Guitar repair – With the rains, comes the season of fails!

However beneficial the rains might be, it is not good for glue-up jobs! The heat and the humidity combo of the season (at least in this part of the world) refuses to let the glue dry no matter how long you leave the clamps on.

As examples, I will present two instruments that refused glue-up that were bread-and-butter type glue-up jobs.

This one is Epiphone but a different model from the one I worked on last time.

It seems just fine till you look at its headstock

And to make matters worse, the owner had tried to glue up the break himself. According to him, he had managed to glue it up but a second ‘accident’ caused it to break again.

The headstock and the neck carried all the tell-tale signs of an ‘operation’ having been performed earlier.

While cleaning up would be quite a job, I was confident that with the help of wooden dowels I could put ‘Humpty-Dumpty’ together again! I had before!

And as I looked I saw that the fretboard and the bridge were exceedingly dry. Strangely, as I ran my fingers over to feel for fretwire sprout, there was none.

But cleaning of the glue from off the headstock and neck had to be done first and took all of two days – four working hours each day – carefully picking out each little piece of glue from all crevices.

After I was done, it did look clean and new – except for the dings already on it.

Then began the glue-up process and some ingenious clamping. But before that all the tuning machines had to come off the headstock. This was for two reasons: one, they might come in the way of the clamps, and two, their weight might pull headstock down in the glueing-up process. 

A lot of thought and time was put into the amount of glue to be used, the placement of clamps and cauls

After two days of staying clamped, it seemed cured and the fortification of the joint began.

 Three strategically placed wood dowels always manage to hold the headstock and the neck together.

I had explained to the owner that once I was done with it, the joint and the dowels would be visible but he wouldn’t be able feel them, even if he wanted to. He had agreed and he said that he wanted a functional guitar and didn’t care too much for looks. 

With the three dowels holding the headstock and neck together, the process began of sanding everything smooth: first with a hobby file and later, with various grits of sandpaper.

In the end, you could see the joint and the dowels but could not feel the slightest lip anywhere.

The owner had also chosen strings for his guitar and I decided to put them on in front of him. As I did and tuned up the instrument, the action rose with a creaking sound: never, ever a good sign.

I turned the instrument around and there was the break opening up again!

There was little else I could do except apologise profusely to the owner and return the guitar to him. I did that.




Amit Newton

An experienced guitar tech with over 10 years of experience working on acoustic Gibsons and Martins in the Gulf region. There is nothing that cannot be repaired; the only consideration is the price at which it comes. And yet, if there is sentiment attached, no price is too high! WhatsApp/Call me: 7080475556 email me:

2 thoughts to “Guitar repair – With the rains, comes the season of fails!”

  1. Such a great insight into the whole process of restoration and the science/factors that are taken into consideration. Superb read.

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