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A Basic Les Paul Neck Crack Repair

10/31/15

 

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1. A Gibson Les Paul.  This is a studio model that fell to the ground causing multiple cracks.  The nut also broke loose. 2. Neck Cracks.  Because of the grain runout on this mahogany neck the crack on the bass side of the neck is actually pulled closed by the tension of the strings.  Ironically, if Gibson had used a better piece of straight grained mahogany for this neck, there would probably only be one crack which would have been pulled open by the string tension, not closed.  The faceplate of the headstock is also coming loose.
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3. The Treble Side has cracks in multiple directions as well as some separation between the ebony fretboard and the neck.  I will glue and clamp all of the cracks at the same time.  If I’m not careful while gluing the loose fretboard, I could accidentally bow the neck. 4. Hide Glue is my glue of choice for this repair.  A syringe is a great way to get the glue into the tight cracks on the treble side.  Because there is so much gluing surface to be glued and clamped I am using Franklin’s liquid hide glue which has a much longer open time than hot hide glue does.
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5. A Thin Probe is my tool of choice for working the glue into the larger cracks that open more easily.  This thin piece of steel is the blade of my small artist’s spatula that broke free from its handle years ago. 6. Mummification.  I’m using a huge rubber band to clamp the neck cracks and loose fretboard all at the same time.  This rubber band is sold to guitar builders for clamping binding.  There is quite a bit of glue squeeze out.  After mummifying the neck, I’ll unwrap the rubber band, clean the neck with a damp rag, wipe dry then rewrap the neck with a fresh rubber band.
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7. Gluing the Loose Faceplate with a thin probe. 8. Clamping the Faceplate with a quick grip bar clamp and a simple rubberized cork-lined caul.  The wax paper prevents the glue squeeze out from sticking to the cork.  I’ll set the project aside for 24 hours so the glue can fully cure.
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9. Clean Up.  A damp paper towel removes any remaining glue residue.  The rubber band created some small chips in the finish on the bass side of the neck where more glue squeezed out after my initial clamping and clean up.  The owner of this guitar is a working musician who wants the guitar back ASAP.  A finish touchup or neck refinish would add unwanted cost and time to the project. 10. A Sharp Chisel removes the hardened glue squeeze out from the end grain of the fretboard.
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11. A Micro-Chisel removes the glue from the nut seat. 12. Repaired Cracks.  This is a solid repair that should last for decades.
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13. Done.  With the nut refitted this guitar is ready to return to service.