Guild F-30 neck and headstock crack repair – finally done!

Finally glued up the F-30, but I also realized that I never posted pictures of the crack, and I’m no sure I wrote what happened. Basically, I put it on a stand, and it fell face down. It didn’t have any strings on so the crack was manageable. Here’s what that nightmare looked like:

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The “nice” thing about this break is that it wants to close under string tension, so it should have very little incentive to reopen. Gluing it was a matter of opening the crack, getting glue inside (not so easy), and clamping it. I was worried about gluing the truss rod in place, but I talked to a friend who works with this guy who was the foreman at Guild in the 80s, and he said that even if the rod is glued in place it won’t matter since it’s on the first 3 frets and the rod doesn’t do much work there anyway.

Now there are three areas to clamp, as can be seen from the pictures: the neck, the nut slot, and the headstock’s face. For the nut and headstock I used 1/4″ thick acrylic, and for the neck I made some cauls which I’ve mentioned in previous posts. Here’s what they looked like after I glued leather strips (to protect the neck and fingerboard):

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Unfortunately, I didn’t take any pictures of them before I glued the leather, but here’s one from when I was chiseling little grooves to fit over the frets:

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As far as the gluing, the idea is to clamp the neck in a vise, use one hand to open the crack and the other to get glue in. I don’t have a proper bench, or a vise, so I improvised and used my neck rest and a clamp to hold the neck in place.

Sorry for the terrible back-lit photos.

Sorry for the terrible back-lit photos.

This wasn’t a bad idea, but the clamp was flexing as I was twisting the headstock, so you know, use a vise if you have one.

People recommended to get the glue in with a syringe, or a syringe with a surgical tube attached, but those are too thick. So I went with a little syringe (a mistake). What I did first was get some hot water in the crack to help the glue spread inside. Then I would open it, get glue in there directly from the bottle, then with a syringe, then blow some compressed air in there. Those syringes have very thin needles with really small openings, so there’s not a lot of glue coming out of them. Also, the needles would bend and I had to keep changing syringes. So I wouldn’t recommend those, or at least fill them all up with glue first. I didn’t think the compressed air was getting anything further in the slot either. I would have been better off using a palette knife, thin feeler gauge, or this wide and thin brush that I have. It’s glued alright, though, I think.

I didn’t practice clamping the thing enough. In fact, I never practice clamping all three areas together, which was a huge mistake. The problematic area was the nut slot. I tried a capo and I tried a pony clamp, but both were hard to fit there. I should have clamped the nut slot first, then the neck, then the headstock. Luckily, the nut slot is a straight and level as it were before.

Here it is clamped up:

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That unopened compressed air bottle was my backup one.

Humidity in the room was at 58% when I glued it up. It’s a little higher than what I would have wanted, but I had no choice. The glue I used was Titebond Extend.

I waited a day and a half to take off the clamps, and immediately took pictures (because I always forget):

The headstock is glued perfectly. It's flat just as it were before the break.

The headstock is glued perfectly. It’s flat just as it were before the break.

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The pictures aren’t pretty because there’s still glue there, but cleaned up it looks alright. The only problem is that there’s a ridge where the crack is. I don’t know if the wood swelled because of water/glue, or maybe it distorted when I clamped it? However, the neck doesn’t have a twist, so I’m happy with it and hope that the lacquer touch-up would diminish the ridge.

I cleaned up the glue and let the guitar rest for another couple of days before trying to flush in some CA glue. Wood glue has very different drying times when it’s not exposed to air. Think about it, the glue doesn’t dry when kept in the bottle. It needs to come in contact with air for it to dry. When you glue something and clamp it up, it can take the glue several days to fully dry. I know it sounds crazy, but I’ve put together a joint before, and then a couple of days later I took it apart and there was still “fresh” glue in there. I don’t know how the CA will interact with fresh wood glue, so I prefer to let the guitar sit for a little bit.

Here are a couple of pictures after I tried to get some CA glue in:

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The glue was just sitting there and didn’t seep in, so I’m going to say the crack is glued tightly. I’m not too worried about the marks around the cracks because these will buff out once I touch up the finish.

Now to finish cutting the new nut. Hopefully the guitar won’t fall off a stand this time. After a couple of months under string tension I’ll fix the finish. Maybe around the holidays when I don’t get to play it as often.

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