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Can I glue this top on by myself?

Discussion in 'Setup & Repair [DB]' started by Rusty the Scoob, Jan 19, 2014.

  1. The top on my bass is coming unglued on the bass side, toward the neck. it's just a Karl Knilling Romanian model and has some other very questionable repairs that I assume my father in law did before giving me the bass - so I don't feel bad if it doesn't look perfect or if resale is affected.

    I have good clamps and am pretty handy, can I just get some Hyde glue and take care of it myself?

  2. Hi.

    As a DIYholic I would encourage You to "take care of it yourself" as you put it.

    One of the undisputed benefits of using hot hide glue is that any mistakes You may (/will ;)) make, can be opened and re-repaired almost indefinitely.
    Not all bottled "cold" hide glues are that forgiving.
    PVA's, polyurethanes etc. should be avoided like a plague.

    Unless You have the clamps usually used in gluing the tops of acoustic instruments, I'd make an army of those first though.

  3. Greg Clinkingbeard

    Greg Clinkingbeard

    Apr 4, 2005
    Kansas City area
    Setup and repair/KRUTZ Strings
    It looks like there may be some PVA glue in there. If so, that will make the job much more difficult.
  4. drurb

    drurb Oracle, Ancient Order of Rass Hattur; Mem. #1, EPC

    Apr 17, 2004
    As someone who is not a talented DIY-er when it comes to jobs like these, I have a question. Given the size of the gap in the photo, it seems like the top would have to be forced (clamped) down considerably to make contact. Is it not the case that the top should "naturally" sit essentially flat on the ribs? To do the job correctly, is there not some bending, etc. required prior to gluing? Seems like some warpage, etc. is what made it pop in the first place. Am I off base (bass) here? :)
  5. Greg Clinkingbeard

    Greg Clinkingbeard

    Apr 4, 2005
    Kansas City area
    Setup and repair/KRUTZ Strings
    That should go back together fine.
  6. I can easily push the top into place just with hand pressure, it's pretty flexible.
  7. statsc


    Apr 23, 2010
    Burlington, VT
    DIY bass clamps:

    Buy some threaded rod at a hardware store along with some wing nuts to fit. Cut the threaded rod into lengths a few inches longer than the thickness of the bass. Buy some large wooden spools of thread. Take all the thread off the spools and discard. Place one spool on each end of a piece of threaded rod followed by a wing nut and you're done! I've used these clamps for years to close open seams on my bass.

    +1 to heated hide glue!
  8. Instead of thread spools, get a hole saw and some 3/4" plywood and cut a bunch of holes. Cover the sides of the holes that touch the body with scrap leather.
  9. drurb

    drurb Oracle, Ancient Order of Rass Hattur; Mem. #1, EPC

    Apr 17, 2004
  10. I already own a pair of these clamps, they seem like they'd work ok, right? Assuming I'd dust them off and use some scratch-resistant padding between them and the bass.


    What glue do I need? Is bottled hyde glue really not ok? I guess I need some sort of powder and I heat it up somehow? Is there a trick to getting it into the crack or can I just spread it around with a toothpick or something?
  11. Greg Clinkingbeard

    Greg Clinkingbeard

    Apr 4, 2005
    Kansas City area
    Setup and repair/KRUTZ Strings
    The clamps are fine but you're a few short. I would want at least six. Do you know what kind of glue is in there now??? Clamps at $50+, glue and pot?? This is not an expensive fix for someone who does it on a regular basis.
  12. Hi.

    IMO/IME those clamps have their uses, instrument building or repairing just isn't one of them.

    Plus if You only have a pair, buying the 6 or more additional good quality ones you need will be more expensive and less suited for the task than:

    IMLE 3/4" by itself is too thin, they tend to rock, but if you glue two or three together, that tendency is greatly reduced.

    One option is to buy round stock and to drill holes in them, yet another is to turn them on a lathe.

    Bottled hide glue is said to be a much better choice than PVA if You're in a hurry, but I wouldn't know because I have never bothered with it.

    You'll need some kind of a glue pot, DIY'ing that is easy if you don't want to buy one, and some glue granules or powder.

    You work it in with a spatula or a brush.
    If You use a brush, the bristles obviously need to be able to take the heat ;).

    The string pressure/pull deforms the unsupported structures and the gap looks worse than it actually is.

    Unstrung, the gap would be much less if anything at all.

  13. Rich Green

    Rich Green

    Apr 15, 2013
    Lowell, Ma
    Like everyone has said proper clamps are super simple to make. Buy some 1/4-20 threaded rod, wingnuts and washers of the appropriate size, 3/4 plywood (though mdf/mdo works too). Cut the rod to a size larger than the ribs of your bass ( I think my clamps are mostly 10 inches long), make sure to de-burr/sand the cut ends or you can give yourself a nice little cut. Buy a small sheet of thin cork or rubber ( leather works too if you have some scraps), glue the cork etc to the plywood. Using a hole saw or even a band saw or jig saw cut a bunch of 1 1/2 inch circles. If using the band or jig saws you'll then have to drill a 1/4 inch whole in the center of them. Slide the threaded rod in two of the ply circles (make sure the cork/ rubber sides are facing each other). Each end gets a washer and wingnut and you are done.

