Q. What's the best glue?
A. There's no single "best" glue, but there are several that have proven themselves over the years, and in the case of hide glue, over centuries. Our recommendations are BRAND-NAME/PRODUCT SPECIFIC where applicable. Not all glues are created equal so don't assume that any glue readily available to you is good enough for your instrument - different formulations greatly affect quality, especially with yellow glues and epoxies. Some glues have a shelf-life and will expire, yellow glues especially should be fresh. Here's a quick guide to the strengths and weaknesses of the most popular glues. Note that there's a continuing emphasis on disassembly. For electric guitars, set necks (glued-in), as found on most Gibsons, are often disassembled for repair, replacement, or refinishing. Fingerboards need to be removed in order to replace broken truss rods or just because they're worn out. Acoustic guitars also require neck removal and fingerboard replacement, but repairs may require removal of the bridge, top, or back of a guitar as well. Some future repair person will either bless you or curse you based on your choice of glues.
|Hide glue||Traditional instrument builders' choice. Very strong, can be disassembled for repair. Invisible joints with good woodworking technique.||Dry granules must be mixed with water, heated, then kept at a steady temperature. There is a learning curve.|
|Premixed liquid hide glue||Convenient||Weaker than fresh-mixed hide glue. Not recommended for lutherie.|
Elmer's Probond Yellow Glue
(PVA, Aliphatic Resin glue)
|Convenient, strong, easy to use over a wide range of temperatures||More difficult to disassemble/repair than hide glue. Oily/resinous woods (most tropicals) may require special preparation. Some joints, such as neck scarf joints, may creep over time, one year shelf life.|
|Titebond II, Titebond III||Waterproof (II), longer open time (III)||Not recommended for lutherie, doesn't dry hard.|
|Elmer's Yellow Carpenter's Glue||Low chilling temperature||Not recommended for lutherie, doesn't dry hard.|
|Plastic Resin/Urea Formaldehyde/UF|
Cascamite seems to be the most popular brand
|Strong bond, unlimited shelf life of powder, dries hard. Excellent for lamination.||Light tan color may show line when joining light woods. Powder is an irritant/sensitizer. Difficult to disassemble.|
|Epoxy||Strong bonds, can be used clear or with fillers/wood flour. Best for joining dissimilar materials such as wood and metal, works well on oily tropical woods.||May break down under heat. Some epoxies are waxy, potentially deadening instrument resonance.|
|Polyurethane glue ("Gorilla" is the most readily available brand but our members don't like it, they prefer "Probond.")||Convenient, strong. Gap-filling properties.||Stains skin, gap-filling foam is weak. Disassembly is difficult. Limited shelf life.|
|Cyanoacrylate/CA/Krazy/Super glue||Very fast bonding, dries hard and clear. Available in various consistencies. Good for strengthening porous woods. Good for repairing some clear finishes.||Low shear strength. Becomes brittle and releases under heat. May destroy some finishes. Reacts with some metals. Easily attaches fingers to objects under construction and to one another. Fumes are an eye irritant.|