Heat Resistance of Titebond?

Discussion in 'Luthier's Corner' started by Blue_Whistle88, Nov 25, 2016.

  1. Hi guys,

    A couple of years ago, I had the top section of my bass' fretboard removed so that my luthier could remove the truss rod. I had to get the truss nut replaced as it had become stripped, and my luthier worked out that it'd be quicker and cheaper to cut off a section of the fretboard rather than remove the whole thing. The neck has 24 frets, and he cut it at the 21st fret slot so that (theoretically) the neck couldn't bow 'across' the joint. I haven't had a single problem with that part of the bass since he did that work.

    However, last summer I accidentally left my bass in a car on a hot day, and I noticed a bit of 'ski-ramping' around that area of the fretboard. I wasn't sure if this had anything to do with the repair though, as it has previously happened on very hot days PRIOR to the truss nut removal. Either way, I simple truss rod adjustment fixed the problem.

    Now, I know that my luthier used Titebond Original to glue that section of the fretboard on, and these events have made me curious as to how heat-resistant the glue is. I know that Hide Glue can withstand temperatures of 80-90 degrees before it starts to soften (and even then it'll still hold a joint), but I have no idea how heat-resistant Titebond Original is.

    Does anyone know what temperature it starts to soften at? Could I EVER be at risk of ambient heat softening the joint to the point of failure, without an actual heating iron/pad being used?

    Thanks in advance for any info!
  2. I recently had a fire in my studio, while the instruments in the studio are a complete loss, surprisingly the Titebond 3 glue joints are pretty much intact on most of the instruments. I don't know how hot it got in there, but it was hot enough for anything plastic on the instrument melt (note the lack of knobs on the below instrument), I can assure you it was hotter than the inside of a car :-D. I'm not saying the glue magically survived, but none of the instruments failed on the glue joints completely.

    Last edited: Nov 25, 2016
    Blue_Whistle88 likes this.
  3. Sharp5


    Dec 6, 2014
    Eastern NC
    I've taken a fretboard off with an iron and a lot of effort. I can't see it just siting in a car and the joints failing. You never know though.
    Blue_Whistle88 likes this.
  4. Holy heck, that's insane! That said, I've previously seen a picture of a Spector NS 4-string that was caught in a fire, and neither the neck laminates nor the fretboard became separated (similar to the one you've shown). I always just assumed that Hide Glue was still used for construction (which would explain the heat resistance), but I have been told that people started replacing it with Titebond many years ago. But if it can survive a fire, I don't know how the heck people remove it with a heating iron without damaging the wood?
  5. joinercape


    Dec 22, 2007
    Titebond original is an excellent aliphatic resin and when cured melts at about 150 degrees F. How hot it got in the car is hard to know, but under pressure from the strings and tension on the nut it may be possible it shifted a bit, hard to say without seeing it. The integrity of the bond between the neck and fingerboard could be compromised in a number of other ways, and could have been happening slowly before the heating incident. At this point, I would be sure to have the fingerboard removed, be sure to get all the old glue off both the neck and the board, then reglue. Your luthier will probably be happy to do this for you, even though there is likely no blame to throw around for the joint failing.
  6. Well, that's the thing - the joint didn't 'fail' as such. It ski-ramped a bit around the top few frets, but I've had this happen prior to the fix so I'm not 100% certain it was caused by the joint. But in either case, a truss rod adjustment eventually flattened that part of the neck out, and the problem went away. I haven't had it happen since.

    Now, if the shift hadn't gone away, it'd be a totally different story and I'd even consider replacing the entire fretboard. But I'm obviously reluctant to do that because it'd probably cost hundreds of dollars (or even more, if the neck needed to be re-finished). But 150 degrees Fahrenheit works out to roughly 65 degrees Celcius, which is pretty damn hot. The inside of a car could get that warm, but if I left the bass under a blanket and opened the window slightly I'm sure (hopeful?) that much heat couldn't build up.

    Thanks for all the info btw! Much appreciated :)