Nasty Acoustic Guitar Side Cracks

Nasty Acoustic Guitar Side Cracks

This guitar's see better days. You can see a couple of nasty cracks along the shoulder. They begun at the preamp cutout and because of the tension on that area of bent wood, they easily spread as the centre 'relaxed' while the edges stayed in place, bound to the top and back. 

Someone has had a go at repairing this damage already. The previous repairer tried using fibreglass and some mesh tape to secure things. A brace was added near the preamp cutout to reinforce it but that and the fibreglass weren't enough. The arrow shows where that brace has broken. The crack's back.

Guitar Headstock Repairs with Rubber Bands

There's a lot you can do with a bit of wire, a luggage ratchet-strap, and a big rubber band. 

In some cases, the best way to repair a guitar headstock doesn't involve clamps and cauls. Depends on the particular damage but this one doesn't need anything more 'specialist'. 

Repairing the headstock crack on this Gibson guitar doesn't call for lots of clamps and cauls

Some breaks are much easier and 'sounder' to repair using straps and some rubber bands.

Now, I should mention that this isn't always suitable. In many cases, it's a terrible idea. However, with the 'right' break, this method is not only easier but gives more secure crack closure while the glue cures. 


A comment made me realise I hadn't actually added an 'after' picture. Rectified now. Finished repair below. 

You can just make out the crack below the transition from headstock to neck (although—if I do say so, myself—you have to look pretty closely).

End-Block Crack Clamping

Cracks are never fun. This one's in an awkward spot, too. It was happy to close up relatively easily but it's a tricky location for clamping. 

Time for some out of the soundbox thinking (see what I did there?).

Side crack at end-block

Side crack at end-block

Cutting clamp to side contours

Cutting clamp to side contours

Cutting a block to match the curve of the guitar side in this area was an easy enough job. Now, I had my clamping caul and just needed a way to clamp. I drilled a hole through the caul. This allowed me to feed a bolt through the guitar's end-pin hole and through the hole in the caul. Snugging up the bolt pulled the caul in, closing up the crack.

Crazy block-clamped side

Crazy block-clamped side

Now, to the completely honest, I did add a long, sash-type clamp to give a little extra pressure to be completely sure about this. You can't put too much pressure on with that, though, as it'll start crushing things if you're not careful. The extra helping hand my bolt-clamp gave was just what the doctor ordered in this case. 

Oh, incidentally, that caul is lined with cork and then packing tape. Its slick surface means the glue won't adhere to it. Otherwise, after this repair was done, I'd have a completely new, Caul-Glued-To-Guitar-Removal-Repair to contend with. 

Guitar Neck Repairs: Splines

Headstock repairs are nothing new in these parts. If you pop by the Haze blog from time to time, you'll probably have seen more than a couple over the last few years. We've also talked about the need to reinforce some broken headstocks with a 'backstrap' (a piece of wood that overlays the repair to add strength).

I like backstraps. They're an effective and discreet way to strengthen a neck repair. They can take a bit of time and effort to do properly, though, and splines are not the only game in town. There are times when an alternative is preferred. 

Splines are the prime candidates.

Spline Headstock Reinforcement

A spline is a slat of wood that's inlaid into a channel cut in the neck.

Like this:

Reinforcing a broken guitar neck repair with splines.

The idea is that the channel runs for a distance either side of the repaired crack. A slot is routed and the spline glued in. The newly inserted 'good' wood of the spline ties together the good wood on both sides of the crack.

As you might expect, the splines are carved down to match the neck and the finish touched up. Splines are not quite so inconspicuous as a well-executed overlay but they are an excellent way to bolster a neck repair that needs some reinforcement. 

And, in the right circumstances, you can even get inventive in your splines


Jack On The Rocks

semi acoustic guitar side repair

It's great having a guitar at a party. Everyone's singing and you're playing and the beer is flowing and—yikes!

Sometimes guitars can party too hard. 

This little semi-acoustic got a bit of a smack as the good times rolled. It was fitted with a side-mounted output jack and it landed (quite neatly, really) on it. The jack disappeared into the guitar and left the side and finished crushed. This image was taken after I'd pulled it back into some sort of shape. 

If this guitar was a super expensive thing with huge sentimental value, we might be looking at an correspondingly expensive side-repair. Sometimes, however, that's not warranted and all that's needed is to get the thing playing again with as little fuss as possible. The easiest/cheapest way of sorting this one is to make the damage good, enlarge the hole and mount the jack on a Les Paul-style plate.

fix guitar sides and jack
guitar repair side damage

The crushed wood had become quite flexible and trying to enlarge the hole in that damaged material would have caused messy chipping and tear-outs. That's not the way to go. I wanted to saturate the area in water-thin cyanoacrylate glue to harden it but even after poking it roughly to shape, the damaged area was still below the surface level and was pretty flaky and messy. 

Enter the Mystery Invention that I teased you with on Facebook and Twitter last night. 

I fished a hefty bolt through the F-hole and gently snugged up a nut on it. This pulled the crushed wood back into something close to its proper shape. I loosened off, saturated the area with super glue and retightened the nut. Incidentally, that white 'washer' you see is a piece of teflon. There's a corresponding piece on the inside too. The glue won't adhere to this and I'm not really keen on ending up with a honking great bolt glued in the jack-hole. The shaft of the bolt doesn't contact the edges but I was very careful to avoid any glue squeeze out contacting there too. 

guitar jack socket repair

Once it's dry, I can enlarge that hole more cleanly. A little, basic, touch-up and clean-up and the jack plate can be installed. This guitar is ready for the next party. 

Super-involved repairs are justified in many cases but, sometimes, quick and easy is the way to go.

Even quick and easy should be done properly, though.