Duncan’s Ricken-cracker

Duncan brought this guitar to us to be resprayed as the lacquer had started to split. Made by a popular and respected manufacturer, it had been purchased brand new, but started to deteriorate almost immediately – and this was the second time it had happened. He sent the old one back and they replaced it with this one but it had the same problem. It had been happening over a period of months and was getting worse. The guitar has great sentimental value so he was bitterly dissapointed when they refused to do anything about it  saying it was caused by leaving it in a cold car which Duncan vigorously denied. It did look a bit like ‘cold checking’ but not quite.

Duncan is a good mate so we said we’d take a look at it. The colour layers underneath appeared okay, but something was causing the lacquer to split. The only option was to strip the guitar back to the bare wood.

After removing all the hardware and wiring I started to remove the paint using straight edged and curved metal scrapers. The top coats scraped off okay but then I came to a very hard layer of sealer coat, this lay on top of the bare wood. It was cracked and crazed and covered with splits that mimicked the splits in the lacquer. The colour coats must have been flexible enough to withstand the movement and sink into these cracks which was causing the splits in the lacquer top coats.

This is was the problem – but what caused it is still a mystery. We are pretty sure it’s not cold checking though, as that would affect the top coats a lot more – the problem was with the sealer coat. Anyone got any ideas let me know!

The sealer coat was quite hard and took a bit of effort to remove. The guitar was finally sanded with 180 thru 320 grit paper and left in the drying room to let the wood settle for a few weeks before re-spraying.