Fixing the separated guitar neck
Well, it happens. No matter how much you baby them, your prized possession always suffers a few bumps and bruises. This guitar was no exception – the victim of an overly enthusiastic pooch; this Fender acoustic tumbled onto the floor from it’s stand with a thud.
The result? The neck separated at its weakest point. In this case it parted along a splice mid-way down the neck. Usually these types of breaks happen higher up on the neck, closer to the headstock – a common problem with necks made from a single piece of wood. That’s because the weakest point is the area where the headstock angles back – a cut in the wood that changes the direction of the grain making it quite vulnerable under tension. But with this guitar’s two piece neck, the bond let go between the two pieces.
Headstock breaks are fairly common and effect guitars at every price point. Depending on the type of strings on your guitar, there is usually around 180 psi of pressure on your guitar, and sometimes it only takes a little bump in the right spot for a neck to split, crack or break completely.
So what next?
With all repairs, the first priority should be to restore the structural integrity of the instrument so it functions as originally intended. Luckily, this was a clean break and the two pieces went together cleanly. With messy breaks, sometimes wood splinters may need to be removed to ensure a good tight fit. Always dry fit fist to make sure this is the case before gluing and clamping.
I decided to use hot hide glue for this repair and I used a pipette to inject glue deep into the crack that I was able to open slightly by applying moderate string tension. Being careful to avoid the truss rod, I was able to direct the glue right where I wanted it. The nice thing about hide glue is that it gives you a but of time to get your clamps and the cleanup is a snap with warm water.
After 24 hours of drying time, the clamps were removed and the guitar was restrung and tuned to pitch. The repair was stable, so I was able to move on to refinishing.
I considered using a tinted lacquer to make the splice completely invisible, but decided to touchup the break where needed and clear coat after a discussion with the owner. After sanding and buffing, the repair is complete and as good as new.