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May 27, 2024 - 7:00:06 AM
164 posts since 8/22/2023

Ukulele not a banjo but you guys know stuff.. old Harmony baritone Uke. Has a couple really small cracks on the back panel, not so bad I can see through them but can feel it and see it. Can this be repaired simply? The instrument is from the 60’s I think, anyone know for sure?
It has really nice sound, I think it’s all mahogany.
Would a little line of super glue be a dumb idea?


May 27, 2024 - 8:01:41 AM
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5127 posts since 2/20/2016
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Super glue is not good. Sometimes it doesn't hold for the long term. If it gets on the finish, it's a whole lot of work to get it off, and more work to try to get it to look right.

Titebond Original is better.
So is liquid hide glue [make sure the bottle is fresh-- it expires one year after packaging].

Hot hide glue is best.

The hardest part about back cracks is getting them aligned and level, and keeping them that way until the glue sets. How to do that is beyond what I can briefly discuss here. See  for some techniques.  Go to the "big index page," then select "items for luthiers."

Edited by - rcc56 on 05/27/2024 08:05:24

May 27, 2024 - 8:08:48 AM

2956 posts since 9/18/2010

I agree that hot hide glue is best for these cracks, but CA, handled properly, is also a good choice, but only for someone who can handle it properly and if the cracks really fit together tightly.
I would have to examine the instrument in hand to decide about cleats for alignment or not, clamping schemes and so forth.

May 27, 2024 - 10:02:05 AM
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3358 posts since 3/30/2008

Titebond can be worked into cracks & cleaned up easily. CA takes some skill & experience, but will not fill gaps if there is any. Regardless of the glue, aligning the wood can be tricky, & I would suggest watching some tutorials on how to do it. Also consider that a crack may also loosen a brace.

May 27, 2024 - 10:12:19 AM

1684 posts since 1/9/2012

fotoguzzi -- I just noticed the garbagecan 'jo. Nice!

Uke with nice sound, not high-end -- definitely a candidate for DIY. I've done several like that and here's what I do:

I use capillary action to get the glue all the way in by massaging the crack so that the sides move a tiny bit up and down relative to one another. I like something called Old Brown Glue (maybe because I like the guy's back-story). In any case, I'd choose something that you can warm up to make it runnier. (Super-glue is out because you'd get stuck to the uke.) If you try moving the sides before you even try glue, you'll get an idea whether they can be gotten to a level position. If not, I recommend something I rigged when I had to glue some bracing. It's in the photo. Stew-Mac sells something for a LOT more than a little turnbuckle at the hardware store. If it's way inside and you can't really reach it, recruit someone with smaller hands. An inspection mirror and flashlight can help. (Drug stores and hardware stores have them.)

The only uke that defeated me was an ancient Martin the developed new cracks every time I touched it.

May 27, 2024 - 12:10:15 PM

164 posts since 8/22/2023

David, thanks! I think i can wiggle it just the slightest amount.. can i warm up tightbond or should i look for some other glue?

May 27, 2024 - 12:19:51 PM

1684 posts since 1/9/2012

Brad, I wish I could answer with confidence. I only know from personal experience, but I believe the testimonial given above, "Titebond can be worked into cracks & cleaned up easily."

May 27, 2024 - 1:59:02 PM

809 posts since 5/29/2015

If your environment is the least bit dry, humidifying the instrument may help bring the crack together. -see tutorials on the web. Best way to get glue into a tight crack is to use a suction cup like what is used to attach things to a window. Wood cleats can be applied using two super magnets--see tutorials on the web. NO to super glue. Use Titebond (2 year shelf life) or hide glue (hides the crack better but requires some skill).

May 28, 2024 - 9:43:02 AM

205 posts since 7/14/2017

TItebond or hide glue for sure. Superglue is a disaster waiting to happen unless you really know what you are doing - the likelihood is you'll glue the crack out of alignment and leave a nasty mess on the finish.

Liquid hide glue (which includes Old Brown Glue) is a decent choice here because it can be reversed by someone who knows what they're doing, so a luthier can reposition and reglue the sides. Titebond is good but you get one shot at it, as fresh TItebond doesn't stick well to old. 

Rare earth magnets are useful for aligning the crack, and then a clamp across the back to close up the crack. Moderate clamping force only - try it with no glue first to see if it closes up.

If you reglue it sucessfully, it would be worth adding spruce (or mahogany) cleats inside - little diamonds, glued with the grain at 45 or 90 degrees if you can.

Edited by - Profchris on 05/28/2024 09:43:50

May 30, 2024 - 6:12 PM

13145 posts since 10/27/2006

Unlike many inexpensive ukuleles (including Kay), USA built Harmonys were all solid woods. This means that standard guitar repair techniques apply. Humidify to close the crack, use Titebond or hide glue, cleat the inside (I'd use 2).

I had this same model. OK, not a Martin but otherwise a great ukulele. 

Aquila makes a set of strings (TU-23) that will convert this to a tenor. I keep them in stock as do many others. Not recommended with straight friction tuners like yours—a bit tight. Most of my young guitar students started on bari ukes and I installed these strings on most of them when they were in college during one of the many waves of tenor uke popularity.

May 30, 2024 - 6:51:26 PM

164 posts since 8/22/2023

I’ve entered the funky banjo builders club and sold 6 of my experiments including the Trash Canjo (not shown in pic but I had a knot hole in the peg head neck and electric pickup when finished),Drumjo and a couple old banjos I put my necks on. Made some good money so treated myself to a new Kala Contour Baritone Uke.. so putting the cracked Harmony aside, I’ll leave it as is and keep it up at the lake. Thanks all!


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