What Type of Glue Should I Use to Repair Cracked Acoustic Bodies?

Written by rachel hoover
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What Type of Glue Should I Use to Repair Cracked Acoustic Bodies?
Using water on an acoustic guitar crack will help absorb glue. (PhotoObjects.net/PhotoObjects.net/Getty Images)

Unlike their electric counterparts, acoustic guitars have hollow bodies made up of several pieces of solid or laminated wood. While both have the potential to crack under some conditions, solid-wood bodies are much more prone than laminated wood. When cracks occur they can be repaired with one of several types of glue and a clamping method to realign the crack.

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Cracks and Humidity

Any type of wood can crack if the guitar is in an environment that becomes too dry. The first sign of dryness is a corduroy-like texture to the wood. Pieces of the guitar body will start to become concave, which will inevitably lead to a crack. Other signs of dryness include sharp fret ends and a lower sound to the guitar's tone. If you notice these signs before the crack forms, use a humidifier to reverse the effects.

Types of Glue

A few different glues are commonly used to repair guitars. Titebond is an all-around repair glue with a high water content. This gives you more working time and makes it easy to clean up with warm water, but also causes cracks to temporarily swell until the glue dries. Hide glue is thinner than Titebond, so it won't cause the same degree of swelling, but it also dries very quickly. Bottled hide glue gives you a little more working time, but becomes unusable once it expires. Epoxy and superglue are considered permanent and usually not used for repairs that have to be taken apart later. Superglue dries especially fast and should only be used by experienced professionals who can work quickly. Epoxy is considered ideal for crack repairs.

Gluing Techniques

Before starting a crack repair the area should be cleaned thoroughly in order to maximise the glue's effectiveness and prevent dirt from mixing in. Small instruments, like brushes or dental probes, are recommended for cleaning and applying the glue. A hypodermic needle is ideal for applying glue, especially when working on small cracks. Plan your repair ahead of time to decide how you'll approach the crack and the direction in which you'll apply your masking tape and clamps. Try a practice run without the glue to get a feel for what you will be doing until you can do it quickly and smoothly.

Small Cracks

Superglue can be appropriate for very small cracks that don't move or open up but are still visible, which is likely to happen on the sides of a guitar body. The superglue can be used to fill in the cracks using multiple coats that are allowed to dry between applications. The resulting mound of glue can then be sanded smooth and lacquered.

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