How to Fix a Broken Acoustic Guitar Head

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Introduction: How to Fix a Broken Acoustic Guitar Head

It happened. Any guitar owner's worst nightmare: the angled headstock on your beloved guitar became the point of fracture when it fell or was hit against a wall.

After playing well into the night in my bed, I decided to foolishly do what I always did: place my guitar at the foot of my bed, neck leaning on the bed's footboard. My feet must've been moving in my sleep because I was suddenly jerked awake by the sound of my guitar landing face-first onto the hard plastic floor tiles. It was 4:05 AM. Instead of freaking out, I picked up the guitar, and placed it on my dresser where there would be no risk of more damage.

If this or something similar has happened to you, first, relax. The best way to work is with a clear head. Second, head to the hardware store and pick up these materials if you don't already have them:

>Wood Glue
>Strong clamp of some sort
>A glue spreader (I used a halved drinking straw)
>Rubbing Alcohol
>Cotton balls or some kind of rag for cleaning
>Sand paper (I got two grades: 220 and 400 wet/dry)
>String winder (Optional, but makes things easier)
>Gloves(Also optional, but I like to take this precaution)

If the break gets to your tuners:

>Pliers or a wrench to loosen tuner bushings
>Small Screwdriver

Step 1: Clearing the Work Area

Although the strings have become loosened  from the break, it's still necessary to remove them in order to work on the guitar. A string winder comes in handy at this stage, I didn't have one so it took a bit longer.

Once the strings are removed, I also remove the tuners that would get in the way of clamping. This is done by undoing the bushings and the screws that hold the tuners in place.

Next, in order to minimize risk of contaminants that could reduce the hold of the glue, I clean the area with alcohol. This also removes any finger or hand oils that could ruin the bond.

Step 2: Make a Glue Spreader and Apply Glue

A glue spreader is essential to this project. You must ensure that adequate amounts of glue reach every crevice of the crack. To do this, I found an UNUSED fast-food drinking straw to do the best job. I took the straw and cut it just off-half, using the less concave side (shallower side) as my glue spreader.

This works well because the curve makes the straw stiff, but when it gets into the crack, it's capable of flattening which makes it pliable and allows glue to get into those paper thin crevices.

If you are using epoxy, take extra precaution so that you don't ruin your finish too much. I'm using Elmer's Wood Glue as my local hardware store didn't carry Titebond I. 

Step 3: Clamp Up the Crack and WAIT

Now that your glue is evenly spread in the crack, it's time to clamp it up, wipe up any squeeze out with a damp cloth and leave alone for 3-4 days. Again, you should follow the instructions on the bottle of glue you are using.

When it is dry, and if you did this properly, the glued wood should actually be stronger than any other part of the neck.

Personally, I will leave it clamped for a week more or less because I really don't want to risk this project at all.

I am going to return this clamp to the hardware store because I honestly don't have any place to keep it in my tiny dorm. The guitar itself takes up a lot of space and I don't have a tool bag or anything. That's why I am using a napkin, though if you have it, wax paper or aluminum foil work best.

Step 4: Cosmetics

Sanding the area around the fracture is a must. For me, it's to clean up the glue and minimize further cracking in the finish.

If you have any experience with finishing, then this will be a cinch for you. Just sand, spray your finish, level, repeat, repeat, repeat, and buff.

I'm not so keen on appearances, plus the crack will give me a good story to tell. I will seal the front and back with wipe on polyurethane, however, because I don't want moisture to seep in that area and undo my work, though the chance of this is very small.

The cracks will be visible, but they will be sealed. 

But until I can get my hands on my old bottle of poly (it's in my mom's storage closet at her apartments with the rest of my tool-things) I'll just leave it as it is. After ensuring that the glue was completely dry, I put the old strings on it and it sounds AMAZING! Just as good as it can being broken, anyways.

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    18 Comments

    When you say "glue spreader," do you mean "a conduit through which the glue can flow from the opening on the glue bottle into the work area?"

    Hi! I wanted to ask if there's any way i can fix my guitar. It's a washburn electric which broke off in half from the head and the other piece went missing. Its been a long time and i never thought its repairable. Idc about how it would like after repair i just want it to be playable again. Please help

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    i have this problem but the headstock is completely broken off my Epiphone. should i try this? i have wood glue. all i need is a clamp. suggestions?

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    Wait isnt hide glue a better choice for a neck reapir?

    It's not. That's a myth perpetuated by luthiers. The fact is, PVA glue has made leaps and bounds in its efficacy. There is no reason to use expensive glues or equipment when you just want a strong bond that will never come undone.

    The only reason I would have used hide glue is if I would want to reset or undo the joint. However, there's no reason I'd ever want to do that.

    found constuction adheisive work well here and widely found in hardware stores

    That seems about the size of it. They're made for load bearing, aren't they? Honestly, that sounds like a great solution if you have it. However, I do have a slight preference for the cheaper, not as viscous, $3 bottle of Wood Glue. I vaguely remember impatiently using Liquid Nails once, but I was a kid and ended up scrapping that project.

    I'll definitely have to test construction adhesive on a similar joint though!

    Wood glue is absolutely the best for wood. I use all kinds of glues for renovating.....liquid nails would not stand up to the kind of stresses placed on a guitar for very long. You can also get exterior wood glue which means that if you get your guitar wet it won't make any difference. Did you manage to get a full nights rest?

    I don't know, I'm a bit wary of waterproof formulas like Titebond II & III. I've read on numerous pages that they tend to creep with time and the best solution is to stick with regular PVAs and seal them up with a finish. That's what I've read anyways.

    Amazing how the best glue for wood is something that is formulated for wood, isn't it?