After replacing or upgrading a nut, finish the job with fast-acting cyanoacrylate adhesive.
In my previous column (“Using Super Glue in Guitar Repair”), we explored techniques for using fast-acting adhesive to seat frets and secure a string nut. We’re not quite done with this topic, but before we put super glue to work on another project, please take a moment to review the safety tips I outlined last time around. As I mentioned before, super glue can be your best friend or worst enemy, so before you start slinging the cyano, it’s important to refresh your memory of these crucial dos and don’ts. Right? Thought so.
String nut touch-up.
Super glue is handy for making small repairs to a guitar’s finish. Here’s an example: Most guitars have a little finish at either end of the string nut to create a smooth transition between the edge of the fretboard or binding and the nut itself. But after replacing the string nut—let’s say you’ve upgraded from a plastic nut to one made of bone—there’s usually a small edge or drop off where the nut meets the fretboard (Photo 1). As you may recall from our prior column, super glue is available in a variety of thicknesses. To smooth out the transition between the nut and where it joins the fretboard, you can fill that area using a few drops of medium viscosity or gel-formula super glue.
Make sure the area around the edge of the string nut and binding is absolutely level, because you don’t want the glue to pool on one side of the nut edge and create more work for you later.
But wait, there’s more! It’s common for the binding on older guitars to turn yellow over time. Stewart-MacDonald sells an amber-tinted formula that matches this aged look nicely. (Stew-Mac also offers tinted super glues in white and black, which can come in handy for other finish touch-up projects.) If your guitar has binding, using tinted medium super glue will accomplish two goals: You’ll fill the edges around the ends of the replacement nut and help it blend in with the binding.
Assume the position.
First, place the guitar on its side so the neck is horizontal to the workbench and one end of the nut faces up, the other down. To prevent an electric guitar or bass from tipping over, I use a quick release clamp on the body to stabilize it. Because acoustics have a thicker body, they’ll typically stay in place without a clamp. Balance the guitar on its tuner keys, not the neck, and use books or small boxes to support the guitar as it rests on it side. (In our shop, we use leather bags filled with buckshot for this and other stabilizing tasks.)
Make sure the area around the edge of the string nut and binding is absolutely level, because you don’t want the glue to pool on one side of the nut edge and create more work for you later. A bubble gauge comes in handy here.
Apply the glue.
This is where you don your safety glasses. Once the guitar is stable, put a few drops of super glue on the end of the nut and let it dry (Photo 2). You only need to apply enough glue to cover the side of the nut and binding to build a smooth surface where they join together. A medium formula of glue, which is what we recommend, will take several minutes to dry. If you want to speed up the drying process, you can spray super glue accelerant on it. We’ve used GluBoost and NCF Quick brands in our shop, and they both work great.
Having a well-ventilated workspace will reduce accelerant fumes and minimize eye irritation. At the shop, we run a small fan to keep the air circulating when using super glues and accelerants.
Tip: Accelerants can cause what we call the “Swiss cheese effect.” This happens when you prematurely spray the accelerant on the glue. It causes a chemical reaction that results in the glue bubbling up into a white foam, which forces you to scrape away all the glue and start over. To avoid this, wait several minutes before blasting the glue with an accelerator. A little patience will save you a lot of time.
File it down.
When the glue is dry, use a miniature file to gently file away any excess (Photo 3). Do this carefully to avoid damaging the original finish around the nut and binding. The object of the exercise is to file the glue flush with the nut and binding without disturbing the surrounding surfaces.
Sand and buff.
Next, lightly sand the glue-covered area with 600 grit paper to feather it to the edge of the fretboard or binding (Photo 4). Now gently sand it with 1500 grit paper to smooth out any scratch marks.
Finish this job using extra-fine buffing compound and a polishing cloth (Photo 5). I use Planet Waves Restore for this last stage, but you can find other buffing compounds at auto stores or online.
Now step back and admire your work, which should look similar to Photo 6.
After flipping the guitar over on its opposite side, position and secure it (remember to keep the neck perfectly level), and then repeat the process for the other end of the nut.
And that’s it—another task completed, thanks to super glue.
- Guitar Shop 101: Using Super Glue in Guitar Repair - Premier Guitar ›
- Guitar Shop 101: Dealing with a Stripped Truss-Rod Nut - Premier ... ›
- Guitar Shop 101: The Guitarist's Essential Toolkit - Premier Guitar ›
- Guitar Shop 101: Using Super Glue in Guitar Repair - Premier Guitar ›
Looking for more great gear for the guitar player in your life (yourself included!)? Check out this year's Holiday Gear Finds!
D'Addario XPND Pedalboard
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Dunable announce new Minotaur model featuring Grover Rotomatic Keystone tuners.
The Minotaur's DNA is rooted in their classic Moonflower model, which they discontinued in 2017. However, they have long since wanted to create a fresh take on a carved top guitar design, and various attempts to rework the Moonflower led us to a brand new concept with the Minotuar.
The goal with everything Dunable makes is to give the player a guitar that plays fast and smooth, sounds amazing, and gives maximum physical ergonomic comfort. The Minotaur's soft and meticulously designed contours, simple and effective control layout, and 25.5" scale length easily meet this criteria and then some.
- 25.5" scale length
- Dual Humbucker
- one volume, one tone, push pull for coil splitting
- Grover Rotomatic Keystone tuners
- Grover Tune O Matic bridge with brass Kluson top-mount tailpiece
- jumbo nickel frets
- 12" fretboard radius
This full-amp-stack-in-a-box pedal brings a new flavor to the Guitar Legend Tone Series of pedals, Missing Link Audio’s flagship product line.
Adding to the company’s line of premium-quality effects pedals, Missing Link Audio has unleashed the new AC/Overdrive pedal. This full-amp-stack-in-a-box pedal – the only Angus & Malcom all-in-one stompbox on the market – brings a new flavor to the Guitar Legend Tone Series of pedals, Missing Link Audio’s flagship product line.
The AC/OD layout has three knobs to control Volume, Gain and Tone. That user-friendly format is perfect for quickly getting your ideal tone, and it also offers a ton of versatility. MLA’s new AC/OD absolutely nails the Angus tone from the days of “High Voltage” to "Back in Black”. You can also easily dial inMalcom with the turn of a knob. The pedal covers a broad range of sonic terrain, from boost to hot overdrive to complete tube-like saturation. The pedal is designed to leave on all the time and is very touch responsive. You can get everything from fat rhythm tones to a perfect lead tone just by using your guitar’s volume knob and your right-hand attack.
- Three knobs to control Volume, Gain and Tone
- Die-cast aluminum cases for gig-worthy durability
- Limited lifetime warranty
- True bypass on/off switch
- 9-volt DC input
- Made in the USA
MLA Pedals AC/OD - Music & Demo by A. Barrero
Energy is in everything. Something came over me while playing historical instruments in the Martin Guitar Museum.
When I’m filming gear demo videos, I rarely know what I’m going to play. I just pick up whatever instrument I’m handed and try to feel where it wants to go. Sometimes I get no direction, but sometimes, gear is truly inspiring—like music or emotion falls right out. I find this true particularly with old guitars. You might feel some vibe attached to the instrument that affects what and how you play. I realize this sounds like a hippie/pseudo-spiritual platitude, but we’re living in amazing times. The Nobel Prize was just awarded to a trio of quantum physicists for their experiments with quantum entanglement, what Albert Einstein called “spooky action at a distance.” Mainstream science now sounds like magic, so let’s suspend our disbelief for a minute and consider that there’s more to our world than what’s on the surface.
I recently spent a day filming a factory tour of Martin Guitars in Nazareth, Pennsylvania. After we wrapped, we discovered that Martin has this amazing museum that showcases more than 170 historic instruments. We decided to meet at the museum at 7:45 a.m. the next morning to film a few choice pieces before catching our flight in not-too-near Newark, New Jersey, that afternoon.
These were not ideal conditions for a performance. Neither my brain nor my fingers work well before 10 a.m., plus I hadn’t slept well the night before. Even so, we loaded into the museum, met the curators, set up the shoot, and began rolling by 8 a.m.
The first guitar was an 1834 gut string, perhaps the oldest Martin in existence. It was beautiful but had some tuning issues and did not project very well, so playing it felt more like work than music.
Next was a prewar D-45 worth over $500k. The strings were ancient with that rusty feel, like you’ll need a tetanus shot after playing it. I’m sure it sounded great, but I was tired and thinking more about making our flight than playing guitar. Wonderful instrument but uninspired performance on my end.
Then, I played a 1953 D-18 coined “Grandpa” by Kurt Cobain. I picked up the deeply sacred D-18, and my hands went to an A minor. This sounds like hype, but honestly, I closed my eyes and connected with a deep, beautiful sadness. The feeling was palpable as soon as you picked it up. This guitar pretty much played itself, leading me to a sad version of “While My Guitar Gently Weeps.” I don’t know if it was any good, but I know I felt something deeply. That’s why I started playing guitar in the first place. I don’t have to play well to feel moved.
I later talked to the museum director, who told me the D-18 was given to Cobain by his 1991 girlfriend Mary Lou Lord. Cobain played it on tour before and after Nirvana’s Nevermind. It was returned to her after Cobain married. Shortly after that, Mary Lou loaned the guitar to Elliott Smith, who played it until his death.
When I’m sad, I make myself play guitar to feel better, because it usually works. This 70-year-old guitar spent a lot of time literally pressed up against the hearts and chests of two artists who were so tormented by their emotions that they ended their lives. That’s heavy. You can’t explain those feelings that make the hair stand up on your arm, or when you feel like crying for no reason … but hitting that A minor made me feel it.
We had to split for the airport, so Chris Kies and Perry Bean started packing up. As they did, I saw this cute little 1880 Martin 000 that belonged to Joan Baez. In the photo next to it, Joan looks like my mom in the ’60s. I asked the curator if I could play it, and Chris grabbed his phone to do a quick Insta video. I swear there was a happy vibe coming off this tiny guitar. It felt like watching my mom dance—like a warm hug I needed after Cobain’s D-18.
In Chinese culture, there is a superstition that antiques may hold evil spirits, and chi (energy) transfer can bring this negativity into your home. Feng shui is all about objects carrying good or bad chi. Here’s how I see it: All matter is made of atoms. Atoms contain energy. Ergo, everything contains energy, or, more aptly, everything is energy. Ever walk into a room and feel powerful emotion: joy, sadness, fear, tranquility? That’s energy. We all have felt energy coming from people, places, and things. But that’s what I love about old guitars: Their atoms spent the first few hundred years as a tree in the forest connected to nature. Then, they’re turned into an instrument that makes people happy or consoles them when they are sad. That’s the kind of chi I want around me.