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Hot Hide Glue, Fact or Fiction?


suburude63

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HHG "will fill gaps but the joint strength is tremendously compromised. HHG is an extremely strong adhesive if the joints are tightly fitted but if you get sloppy with your joinery then you might as well use duct tape instead."

 

Sloppy joinery? That is anathema to good luthiery, isn't it. :-({|=

 

Yup, everyone knows you don't use hide glue except where the joint is as perfect as possible, ala when gluing a bridge to a top, and there can be no excuse for imperfect preparation of the mating surfaces.

 

" ...to eliminate and or reduce the variation which is present in wood so we chose to substitute steel samples in place of wood."

 

Huh? Steel? What relevence does gluing steel plates have to gluing wooden guitar parts?

 

I'm not saying TiteBond isn't suitable in pretty much every application. but it is well known that TiteBond does shrink some as it dries, whereas hide glue does not, so it is never going to be a perfect substitute, even if it is just as strong.

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I just skimmed the piece but it sounds like so much BS to me. Talk to Frank Ford or Dan Erlewine about hot hide glue not be superior for acoustics.

 

I mean... hello?... they tested on pieces of steel glued together for vibration tests? What is this, a tank?

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When I bought my old Kay upright the neck was loose. I removed the neck and there was literally a puddle of hide glue in the neck block. I spoke with an upright bass mechanic and he said that's just the way the old Kays were; they'd shoot a bunch of hide glue in and smoosh the neck into place. At first I was taken aback, like it was sloppy workmanship or something, but the more I thought about it, it may have purposely been done like that to provide a weak link in case the bass fell over.... the joint would pop open rather than the neck break. Probably a steaming puddle of b.s. but I talked myself into it. However when I put it together I shimmed the dovetail so it was good & tight and used titebond. Maybe that was right, maybe it was wrong, but it hasn't moved in 6 years.

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Talk to Frank Ford or Dan Erlewine about hot hide glue not be superior for acoustics.

 

Or Ren Ferguson, who would like to see Bozeman using hide glue for everything rather than just for the neck joint. (The hangup is that hide glue is harder to work with, so it's not clear how to get everyone doing gluing on the production line up to speed on how to deal with it.) Add me to the list of people who don't see that knowing how well a glue works on steel plates tells you anything about how well it works on guitar parts. Ren's theory, IIRC, is that the superiority of hide glue has something to do with how it penetrates into the wood -- a factor that was eliminated in the experiment.

 

-- Bob R

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I've read some books on violins and one thing they consistently say is that since they have been using hide glue for several hundred years they will continue to use it.... they know what to expect from it a hundred, two hundred, three hundred years down the road. In some ways other glues may be superior but in all honesty we really don't know what they will act like later on. I'm sure Gretsch didn't expect their 60s binding to crumble and rot, and I'm sure Gibson didn't expect some of their binding to melt into the surrounding wood in the 70s. A friend once made the comment, plastic is forever. He was wrong.

 

But hide glue is one of those things that, in the right hands, it's wonderful. In the wrong hands it's less than library paste.

 

I'd like to use hide glue on more of my stuff but it's easier for me to just grab that yellow bottle at this stage.

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I agree ksdaddy and rar. Yes hide glue is harder to work with in that you have to prepare it, clamp it before it cools, do the clean up of the squeeze out etc. However, when you're working on a guitar that has had hide glue used, it is much easier to fix as the glue's cohesion is easily reversible with heat and moisture (steam).

 

I'll listen to Frank on these issues regardless of all the scientific charts you show me!

 

Frank on Hide Glue

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It may not be that the HHG itself has superior acoustic properties. Some luthiers say that the chief benefit of HHG is that the entire building process must be more precise when you use it. Other glues, and even epoxy is used in production guitar building because the builders can afford to be less precise cutting and joining parts. Those glues do a good job filling gaps without compromising the strength of the joint. Builders don't have to carefully sand braces to match tops, painstakingly fit necks to dovetail joints, etc. That lets them build faster (and time is money), but it means that the potential acoustic properties of the instrument are compromised, as there may be less solid wood to wood contact here and there.

 

Red 333

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I know two things about the matter:

 

1) hide glue has to be heated up and it's a PITA to use

 

 

2) the reason it's used in building guitars, violins, etc. is NOT because of it's strength. It's because of it's acoustic properties - it carries the vibrations of the sound better than any synthetic glue. That's why it's on upper end guitars.

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What an interesting, informative thread!

 

Among the things I’ll take away with me is the note by Bob Riemenschneider of the SF Bay area, that Gibson’s greatest-ever luthier, Ren Ferguson [same fella, my age, who built my “Northern (Southern) Jumbo”] “would like to see Bozeman using hide glue for everything rather than just for the neck joint. [the problem is that] “hide glue is harder to work with, so it's not clear how to get everyone doing gluing on the production line up to speed on how to (use) it.”

