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Thread: Sides "denting" under tension?

  1. #1

    Default Sides "denting" under tension?

    (Sorry, no pictures at the moment. I will try to post some later.)

    So, after completing my first build I put the strings on and tuned it such that I was happy with the way it sounded. Other than picking it up a couple of times just to admire it once again, I let it sit for about a week to determine (a) if it will survive under prolonged string tension and (b) if it will go out of tune. Now I've picked it up and started learning some chords and things.

    I have moved it around. I brought it in the house from my shop. I've picked it up a few times, carried it around... I've handed it to my kids to look at because they've really thought it was cool. So it has been transported within our house. But I don't recall ever knocking it on anything.

    A couple of nights ago I picked it up just to pluck the strings and see if it was still in tune. Looking down at the side of the mandolin closest to my chest (the "bass" side, I suppose) I noticed a small dent in the side. It was V shaped along the grain of the maple side, with the V pointing toward the peghead end. I applied a bit of pressure and realized that it had actually cracked all the way through. The wood was still intact but with enough pressure you could see in to the inside of the instrument. It was still in tune and played fine. It's my first build, and while I was very disappointed as long as it works and I can use it to learn to play I'm happy. I'm planning to build more anyway, so no great loss... I chalked it up to maybe accidentally knocking it on something or maybe the kids messing with it.

    Last night I picked it up again. This time I noticed a similar dent just under the first one; same V shape pointing the same direction, smaller, and not as deep or cracked all the way through. Also, further up that same side and toward the peghead I saw what I thought was another indentation, longer and shallower but noticeable...

    So is this something that can happen to instruments under tension? Do the sides cave in or "dent?" I always thought that the spruce top would be the first part to cave in if the instrument wasn't built correctly. I've never heard of sides denting or caving. What do y'all think?

    Also, if this is something that does happen do you have any suggestions for fixing or repairing it?


  2. #2

    Default Re: Sides "denting" under tension?

    I would suspect it cracked in bending and is exacerbated by string tension and maybe changing humidity. How it will perform over time is just a guess.

    I wouldn’t know how to handle it over time. Can’t really reinforce it easily (glued in reinforcement internally), but just a thought. Doing nothing is an option.

    Congratulations on finishing your first mandolin.
    Play it like you mean it.

  3. #3

    Default Re: Sides "denting" under tension?

    I think I will do nothing and just see how it holds up. If nothing else it will serve as a lesson.

    I did not ever see any cracking in the sides evident when I bent them.

  4. #4
    Adrian Minarovic
    Join Date
    Oct 2003
    Banska Bystrica, Slovakia, Europe

    Default Re: Sides "denting" under tension?

    Quote Originally Posted by putnamm View Post
    I think I will do nothing and just see how it holds up. If nothing else it will serve as a lesson.

    I did not ever see any cracking in the sides evident when I bent them.
    We need pics to be able to guess what happened.
    But for repair on sides I would suggest the "guitar tuner and string" method of reinforcing and levelling crack at the same time. I can't remember what is the official name for the procedure but I think you can find some basics on

  5. #5
    Registered User Timbofood's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2007
    Kalamazoo, MI.

    Default Re: Sides "denting" under tension?

    Well, it’s always something! You will figure out what went on and how to correct the issue! Heck you built it, you can take the back off if need be.
    It will be fine!
    You do remember that mandolin is Latin for “out of tune” right?
    Sorry, old joke around these parts, I’m heading to my corner now!
    Last edited by Timbofood; Jul-01-2019 at 8:16pm.
    Timothy F. Lewis
    "If brains was lard, that boy couldn't grease a very big skillet" J.D. Clampett

  6. #6
    Registered User William Smith's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jun 2010
    Sugar Grove,PA
    Blog Entries

    Default Re: Sides "denting" under tension?

    Sides too thin? Just a thought?

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