My new Gold Tone just took a bad fall from its stand and cracked right at the 5th string tuning peg. The string snapped and the peg fell out. I was just hoping for help on what would be the best solution since I am a beginner, I was thinking wood glue, clamp it down for a couple of days, and then put the tuning peg back in. I can't afford taking it to a luthier right now, but is this something I can get re-done professionally down the line?
This banjo was a gift and I am really upset I wasn't being more careful!Any help appreciated
Take the strings off!
Person more experienced than I, may have better suggestions as to how you might best get the proper glue far enough in.
You are right about glue and clamping it. Over night is long enough for it to dry. Titebond is the best to use but other wood glue would work. Don't use Titebond II. I understand it stays flexible.
That looks like a pretty nasty crack. Do you have the small sliver that looks like it is out of the crack? For a solid repair that would be most useful.
You might want to take the neck to a reputable luthier for repair.
If you are a somewhat competent craftsman, you may tackle this on your own. There are a few videos on UTube that address this type of repair.
This is an example of why an instrument should always be in the case when not used. Instruments that are left in stands or hung on walls always, and I mean always, get knocked down or over. Banjos inparticular take very poorly to being put in rough contact with a floor. I have been a victim of this myself in the past. There has been a few recent threads on just this subject.
You have my sympathies on this. I know all too well how it feels to have this happen.
Ditch the stand. Yours is not the first 'horror' story involving a banjo and a stand.
Clara, I would take that to a skilled luthier/fretted instrument repair person if it was mine. Yes, you could fix it yourself, but someone who has done this type of repair before will most likely be able to do it better.
And I agree with Bobby E. Going forward, the safest place for your banjo is either in your hands or in its case - with the case in a secure position.
One must get glue worked as far into the crack as possible and clamping will be tricky here. I have done a few repairs like this. I push glue into the crack with my finger tips, and then continue applying and use a piece of thread to work it in further. Practice clamping first to make sure nothing slips.
Using thread (or maybe dental floss!) to pull wood glue into the crack is a great idea!
In this discussion from 2017, I asked for and received great advice on how to repair a less serious peghead crack in an old Japanese neck. All of the techniques suggested to me for getting glue into the crack are probably applicable to your situation.
What I ended up doing was flexing the crack a bit more open than it was (I was not dealing with a complete break), putting glue on a piece of waxed paper wider than the neck, and sliding that down into the crack. I also lightly opened and closed the break, since I'd been advised that would draw glue into the crack.
Wipe glue off the surface, then clamp.
The repair will be visible. And unless you do some spot refinishing, scraping, sanding and polishing, you'll always feel it.
While this can be a DIY repair, it does require the right tools -- especially clamps (or at least one clamp). If you can't tightly and safely clamp the piece for a few hours (or overnight), then don't even attempt it. I don't believe "clamping" with masking tape or weighing it down with heavy objects will do. Do whatever you can to get this to a qualified repair person.
Be careful not to move any wood fibers out of wack as all it takes is one little piece out of place to reduce contact for the whole crack.
I recommend taking this to a professional (if you list your general area, members can help you find a good pro nearby). While cracks are not usually a huge issue, this one is in a bad spot, due mostly to the curved surfaces which will be very difficult to clamp properly (you'll probably need specially made clamping cauls), but also its position close to the fifth string peg, which will have a tendency when refitted to force the crack apart if not very solidly glued, and because of what appears to be some splintering and possible missing wood. There is also the matter of the finish, which will need to be touched up smoothly so that your hand doesn't feel rough spots there.
A luthier's repair might seem expensive, but bear in mind that even a tiny mistake due to inexperience will cost much more to re-do than having the crack repaired properly and professionally in the first place.
Before you decide anything, though, follow Mike Gregory's advice and take the strings off. String tension never helps a crack. Also, try to find all the chips that may have been knocked loose; they'll aid the repair.
“is this something I can get re-done professionally down the line”
If you attempt to glue it and the repair is out of whack or doesn’t hold, the glue that you put in the crack will make it harder for a luthier to re-do the repair down the line. It’s at least worth finding a good local luthier and asking what they would charge before you attempt a repair on your own. My logic is that if it’s an easy repair for you, it’s also an easy repair for a luthier and they likely won’t charge much. Plus, most of the luthiers I’ve met are very compassionate.
