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I recently adjusted the truss rod in my guitar, nothing uncommon. I increased the relief a little bit when I noticed the following crack around the 7th fret. It is, perhaps difficult to see, but I am referring to the part where it is possible to see some wood between the painting of the neck and the fretboard. The crack goes further to almost the 10th fret.

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My question is, is it normal to happen when adding relief to the truss rod? What might have caused this issue? Is there anything I can do to prevent this from getting worse or should I look for a professional?

Thanks in advance.

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  • I see a light colored line in the left center of the neck, is that what you’re talking about? It looks very straight, is it a crack in the wood or did the fingerboard become partially unglued from the neck? Aug 25 '20 at 6:21
  • @JohnBelzaguy That is it. I can't figure out if the fingerboard became apart from the neck. It seems it did not, but I don't know for sure.
    – JohnMarvin
    Aug 25 '20 at 22:14
  • Disclaimer, I’m not a repair person but it’s possible that it’s just a minor surface separation due to different types of woods that are glued together expanding and contracting at different rates. Best to have it looked at by a pro to be sure. Does the fingerboard feel solidly attached to the neck at that point? Aug 26 '20 at 1:27
  • It does. When I press the fingerboard, it does not seem to move. Looking very closely, it seems thtat there is wood there, and the crack is just in the paint/finishing.
    – JohnMarvin
    Aug 27 '20 at 16:14
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This is not at all normal, and chances are the problem has been there for a long time, and it wasn't caused by a small change in the truss rod. Either you didn't notice it earlier, or a little change in the truss rod acted like the proverbial last straw. The root cause is a construction defect, something went wrong when the neck was built, either in materials or handiwork. If something like this happens to a guitar which is still under warranty, it's a clear case for replacement or full repairs.

In any case, unfortunately, some major repairs are going to be needed, and they're not going to be cheap. The fretboard will have to be taken out from the neck, truss rod checked, parts cleaned up and sanded down, cracks filled up, and then the fretboard will be glued back to the neck properly. Alternatively, it may cost less to buy a new neck.

Perhaps an attempt can be made at a quick-and-dirty fix, i.e. put some glue in there and keep the fretboard pressed hard on the neck until settled. As I said, quick-and-dirty. But it may be worth a shot if the guitar's value isn't too much and it doesn't make sense to spend a lot of money on repairs.

And if you don't do anything, I reckon that there's no telling of how the problem may evolve. It's possible that nothing else will happen. If there was a gap in the surfaces at that point, or glue was applied badly at that point, but everywhere else things are OK, you may still be fine, it's possible that things won't get any worse, and if the crack is felt during playing, a little wood filler can fix. On the other hand, if the underlying damage is more extensive, the crack may get worse, maybe a little, maybe a lot. That's impossible to know without knowing what's going on inside.

If the instrument were mine, and if it were not very expensive to start with, I'd do nothing at first, but keep a close look all the time, and if the crack expanded by even a millimeter, I'd take the strings off, loosen the truss rod, and take it to a pro. I the crack didn't change at all for a long time, I might decide to let it be. On the other hand, if the guitar was valuable, I'd take it to a pro right away.

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  • 'May cost less to buy a new neck' - agree if it's a bolt-on. Not otherwise!
    – Tim
    Aug 25 '20 at 11:49
  • It is a Washburn Oscar Schmidt (cdn3.volusion.com/4n9y2.qupg5/v/vspfiles/photos/…), and the neck is bolt-on. I think I won't take any action and observe closely what happens. Thanks!
    – JohnMarvin
    Aug 25 '20 at 22:18
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If it were mine, I’d undo whatever I did and take it to a pro.

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