Broken Guitar Fix & Paint Job




Introduction: Broken Guitar Fix & Paint Job

About: I like to make things. Art, inventions, tools, ukuleles, etc...

This guitar came to me as basically garbage. Although brand new, it had been damaged in shipping and had a big hole in the top, several long cracks, loose bridge, etc… As an amateur luthier I thought it would be fun to see if I could fix it. It hung on the wall for a long time before I started.


Busted guitar (Cordoba C7 CD/IN), thin CA glue and accelerator, wood glue, scrap cedar, sandpaper, shellac, Testors enamel paints, mineral spirits, Testors black enamel paint pen, masking tape, spray on polyurethane.

Tools: Clamps, scissors, small paint brushes

Step 1: Stabilize the Loose Parts

The top was lifting next to the missing piece and the bottom side had sprung slightly away from the top. To get it all back in line took some wood glue and several clamps.

Step 2: Close the Cracks and Reattach the Bridge

I wicked thin CA glue into the cracks and under the bridge one at a time using my hands as the clamps and using accelerator to set the glue quickly.

Step 3: Map Out the Hole

I taped some paper over the hole and rubbed with a crayon to mark the shape of the hole. Then I cut out the shape until it fit.

Step 4: Re-glue Loose Brace and Add Some Wood

I glued in two thin pieces of cedar to attach the patch to.

Step 5: Patch the Hole

I cut some cedar into the shape of the hole, and sanded the edges until it fit well. Then I glued it in with CA glue.

Step 6: Sand the Top

Sand the top to flatten the patch, cracks, and superglue squeeze out. I put down some masking tape to contain the area where the finish would be damaged. Then sanded everything until reasonably flat.

Step 7: Seal Bare Wood With Shellac

Step 8: Design the Paint Job

I photographed the guitar body from directly overhead, then drew and edited a plan on the computer until I was happy with it.

Step 9: Grid the Design Onto the Guitar

I made a square grid pattern on the guitar with string and tape, and then drew a matching grid on the paper with my design.

Step 10: Transfer the Lines With a Sharpie

This is the trickiest part. It’s tedious to get all the lines in the right place. I used a red Sharpie at first, but switched to black as it was easier to see.

Step 11: Mix Paint

I wanted three values of blue, so I bought a light blue and a dark blue, and mixed the two to get the medium blue.

Step 12: Test Paint

I painted a test and decided that the dark blue was too dark by itself. So I added light blue to both the dark and the medium until I had a nice range of values.

Step 13: Paint the Colors

Using my paper map I put in all the areas of the light blue first, then the dark, then the medium.

Step 14: Add the Black Lines

Using the paint pen I drew in all the lines as smoothly as I could. I went back in with the colors to smooth out any bumps in the lines. After all the paint was dry I used denatured alcohol to erase any Sharpie marks still visible. Then a couple coats of clear poly spray gives a little protection to the paint.

Step 15: Done. String It Up and Play!

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    3 months ago

    Great job - curious to know also how much of a performance/ tone / musicality ( .. ) was eventually lost after the mishap and recovery? Would one be able to tell the difference, and how much - in a blind test ?


    Reply 3 months ago

    I never heard this guitar before the damage so I have no way to compare. I suspect the difference in tone would be pretty small.

    Penolopy Bulnick
    Penolopy Bulnick

    4 months ago

    Nice job on the fix and love the paint job :)


    Reply 4 months ago



    4 months ago

    Looking at step 11, I now know what people mean by "getting a good paint match" :)

    It is very satisfying rescuing an otherwise busted instrument like this. At worst, it all goes horribly wrong and you start and end with a busted guitar destined for the bin. But you learn what not to do next time. It's a great way to learn and get confidence should you ever need to patch up a "real" guitar ...

    If you ever see a dumped acoustic guitar/ukulele -- no matter how bad -- pick it up and experiment ...


    Reply 4 months ago

    Yeah. I do like to fiddle around with broken stuff.