Liquid Hide Glue

Construction and repair of Classical Guitar and related instruments

Liquid Hide Glue

Postby Les Backshall » Fri Jul 27, 2007 10:48 am

Does anyone have experience of Titebond's Liquid Hide Glue - I was planning on using it to glue the bridge.

The blurb says it's excellent for instrument repairs, but a lute luthier's site has the following warning...

"Also do beware of the so-called Liquid Hide Glue, this sounds like a wonderful idea, but it's no good at all for instrument making!" (his emphasis)

Many thanks

Les
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Postby Azalais » Fri Jul 27, 2007 12:34 pm

I've read so many similar negative reviews of it that I have not bothered to try it either. Given how easy it is to make up a fresh batch of the "real thing", my feeling has always been, "why risk it"?
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Postby Michael.N. » Fri Jul 27, 2007 1:39 pm

I bought a bottle many years ago but never really gave it an adequate test. I thought it looked a little thick and gooey. It does have a bad reputation amongst Luthiers but I think it came out OK in a recent woodwork magazine test. Whether that particular test is relevant to our needs is another matter.
Azailias is right in that the real stuff is fairly straightforward in use and of course it has a long history.
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Postby Dan Kellaway » Sun Jul 29, 2007 12:10 am

What's wrong with using the standard Titebond for gluing the bridge on. I always do. I find animal glue is too unreliable for that job. Who needs to have a bridge come off when you least expect it? 'cause that's what will happen with animal glue.
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Postby Marcus Dominelli » Sun Jul 29, 2007 1:23 am

Hemiola, Shame on you!!!!

I've been using hide glue for gluing bridges for over 50 guitars, and not one has come off. One of the guitars is a steel-string Dreadnought with medium gauges on it - twice the tension of a classical guitar. It has'nt budged in 8 years.
But the rosewood must be de-oiled with a solvent before the glue will adhere properly. In fact if you're using regular titebond you should be de-oiling the surface of the rosewood as well.

The franklin liquid hide glue has urea added to it, which is what keeps it from jelling in the bottle. Urea also makes the glue joint prone to creepage under stress. For this reason it is totally inadequate for building guitars!

Real hide glue (hot hide glue) dries hard, and is one of the main reasons why thousands of luthiers (and musicians) know that it makes a better sounding guitar.

And one more thing: Hide glue stands up longer at higher temperatures than Franklin Titebond. It's only when moisture is added that Hide glue starts to get really weak. Frank Ford found this out in his tests.

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Postby Azalais » Sun Jul 29, 2007 1:46 am

I have very strong feelings about this subject... but I certainly don't want to challenge or question anyone's long standing practices... especially someone like Hemiola who has lot's more "volume" of experience than I do... so I'll just describe my thoughts in hypothetical terms... and base them on my own limited testing and empirical experience...

I have always used hide glue for bridges because in case of a traumatic shock (like a fall or the car accident I had) or an unintentional thermal disaster (like a hot car in a tropical climate) it is so much easier to reglue a bridge than it is to repair a broken neck or a ripped up top... Strings are just so much stronger and under so much tension that they can destroy wood very easily.

PVA glues (carpenter's glue, titebond, etal) soaks into the surrounding cells and are stronger than the wood... if the bridge is put under enough traumatic tension to reach the failure point, I would rather have it pop the glue joint than tear the wood fibers... It takes less than half an hour to repair a popped glue joint!

I have experimented both with extreme heat and extreme string tensions AND different mixtures (gram strengths) of hide glue, and have managed to get them to pop off quite predictably... I now have a decent feel for how strong to make it, and how long to leave it before string the instrument and bringing things up to tension... and under "normal" conditions I trust it implicitly for at least 100 years. LOL it is pretty dramatic when a bridge or a lute neck extension flies off... but not nearly as sickening as the sight of a fractured neck or a gaping hole in the top when one did NOT pop off, and chewed up the weaker of the woods it was stuck to... (seen way too many of these :cry: )

I'm the first to say that I don't deal with steel string guitars with SUPER high tensions, but lutes have at least as much total tension (more strings with smaller bridge foot prints) as classical guitars... and the tops are often even thinner. That said, I wouldn't knowingly buy a guitar that had been built or repaired with PVA glue...

just my two cents... as they say...
(US) (FR) (ES) (IT) "... when you walk alone, you walk as you please..." Burwell Lute Tutor (c1670)
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Postby Dan Kellaway » Sun Jul 29, 2007 4:17 am

