Ask a Luthier Codabows Instruments Links Pi Guitar String Band Contact
Return to questions listing:

Cracked neck to body joint on an electric

I purchased a dean sarasota guitar on Ebay. The guitar arrived with a stress crack around the neck/body joint I assume due to pressure on the body during shipping (there was some air space between the back of the body and the padding in the case). I was hoping it was just checking in the finish but upon further inspection the crack opens just a bit when the neck is flexed forward. the guitar still strings up and plays in tune with decent action but I sure it will not stay that way for long. Is there a good economic way to repair this without major surgery. I only paid $300.00 for the guitar and any major repairs would most likely exceed the value of the instrument. I have enclosed some pictures of the damage. Any help would be greatly appreciated.

A: The neck, of this electric guitar, is being held on by the mortise and tennon joint under the fingerboard. That joint is, probably, tight and strong. The glue has failed where the endgrain of the neck meets the body. The wood has shrunk away from the joint. The only way to close that joint is to take the neck off and refit it. As you surmise, that would be very expensive and in the end, you would have a tight, strong neck joint, which you already have. A cosmetic fix is the way to go. Mix slow setting epoxy (not 5 minute epoxy) with color powder to match your finish. Glob it on and pump the crack to suck it in. Epoxy is non-shrinking, it will capillate into the joint and fill it with hard glue. Within 4 minutes of mixing the glue, wipe the excess with Kleenex and mineral spirits. Don't get the joint wetter than necessary, removing the bulk of the excess with dry Kleenex is good. Cover the crack with rubber tape and flip the guitar so that gravity can pull the colored epoxy into contact with the tape. A three dimensional joint might take two or three applications to fill to the rim on all sides. Let it dry over night, peel off the tape, buff and enjoy.

There are much better glues for carrying vibrations, and there are much better glues for a joint that you might want to open in the future. Epoxy soaks deep into the pores of the wood and doesn't shrink as it hardens. It will fill up your crack and even add stiffness (increased surface area of the neck joint). It will not soak all the way into the mortise and tennon joint. If that joint is loose you need the full meal deal neck reset.

Steve Mason