Of course, Getting a whole new neck later is also an option.
I would also call Goldtone and inquire about a new neck before making a decisision which way to go. That would help you to know how much to invest in a repair or how much you are risking if you try it yourself. We have no idea what price range of banjo you are dealing with.
If "CLARA" means you are a Lady with a banjo, I can understand why you might be reluctant to reveal your home town, since banjo playing MEN are notorious for their low moral standard, and for all the various ways they will try attract a woman's attention.
Many am honest, but some, when you hear what they say, they amphibian!
So, I would suggest you edit your TOPIC TITLE to
"REPAIR NEEDED NEAR ________________"
and fill in the blank with the name of some town NEARBY, with the STATE included.
For better results, use the name of a REAL town, within 40 miles.
That will get the attention of people IN that state, and they can give you a recommendation.
(If you're within 50 miles of Milwaukee WI, drop me an e-mail.)
First remove the strings. You can then apply a fair amount Titebond glue to the crack. Flexing or pressing the crack open and closed a number of times will usually work the glue down into the crack. Slightly diluting the glue with water will help get it into the crack, but too much water will weaken the bond. Once you get glue down into the crack, you can "clamp" a break like this by wrapping the neck tightly with string or cord. Each time you wrap the cord, it will apply more pressure. After letting it dry overnight, unwrap the string and clean off the excess glue with a warm, damp rag.
If there are chips of missing wood, they should be fit in place before clamping. This adds an extra level of difficulty, unfortunately, which can be tricky unless you've done the repair before.
To make an unnoticeable repair will almost certainly involve some fill, and some color and finish touch-up. This is where the artistry of repair comes into play.
If the above process makes you nervous, you will probably be best off having the job done by an instrument repair person. It somewhat depends on the cost of repair vs the value of the instrument. It's not a difficult repair. But the cost will most likely depend on the time spent on touch-up. The closer to an invisible repair, the more it will cost.
Many useful comments above. Just looked at my Gold Tone to check its profile at the 5th peg. Kinda slight. So, if you should decide to work on yours, here’s a heads-up. In my professional experience when confronted with tricky-to-fix incomplete wood fractures, I usually needed to risk making even a very slight crack into a more drastic break in order to repair it cosmetically and with strength. It’s counterintuitive. Do take care, however! I often used a flat bladed screw driver appropriately inserted into the crack as a wedge...I would carefully twist the blade to more widely open the crack. This helped when I feathered in glue. Clamping and so forth followed. By the way, it’s possible you might be able to tap the screwdriver into the fresh crack inside the 5th string peg socket. This would lessen the chance of unhappy tool marks left to touch-up elsewhere on the neck. I think by being careful you can fix this. I also favor original Titebond glue. I’d try not to clamp the thing too tight and squeeze all the glue out...I’d just squeeze it enough to make a good close joint. You do need enough glue in there to hold the wood together. Good luck.
Yes, it can be glued and clamped at home if you are an experienced woodworker. If you do not have quite a bit of experience, you would be better off taking it to a professional.
If you do it yourself, you will need a knowledge of clamping irregular surfaces, and you will need to clamp it firmly enough to get a tight glue joint.
I prefer to let joints of this type to cure for 48 hours rather than 24. If you do not have experience with hot hide glue, Titebond Original is the best glue for the repair.
A new piece of wood can be grafted in if you don't have the missing piece.
Bear in mind that if you cannot get a tight, close fitting joint if you do it yourself, it will add to the cost, labor time, and possibly the reliability of the repair if a professional has to re-do it.
I would suggest that you spend some time studying various repair techniques at Frank Ford's excellent frets.com website before attempting a repair of this sort on your own.
Edited by - rcc56 on 01/12/2019 20:52:47
Yes, as rcc56 noted, the glue type is important.
If the repair will be done right, then either glue is fine.
If the repair is going to be messed up and have to be redone, then best to use hot hide glue, as it can be softened in place and re-adhere to the joint or adhere to more hot hide glue. Titebond in a seam or crack that has to be reglued becomes problematic to clean out and reglue.
The repair can be tackled at home with some research. But I'd sure learn how to use hot hide glue first, rather than stick some Titebond in there and hope all works out perfectly. Frank Ford's site has information on hot hide glue (it's not that "hot"), including making your own out of gelatin from the supermarket -- paper cup, water, and microwave is all that's needed for a small, one-time job.