I have to say that Titebond is not PVA. It is aliphatic resin. I think that's different to PVA. The properties are totally different. I would never use PVA on a guitar because it never goes hard. Titebond by comparison goes hard and brittle and can be sanded and finished over. It is also reversible with heat and steam although it requires more of these than animal glue. It is not subject to creep in the same way as animal glue which has been overheated.
Yes you can glue bridges on to steel strings with animal glue. This is what Martins and Gibsons are put together with before the nineties.
They also used animal glue to put their necks on. In all my experience with neck removal of these instruments I have encountered a fair number done with Titebond and this doesn't pose any problem. Same with bridges.
Sure if a bridge is particularly well fitted with animal glue it will probably last a long time as long as it doesn't get too hot. And that's the problem. I live in a very hot country and in any case I need instruments that I make and repair to go for a very long time. I have never had a bridge fall off one of my guitars but if I really need to I can get them off. But I have put bridges back on thousands of guitars which used animal glue. The only way a titebond bridge join will fail is if it is done particularly badly but usually gibsons and Martins done with animal glue have been done very well.
In my opinion the less times a bridge comes off an instrument the better. So as a repairer I am not in favour of these old ways that inevitably require repairs. And I refute the assertion that damage is caused by the use of titebond. In a violent situation things happen much too quickly for animal glue to somehow magically release before damage can occur. I have repaired thousands of broken guitars in my life and very many had originally been stuck with animal glue. There was just as much damage in such cases.
I can respect those who like to use it but I think I should also be respected for making my choices from 34 years of experience with repairing and building high quality guitars. Truly I feel no shame for my opinion on this.
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Postby Azalais » Sun Jul 29, 2007 5:06 am

Hemiola, that's why I prefaced my comments as I did... my experience is obviously very limited compared to yours... as I clearly stated... but we are all still entitled to an opinion :wink:

I only wish that I could send you the one very special guitar that I have (with the broken neck) that I wish had had the bridge glued with hide glue :cry: I just can't bring myself to fix it with west epoxy :wink: which I'm sure would work just fine if I could stand the fumes!

ps yes Techmanac... there are different grades of it, but it's a form of what is also called "rabbit skin glue" or animal skin glue. (in fact, you can even use food grade gelatin in an emergency... same stuff... same preparation... moisten the granules with cold water, melt gently to 140F and apply while it is is is hot and liquid)
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Postby AO » Sun Jul 29, 2007 6:02 am

Hide glue is good, it takes some know how to prepare and use it. Oribe supposedly builds his guitars with 100% hide glue, goes through a ritual every morning heating the glue pot.

Liquid hide glue is bad. There might be a reason to have a bottle of this stuff in the shop but I can't think of any now. AO.
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Postby Marcus Dominelli » Sun Jul 29, 2007 6:04 am

Hi Hemiola. I was just razzin' you when I said "shame on you..."
I totally respect your choices on adhesives. Stick to whatever works for you (pun intended).
Titebond is a great glue too, and I prefer it over hide glue for several operations on the guitar, both for repair and building.
I am having problems finding a new bottle of it here in Victoria. Nobody is selling it. The glue buying majority all seem to want water-proof glue, so the regular titebond is not being stocked.
But I'm sure I can get it shipped in.......
Cheers,
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Postby Dan Kellaway » Sun Jul 29, 2007 7:24 am

Azalais I wish you could send me that guitar as well. I'm sure I could fix it sympathetically and appropriately. The West Systems hardener is quite obnoxious but if you mix it outdoors you don't have to sniff it. Is the soundboard torn out?
Marcus thanks for the Razz. I can always do with a good stir. Why not get some more Titebond from Stewmac. They'd be pretty quick in your neck of the woods[pun intended].
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Postby Azalais » Sun Jul 29, 2007 9:05 am

Hemiola, it's a sad story, actually... it's my brother's very first guitar... a beautiful japanese-built Ramirez clone from the 70's, with a Willy Nelson spot he put in the top of it, learning to play flamenco... He entrusted it to me when I foolishly decided to start playing thirty plus years later... I was on my way to join him for a family vacation when I had a bad car accident... I had two guitars in hard cases in the back of an Outback... One that I had built with hide glue, and his, which was not... neither case was visibly damaged... but when I opened them... the bridge on mine had popped off, and the neck of his was shattered just above the nut... yanked down a full three inches when the strings ripped the head free... I picked the splinters out of the furry interior with a pair of tweezers and stuck them in a ziplock bag, but I have not yet had the intestinal fortitude to attempt the reconstruction... it has been two and a half years... and it still gives me flash backs and a heavy guilt trip to look at it... :cry: I would love to fix it for him one of these days because it has so much sentimental value to both of us... (maybe fixing it would also have a therapeutic affect and ease the back pains I still have from the accident too! :wink: ) Anyway, that's the story... (It only took fifteen minutes to reglue my bridge... which only added to guilt feelings!)
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Postby Michael.N. » Sun Jul 29, 2007 9:19 am

