A strange thought came to my mind the other day as I was replacing a truss rod in a super cheap Chinese made guitar. In the process of softening the glue used to put the fingerboard on the neck itself I wondered if every company used the correct glues.
To get at a truss rod, in most cases one would remove the neck itself. Necks are either bolted or screwed on, or they are actually glued to the body of the guitar. This one was a screw on neck so I took off the strings and unscrewed it.
First, there are only two types of glues used on guitars that are acceptable. Period. No epoxy, cements or super glue! The two acceptable glues are: Ground Hide Glue, which is a traditional luthiers glue and Franklin Co. “Titebond’ Glue. One of the most important qualities of a guitar makers glue is the ability to separate the glued pieces of wood without damaging the guitar.
Franklin “TiteBond” Glue, the luthier’s favorite aliphatic resin glue, for joints that are stronger than the wood. Water soluble, it cures overnight, sands easily, and resists thermoplastic “creep” better than ordinary white glues.
Behlen “Ground Hide” Glue is a traditional luthier’s glue that creates stronger wood joints than bottled liquid hide glues, and allows dis-assembly later with a hot knife. Granulated, for dissolving in water using a hot glue melting pot.
Guitars break or get broken, realistically speaking, most folks will fix an expensive guitar rather than trash it.
One quality of the glues for making or fixing guitars is that the parts can be separated with ease by a luthier. Without giving away my top secrets, lets just say the components that are going to be separated need to be heated up in order to soften the glue. Adding that you should not experiment with this type of procedure if you are not qualified. Back on subject, the big thing in heating is not getting the parts to hot and damaging the wood or finish. In most cases the max heat needed to separate the glue would be 200 degrees.
Simply put, the cheap neck did not separate until I hit 210 degrees. Scary yes, but it is a cheap neck. Never try going over 200 degrees, especially on a $5000.00 Martin!
Taking that much heat to separate the fingerboard concerned me, however it did come apart, but it made me wonder what type of glue they used when assembling the guitar. I doubt it was a bona-fide guitar glue. Maybe when cheap guitars are manufactured overseas, they use a less expensive glue to keep the product affordable. My belief is that this guitar was assembled with the wrong glue. Well it turned out that the truss rod was a piece of junk too, non replaceable.
I modified the neck slightly and put a Fender Stratocaster truss rod in it, mostly for the challenge and fun of doing it, certainly not for the value of the guitar. I did reassemble the neck with ‘Titebond’ glue. I then went through the rest of a normal set-up job and played it a bit. Thank GD. It turned out great and played better than it ever should have. I also have happy customer.
Be careful of cheap or offbeat guitars and how they are manufactured. Many shortcuts have been discovered on cheap guitars to keep costs down.
One last thought. With this knowledge being known now, personally I never leave my guitar in a hot car with the sun shining on it. It easily could get hot enough to loosen the glue. Did you know that Nascar drivers often reach heats of 140 degrees and more in the cockpit?
If you have the need to try a repair such as this, don’t use Elmers glue or the likes. Buy a manual and study it first. Then take the guitar to a good luthier or guitar maker who has the experience to do this job properly. Do use a cheap guitar for experimentation if you are so inclined. When a guitar is trusted to Guitar Players Center for repairs, rest assured nothing but world-class parts and craftsmanship are used. Enjoy this article and comment or Share It, or subscribe for free to our blog and get deliveries right to your e-box.