Paint cracks or body damage?

Discussion in 'Luthier's Corner' started by louisray, Nov 8, 2021.

  1. louisray


    Jul 10, 2017
    Hi all, I'd like some help in determining if the cracks on my '74 Jazz are just superficial or have they penetrated the wood underneath. The bass itself is a well-loved beater since before I inherited it.

    If they are something I'll probably worry about in the future, can you suggest anything I can do to pre-empt it?

    Thanks in advance!

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    Last edited: Nov 8, 2021
  2. dwizum


    Dec 21, 2018
    Erm... you've... got a bit of finish missing there... :roflmao:

    Has the bass been clearcoated after losing the finish? It looks like there's crazed nitro over the "bare" wood areas.

    If the cracks are stable (not quickly getting larger) and aren't causing any obvious issues, I would forget about them and consider them part of the character. It would be hard to repair something in an instrument that's so distressed without disturbing the distressed finish to the point that it would look like an obvious repair.
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  3. bassdude51

    bassdude51 "You never even called me by my name." Supporting Member

    Nov 1, 2008
    Central Ohio
    I'm no expert but usually only if the cracks runs to the edges of the body and are on both sides of the body is there something to worry about.

    I have a 1953 P Bass and I have a crack that is in the glue joint and it runs to the top cut-out and also to the butt end of the body. But, the crack is thinner than hair line and for the 5 years that I've owned it, it's not changed at all. I'm not going to mess with it unless if I can see through the crack to the other side.

    IMO, leave you J body as is. Enjoy it and respect it for how it is. It is beautiful in it's own kind of way.


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    Last edited: Nov 9, 2021
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  4. Beej


    Feb 10, 2007
    Vancouver Island
    It's lasted this long, probably not worth worrying about with regard to playability. That said, I'm really stumped by these. :D Fenders are made of wood, then dyed, then slathered in fullerplast, then finished. Nitro will shrink a lot over time. So it looks like the nitro has shrunk into the cracks but flaked off the surface, and hence the colour is seen along the length of the cracks. What puzzles me is how did the crack end up in the fullerplast? They almost look like scrapes that were done eons ago before all the checking and then everything has shrunk into them causing the appearance of cracks?

    No idea but it does leave me confused. Which isn't saying much really. :D
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  5. RichterScale


    Feb 21, 2021
    It really is difficult to say for sure without having my eyeball about 3" from the bass in person, but I was also confused. I arrived at they were probably deep scratches in the finish and just look funny from the way they've aged.
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  6. dwizum


    Dec 21, 2018
    I zoomed in on the end of one of them:

    Screenshot 2021-11-09 12.31.33 PM.png

    It almost looks like someone jabbed it with a sharp object (little crater at the end) and then dragged it across the surface to scratch a line out of the finish.
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  7. RichterScale


    Feb 21, 2021
    It almost looks like, at some point, someone lathered paint stripper all over it to get the finish off and what's on there is just the tough bits that wouldn't come off.
    The the scratches could be from someone thinking it might come off easier if they scored it.
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  8. dwizum


    Dec 21, 2018
    That sounds legit but if this is the original nitro finish, it will come off all on it's own if you give it a stern look!
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  9. BobKos


    Apr 13, 2007
    Angry stoned SO went at BFs bass with a screwdriver in 1988?
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  10. louisray


    Jul 10, 2017
    Thanks for everyone's insights and their best guesses as to what the story is behind the paint lol!

    Truth is, I've haven't actually asked the previous owner what happened to it during its time with him. He did say that varnish (or some other cheap clear finish) was applied on it at some point to try and save the original paint. DIY'ed, I think.

    I don't really plan on actually fixing up the "damages" on it as I do love how it looks but wanted to know if I should be worried about them.
  11. JIO

    JIO Be seeing you. Gold Supporting Member Commercial User

    Jun 30, 2010
    The Mission SF/CA
    musician/artist/owner - Gildaxe
    Hummm - could make a more definitive call if it were in front of me, but my guess based on the pics is something to do with the finish history, not the wood integrity. It seems like if the wood was really dried-out causing cracks like that, (as in, how else would cracks like that form?) they wouldn't run across the grain. Severe temperature changes (really hot-really cold, like being stored in an attic) could cause cracks like that to occur, but not abuse. (being dropped etc) Just my 2cents for what it's worth. Only way to know is to strip it to wood there, but otherwise I dig the distressed look and I wouldn't worry about it. It's a thick piece of wood and it isn't going anywhere.
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  12. C Stone

    C Stone

    Sep 4, 2020
    I was thinkin at first that at some point they tried to stop the cracks by drilling/doweling the end to keep them from running further? If they are cracks that is.

    Not sure if that is even a thing to stop a crack in body but a couple places right at the end of the lines looked really unnaturally round to me...
    Sorry no idea just my 2 cents.

    Attached Files:

    Last edited: Nov 12, 2021
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