Cracks in Ebony fingerboard, need advice

Discussion in 'Fred's Barcalounge' started by radd, Oct 29, 2020.

  1. radd

    radd Country Gent

    Dec 27, 2017
    Santa Cruz
    I picked up a kinda high end Eastman. T184mx. Beautiful 14” bout thinline that lists for about $,2,500 but can be found a couple hundred under that. I bought used, great price, 1/2 what the general used price is.

    It checks out nicely, it does have finish cracks in the very thin Nitro that Eastman uses.

    The guitar hardly has a mark on it, but it appears it has sat for a long time.

    The only concern are cracks in the Ebony board. I’ve owned my share of Ebony boards but have not experienced cracks like this....Is it a concern? I could feel them so I conditioned the board. The pics are after that.

    I can return it if necessary.

    5079DEDC-6102-4C87-B97A-4EFB94D781C0.jpeg 0ADBC6AA-425B-4A34-9049-AADFA743B337.jpeg DD0541D6-875E-44D9-AB1F-6A6121B23482.jpeg 4547300B-6520-4730-9CFD-EB2EE39A3B8A.jpeg

    General pics

    8D24B0C4-65DA-4A59-8F44-77B14E7F2ECA.jpeg AA8BACF0-8EB8-4A44-95BF-1BEC801D3219.jpeg BE2791C0-0B25-4C36-8B05-3C581CB4AF9A.jpeg 7BD31E78-712F-4ABB-AD36-1B838A6F52FC.jpeg

    Last edited: Oct 29, 2020
    T-Bawler and Mr Swisher like this.
  2. RG7X

    RG7X Synchromatic

    Nov 11, 2018
    Los Angeles
    I've seen great repairs with ebony dust and glue (example). On that same note, it sounds easy to do but I've seen many botched projects so proceed with caution or consult with a pro.
    radd likes this.
  3. JAP09

    JAP09 Electromatic

    Nov 12, 2019
    Atlanta, Ga
    It looks to me as if the guitar sat in a dry condition for an extended period of time. If you have any interest in keeping it, which it seems you do, the first thing I would do is rehumidify the guitar and see what difference that makes. No matter what it's not a fatal flaw that can’t be resolved, but honestly I would return it and get out of that guitar while the getting is good.

    The previous owner didn't by chance leave the original silica gel drying agent in the case all this time did he? I'm not sure if Eastman's ship new with those drierite bags in the case, but I've seen that happen before with an LP and all kinds of weird things can happen.
    radd likes this.
  4. radd

    radd Country Gent

    Dec 27, 2017
    Santa Cruz
    It’s not looking good for me keeping it.

    I’m looking forward to what others have to say.
    G5422T likes this.
  5. G5422T

    G5422T Country Gent

    May 24, 2012
    Yep, overly dry board. It's been too dry, too long, and I've seen this before.

    Sometimes several applications of a good fretboard conditioner will reduce the gaps, sometimes it won't.

    Filling is an option with varied results too.

    Remember that the board aquired these "cracks" over a long period of time by being too hot, and not enough humidity.

    If the board does get to the correct humidity levels over time, they may close up naturally. Myself, I don't want a filler for a long term fix in those cracks.

    IMO, I would keep a guitar like that only if it was a very sentimental instrument.

    If I bought one with this condition, and it had a return policy, it would be going back ASAP.

    Just me and best of luck deciding.
    JAP09 and radd like this.
  6. Gretschmen65

    Gretschmen65 Country Gent

    May 20, 2016
    QLD Australia
  7. lathoto

    lathoto Synchromatic

    Apr 23, 2020
    Keep a whole unblemished potato in the case if you decide to keep it. That's not a great piece of ebony. The instrument did get dried out at some point.
  8. Ricochet

    Ricochet Senior Gretsch-Talker

    Nov 13, 2009
    Monkey Island
    It looks manageable, but will require some discipline in upkeep(humidify, conditioning). Can’t make the call whether it’s worth anyone’s time.
  9. rockinforJesus

    rockinforJesus Country Gent

    Nov 7, 2014
    Upstate New York
    If indeed it was exposed to excessively low humidity for a long period of time, I would be concerned with all the glue joints possibly having problems down the road. That beautiful binding would not look so nice if it starts to separate.
    Just some food for thought.
  10. TSims1

    TSims1 Gretschified

    Jun 18, 2013
    I get it that you got a great deal on it, however......for me, that’s a return.
  11. Henry

    Henry I Bleed Orange

    Apr 9, 2014
    Return to sender, no such number, no such phone!
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  12. radd

    radd Country Gent

    Dec 27, 2017
    Santa Cruz
    @RG7X @JAP09 @G5422T @Gretschmen65 @lathoto @Ricochet @rockinforJesus @TSims1 @MikeSchindler @Henry

    Thanks all of you.

    I really knew the answer before I posted the thread, I was just hoping I was wrong. I have been on the hunt for one of these for a couple years so I could not pass up the opportunity to buy it even though I suspected something before I ever got it.

    It is a high end Eastman and all those Eastmans come with a case. This one had no case, I knew that and did not need a case but the missing case worried me.

    I suspect that since this guitar came from Western Oregon, part of the fire ravaged west, this guitar very likely could have been in a structure damaged by fire. The case could have been badly damaged resulting in a over heated guitar.....Just pure speculation on my part.

    Anyway, I repacked it and it gets sent back today

    Thanks again
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  13. Gregor

    Gregor Synchromatic

    Oct 17, 2018
    New Brunswick, Canada
    Hey Elvis!!!
    Henry and radd like this.
  14. Gretschmen65

    Gretschmen65 Country Gent

    May 20, 2016
    QLD Australia
    no such zone, please?
    TSims1, Henry and SAguitar like this.
  15. JAP09

    JAP09 Electromatic

    Nov 12, 2019
    Atlanta, Ga
    You’re very welcome radd! So sorry it didn’t work out after such an extended search. You’ll find the right one for you one of these days and it will make it all the more special. Good luck!
  16. loudnlousy

    loudnlousy Gretschified

    Oct 18, 2015
    Beautiful guitar.
    For an experienced luthier this should be an easy fix.
    I bought a brilliant rosewood-board Strat neck which had the same problem. My luthier fixed it for under USD 50. It is absolutly non-visible now.
    radd and RG7X like this.
  17. swivel

    swivel Country Gent

    May 13, 2018
    Looks very dry. How old is it? I didn't know Eastman has been around that long. That binding on the neck looks a bit rough too and scalloped from something. I would consider returning that guitar if possible. Rose wood can crack also from dryness . I had some Cocobolo like that years ago, similar wood to rosewood...
  18. radd

    radd Country Gent

    Dec 27, 2017
    Santa Cruz
    The binding is very deceiving. Is is a somewhat striped pretty look from the side; however, those stripes look like irregular spots from the end view that you see when looking down a the guitar when it is laying flat. I was not a fan.
  19. radd

    radd Country Gent

    Dec 27, 2017
    Santa Cruz
    I’m sure that was the fill the cracks approach with Ebony dust and black superglue. I considered doing that, it looks to be a simple process. However, the fact that the board was so dried out made me concerned about the rest of the guitar and getting a full refund was going to be easy. So easy in fact the store has offered me 20 percent off any future guitar purchase because they felt bad they did not catch the problem.
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