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Repairing Abused Charvel... Will This Work?

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I finally got this little thing to my hands and asked for some ideas on how to repair this thing. What I got is Charvel 475 Deluxe, made in late 80's probably. Abused and in bad condition, some previous owner hit it to the wall for some weird reason. I took some pictures...

Whole picture


Cavity closeup

Controls closeup front

Control cavity and of course, front side of body has taken biggest damage, it has two cracks that go through the top of cavity. Also, there is some crack in neck joint, but I don't know yet if it is only finish that has cracked, because I haven't really done anything to the guitar yet.

Neck joint

There is smaller crack on the other side of neck joint also. In tremolo routing, there is also small crack in the wood itself, but I don't know yet if it is deep or does it have any meaning to durability or sound.

Tremolo routing

Otherwise, guitar seems to be in fairly good shape, neck has not warped as far as I can tell and I got most of the pieces of this puzzle:

- Jackson licenced Floyd Rose, made by Schaller (needs few spare parts...)

- Electronics, including pickups and mid-booster... Bridge pickup is Jackson J-50 BC, works as far as I know, haven't got the opportunity to check it though... one of single coils is broken, other should be OK.

- Cavity covers

Now, as for repair, someone represented the idea that the body finish could be sanded (or heated) away and front side of body could be planed down by approximitely 4 mm and some figured drop top installed to it, since there is no contours except the arm rest. Sounds good, and it could be finished with kind of stained cherryburst or something to fade the seam, but there is also some questions...

1. As far as I know, woods used in late 80's Charvels were good quality and well dried up. Also, time has passed, so wood should be dry. If I repair it with fresh drop top made of figured maple or birch, will it hold together? What I fear is that newer wood is not as dry and it will twist or crack during time.

2. If I do it, seam will be in the middle of contouring. Is it possible to hide that seam so that is won't be noticeable under finish and in use?

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Several comments:

- That neck joint crack could very well be only in the finish by the looks of it. And even if it is not, I doubt you HAVE to repair it. The guitar should work great anyway. Look at some heavily used guitars, a crack like that is not uncommon.

- Concerning adding a new top. If the new top is proper wood dried for luthier use you have nothing to fear(humidity of about 6%). Or do you think all our hand built guitars crack over time? :D

- Bending the top of the forearm contour is an annoying task. It's not that difficult, but expect to invest some labour here to get it right. (Info can be found in the tutorial section)

2. If I do it, seam will be in the middle of contouring. Is it possible to hide that seam so that is won't be noticeable under finish and in use?

I doubt you can hide it very well with a clear finish. If you do a solid finish: no trouble. I would however as I already wrote bend the new top over the contour instead of doing a half-assed solution.

But I would not add a top at all:

I would repair/replacel the wood of the cavity and fill/repair the other chips and then do a solid finish in the end, so the guitar will look like new if done right....

Hope to have given you some ideas,


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Thanks for reply!

Reason I was concerned about the new top is that it is possible, that the new wood is not as dry as the old one and as time goes by, humidity will probably change at some degree, so I was thinking if it was possible for woods to crack if they respond to changes differently.

Bending new top would be very challenging, since this is my first project and I have to borrow most of tools also. That kind of job would also mean that I hace to sand off the finish and then maybe little bit more, so that there is actually enought space for new top? So that new top replaces the wood in top of body cavity also?

I was planning to hide the seam under solid colour, it might look a bit funny though, because burst would come so much to the front side of the body, at least on forearm contour. I was just thinking to get guitar with attractive looks of figured body top, but it will be challenging if I do it either way. So, simpliest way would be that one you described: replacing wood in cavity and making solid finish. It's very much possible that I'll do that also.. and if I get it done right, maybe I'll some day do some touch up to my other guitar too.

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Hmm cracks in the body.. seems familliar... check out Vai's "Evo" guitar... that has a severe crack gong past neck pocket and near cavity... and it still plays! He uses it on tour a lot... Given its now nearing its death with the neck shifiting and tuning problems but i agree with "GM" that it could just be a finish crack...

~~ Slain Angel ~~

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Depending on how "deep" the arm rest is, it might be possible to plan a little more, add a thicker top and contour this. The new finish will hide the fact that the top is wedge-shaped in the arm rest area.

And you might consider using a chemical stripper. Its hard work to sand away the finish.

Good luck


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