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rovdog's avatar

Is there a problem with supergluing the machine heads to an acoustic guitar?

Asked by rovdog (842points) August 1st, 2007

I am replacing the machine heads on a old laminant top acoustic guitar. The old machine heads seemed pretty non-standard (with two holes at a diagonal) and while I found similar ones, only one of the previously drilled holes matches up for the screw to go in. I thought I could affix the machine head to the guitar with only one screw, but as it turns out I enlarged one of the holes so now one of the machine heads won't even hold with that screw. To avoid filling and drilling holes-
Can I just superglue the machine heads on? Has anyone tried this?

The other thing I guess I could do would be to drill new holes and put the tuners at an angle but I'm pretty sure this would look weird on an acoustic, plus I'd have to fill the old holes eventually. Maybe not, I guess I've seen acoustics with the machine heads at an angle. I'm just making it into a usable spare guitar, not an art object, but I want to make sure it will hold.

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14 Answers

glial's avatar

It may work, or you may try some ribbon 2-part epoxy. I feel like they would be under too much stress and tension with just super glue.

rovdog's avatar

Okay, I've started actually. So far it appears the glue it holding, but once I put the strings in we'll see. I'm also putting that one screw that fits in, so that will help stabilize. if that doesn't work i'll try to epoxy. Unfortunately, my clamps aren't big enough, I was planning on clamping the machine heads down while bonding.

glial's avatar

Hopefully it will, if those machine head aren't rigid enough, you will know soon enough (as far as staying in tune goes) Good luck

Spargett's avatar

There is an incredible amount of stress from the strings. We're talking hundreds of pounds of pressure. So be careful. I'll be surprised if super glue works.

Its pretty super, but not that super.

rovdog's avatar

Thank you for thinking about this with me. Let me take you through my logic. I don't think it can be that much pressure, because the machine heads are normally held on by only two little wood screws. Can two tiny screws be that much more effective than superglue? My theory is that the force of the strings is not actually going to put pressure against the part of the machine head that I am gluing on. I think you're right about the pressure but I think that that pressure is held by the pin going through the hole and in turn the gears, whereas I am simply gluing on the casing that holds the gears. Make sense? I'm just physically putting in place something that hold the pressure and making sure it doesn't slip out of place but I'm not actually trying to hold the pressure with the glue. I guess we'll find out if I'm wrong. Any more thoughts please.

glial's avatar

Your probably right, really I think more pressure would be on the nut and the saddle than anywhere, now that I think about it. Really, guess all you can do is try. Superglue would end up looking much better than epoxy, for sure.

rovdog's avatar

Project done. I think it worked. Guitar tunes fine. Sounds fine. A too lively with maybe a little bit of buzzy somewhere but I think this might be the extra lights I put on the guitar. I wish one or two of the machine heads were glued on a little bit tighter but they are on and it wasn't a problem to tune. I might be able to fix that later. On one side the machine heads glued perfectly, on the other they come off just a fraction on the non-screw side. The one I managed to get a clamp onto turned out much better, stuck on perfectly. By the way, if anyone reads this question archived and wants to try it, the only reason this worked is because of the one screw that I was able to put into the old hole. That allowed me to tighten the machine head casing and helped with stability a lot. I would not try this without at least one screw in unless maybe it's a different kind of fully enclosed machine head. Thanks for your thoughts glial and spargett.

glial's avatar

No problem, glad to help.

JoeCsekoBrainBuilder's avatar

I can’t even believe that you did that! That is NEVER going to hold, never! The finish ibn the headstock is eventually going to give way under the enormous tension of the strings. It doesn’t matter how strong the epoxy is if the finish is compromised by whatever solvent the epoxy is cut with.

I would have been glad to help before someone told you how to completely trash your guitar.

What are you going to do once the machine heads fail? They’re definitely going to fail one day, unless you have something like Scaller’s or an equivilent, which I’m sure you don’t, because you justr glued something onto your headstock.

If you damaged the little bushing that holds the lubricant in the machine head, then they’re going to fail that much sooner.

Here, learn some stuff before your axe falls apart.

JoeCsekoBrainBuilder's avatar

Not too much pressure? A set of .09—.42 guage steel strings exert appoximately 110 lbs of pressure on a guitar neck. You’ve all but ruined this guitar now. You should have bought the correct machine heads as replacements, or just filled the old screw holes with a heavy wood epoxy and re-screwed them on.

Superglue wouldn’t bond properly to the metal and the polyurethane at the same time, so that’s wrong, too.

bob's avatar

Rovdog, give us a report: how’s it going?

JoeCsekoBrainBuilder's avatar

I’m sure it’s fine, for now. It will fail over time, plus the guitar will continue to go out of tune all of the time. The pressure exerted on the machine heads will slowly turn them out of position, then, whamo.

rovdog's avatar

Bob- it plays fine but there still is some fret buzz I have yet to do anything about. Stays in tune. I love my ukelele by the way, thanks for the advice about that.

Joe- thank you for your thoughts, i’m sure they would have helped, but you need to chill

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