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Fingerboard gluing

Discussion in 'Setup & Repair [DB]' started by eh_train, Oct 5, 2004.

  1. eh_train

    eh_train Supporting Member

    Jan 12, 2004
    Hi all

    I'm working on some DIY repairs to an old plywood bass, and need to reglue part of the fingerboard... Although it seems solidly attached up by the nut, it's definitely loose at the bottom (I can gently pull it away from the maple by about 1/16"). The nice part, however, is that it still seems perfectly placed, so there shouldn't be a lot of fitting to worry about. I need, however, a few tips about gluing/clamping...
    I know enough to use hide glue, although I'm going to be using the liquid type (call me "chicken" if you need to).
    My plan is to: 1) carefully open up the gap; 2) find a thin plastic or metal strip that I can spread the glue on, and work the glue into the space this way; 3) use every type of clamp I have to hold it tightly in place...
    One concern is about how far up the neck I can get glue in; it seems to me that there has to be a point (because of the old "solid" glue) where I can't separate the neck and fingerboard. Does this mean that I can't do an adequate job without taking off the entire board??? Or is a board that's, say, 80% glued adequate?
    Any comments/suggestions are greatly appreciated!
    Paul (eh_train)
  2. i think ud be better just reglueing the whole board or takign it to a pro.
  3. Marcus Johnson

    Marcus Johnson

    Nov 28, 2001
    I agree...it seems to me that it would be better to remove the board, and clean up the joint. But I ain't no luthier, so don't listen to me too much ;) .

    Most of the luthiers I've talked to have nothing but distain for prefab hide glue.
  4. eh_train

    eh_train Supporting Member

    Jan 12, 2004
    Thanks for your responses... It's an inexpensive, beat-up bass (but German - originally well-made), so a professional job isn't appropriate. Any other opinions about removing the board and cleaning out the joint? Note, the board isn't falling off, just loose at one end... I'd love to hear from a pro (or even an experienced amateur) on this!
  5. Chasarms

    Chasarms Casual Observer

    May 24, 2001
    Bettendorf, IA USA
    IMO, "adequate" means securely affixed to the neck. That is, it doesn't buzz, rattle or otherwise move when you play it even out in thumb position.

    So, if it were me, I'd swab the glue in the joint, clamp it up and see where it goes from there. The joint probably won't look all that great, but if it works, you're done.

    If it doesn't, you haven't wasted anything more than a little time and a little glue. So, you then you start over and do it the better way.
  6. I'd be asking myself why the joint started to separate in the first place. If you only glue half of it, will the top half come loose a month from now? How well will new, cold premixed glue hold when applied over the old glue that let go?

    Personally, I wouldn't consider half a glue job, and I wouldn't mix two dissimilar glues. It would be fairly easy now to brush hot water into the separating joint and finish removing the board without damage. Clean off all the old glue. Reglue with real hide glue, cut a scrap of plywood or something to protect the back of the neck, do a dry run clamping before adding glue.
    IMO, even on an inexpensive bass, it's too important a joint to do less than a 100% job.
  7. Damon Rondeau

    Damon Rondeau Journeyman Clam Artist Supporting Member

    Nov 19, 2002
    Winnipeg, baby
    Eh Train,

    I'm not a professional, but I have done a couple of fingerboards. The biggest problem I see with the procedure you're thinking of is that it's gonna be a big mess! The idea of stuffing liquid hide inside the joint without getting it all over God's creation seems unworkable to me. If you're bound and determined, why not use a glue syringe to inject it in there?

    Personally, I'd remove the board and re-set it. Quicker, less fuss, less mess.

    There's a good case to be made, too, for leaving it alone. If it's not buzzing or flexing, why not let it be?
  8. I'm not a pro either and I've only done one, but...
    From my experience with hide glue, glue mixed strong enough to hold a neck/ fingerboard joint might be too thick to pass through a syringe.
    I wouldn't gamble leaving it as-is. Much of the strength in a bass neck is in the fingerboard and the sandwich construction. If the joint fails entirely (at a gig?) while the instrument's strung to pitch, what happens to the neck?
  9. arnoldschnitzer

    arnoldschnitzer AES Fine Instruments

    Feb 16, 2002
    Brewster, NY, USA
    Just get a cheap palette knife, thin the glue with a little warm water, and work it in. Clamp it up and clean the excess with a damp cloth. If it doesn't hold you can do it the right way!
  10. Heifetzbass

    Heifetzbass Commercial User

    Feb 6, 2004
    Upstate, SC
    Owner, Gencarelli Bass Works and Fine String Instruments, LLC.
    As a public school teacher and wannabe luthier, I second Arnold's recommendation. Sometimes I have to do an emergency repair such as this. I did a bass like this two years ago. It is still holding fine. I think the separation was caused by a student picking it up by the end of the fingerboard. As long as the joint is still lined up and nothing is broken/chipped out it should last fine.

  11. eh_train

    eh_train Supporting Member

    Jan 12, 2004
    Thanks all,

    I'll try the easy way first, and see what happens...