Beware! Dry weather can do this to your guitar too!

A few months back I had worked on a CF Martin guitar.

It came back to me sometime back with this

Around the same time (from a couple of weeks before to a couple of weeks after this one returned to me), I received umpteen number of calls from clients and those that knew of me, about strange buzzes that they had never experienced before. And they were all over the neck.

My mind immediately went to what the humidity was.

The top figure on this digital meter is the temperature and the smallest numbers give the time. The figure on the bottom right of the screen of this ‘clock’ is the humidity. At 30%, the humidity was way below what your acoustic guitar – any acoustic guitar – would be comfortable with.

At this level of humidity, cracks are bound to appear, seams will open, and buzzes will appear out of the blue. Left untreated, the cracks and open seams will destroy your guitar, though string buzzes will generally disappear, given time and once the humidity climbs towards normality.

In case of the instrument in front of me, a serious drink of water was needed. It was past the stage of humidifiers. I took off the strings and placed a small plastic container full of water inside the guitar. Then, I covered up the soundhole with a plastic such that no water would escape into the atmosphere, but whatever the water cup would lose, would be what the instrument sucked up.

It stayed like that for five days, before I lifted to check the water level. Some water had disappeared. I refilled the cup and closed up the soundhole for another five days. Meanwhile, the crack looked like this. To my eyes it seemed to have closed up some.

After a few more days, it looked even better, or so it seemed

Around the 12th day, I was thrilled to see the crack all but closed

Now was the time to attack. I poured out the glue along the seam and pumped it in till I could see a decent glueline on the underside of the top. In February, this year, I realised that I did not have really long clamps that would be needed should a guitar with an open centre seam turn up. I bought two 24″ clamps expecting a guitar to turn up and within a couple of months, it happened.

I pulled out the clamps and put them to work

For 48 hours they continued to apply pressure, holding the seam together. When I took them off, the seam looked good but the guitar was far from being completely healed. It would need to be cleated with small pieces of wood placed proportionately on the underside of the top, along the fault line, such that they would hold it together, not allowing the two halves to separate EVER again.

I wish I had taken an after picture but this photograph should work as a representative image of where exactly the cleats went on the underside of the guitar. And to hold them in place while the glue dried

24 hrs later, it was probably as good as new. But there was only one way of finding out: STRING ‘ER UP!!!!!!!!!!

The owner had provided these lovely (and expensive) strings to go on his guitar.

And, there she be…in all her radiant glory

It’s been more than a month since the guitar returned to its owner. I haven’t heard from him which could only be a good thing!!

Amit Newton

An experienced guitar tech with over 10 years of experience working on acoustic Gibsons and Martins in the Gulf region. There is nothing that cannot be repaired; the only consideration is the price at which it comes. And yet, if there is sentiment attached, no price is too high! WhatsApp/Call me: 7080475556 email me:

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *