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Recently I noticed a crack on the neck of my 20 years old Ibanez RG. I'm not sure how it happened, I never knocked it over and never messed with the truss rod.

Days ago I was switching strings for a higher gauge but the tremolo springs were dead so the bridge went way up and I just bagged the guitar like that for maybe a day or two, until I got the new springs. A few days later I noticed these two cracks on the neck, just below the headstock. Could this have been created by the high action caused by the dead springs?

And is it worth trying to fix it? The cracks are too small to insert glue in them so I would have to clamp the neck. But clamping it enough to get the glue in there might increase the cracks even further, so I don't know if I should go for it or just ignore it and keep playing until it gets worse, and only then do something about it.

I know that taking it to a luthier is the most sensible thing to do but I'm not a very sensible person. Just enough to get this posted.

neck crack wt heck

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  • anything with a bolt on neck is not that hard to replace, I would consider replacing it myself as all you need to do is remove some screws. – Neil Meyer Feb 12 at 3:39
  • What the heck are 'dead springs'? – Tim Feb 12 at 8:01
  • @Tim springs that have lost their tension. – user3052948 Feb 12 at 18:56
  • @NeilMeyer my goal is to repair it, if worth it. Repaired broken headstocks can last a lifetime if done properly. Otherwise I'll just replace it. – user3052948 Feb 12 at 19:04
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    That just looks like grain to me. If you can touch it and feel the edge, sure, but with my eyes, I'm not seeing the problem. – Dave Jacoby Feb 12 at 19:34
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Ask your local luthier to be sure. Honestly, it's the best way.

By the picture, I can't tell what you're seeing as cracks. I am sure it's more obvious in person. I had an Ibanez acoustic with a Wizard neck and headstock that I tossed because the truss rod started cracking out the back of the neck, and that was very obvious to see

I guess the question is how nice an RG is it? The line goes from like $150 to $3000. I'm seeing replacement RG necks around $120, so it goes from it being cheaper to buy a new guitar than a new neck to bring perhaps a downgrade. Beyond that, there's whatever sentimental connection you have to your instrument.

Maybe, with more pictures, I could give better guidance, but really, all the answers can best be answered in the bench. Find a good repair shop and get an estimate. It's the best choice.

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I'm looking at the picture and it appears to me the the wood grain is not oriented the same as a quarter sawn neck, thus indicating to me that the strength and stiffness of the neck have probably never been optimal and the orientation of the grain might be the reason the neck is beginning to fail. Add to that fact, the condition of the neck having be weakened further by the position of the holes drilled to facilitate the locking mechanism, and I can imagine why it might fail. If it were my guitar, I would choose to replace it with a better quality neck, preferably quarter sawn and drilled out by someone with experience installing locking mechanisms. I'd just consider it an upgrade to my instrument.

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It almost looks like wood grain or a joint between two different pieces of wood.
The real issue might be if the locking bolts were tightened too much?

It is strange that a 20 yo guitar with no issues would do this. It is definitely worth taking to a luthier and pricing what it would cost to fix. If the wood split along the grain a fix should be easy. I snapped the head stock off a Les Paul copy I made in high school and the brake was so clean that the grain lined up. Epoxy and a clamp and good as new (though I'm not a luthier).

Don't speculate, get an estimate. I'd get it fixed.

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A few observations:

  • Looking at the grain and wood fiber relative to the line of the neck, I would conclude that the cracks have been probably caused by a significant impact, such as the instrument falling backwards, perhaps a foot or two. Another possibility is that the wood has always been weak along the grain in those places, and has finally come apart after a long time, perhaps after an otherwise unremarkable impact, or perhaps even because of the continuous pull of the strings in the opposite direction. But the latter seems less likely, I still think that some kind of impact is the most likely cause.

  • Because of the size and position of the cracks, and because they seem to be relatively superficial, looking from a distance, I'd say there is a 60/40 chance that nothing else will happen vs the chance that the crack will expand.

  • If the instrument is not particularly valuable or critically important to you, I'd say that it would not be unreasonable to wait and see what happens.

  • Put some kind of mark at the end of the crack. If the crack ever extends beyond that, it's likely to keep getting worse, and a trip to the luthier will be inevitable, and sooner will be better than later. If the cracks don't expand even if you continue using the instrument, it's likely nothing further will happen.

  • To fix it, a luthier would remove the strings, bend the neck or slightly force the cracks open to inject some glue all the way down, then press it back, clean away the extra glue that gets squished out, and clamp it close until the glue cures (with something soft in between to protect the neck, obviously). If you attempt to do this by yourself, it's critical that you use the correct type of glue for the job. There are also many videos on YouTube where luthiers show these kinds of repairs.

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