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Repairing a Fretboard, Spruce/Walnut Classical Guitar

The is guitar is a chattel with a soul often in part owning its owner and tantalizing him with his lack of perfection.

Carl Sandburg

Snow overnight and into this morning, a wet snow which this part of the country needs, the forest is so parched and dry I expect it to combust on its own. It's warming up right now, snow is falling from the limbs, highs back in the 60's by mid week.

Remember this shot from a post earlier this year? I installed frets that were wider and taller than I wanted and I discovered I did a so-so job on leveling the fret board.

I spent the morning filling in all the chips and divots with Hot Stuff brand cyanoacrylate glue and ebony wood dust. Stew-Mac came to the rescue with tips from their Trade Secrets on fixing chips on a fingerboard and some teflon to create a dam to keep the glue from going into the fret slot. I sure made a mess!

Here is the repair after paring away the glue pile with a chisel and sanding the fret board.

Frets are installed, I just need to do the 19th fret, then I will the frets in place with some more cyanoacrylate glue, again, another tip from Stew-Mac. (I did that on the cedar/maple guitar and I am impressed at how every note on every fret is loud and clear.) Then the frets will get leveled, re-crowned and polished.

I first learned about the great American composer, Charles Ives, from a PBS TV program on him that aired sometime in the late 1970's. I got the chance to research his works more in college and I still can't get enough of his music. I thought you might enjoy a YouTube of Hilary Hahn and Valentina Lisitsa playing the first movement from the Fourth Sonata by Ives.


  1. An expert repair, Wilson - absolutely seamless.

    That's a fun piece of music, and what a beautiful room they're performing in.

  2. Great repair work. Recently I have begun to learn about what an aid that glue can be.

    Our age of constant visual stimulation is at odds for me when it comes to music. The ever changing camera angles and visual movement, the lush romantic backgrounds are a distraction for this old geezer. I'm happy with one photo and three minutes of music because that's what I'm seeking, sound, not visual stimulation. Sharon Isben's playing while reclined on a couch... nah, unnecessary. I appreciate Youtube for introducing me to certain performances and pieces and, at the same time, feel let down when the cinematic values seem to mean more than the auditory ones.

  3. Hi, Tico!

    I agree about how music videos have changed from the early 1980's when they were short movies, today's editing leaves something to be desired. I too was a little surprised to see Ms. Isbin playing a very technical piece while lying on a couch, very strange indeed.

  4. I've used the CA repair technique, too--haven't been quite bold enough to glue the frets in place with it, though. For fretboards, the luthier for whom I did work years--decades!--ago would mix up slow-cure epoxy, going slightly strong on the hardener, with the finest ebony or rosewood dust. I used that to fill in around inlays as well as to fill imperfect fingerboard blanks and it worked well, provided that one left it alone long enough to really harden before sanding. CA may be slightly brittle but boy, I don't miss the waiting times.


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