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 ARCHIVED TOPIC: Repairing a cracked banjo neck

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bradboulet - Posted - 06/12/2012:  13:13:07

Can anyone give me some advice about how to repair the cracked neck on my Sigma banjo?  What's odd about this is I don't even know how it happened.  My banjo fell off its stand a few weeks ago but I would think I'd have noticed it before now.   Pretty sad when I noticed this today...  It seems to be playing fine, but I'd like to know what can be done to repair it and/or what I should do to make sure the problem doesn't get worse.  Any advice is greatly appreciated.

Cracked neck 1

cracked neck 2

cracked neck 3

Earls 5 - Posted - 06/12/2012:  13:29:18

unstring it then carefully pry the two pieces apart as you inject original titebond into void. Clamp it firmly and wipe off excess glue with damp cloth and allow to set for several hours.

banjonz - Posted - 06/12/2012:  13:31:25

What the photos show is the classic damage done when a banjo falls off a standand lands on the tuner pegs. I have repaired this sort of damage before. What I used was super strength epoxy and clamps. What appears to be holding the peghead on it the top veneer. Remove the strings and carefully apply epoxy far in as you can deep within the break using a thin stiff object, say like a long toothpick etc. Then clamp using G clamps if you have them but remembering to protect the finish form the clamps. Wipe off the extra epoxy that comes out under the clamp pressure. Leave 24 hours. The bond should be so strong it shouldn't break in the same place.

eagleisland - Posted - 06/12/2012:  13:32:07

Ah, yes - yet another victim of a banjo kept on its stand (and that's almost certainly what caused the insult; I'd bet that string tension probably did the rest).

If you're handy you'll find a lot of good information on this website.  Scroll down to where it says "structural" and scroll from there to "broken pegheads."

If that looks like more than you want to handle, most reasonably competent luthiers can manage this repair for you.  It doesn't look TOO horrible, based on your pictures.

Good luck with the repair (and consider getting rid of that stand).

Billyjimbob - Posted - 06/12/2012:  13:39:38

It doesn't look like it could get worse short of snapping off completely..I would loosen off the strings first..You could glue and clamp it.. You will always see the outine of the crack but you could still use it without problem..I can't see if the headstock veneer is also cracked but it soon will be if you leave tension on the strings.

sam guthridge - Posted - 06/12/2012:  13:44:33

I'm no expert, but I would have to strongly disagree with banjonz on this one.
Once you use epoxy, there's no going back. If you make a mistake with the repair (which might happen your first time doing this kind of thing), you will have to replace the neck.
If you repair it with Titebond or another standard wood glue, the repair can be undone and redone if necessary. They are plenty strong. I've even used regular Elmers school glue to repair an open seam on my fiddle when I needed a quick fix on the road and it's held fine.

scooter46 - Posted - 06/12/2012:  14:06:22




     I think I'd use Titebond,, if you have a wood workers store close go buy a glue syringe you can inject it deep in the break. It looks like a pretty clean break and no chuncks missing. Good Luck, let us know how it comes out. Larry



bradboulet - Posted - 06/12/2012:  14:08:06

Thanks so much for the replies and advice. I figured it'd be such a process involving clamps and glue/ epoxy. I found a local luthier who told me he'd fix it for $55 and even touch up the finish a bit. I may just let him do it for me since I ain't the handiest guy in the world and I'd like it to be repaired well. Might wind up being a good $55 investment... Thanks again for the advice!

george pereda - Posted - 06/12/2012:  14:10:27

Ok- you have a guy here with first hand knowledge--mine fell forward and cracked.  you need to open up the crack enough to get some good wood glue in there-tightbond is good- take off the strings-- open the crack enough

so that you can put glue in side the crack-you must get enough in so that it flows out when squeezed- clamp it--

wait 10 minutes take off excess glue-with water--let it dry for a week-  I.,m paranoid-----if you want sand excess

and reapply very diluted  paint- use  a  wet sand -- very very  very fine paper to sand--  good luck--

by the way my neck snapped clean off--

5steve - Posted - 06/12/2012:  14:20:37

That 's always a shock when it happens but there are an awful lot of banjos that have had that ailment Mine include it glued up just fine but was real depressing at first.  Steve

SWCooper - Posted - 06/12/2012:  15:24:07

What's the solvent to loosen Titebond, then?

uncle.fogey - Posted - 06/12/2012:  15:51:56

There is no solvent to loosen titebond other than heat and or water - steam.

When you have a failure like the ones being discussed, you have ONE golden opportunity to fix them, when the break is pristeen, fits back together exactly and hasn't had any attempt to re-glue it (pristeen - sorry for the redundancy).

After it has been fooled with, and the break has been compromised with glue, you're better off sanding both pieces flat, putting a filler piece in there and starting out fresh. You absolutely MUST make clamping cauls that allow the break to be clamped firmly.

Sure signs of a bad amateur repair are dowels and screws, which just make it harder to repair properly when it inevitably breaks again.

george pereda - Posted - 06/12/2012:  16:35:14

yup- uncle fogey---but I always put it back in the case now-learned my lesson.

Fishrrman - Posted - 06/12/2012:  17:38:04

"My banjo fell off its stand a few weeks ago"

That should teach you all you need to know about banjo stands.

Imagine if it had been a $4,000 Huber, Yates, or Gibsonů.

george pereda - Posted - 06/12/2012:  17:56:50

the glue joint is stronger than the wood.

Helix - Posted - 06/13/2012:  06:17:10

Just to answer, most of the glues let go at 160 degrees, my Shark steamer is my new friend,

Hurry and get over to that luthier for $55, that's the fix. Be careful not to glue the truss rod.

mrbook - Posted - 06/13/2012:  07:16:54

I had a similar break a decade ago (not through the veneer), caused by a band mate who knocked my banjo over while taking a speaker off the stand after a gig (I was putting my guitar away -to me, instruments get packed up first, and I don't worry if anything else gets damaged). I could have fixed it, but it was my favorite banjo, so a let a local luthier do it for $75 (paid by my band mate). Seemed like a bargain, and while I worried about it at first, I've since played it for hundreds of shows, and after a year or so stopped carry a second banjo with me for insurance. It will be fine.

bradboulet - Posted - 06/13/2012:  07:43:25

Y'all are a good bunch of folks... Not just advice, but emotional reassurance as everything is going to be ok... I dropped her off at the luthier yesterday afternoon, I'm headed to Fla on vacation tomorrow (I'll take my guitar rather than the banjo), and then I'll pick it up next week. I'll let y'all know how it turns out. Thanks again!

majesty - Posted - 06/13/2012:  08:00:06

NEVER, NEVER, use a banjo stand. I've seem to many banjo damaged by other players, mike cords, chairs, etc. Use a hard case, close the lid. your banjo deserves good care.

Banjophobic - Posted - 06/13/2012:  08:16:44

This is why I own stock in several stand companies...tongue.  I'm glad you found a luthier to fix this. folks with no experience doing these types of repairs should let a competent  repairman do it. Not because this clean break repair is rocket science, but because doing it wrong the first time is a much larger problem than the break. 

Epoxy isnt a terrible thing in itself, if its used correctly and for the 'right' kind of peghead break. Dowels are also not a bad thing, if done correctly and for the 'right' repair scenario. I prefer to use carbon fiber rods and sheets, for very seriously fractured peg heads, and high strength epoxy. 

For this clean break, which is the most common, wood clue is the way to go. smiley

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