As for this particular repair, might at least get a repair person to look at it, and get an estimate before deciding to do-it-yourself or contracting out.
Money for the repair can be an issue. I don't have a solution for that. It's no fun to be without a banjo while saving up for the repair. With hot hide glue, you can give it a go, and know that a redo will be possible.
Edited by - Alex Z on 01/13/2019 11:24:31
The only thing I don't like about hot hide glue is that it's jell time can be very short. The person doing the gluing needs to be familiar with the glue and can't waste time in assembly and clamping. If you are too slow, you end up with a poor glue joint.
Titebond gives you a bit more open time, which can be helpful for a beginner. You can slow down the gel time of hide glue by adding urea, but the result is pretty much the same as pre-mixed liquid hide glue.
As a general rule with hide glue, the darker the glue, the longer the open time. Knox gelatin makes for a very strong hide glue, but it is almost colorless and sets up very quick.
Bear in mind that although many here say you can do it yourself, those saying that have had quite a bit of experience.
Cracks are, in my experience, all different, and require different approaches; experience helps to decide the best way to go about repairing a crack like this one, and more importantly, experience helps should an unforeseen problem arise. Unforeseen problems happen more frequently than one might imagine.
While I won't question your abilities with repair work (you may be a fabulous repair person) I would not start with a crack like this one, but with something a little more easy to handle.
I feel badly for you, as I do all others who have had bad breaks, but I would feel even worse should you have problems and be forced to spend a lot more than usual to have it redone. Re-repairs are always more trouble, and thus cost way more money.
Lightguage has the correct answer, get a quote from Gold Tone on a new neck, then get prices from a professional. If you do not know a professional in your area call Eric Sullivan of First Quality Music . I have used them for years from everything from strings to repair work. They do great work at fair prices. I have never had a problem with them. You may be able to just ship the neck to him, but give him a call.
And while banjos may look dazzling in a stand, they will get knocked over, its not if, just when. So in your hands or in the case.
I am sorry your banjo got broken, but it can be fixed. Just select a pro to do the repair, you won't regret it and it may not be as expensive as you think.
If you are in on the west coast, I would advise you to contact Kerry Char, firstname.lastname@example.org , His repair work is unbelievably excellent.
A method I've used to get glue into tight spaces like deep cracks is high pressure air. Blow the glue deep into the crack. You can use your home air compressor if you have one or high pressure canned air with nozzle tube.
At the risk of repeating myself:
Tel us at least which of the States you live in, so those IN that state can give you local recommendations.
All the techniques for getting the glue down in the crack work but I suggest one of the following.
Go to a hobby/craft store (I found them at Michaels) and you can get small squishable plastic bottles with a metal 'needle' you fill the bottle with Titebond original, screw on the needle and inject the crack as deep as you can.
Second, if you know someone in the medical business, see if they can get you some syringes that you can fill with glue and inject it into the crack, you don't need a needle, normally the 'nub' on the end of a disposable syringe is long enough to get in pretty deep.
By the way a football needle on the end of the syringe can be used to inject the glue deep in the crack.
Clean up well with water unless you intend to toss everything.
If you don't have clamps you can get some inexpensive ones at Harbor Freight with discount coupons. You only need 4" clamps and they are perfectly adequate for this kind of repair.
As has been said, the real work is the finish work after you do the gluing.
i have bought syringes for gluing, over the counter, at several drug stores..tell the pharmacist what you are using them for and he or she will likely accomodate you...
i used to use them for gluing down veneer that had bubbled
for future reference..after you get the neck fixed..get rid of the stand..if you must use a stand..there are some archived on the threads here that look pretty solid..mind you in 50 odd years of playing..the only incident i ever had with a stand was when i used a stand..i had a barcus-berry setup for my instrument..the plug in was near the tail piece...we finished a set and i put my banjo on the stand..as i was walking off the stage my foot caught the cord..luckily the way i kicked the cord pulled the jack straight out of the plug so no damage done...that was my ome and only time of using a floor stand..
one effective method of storing..besides in its case...is..and i have bought these at a hardware store...is a hook type of affair..shaped kinda like a horseshoe with a lag screw coming out of the closed end...screw that into a wall stud at a slight downward angle and the peghead will rest in the horseshoe part with no danger of falling
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