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Extemely fine instrument making described on this site..worth a read.

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Some definite opinions and accute manner of instrument making..

On the the subject of glues




Only the best quality hide-glue and isinglass (fish-glue) are used for building our instruments; we don't use modern PVA-based or other resin adhesives, which suffer from 'cold-creep' and are completely unsuitable for assembling musical instruments, in our opinion, or others such as Titebond. PVA-based and aliphatic resin glues and other modern 'woodworking' adhesives never completely set hard, consequently their use means that a 'shock-absorber' is being effectively placed throughout the instrument, which of course can only deaden and compromise the sound – no 'ifs' and no 'buts'. None of these modern glues ever sets hard (except for cyano-acrylates and epoxies, but – although we know of at least two modern makers who stick their bridges on with two-pack epoxy resin – this to us is so daft and short-sighted, that it should not even be on a list of options anyway). Only hide glues, bone glues and fish-glue (isinglass) provide an intimate wood-to-wood joint, set glass-hard and can be reversed for repair purposes without damaging the surrounding wood (and with organic glues, there isn't a ghastly mess to laboriously clean-up, as there inevitably is after use of modern resin glues – animal glues can be cleaned-up as you go using hot water).


Anyway, if you owned a Stradivari violin, you wouldn't expect a violin repairer to work on it using modern glues, so why use some daft modern product – the long-term effects and longevity of which are perforce unknown quantities (and none of them is easily reversible for repair purposes) – to make new instruments, when we know that there are artifacts over 4000 years old which were assembled using animal glues, which are still stuck together? If it was good enough for the old lutemakers, it's good enough for us; gelatine and fish glues are what we can confidently be sure the old masters used for their instruments, and it's hardly rocket science: all you need is a glass jar with a lid (absolutely not an iron pot or – notwithstanding what Mace says below, a lead container – for health reasons) a saucepan, a hotplate with a temperature control and a brush (and you definitely don't need a silly electric glue-warmer, just the aforementioned items and some common sense). An iron or steel container for the glue will simply darken it, producing unsightly and unwanted dark glue lines, as well as discolouring the surrounding water in the saucepan.

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Great read merseybeat. At one time I used to repair violins as a hobby. And, of course, I did a lot of studying. I was always amazed that hide glue could form such a strong bond, yet the bond could easily be broken. Of course, it must be heated and does take longer to dry and, I believe, this is why the common practice today is to use Tite Bond or similar. Or perhaps the belief is that Tite Bond will actually form a stronger joint. I remember reading an article one time that someone had been amazed (and horrified) because Stu Mossman would put a flat blade chisel against the edge and give it a slap to remove the bridge from pre-war Martins. Not really so amazing when you consider that the bridge was glued on with hide glue. I continue to be amazed by the powers of hide glue.

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In addition to the crystalizing nature, it seems the extreme value here is the reversabilty. Some glues I have used in woodworking actually end up being stronger than the bonded pieces and require destroying wood in order to repair - this probably one more component in the expense of a good guitar -without just making everything with bolts and screws.

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