Posted 2019-04-07 5:31 AM (#547583) Subject: Finish Checking
Joined: April 2019 Posts: 13
In my search for my next Ovation I’ve encountered quite a few entirely playable guitars with bad finish checking. Why does this happen? A clerk at a guitar store said it isn’t a question of if an Ovations finish will crack, but when it will. I didn’t believe him.
Posted 2019-04-07 8:19 AM (#547584 - in reply to #547583) Subject: Re: Finish Checking
Joined: November 2002 Posts: 3158
Location: Pacific Northwest Inland Empire
I will let more-informed, & tech-oriented colleagues expound on this subject, but it esssentially has to do with the differential expansion-&-contraction of the wood in the top, versus the stiffness of the 2-part polyester finish material. "A matter of time"...........
Posted 2019-04-07 8:33 AM (#547585 - in reply to #547583) Subject: Re: Finish Checking
Joined: October 2005 Posts: 3848
Older O's had a thicker finish, and possibly a different chemistry (not sure about the chemistry). With temperature or humidity changes the wood top will expand or contract which stresses the finish. On older guitars it is common to see cracks in the finish. Rapid temperature changes are notorious for causing cracks. e.g. You receive shipment in the winter of a guitar which has been cold soaked in the truck. You bring it into your warm house and take it out of the box immediately. Crack!
I've not heard of the checking or cracking finish issues on the newer generation instruments since about 2000. Idk when they changed over the finish. My 1983 Elite guitar has the thicker finish but no cracks or checks. My 1976 center hole guitar has a very thin finish actually, and no cracks.
I would say it is not inevitable you'll see cracks or checking. But if you do it doesn't hurt the tone or structure as long as it is just a finish crack and not a wood crack. It does hurt the resale value a bit, which is either good or bad depending on which side of the transaction you are.
Posted 2019-04-10 4:16 AM (#547606 - in reply to #547583) Subject: Re: Finish Checking
Joined: May 2011 Posts: 581
And ALL artificial materials like plastic, laquer coatings, finishes will get older and thus harder and sometimes even brittle with the time.
But if a guitar was not exposed to extreme temperature or humidity or dryness it will have no cracks. I have and had vintage Ovations with and without finish cracks. Sometimes I think that my old Ov´s with lots of finish cracks do sound better than the clean ones. Surely I cured and closed the cracks as good as I could but maybe now the tops can move more freely now, who knows? I love these guitars just as much as my shiny ones.
-If in doubt, try an Adamas;-)