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Thread: Crack repair in 1940's/50s gretsch soprano

  1. #11
    Join Date
    May 2019


    Quote Originally Posted by bazuku View Post

    Do try to post some pics. You will likely get a few more responses if the specifics of the problems can be clearly seen, as general advice can sometimes be, at best, unhelpful or at worst, damaging.

    The reason that I mentioned hot hide glue, is that any repairs you attempt can be relatively easily reversed if they don't go as planned.

    If you do decide to use cleats on that instrument, try to keep them out of sight of the sound hole.

    Some repair persons associated with ukulele clubs do sound work (no pun) at reasonable prices.

    For new builds Titebond original and hot hide are both excellent glue choices. IMO, instruments that were new-built with hot hide glue deserve to be repaired with it, as they are usually old enough to be 'interesting' and worthy of preservation, even if not valuable classics.

    Liquid hide glue (reportedly) has preservatives added to keep it in a liquid state. There are many opinions for and against its use in lutherie.
    Bazuku, here are some photos.

    If Iíve got this right, First is the uke, sans strings from an over all perspective. Second is the major crack after Iíve done some stripping on the finish. Third is the second crack on the face. Fourth are the cracks on the back.


  2. #12
    Join Date
    Jan 2009
    West Midlands GB


    That looks quite a challenge, but definitely worth doing, as a DIY project. As you said, not worth paying a professional to do the work.

    I would certainly use some judiciously place cauls on cracks like those. Just putting glue into the cracks is unlikely to be enough.

    John Colter.

  3. #13
    Join Date
    Mar 2019
    Petaluma, CA


    The old Gretch Ukuleles are nice instruments. It was my first ukulele, a Christmas present that I still have. Notice that there is no kerfing. They seem to have that down as I have yet to see one that has separated either at the sound board or the back. Check the bridge position. My one had the bridge set 1/8" too short? A Luthier took 3 weeks and 50 (1991 $) to reset it. That started me doing my own repairs. I think you have enough experience with wood to do the work.
    Check out the hide glue process if you are not familiar with it. I use red cap Titebond.
    Last edited by PetalumaRescuke; 08-25-2019 at 08:16 PM. Reason: spelling

  4. #14


    I've had some luck reviving old finishes by finding a solvent that will soften the finish usually lacquer thinner. I use some gloves and fine steel wool. At that point CA might stabilize cracks and some cleats can be added across the cracks. Then I can add more new finish if need be. If you try to put CA in the cracks after you have removed the finish it can look rather blotchy and the crack will definitely darken with CA.

    If the crack isn't dirty, then hot hide glue will be the least noticeable and most reversible.

    Frank Ford on has a lot of good repair advice. Good luck. Let us know how it comes out.

    To check if the bridge is in the right place, the front of the saddle slot should be twice the distance from the nut to the 12th fret plus about 1mm.

  5. #15
    Join Date
    Aug 2018


    What is that white stuff, Ian? Ceramic tile cement? :-)
    Those cracks don't look nearly as daunting as I was imagining.
    Your woodworking experience should enable you to choose a suitable/adequate reinforcing method.
    After gluing the top and back cracks, lightly scrape and/or sand just enough to get a uniformly coloured surface, try not to do any more (excessive) thinning, then apply the finish of choice.
    Refer to the StewMac scale calculator for correct bridge and saddle placement .... don't rely on the footprint shadow of the previous position.

    Follow the advice of the repair-savvy UU forum members and you should end up with a decent little uke.

  6. #16
    Join Date
    Aug 2018


    Quote Originally Posted by lauburu View Post
    I have a bottle of Titebond liquid hide glue.
    Experience has taught me that I should restrict its use to gluing down the maker's label.
    When I looked into the use of liquid hide glue for lutherie, I was surprised by the polarised opinions I found.
    One emphasised hint that sticks in my mind, was not to use it around, or beyond its 'use by' date.
    It really is irrelevant to our requirements, as luthiers already have an excellent choice of glues in hot hide, aliphatic resins and fish glues.
    If memory serves, it doesn't have the reversibility quality of hot hide.
    Its good to know that its up to the task for labels.
    Last edited by bazuku; 08-26-2019 at 01:16 AM.

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