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The Truth About Glue?

Telfer

Member
Messages
228
I was at a local guitar shop recently and one of the owners was telling me about how they are going to start carrying a few Gibson models.

I asked if Gibson still needed highly skilled luthiers...because they now use computerized 'plek' technology.

He confided that many brand new Gibson guitars still need fretwork...because a water-based glue (titebond) is used to install the fretboard, and sometimes the necks are put into the pleking machine BEFORE the glue is fully dry, causing subtle distortions.

http://www.gibson.com/Products/Electric-Guitars/Les-Paul/Gibson-Custom/Billy-F-Gibbons-Goldtop.aspx

However, looking at the above site SPECS it appears that fretboards are installed using hide glue which sets fast by cooling. Its a thermal-type glue as opposed to an evaporation-type glue.

So, whats the truth about what goes on at the Gibson factory?
 

DRS

Member
Messages
12,358
Titebond under clamp will reach full strength in a matter of hours. Total BS about the glue not being set up. And not all Gibsons get a full Plek treatment. My 2010 Traditional only has the nut Pleked. However, the frets were very level on it even if the square shoulders were not to my taste.
 

klatuu

Member
Messages
2,449
Hot hide for the fretboard since 2014, historic reissues only. Everything else still uses titebond. People have been saying new Gibson guitars need fretwork since at least when I started playing 20 years ago. It has nothing to do with the plek.
Some of the Memphis semi hollows get hide glue now too.
 

cap10kirk

Member
Messages
8,831
Isnt that what the plek machines are for...producing perfect fretwork?

Better than what can be done by hand?
Gibson only does the PLEK on the nuts of most of their guitars, and even then, most of the nuts still need some work to be right. I've seen plenty of PLEK'd Gibson nuts that had strings binding in them, causing tuning problems. And I've seen a few that needed at least a partial fret level, brand new. The glue isn't the issue, Gibson's quality control and attention to detail are the issues.
 
Messages
7,229
Gibson only does the PLEK on the nuts of most of their guitars, and even then, most of the nuts still need some work to be right. I've seen plenty of PLEK'd Gibson nuts that had strings binding in them, causing tuning problems. And I've seen a few that needed at least a partial fret level, brand new. The glue isn't the issue, Gibson's quality control and attention to detail are the issues.
My understanding has been that the entire purpose of the PLEK process is to level the frets and ensure good playability. Am I mistaken?
 

bob-i

Member
Messages
8,763
I admit I was a sceptic on the plec system, but my 2016 firebird is setup perfectly right out of the box. I even changed from 9s to 10s with just a touch on the truss rod. There is no nut binding, no buzzing, no fretting out and tuning stability is excellent.
 

Tony Bones

Member
Messages
1,212
1. Tightbond will setup in less time than it takes them to put the guitars on a cart and wheel them to the PLEK machine.

2. I've bought two budget priced Gibson in recent years. They both needed work on the ends of the frets due to fret sprout, but the actual fretting surface was fine. OTOH, the same is true of almost every new guitar I've bought. A MIM Baja Tele was the worst of all of them as far as fret sprout goes.

The nuts those Gibsons wdre another matter. Both were abominations that needed to be replaced asap.
 

Telfer

Member
Messages
228
Hot hide glue is not water based?

Hide glue DOES dry by evaporation. It's not set as soon as it gels.
Hide glue is not liquefied by adding water but by heat. It returns to its hard solid state simply by returning to room temperature. This makes assembly of wood parts very quick.
 

Telfer

Member
Messages
228
1. Tightbond will setup in less time than it takes them to put the guitars on a cart and wheel them to the PLEK machine.
When guitars are put into the plek machine they are under string tension...as shown in the video above. In other words...they are 'stressed'.

This is what the Titebond site says about clamp time.

"For most of our wood glues, we recommend clamping an unstressed joint for thirty minutes to an hour. Stressed joints need to be clamped for 24 hours. We recommend not stressing the new joint for at least 24 hours."
 

old goat

Member
Messages
1,987
PVA glues like titebond can creep a tiny bit when they are under stress, even after fully cured. They are slightly flexible. But the joint between the fingerboard and the neck isn't under any stress. I don't know anything about how Gibson makes guitars, but if you string up a guitar the neck will take a little time to bow and stabilize. I would think if you plek the neck before the neck has stabilized you'll get a bad result, but it wouldn't be because of the glue.

Where the flexibility of PVA glue might be a problem is in a bent lamination, where thin pieces of wood are glued together and bent before being clamped to a form. The glue is what keeps the pieces from straightening out after the clamps are removed. A guitar neck is a bent lamination, but the tiny amount of bending (relief) isn't enough to stress the glue.
 
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0018g

Member
Messages
1,901
Hide glue is not liquefied by adding water but by heat. It returns to its hard solid state simply by returning to room temperature. This makes assembly of wood parts very quick.
Don't you add water before you heat it? (PS-this is rhetorical. I've used pounds of the stuff).

It GELS at room temp. It doesn't get hard until it dries. I wouldn't try stringing up a guitar that you've just glued the bridge on with hhg as soon as it cools. You'll be disappointed.
 

PB Wilson

Member
Messages
868
I've used Titebond for many, many years and it sets up quick enough for most production situations. The amount of water in it might be of concern for some applications but if you want to avoid water in your glue stick (pun intended) with epoxy or polyurethane glue.

I have a hard time believing that a Gibson guitar could go from fretboard glue up to fret installation to leveling and trimming to plek in a short enough time to be affected by water in the joint. Maybe they work at warp speed or install frets before gluing the fretboard on, but I'd bet that shipping guitars across the world through different climates and weather conditions has more to do with the problem.
 

Quarter

Member
Messages
1,594
...because a water-based glue (titebond) is used to install the fretboard, and sometimes the necks are put into the pleking machine BEFORE the glue is fully dry, causing subtle distortions.
I think the term "fully dry" in the above would read more acurate as "fully equalized".

I'm certainly no expert and have no firsthand knowledge on Gibsons production process, but a water based glue will introduce a little moisture back into the wood and it does take some time for that moisture to spread and equalize throughout the whole. Until the wood gets back into equilibrium, it will move.
 

Sam Sherry

Gold Supporting Member
Messages
1,218
Glue-dots found in the earliest 52/53 Les Pauls show that Gibson was using PVA glue to attach LP tops to bodies back then. And that makes sense: PVA was invented in the late 40s and as you see here PVA makes a bond which is over 15% stronger than hide glue.

If you think you can hear the sound of animal glue, the most polite response is, "Your ears are much better than mine." But I'd be thinking something else.
 






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