Advice for non-luthier, repairing a crack in a maple electric guitar neck


I work as a software maker, but I love stringed instruments and the art of making them.

My first electric guitar is a japanese Daion The Savage, made in 1983.

It's not an expensive guitar, but I love it very much.

I have decided to see if I can restore it myself, since the best luthiers here are out of my price range for this type of job. I do go to them for affordable jobs like setup and fret polishing. The ones I can afford have scary reputations. I want this done as well as possible.

The neck is maple, has a rosewood fretboard, black binding and clear nitro-cellulose lacquer finish.

The original neck has a 20 mm deep crack across the headstock glue joint, through the lacquer.

The spare neck I have been able to find has a 50 mm deep crack at the bolt-on neck joint, and is from 1982. The wood is somewhat better on the original.

I want to repair both necks, and choose the best one to put back on the guitar.

My first call for advice goes: Is there any chance the bolt-on joint crack is less detrimental to the instrument, than the headstock damage, if both are properly repaired?

I'm leaning towards a no. I guess the original neck, with repaired headstock, is probably be the best choice.

I guess both cracks can be repaired by the following steps:

1. Clean up the surfaces in the crack as much as possible without reshaping them.

2. Apply hide-glue or epoxy-glue (following the corresponding optimal procedure)

3. Clamp well, let it set and cure fully

Second question: Is hide glue the best choice for repairing maple in this situation? What I have read seems to indicate so. I can get West System 105/205 epoxy.

For the bolt-on joint, the repair would be hidden, but in case of the headstock, the lacquer would still be cracked and the glue might show. It seems I would have to refinish the neck.

That brings me to my third and last question: Is it possible to sand off or otherwise remove only part of a clear nitro-cellulose coat, and refinish only those parts? If not, I guess the entire neck must be stripped and refinished.

Thanks in advance for any advice!

I can get photos if that helps.

(PS. I love the information on, and I'm eating it up. Thanks so much.)

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Hi John.

The reason I said white glue (actually yellow woodworkers glue. Titebond II is the industry standard) is because it was most likely the type of glue used when it was built. All your concerns about glues are valid and you may use epoxy or hot hide glue if you wish.  It's just working that with Epoxy & HHG, in a repair situation, comes with a learning curve & Titebond doesn't.

To rough-up the headstock crack, spread the crack open about 3/32"  using some clamps...very carefully....and use a piece dry piece of 220 glued to a thin piece of stiff cardboard or a popsicle stick or a tongue depressor, etc.  You get the idea.  You don't have to hit every nook & cranny.  Just rough it up a little bit.

Don't forget the Naptha wash.  If the crack has been there for 15+ years, there's likely a lot of polish, sweat, gunk & grime in there that needs to be removed.  If you skip that step, your entire repair may be compromised as the glue won't bind to dirty surfaces..  

Here's a link to a job almost identical to yours:

Notice that Frank is using a pallet knife to work the glue into the crack.

As for the spare neck, I agree that using steel inserts is the best way (period) for attaching a bolt on neck.  Thanks for the good call Mark (:  Glue & clamp the crack and when it's dry drill a 5/16" hole to accept a maple plug.  Once the plug is glued in and cut flush, you can begin installing the inserts using the instructions that come with them. 

Allow all glue joints to completely cure for a minimum of 24 hours.

I think you'll be surprised that neither neck will NOT need touched up.  The headstock crack will "fix" itself and the neck heel repair will be covered in the guitar's neck pocket.

BTW: Forgot to tell you before but those Daion guitars from Japan are some VERY cool axes.  They're fairly rare too (but not collectible/valuable) so you're fortunate to have one. (:

Best of luck(:

Wonderful advice and instructions.

Huge thanks!

I will clean it up carefully and work it slowly, with a dry run first.

Thanks for the tip of using a pallet knife to work glue into cracks.

I like your idea to redo the screw-holes at the cracked side of the bolt-on joint using wood plugs.

Thanks for the tip about threaded insert kits for neck installation, I didn't know about them, and found nice ones for under $20.

Also, thanks for the very good link, which Mark also posted.

Though this is my only Daion, I love the story behind the company. It went from copycat to almost freakishly unique, when the market was flooded with clones. Much of the change of direction and design came from U.S. company Musiconics International (MCI). They didn't end up selling better than the clones, so eventually MCI bailed out. A bit later, the legend says the factory burned down, including all assets.

The guy I bought my spare neck from, in 2005, had owned about 40 Savage necks that had been hanging in his barn since the mid-80s, not far from where I live. He had just sold the last undamaged one the week before I found him. So it's a punk neck but aged in a barn. :)

A plain guitar string is another good way to get some glue deep into a crack like that.

Another great method! Thanks so much!


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