Everybody wants to save the earth, nobody wants to help mom do the dishes.  --P.J. O'Rourke

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Gluing a Broken Guitar Neck

Yesterday, #1 daughter dropped her Les Paul guitar, breaking the neck off right before the headstock, almost right under the nut.  It was a ragged break and I didn't have much hope that it could be fixed.  I looked around for a replacement neck, but the cost of a neck and the hourly charge of a skilled luthier, was clearly going to exceed the value of the guitar.  As it so happens, I had recently finished restoring a staircase, which involved a fair amount of gluing and clamping and etc. and  I had a wide range of clamps at hand, including the two above, a Jorgenson Cabinet Master, and Irwin Quick grip and (not pictured) standard Jorgenson hand screw wood clamps.  Using regular Elmer's wood glue, I carefully test fitted the broken pieces together (thankfully nothing had splintered off), they fit together perfectly (as they should have).  Next, I set up the cabinet clamp to the same length as the guitar neck.  Note:  These clamps come in many lengths, mine is around 4' long, but the important feature of these clamps is the cushioned rubber face, which won't damage the finish of the guitar.  I then brushed a thin coat of wood glue on each of the broken edges, fitted it together by hand to get the correct angle, and clamped it loosely in the cabinet clamp.  Here the steep angle of the Les Paul headstock presented a problem, if you tighten the cabinet clam too much, the headstock is squeezed out of alignment, so here is where the quick grip clamp comes in.  Secure the quick grip clamp over the bottom slide of the cabinet clamp and the top edge of the headstock, loosely,  Next take the wooden clamp and clamp down on either horizontal side of the break.  If you have done this right, the neck will now be supported in all three dimensions.  Here is the trick part - keeping a good eye on the glue joint, tighten each of the clamps in small increments until the crack is smoothly sealed and the neck is nice and square.  This may take some fiddling ( which is why I recommend a dry walkthrough).  Leave it clamped for at least 8 hours and let it set up for a day before re-stringing the guitar.  This procedure worked flawlessly for me and the guitar is as good a new.  Good Luck.


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