 

“Stumps” in the “Valley of Virginia” correctly noted that, “the reason [hot hide glue] is used in building [the best] guitars, violins, etc. is NOT because of its strength: It's because of its acoustic properties - it carries the vibrations of the sound better than any synthetic glue.”

 

And reading the informed opinion of Caribou Maine’s best restorer of guitars (and ancient tail-finned fiberglass boats) Scott (ksdaddy) Englund brought back a memory of something Chet Atkins once asked me (more about that in a moment). Scott alluded to the great (all Maple) violins of Cremona Italy (Amati and Guarnari -- not just the greatest-of-them-all Stradivari violins) which started “using hide glue several hundred years [ago] . . . “They know what to expect from it a hundred, two hundred, three hundred years down the road. In some ways other glues may be superior but in all honesty we really don't know what they will act like later on. I'm sure Gretsch didn't expect their 60s binding to crumble and rot . . . ”

 

On that note, Chet Atkins asked me what I thought of his signature model Gretsch guitars [This was in the summer of ’71 when Chet Atkins (and Boots Randolph and Floyd Cramer played their only show in my home-town at the Ottawa “Exhibition” (a glorified state fair).

 

I replied that “People in guitar shops up here have been telling me the bindings aren’t very good – when compared to Gibson guitars.”

 

A shadow crossed Chet’s face -- as if to say, ‘I was hoping I wouldn’t hear that! [or] maybe “you’ve confirmed my worst fears!’ I remember my guitar hero thanked me for my “honesty.” And I didn’t know at the time (and wouldn’t know till years later) that the Gretsch factory had moved down to Arkansas a few years earlier -- and that the quality of Chet’s signature model instruments had ‘gone south’ as well.

 

Recently I found the old reel-to-reel tape of my interview with Chet (I’d turned it into a one-hour musical special, having asked questions with particular songs in mind – like Jerry Reed compositions “Stump Water” for one, and a song Chet had recently recorded written by a then up-and-coming folk artist in Ottawa Bruce Cockburn (“Together Alone”).

 

[Just as an aside: A friend who does transfers to CD (professionally) managed to locate a reel-to-reel machine, and made me a CD of that interview; so I was able to listen recently, for the first time in 38 years, to Chet’s gentle, east Tennessee accent, answering 20 minutes worth of questions. I intend to transcribe some day soon and share with the good folks here at this forum.]

 

Mark Blackburn

Winnipeg Manitoba Canada

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I think it is hide glue's acoustic properties and also how easy it is to take things apart- all those famous violins have had their backs and necks off lots of times for repairs and modifications. You might even say that it is a non-permanent glue- a little heat and things come apart for repairs. Over the long haul that's a good thiing.

 

Gimme a hide glue guitar with an old style- nitrocellulose or varnish finish so things can be easily fixed. It's ok with me if they aren't the strongest and most durable.

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This nickle nubbin lost me at "steel".

This experiment puts the 'futility' in "An exercize in futility",

the 'fool' in 'fool's erand',

the 'idiot' in 'nickle nubbin',

 

the "don't believe everything you read on the internet no matter how slick it looks and how many graphs he has"

in "don't believe everything you read on the internet no matter how slick it looks and how many graphs he has."

 

 

I hope this joker didn't get paid to do this experiment. B)

 

 

A. Guit tars are made of wood

 

B. You can't compare the adhesion characteristics of glue one steel to glue on wood. Especially since hide, PVC and alaphatic resin glues used in his 'experiment' are NOT designed for use on steel.

 

Go to Frank Ford (a real luthier with experience) website Fret's. com. Aw heck HERE is the link

 

C. I don't care how beautiful this fellow's guit tars are. Now that i know he keeps cost down by using inferior (for guit tar building) glue, I wouldn't have one.

 

 

 

 

 

putz.:)

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I know two things about the matter:

 

1) hide glue has to be heated up and it's a PITA to use

 

 

2) the reason it's used in building guitars' date=' violins, etc. is NOT because of it's strength. It's because of it's acoustic properties - it carries the vibrations of the sound better than any synthetic glue. That's why it's on upper end guitars.

 

 

[/quote']

 

But according to the test it does not transfer sound better?

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I know a very good luthier ..these are his thoughts..

 

 

Hide glue is historically correct for instruments of this period. I always use the best available hide glue for critical joints (i.e., any joint that will be under stress due to string tension). These would include neck joints, bridges, fingerboards, etc. The hide glues I use are instrument grade (read: high strength but clear drying), and are mixed up and heated fresh for each individual usage. My glues are rated for about 370 lbs of tension. A standard steel string instrument only exerts about 150 lbs.

