Thanks for the reply! I think I'll be skipping out on expensive repairs.. My main concern was that it could spread, and eventually do damage..
As has been said looks like the finish so the only option is to re-finish it which wont be cheap. To my knowlege gibsonstill use nitro and the cracking is typical of nitro. It crazes over the years. Many people like it.
Good to see you drop by again, Cian. It's been awhile! If memory serves me (which it doesn't serve me quite as well as it used to) (must've joined a union ) (but I digress...)... that's your blond Gibson J-185.
Myself, I wouldn't worry about it. Purely cosmetic, and checking is natural as a guitar ages. (Although it might take a few years for the top-wood checking to catch up!)
But you might be able to do a relatively easy cosmetic repair. Gibson used to always use nitrocellulose lacquers for their guitars, but there was a period where they used epoxy for awhile and I couldn't say for sure which yours has. (My guess would be nitro, but that's just a guess.)
The repair would be basically the same, but you would need to know which solvent based finish was used. Frequently you can blend in minor separations in the finish coats by simply dropping small amounts of the same solvent into the cracks with a tooth-pick or an eye-dropper. Many times this will sort of meld the surfaces back together. Or the solvent with a small amount of the clear-coat mixed in, but still thin enough to penetrate into the cracks.
This doesn't always work, but I've done it a couple of times in the past where it was more of a "blemish" kind of crack than a more "checking" kind of look. (On vintage guitars, nice checking is actually desirable and can enhance the guitar's value.)
A number of years ago, I loaned my daughter one of my Gibsons once for a high-school talent show, which went very well. However, after the show, her friend who supposedly was putting the guitar inside the trunk of her car had actually just set it down behind the car prior to opening the trunk. Both of them being teenage air-heads, they backed the car right over the guitar and case. The hardshell case was smashed to smithereens, but amazingly enough the guitar itself was fine. Except for one small maybe one inch crack in the top-coat finish only on the lower bout.
No big thing, but I dropped nitrocellulose lacquer-thinner in it and it blended it in pretty nicely. Not perfect, but much much better than it was. Then a little buffing and polishing and that was it. (I was also "inspired" to by her a Gibson of her own for her next birthday! )
Adam, who now is a real luthier (and quite good judging from pictures he's sent me and the advice he gives to others) might have a better way of dealing with it than my tip. (Being more of a perfectionist than I am, he might suggest a real repair job being done.) But like I said above, I wouldn't even worry about it if it were mine.
In any case, it's good to see you drop in again. (How's your photography coming?)
Thanks for the incredibly helpful reply, as always John!
Your memory serves you well. Very well. Incredibly well, scarily well, ridiculously well! A Blonde J185 Gibson indeed, you advised me when choosing it! It's probably the only thing I own which I'm even vaguely sentimental about, I haven't even heard of another one in Ireland..
By the sounds of it, it's pretty safe to just brush this cracking off as character marks so! It certainly hasn't effected the sound by any means!
Interesting to hear about the easy repair to the loaner you gave to your daughter - and a Gibson for her birthday? Pretty awesome!
The photography progresses at an almost non-existant pace lately! Managing a web design/dev business, along with working full time as a software developer, and trying to organize my return to education next year has left me a bit of an artistic void. I am off to Germany next Wednesday for a tour of the Alps though, so hopefully something will come of that!
Good to hear from you again, maybe I'll drop by from time to time in future!