what to do with a broken guitar?
December 29, 2009 11:58 AM   Subscribe

What to do with a broken guitar?

I found the post on repairing it, but it's going to be too complicated/expensive to fix given the value of the guitar (it's a Mitchell MD100).

So my question is what can I do with a guitar with a snapped headstock besides mount it on my wall like a relic?
posted by beammeup4 to Sports, Hobbies, & Recreation (15 answers total)
Get a new headstock/neck? Salvage the pickups and make a diddley bow?
posted by cmoj at 12:11 PM on December 29, 2009

Hm. I'd consider trying to kludge together a new instrument out of it. Look up pages on making cigar-box guitars and the like. You can move tuners, bolt things on. Kludge tuners on, start with a nut at the fifth fret and make some higher-tuned beast out of it. Once you decide it's a primitive instrument, it's all fun. The soundbox and frets are the hard part of making instruments--and you've got those.
posted by LucretiusJones at 12:22 PM on December 29, 2009 [1 favorite]

Do you play shows? Because if shows, you should SMASH SMASH SMASH IT!
posted by Jon_Evil at 12:49 PM on December 29, 2009 [1 favorite]

You can epoxy the headstock back on and string it up. Worked for my bass-player's accoustic bass. Looks like shit, plays as new.
posted by Ironmouth at 12:53 PM on December 29, 2009

I had an Ovation with a broken neck joint. I carefully repaired it, even making my own hide glue, doing a real fine job. It broke within a week. Then I glued the crap out of it, put in a few screws and pins for good measure, and the repair has held for years. No, it's not quite as nice-sounding as it was before, but it works OK.

The fact that you can't repair it right shouldn't keep you from trying to repair it at all, say I. You can't break it worse.
posted by MrMoonPie at 1:06 PM on December 29, 2009 [1 favorite]

Mosaic it!

Here are a few examples
posted by Jenny is Crafty at 1:36 PM on December 29, 2009 [1 favorite]

Seconding fixing it yourself. I've had a few successful repairs using Elmer's yellow wood glue, I found that it works better by thinning it out with a little hot water prior to using it. Don't be shy about applying the glue, and use some C clamps and a few pieces of wood to hold it together while it sets. (I let mine set a minimum of two weeks to assure the glue has set). If the glue seeps/squeezes out when clamping it, just clean it off AFTER the neck has set using a hot water sponge and a little elbow grease.

I've heard hide glue works great, too, though you have to be a little more careful as it is a pain to clean up.

Other than that, I agree with SMASH IT. Just Super-Glue the sucker together, string it up and SMASH IT at a show.
posted by peewinkle at 1:56 PM on December 29, 2009

Hide glue is fine. If used well (glue and workpiece must be warm so it doesn't prematurely gel, one must use the right strength, the pieces must fit snugly but not overly tight, and the assembly must be clamped securely for quite some time - overnight at least, better longer), it can be as strong as you need it. A failing hide glue joint is generally not the glue's fault. Hide glue joints are reversible (with heat and water) which is great for any future repairs, something that doesn't apply for most modern glues. Hide glue can be easily cleaned away, most of the other goo not.
posted by Namlit at 2:11 PM on December 29, 2009

Seconding epoxy -- that's how my guitar instructor scored a pretty good guitar (a Martin, I think): His neighbor broke the headstock, tried to repair it with wood glue, and after that failed, tossed it in the trash. Instructor retrieved the guitar, and repaired with epoxy. This worked for several years; I don't know if he re-repaired it. I wouldn't go so far as saying it looked like shit, or even ~ugly~, but yeah, it did have a gray industrial look to it (note: I'm cutting a lot of slack on the aesthetics, 'cause beat-up is sorta expected in blues style.. Ok, if it were used in, say, an Irish music setting, I would say it looked like shit.)

On preview: I have no experience with hide glue, so I might be inclined to try that, just to gain experience; also this semi-random link sez it's often used by luthiers..
posted by Tuesday After Lunch at 2:55 PM on December 29, 2009

I'm confused why the value of the guitar makes it too complicated to fix? You could probably still sell it to somebody who will fix it if you can't fix it yourself.
posted by surfgator at 3:41 PM on December 29, 2009

Use epoxy to fix it. Try not to use 5 minute epoxy if you can help it. It's not very good...although it would probably work. You want an epoxy that's 5 parts resin to one part hardener. If you have a marine supply store around you, you could ask them if they have any very small West System (that's a brand) kits of marine epoxy. That's your best bet.

Dry run fitting the two pieces together and clamping it up. If you have a little acetone, you can clean up the glue squeeze out with that...just don't get it on your hands (use gloves).

Don't push the clamps too tight...epoxy needs a bit of glue in the joint.

Definitely don't use hide glue for this (too much trouble, not that strong). Titebond yellow glue would be a decent second choice to epoxy but is a little more finicky in terms of fit and clamping. Much easier to clean up after though.
posted by sully75 at 5:28 PM on December 29, 2009

Pretty much any glue that holds wood together will work to repair the break.

The most important thing is that you must clamp the two pieces together and let it dry for 24hrs while clamped.

If you don't clamp, you will fail.

Here is a video.
posted by jeffamaphone at 6:04 PM on December 29, 2009

Response by poster: Props for the creative suggestions...I was kind of leaning towards those since I had in mind to upgrade in the near future anyway.

Perhaps if I had more time I'd fix it up myself. Then if I had the skills (and wealth) of Jimi Hendrix, I'd light it on fire or smash it.

@surfgator - after reading this MeFi thread and taking a look at this repair which is similar to my situation, I decided it wasn't worth it for a $150 guitar. But if you think someone would be willing to buy it from me, I'd like your advice!
posted by beammeup4 at 12:33 AM on December 30, 2009

Find someone who is making a music video, and let them smash the guitar in the video. You then have it on film, which makes it an unforgettable experience.
posted by markblasco at 1:13 AM on December 30, 2009

If it is a clean break and you don't have shattered wood or more than a few pieces of wood, I would take the tuning pegs off and spread some wood glue on the broken surfaces. Have some water and towels handy for excess glue and clean up. Tightly wrap rubber bands to hold it together if you don't have clamps or if they won't work. That's a $5 fix.

I've built and repaired a few instruments (including a banjo that fell off a stand that snapped the headstock) and I find that my relationship with the instrument becomes more intimate after performing the surgery. If you don't want to bother, visit a luthier's forum or take it to a local music shop and try to sell it. If the action and everything else is still good, you could probably get at least $50 for it. To all the guitar smashers- don't make me sing that John Hiatt song!
posted by surfgator at 9:00 AM on December 30, 2009

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