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So, you guys are hip to the use of hide glue, I've got a question

Discussion in 'Setup & Repair [DB]' started by Aaron Saunders, Aug 23, 2005.

  1. Aaron Saunders

    Aaron Saunders

    Apr 27, 2002
    A friend of mine needs to repair the headstock on a Yamaha acoustic guitar. What weight hide glue should he use, and beyond not applying too thickly, what other things should he know before using it?
  2. nicklloyd

    nicklloyd Supporting Member/Luthier

    Jan 27, 2002
    Cincinnati, Ohio
    Mix the dry hide glue:water 1:1.5 You want the glue to be the consistency of free-flowing honey. Not drippy, like water, and not thick and coagulated, like snot. Somewhere in-between... it is easier to add a >>little<< water to make it thinner than adding more dry glue to make it thicker.

    Do two dry-runs of the clamping method. You don't have much time once the glue is spread onto the wood.

    As a little lesson, put a drop or two of glue on your first finger. Now lightly make a pinching motion using your first finger and thumb. While watching a second-hand on a wall clock, see how long it takes for the glue to grab and become really sticky in your fingers. This will give you a clear idea of just how long you have to get all your clamps in order. The glue will slowly become stringy, like taffy...

    Once everything is clamped up, go over the squeeze-out with a hot-water-damped paper towel. It is easier to remove excess wet glue than dried glue.

  3. uptonbass

    uptonbass Proprietor, Upton Bass String Instrument Co.

    Oct 8, 2002
    Mystic CT
    Founder UptonBass.com
    The higher the molecular weight the higher the strength BUT I would think more on the terms of a good clean joint and exactly as Nick stated the right mix and dry run. The best glue in the world means nothing with bad application and fit.

    Prep, prep, prep!!!!!

    Without seeing the repair and being able to judge the break and wood, some form of reinforcement may be needed, not ironwork :p BUT it's a GEETAR....is that acceptable? Whats the neck made of? If its Mahogany I would worry about the wood around the break more. (micro-cracks)

    When you make the glue and "melt" the water and granuals together, take it off the heat, close the bottle, and run it under cold water until you achieve a true solid gel (or put it in the fridge for a bit even 24hrs). Once this is done, then go back and re-heat, and use the liquid glue. Glue is strongest AFTER the first gel cycle.

    A LITTLE heat on both pieces will lengthen the working time (for small work, holding the pieces to be glued under a high watt bulb can be enough). Also, we think about climate in regards to clamping time. In the winter the room temp and humidity require a bit less time under pressure.

    A friend....? Come on you can admit you have a guitar.. ;)
  4. From what I read the consensus of opinion on temperature seems to be around 140 degrees F. I recently put together a home- made glue pot using a clothes iron for the heat source. I found that mug warmers and coffee makers only get to about 120 degrees, not quite hot enough. The iron will get much hotter than that, so it's best to monitor the glue temperature with a stick type thermometer. Put the glue in a small glass jar inside a larger vessel partly filled with water, kind of a double boiler sorta thang. Heats the glue more evenly, and gives you a ready source of hot water for thinning the glue or cleanup. All this, of course, in the absence of a proper glue pot as used by the pro's.
  5. hdiddy

    hdiddy Official Forum Flunkee Supporting Member

    Mar 16, 2004
    Richmond, CA
    I've seen headstocks that have totally snapped off from the neck be reinforced with metal tabs or rods or somesuch. Come to think of it, some EB makes put graphite rods in their necks when first built. Doesn't KSB do this? Ken? Anyways, I don't think it's a job for the amateur. Although Dan Erlewine puts out some great geeetar luthier books and demonstrates this in some of them.
  6. Uncletoad


    May 6, 2003
    Columbus Ohio
    Proprietor Fifth Avenue Fret Shop. Technical Editor Bass Gear Magazine
    I fix 3 or 4 headstocks a month. I don't use metal or reinforcing plates. They aren't needed and don't hold up. Serious breaks that have missing wood can need some wood grafting. If that is needed an experienced hand is suggested. To easy to mess it up and not be able to undo the mess.

    I use hide glue on those repairs 90% of the time. What's already been said about it's use is great. Prep is everything. Complex breaks can require complex clamping methods. If the fingerboard is affected by the break be sure to maintain the parallel relationship between the neck and fingerboard with your clamping mechanism. Take steps also that the peghead angle is maintained by your clamping mechanism.

    It's easy to miss something in that 3 dimensional relationship that causes misalignment of the fingerboard/peghead. This makes the fretwork and fingerboard come out funny and you can chase your tail getting it to play right.

    The finish touchup is the final sealer to keep the joint from being compromised over time. That's a whole nuther subject.

    On cheaper guitars epoxy fixes can be better because the finish touchup is incorporated into the squeeze out.

    But these are guitar issues. Why am I talking about this here?

  7. S'okay. Clamping and alignment issues are universal. So is finish touchup. Slabs are sorta related, like guitars they also have pegheads and frets, whatever they are...
  8. Uncletoad


    May 6, 2003
    Columbus Ohio
    Proprietor Fifth Avenue Fret Shop. Technical Editor Bass Gear Magazine
    Ok then. Here's a pic of a peghead break I'm doing today. This is a dry clamp run. I may mess with it a time or two before I glue it up but this gives you an idea of what I mean.


    The main clamp is the cam clamp. The others are supportive and not real tight. This particular break has no fingerboard implications. The neck pitch is maintained by the wedge and block structure. I will probably use wax paper as a release agent for the clamp face before I glue it.
  9. nicklloyd

    nicklloyd Supporting Member/Luthier

    Jan 27, 2002
    Cincinnati, Ohio
    ...aren't quick-grips the bomb? :D
  10. Uncletoad


    May 6, 2003
    Columbus Ohio
    Proprietor Fifth Avenue Fret Shop. Technical Editor Bass Gear Magazine
    The best. Can't have enough. I have them hanging everywhere.