars. It's purely aesthetics, I'd contact Rick in Santa Cruz if you want to fix it, he knows all about this type of finishes if you have the money and positive you want it fixed. Don't bother him if you're not serious and just inquisitive
Rick Turner
Compass rose ukulele
 
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pix.fairydust

pix.fairydust

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Is this an expensive ukulele, meaning thousands? To me, leave it as is, you'll get m9re battle scars. It's purely aesthetics, I'd contact Rick in Santa Cruz if you want to fix it, he knows all about this type of finishes if you have the money and positive you want it fixed. Don't bother him if you're not serious and just inquisitive
Rick Turner
Compass rose ukulele

Thanks. I don't tend to bother people unless I'm serious, I know how busy most people are! Plus I'm in the UK.
I don't mind battle scars and from what I'm reading / have been told this doesn't pose a threat to the ukulele, so I'm leaving it.
 
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