Hide glue is more than strong enough for the gluing of guitar bridges. Take a look at a Baroque lute with some 25 strings and even though the tension of those strings isn't comparable with a modern guitar just note how little area the actual footprint of the Lute bridge is. Makers like Barber and Van Edwards use hide glue exclusively, if they were inundated with bridges coming off they would have switched years ago. Here's Frank Fords take on Hide glue:

http://www.frets.com/FRETSPages/Luthier/Data/Materials/GlueTest/gluetest.html

Just as an aside I haven't used clamps to glue a bridge on for the last 8 iinstruments, all glued with Hide and all still where they should be - I hope.
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Postby Pepe Vergara » Sun Jul 29, 2007 9:34 am

Franklin liquid hide glue was the first glue I used when I started "reparing" guitars. All the repairs I made failed. The glued came off. I later found at lutherie school, that no body used that liquid hide glue.

I have used hide glued in solid state melted in water, etc. and it is the only thing I use for the last four years. At least for all gluing related to the top.

I was under the impression that polyvinyl acetate (PVA) was the same glue as titebond. I will have to research that one again. PVA is used in Spain by all factory and even many makers. I did not see anyone using hide glue.

I know Romanillos teach his students to use fish glue, which does not need to be warmed up. I have seen guitars build entirely with fish glue and it is just perfect. No mess of warming up hide glue.

I have tested Gorilla glue, but I do not like it.
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Postby Dan Kellaway » Sun Jul 29, 2007 10:04 am

Azalais wrote:Hemiola, it's a sad story, actually... it's my brother's very first guitar... a beautiful japanese-built Ramirez clone from the 70's, with a Willy Nelson spot he put in the top of it, learning to play flamenco... He entrusted it to me when I foolishly decided to start playing thirty plus years later... I was on my way to join him for a family vacation when I had a bad car accident... I had two guitars in hard cases in the back of an Outback... One that I had built with hide glue, and his, which was not... neither case was visibly damaged... but when I opened them... the bridge on mine had popped off, and the neck of his was shattered just above the nut... yanked down a full three inches when the strings ripped the head free... I picked the splinters out of the furry interior with a pair of tweezers and stuck them in a ziplock bag, but I have not yet had the intestinal fortitude to attempt the reconstruction... it has been two and a half years... and it still gives me flash backs and a heavy guilt trip to look at it... :cry: I would love to fix it for him one of these days because it has so much sentimental value to both of us... (maybe fixing it would also have a therapeutic affect and ease the back pains I still have from the accident too! :wink: ) Anyway, that's the story... (It only took fifteen minutes to reglue my bridge... which only added to guilt feelings!)

Azalais have courage. Get youself some latex gloves and some wide cellotape. Do a rehearsal without glue and just get your head around what goes where. If the break is around the nut then remove it.
Mix up your West Systems being absolutely careful with the proportions.
Using a nice wide strip of veneer drip into all the wood fibres and fit all the bits in place. Drip more into all the spaces and crevices and then wrap tight with the cellophane, mopping excess drips with a handy rag. eventually when it's all wrapped and nothing is dripping out make sure of the alignment and that everything is as closed as it can be. If possible put a cam clamp around it but if it's all too fragile and complex don't worry as the glue will do the job. Wait till the glue left in the mixing pot has gone hard which will be overnight. It's best to take the tape off at that stage and scrape and sand the excess off with fine paper even down to 600 wet and dry. That way it hasn't reached full hardness and the glue will move much more easily. Full hardness comes after about a week but you can string it after 48 hours as long as the weather hasn't been miserably cold like below 15C. You can fill any small gaps using the superglue technique. Get thin CA from the hobby shop. Sand over the crack first, then drop some CA into it. As the CA is drying sand with some 180. If there's still a gap do it again. Each time you'll get a build up. When full you can put the finish on. If it's ugly you may wish to stain. In that case spray on the stain as it won't rub evenly onto the CA.
This should never break at the same place again.
PS Instead of the CA scenario you can always inlay slivers of wood which is of course a much nicer way to go.
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