    If looking for a local source of hide glue, the Woodcraft in Woburn usually has some. You will want to make a slightly weaker glue for glueing the top seam ( if you use a really strong glue to hold the top on there is a potential risk of causing top cracks; stresses and humidity shifts will tend to pop the glue joint where the plates meet the ribs, which is fine because it's easily repairable, if the stresses in the wood can't relax by popping the seam it can cause the top to crack.) a quick and easy ratio would be 2 parts granular hide glue to 1 part water. You can get by without a glue pot. Take a glass food jar, baby food or small condiment jar will work, and put your glue/ water mix in it. Take a sauce pan and fill it with enough water to submerge the contents of the jar, place the jar in the pan and heat on the stove. Use low heat. After a few minutes the glue will start to melt and mix in the water. When all the granules are dissolved the glue is ready.

    Just make sure before you actually glue anything to dry fit the joint with your clamps; this will tell you whether or not all the little splinters in the gap are going to be a problem.
  14. It sucks. The OP shouldn't bother, unless he wants to re-do the job sometime this summer after the humidity rises.

    I make glue in a glass baby food jar set in a pan of water on the stove, with a digital probe thermometer to measure the heat. Don't let the glue get above 140 degrees or it will degrade.

    As has been said, to get a good joint with hide glue you'll have to get both surfaces absolutely clean. If that crap lurking in there is wood glue, white vinegar will plasticize it but you'll still have to get in there to scrape and scrub the softened glue off to get down to bare wood.
  15. drurb

    drurb Oracle, Ancient Order of Rass Hattur; Mem. #1, EPC

    Apr 17, 2004
    Ah, very helpful. Thank you.
  16. bssist


    Jun 23, 2007
    St. Louis, MO USA
    You can also use a coffee pot as a double boiler. I think the hot plate gets the coffee pot somewhere around 120-130F.
  17. james condino

    james condino Spruce dork Supporting Member

    Sep 30, 2007
    asheville, nc
    If you can easily push the pieces together with hand pressure, you could get by with a simple roll of low tack tape (to prevent finish issues) to hold the seam together while the glue is healing.

    Can I assume it is HIDE glue we are discussing- as in made from animal hides cooked down? HYDE glue sounds scary!

    If it was originally built with hot hide glue and nobody has later compromised the joint with some other type, you could also clamp it dry, blast the area for a few seconds with a hot steamer, and it will reactivate the original glue. Let dry and the problem is solved.

    As for all of the hoo-haa and clamp snobbery about using the Irwin clamps shown:I went to a workshop presented by renowned bass luthier Jim Hamm and guess what he used for all of the demonstrations- about 50 of those bright yellow and blue Irwin clamps, much more efficiently and quicker that I can set all of my more traditional clamps!

    The reality is that this is probably a half hour repair job for someone who has an established shop. If you want to do the repair to be self reliant, then by all means read up and go for it. If your focus on doing it yourself is simply to save $$$, then it will be a self defeating task.

  18. http://www.talkbass.com/forum/f3/open-seam-frustration-temporary-glue-question-558425/

    Check out this old thread, especially toward the end. I elected to use the pre-mixed hide glue (liquid in a bottle) for a "temporary" repair that lasted over 4 years. I used four Irwin clamps with the yellow rubber pads for that repair with much success. The opening was on the lower bout, back panel, about 12 inches long.

    The seam recently opened again, same place, during the so-called "polar vortex" when I moved to bass through the cold to a gig a couple weeks ago. I used the same glue and procedure mentioned above to close the seam.

    Overall, the bottled hide glue seems to perform well in this temperate, humid climate on a temperamental high-quality carved bass. It takes be about a half-hour to do the repair which includes clearing the old glue from the open seam with a hot knife.
  19. james condino

    james condino Spruce dork Supporting Member

    Sep 30, 2007
    asheville, nc
    Why is it that no matter how many professionals that use the stuff every day tell you that titebond and bottled "hide glue" is worthless crap that is more of a marketing scheme than an acceptable product for double bass repair, every single day someone wants to try and argue that well, it worked of me for a little while so you should use it too?????????? Hot hide glue has a 4000 year history of working properly and it is not difficult to use or prepare.

    If you are not going to do the job correct, throw it in the trash can and get a Chinese made P bass copy !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
  20. Greg Clinkingbeard

    Greg Clinkingbeard

    Apr 4, 2005
    Kansas City area
    Setup and repair/KRUTZ Strings