 

When doing repairs, one should always use the kind of glue that was used on the joint previously to avoid any compatability problems. Since hide glues were used originally on vintage instruments, that is what I will stick with (no pun intended). I avoid using modern glues (carpenters yellow glues, epoxies, "super" glue, etc) on vintage instruments. Yellow glue is especially to be avoided for critical joints, as it tends to plasticize when heated (think: leaving a guitar in a hot car) and it will "creep", or move under tension. Not good.

 

Many builders and repairmen avoid hide glue because it has to be mixed up and heated in small batches for each use. This can be a pain in large production situations. Martin stopped using hide glue for most of their production decades ago, unfortunately. Some people also object to the smell. This usually means that they don't have a good grade of glue. High grades of hide glue don't smell when heated.

 

One additional advantage to using hide glue: it is more easily reversible (cleanable) when it is time for repairs. Cleaning up yellow glues and expoxies is a real time consuming mess. I learned all this from studying violin repair techniques.

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This nickle nubbin lost me at "steel".

 

Ya Steel ! The stuff your strings are made of. Why are they made of steel you might ask? Because they transfer sound best! Hence steel TommyK.

 

Steel is indeed a good transmitter of sound. I have no doubt about it. I just find this experiment unable to support the conclusions the experimenter made. I would have a better time believing the conclusions, that certain kinds of glue are better at holding a wooden guitar or other musical instrument together if he had used wood as his test material. This only shows that certain glues transmit sound better from metal part to metal part and hold better on metal objects, say a metal bodied Dobro.

 

As a matter of fact I hypothesize that soldering the two metal test parts together. I might also hypothesize that a silver / lead solder might transmit musical sound better than a lead / tin solder. I am going to make a HUGE leap of faith that soldering two wooden tongue depressors together would not be appropriate for testing the strength or sound transmission for Dobro or other metallic musical objects. I hypothesize that soldering wooden test material pieces together wouldn't work so well as I hypothesize that the adhesion characteristics of a wood to solder bond would be particularly week. Of course, this is all hypothetical, as I have neither the time, nor the inclination to try affixing two pieces of wood together using material not designed for the purpose.

 

Has he shown certain glues transmit sound better from metal part to metal part? Yes.

 

Has he determined that some glues hold two pieces of steel together better than others? Yes.

 

Has he shown that some glues hold two pieces of wood (traditionally used to make guitars) better than others? No.

 

Has he shown that some glues transmit sound between two pieces of wood (traditionally used to make guitars) better than others? No.

 

Is anyone likely to begin production of metal guitars using glue in the foreseeable future? I rather doubt it.

 

Was this experiment pointless? In my humble opinion... Yes.

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TommyK

Buddy you cant do a sound transference test with wood strips . Sorry. The guy did what he did~! hes a luthier are you?

I would suspect not. So everything your saying is based on someone elses testing and opinion. Correct?!

To be absolutely truthful ! As my daddy used to say

 

 

" It doesnt mean S&%t to an Eskimo"

 

Dad

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TommyK

Buddy you cant do a sound transference test with wood strips . Sorry. The guy did what he did~! hes a luthier are you?

I would suspect not. So everything your saying is based on someone elses testing and opinion. Correct?!

To be absolutely truthful ! As my daddy used to say

 

 

" It doesnt mean S&%t to an Eskimo"

 

Dad

 

and you clearly have no concept of how to conduct a proper scientific experiment.

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If anyone is interested in seeing a somewhat more reasonable experiment comparing various glues used in lutherie, check this out -- Tim McKnight on glue hardness. (It was mentioned in a hide glue discussion on UMGF.)

 

-- Bob R

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The question of hide glue was recently posed to Richard Hoover of Santa Cruz Guitar Company on that forum. Here is a copy/paste of his response (no criticism for spelling....it's good enuff he takes the time to personally respond to questions on the forum):

 

Hot hide glue has been in our repitoire for a few decades though added as an option, due to market demand, after the introduction of the SCGC '34 D. We originally used it for authentic period restoration and repair. The snobby attitude with many then modern builders was that Hide Glue was an outmoded practice superceded by aliphatic resin which stuck great, dried hard and wasn't as suseptable to the effects of humidity. Impotantly it didn't require the level of skill and enviromental control in its application. Still all true, however as we strive for ever greater control and advantage in the manipulation of woods and materials in the acoustic guitar hot hide glue is again desirable though for new reasons. It sets glass like in hardness

so transfers vibration more efficiantly. We take advantage of this quality when using it for

the adhesion of components that directly receive the strings vibration: Bridge, Top, braces, and bridge plate. We avoid it in joints where we don't want the ready transfer of resonance.

If it didn't make a difference in sound it wouldn't be worth the additional expertise and effort.

Best,

Richard

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