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Thread: Repairing a Cracked Body...

  1. #1

    Default Repairing a Cracked Body...

    I let a friend borrow my ukulele for a few months and it came back with a few ugly cracks... they said they must have dropped it along the way. There's one that appeared right next to the bridge, and a bigger one almost parallel to the first. I'm looking for a way to get the cracks repaired, but I'm concerned that it'd be near impossible because of the way the cracks formed...

    here's a picture: IMG_20200226_201427.jpg

    Any thoughts?

  2. #2
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    My thought is that is not a very good friend.

  3. #3
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    That is not impossible to repair, but it would be difficult. You have to consider whether or not it is worth the cost of having it repaired professionally. If the uke is a generic, Chinese factory made instrument - probably not.

    What size uke is it? Tenors are an easier proposition for repair, simply because they are bigger. Access to the inside, via the sound hole, is less restricted than with a soprano or concert.

    If you have some DIY skills, you could tackle the job yourself. I made a very similar repair to a soprano, only last year. The result is visible, but not too disfiguring.

    That kind if damage is most likely to have been caused by hard pressure upon the bridge - such as being sat on. My soprano got trapped under the folding back seat of my car, while in a soft bag.

    Best wishes,

    John Colter

    ps. The pull of the strings could do futher damage to that weakened front. You'd be well advised to wind off the tension, while you decide what to do.

  4. #4
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    It would be cheaper to have the "friend" buy you a new one !
    Mahimahi MS-35W Soprano Willow
    Mahimahi MC-35W Concerto Willow
    Mahimahi MT-35W Tenore Willow
    GESO GC-85 Concert
    Martin T-15 Tiple 1956

  5. #5

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    Thank you for your replies! Yes, this is a tenor uke; Kala's KA-STG to be exact, which cost me a little less than $200 when I bought it years prior. So in that sense, I'm thankful that repair will be a little easier. I'm definitely going to try mending the cracks myself, as it seems that repair will cost a bit more than it's worth. What materials would I need to start?

    As for my friend, I've realized that they can be a bit of a clutz at times hahah. I'll have to be more careful and a little less trusting when I let them borrow things from now on... They're kind enough though, I can assure you that, they've offered to cover the repair/replacement costs.

  6. #6
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    I have a kind, but klutzy friend as well.

  7. #7
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    Any crack can be repaired, but this one is really bad. The crack goes against the grain and the finish is not repairable because the finish is a plastic, it would need to be removed and redone on the top. If it came into my shop, the cost would be about $500 minimum (but actually I would decline to do it, too much time and effort for what it is). Get a new uke and give the broken back to you friend.

  8. #8

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    Ohh, so that's what the finish was... I guess I'll be in the market for a new one then. Thank you for the advice!

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by jkobbschlepper View Post
    Ohh, so that's what the finish was... I guess I'll be in the market for a new one then. Thank you for the advice!
    I have no doubt that the instrument is damaged beyond commercial economic repair, Black Bear is an expert and knows his trade. However I respect Ukantor too and his opinion is contrary to BB, but then so is his perspective and possibly proposition. I wonder whether a repaired finish is important to you, I wonder whether signs of repair are important to you, I wonder if a mechanically imperfect repair would be acceptable to you and I wonder whether you are prepared to spend some of your time and a little money having a go at making something from what would otherwise be a scrapped instrument. Ukantor has done some pretty impressive repairs but he has some skills and experience, and his time is free to him. You might not do as well (as Ukantor) but what might you manage and would that achievement be of value to you? Given free labour and a little skill might it be worth exploring what could be possible and practical for you to do or for someone you gift the damaged Uke to?

    Accidents happen and a situation isn’t always improved by getting upset about things. Why loose a friend over this? To my mind there’s a case for saying that you made the mistake of lending a Uke to someone who’s accident prone and either doesn’t understood his responsibilities in accepting the loan or is unable to shoulder them.

    The one good thing that this accident has provided you with is various learning opportunities, what would have been better to do with your friend and what can you learn from attempting a repair yourself. You could even learn from carefully splitting it into parts and seeing something of how it was built; the individual parts might then be salvage items to help with the build of something else by you or gifted on to whoever you choose.
    Last edited by Graham Greenbag; 02-27-2020 at 11:43 PM.

  10. #10
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    This doesn't look repairable to a level where the uke is structurally sound and looks OK from a distance.

    But it might still be possible to keep it as a playable instrument depending on what damage can be seen on the inside. If a fan brace is broken, then I think it might slowly distort and collapse, and replacing a fan brace is not likely within the OP's abilities.

    If the bracing is intact (a picture from inside would help if one can be achieved) then it would be worth trying to persuade the breaks into some sort of alignment, glueing a series of cleats along the cracks, and then seeing if it still played and sounded OK. The top would look ugly, but that's inevitable. The cross-grain split between the cracks at the tail is a structural problem, but it might still hold if the bracing is intact.

    This wouldn't be hours of work for the owner, and if it does work he'd have a spare uke which could be taken anywhere without worrying about further damage!

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