I have a guitar that was found during the cleanup of a house fire.

The top is way out of shape and I believe I want to take it off to straighten it out.

What kind of glue would they have used for this fretboard to the body of the guitar?

Also the neck is listed as mortis and tenon however I am not seeing any bolts this makes me think its a dove tail, can anyone confirm the joint type here?

Photo's of this guitar show a flat back but the back (now removed) is dished. How would one go about flattening this?

This guitar is in very bad shape and I hope too get it playable again.

Thanks for taking the time to offer me any advise.

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I threw some pics up for the voyeur in everyone. It has been cleaned and such, now I am just trying to determine the best way to proceed.. dished and falling off front dished and fell off back.

If the guitar were mine, I think I would be concerned about the expense and time of repairing it. Truthfully, the only parts that I think might have been worth salvaging is the neck and top. With the obvious damaged to the top I think this may be a write off.

It might be easier to make a new body from scratch than rebuild what you have now. The back and sides are HPL material and as such are not worth repairing ( in my opinion) and the top is so obviously warped that I think the braces will need to be removed and re-glued if not completely replaced  In fact, chances are very good that the heat this instrument was obviously exposed to will have compromised all of the glue joints and I would be concerned that there will be repercussion along these lines as you try to string the instrument up again.  Have you checked the neck for warpage and bowing?  It looks to me like the fingerboard extension is warped up where neck meets the body. 

As far as removing the neck, I haven't done this but I think the neck is held in a straight tenon with a single screw at the base of the joint. The screw head may be covered by a tag/label on the head block.  The top will have a slot cut from the shoulder toward the sound hole which will allow for the truss rod to be set into the neck block extension under the top. I don't know what type of glue they used but you can probably get it loose with a thin pallet knife and some heat. I would work from both sides of the fingerboard extension rather than try to work on one side and all the way under, to help avoid submarining into the top where the slot is cut for the adjustment rod. 

Really, you can assess the damage to the top and neck better than I can so my opinions here may be some much wasted bandwidth but you asked for opinions so...

Thank you Ned,

Probably the most solid advice I could ever hope for. 

I think the back and sides may be in fine condition with the exception of the bracing shrinkage bowing the back.

I do not work on guitars professionally so the time is of little concern, I really want to save this guitar on the cheep for a couple of reasons. 1) I have a Martin 2) I learn how to do additional guitar repair. Any time I invest will be worth it to me.

I don't have money to buy another one so repairing the parts I have will have to do.

Would the Mortis bolt be under the Serial Number tag on the neck mounting block?

The neck looks like I can straighten it (Only obviously out of shape on the headstock.)

I am also hoping to save the finger board, I think the bend we see is more from the top curling.

So I read it somewhere on here and it must have been correct to paraphrase "glue type doesn't matter, your going to remove it with heat, just keep checking it until your up to the required temprature."

I will post a couple of additional pics: The curl on the head stock has almost completely corrected itself once dried. A different angle on the fretboard meeting the soundboard. The top pulling away from the sides since drying.


I can understand the desire to bring a guitar back to life, and can understand that time and cost may not be of much concern if you're doing this as a hobby. All noble intentions, but to be entirely frank I really see this as being quite a waste of time. 

This guitar was built with substandard parts to begin with - plastic back and sides, and a top that is under-braced and doomed to collapse eventually even under the best of conditions. If I were rebuilding it, even if I were doing it as a hobbyist, I would have a hard time not wanting to replace these parts with something better that will stand some chance of lasting. So there you have yourself making a whole new body. 

As to the neck, even if the headstock has flattened out and the functional length looks pretty much okay, if it had swollen as much as I see in the pictures this would leave me with little confidence in it's future integrity. When something swells and shifts that bad, I would be very concerned about the stresses on it's many, many glue joints, and not "if", but "how much" has it been permanently compromised. So then to ensure a good outcome you might as well look at making a new neck. 

Which would put you at essentially salvaging a phenolic fingerboard, maybe the Micarta bridge and tuners, and building a new guitar around them, and at that point you might as well upgrade those as well. 

I hate to be a buzz-kill, but I really don't see any reason to try rebuilding this. It's really the Ikea end table of the guitar world, and I can't see rebuilding the sawdust core and veneer of one of those after a fire, even if it were somehow sentimental. 

As to the neck joint, there's one 1/4-20 screw under that serial number plate, #3 phillips head. The plate is just stuck on with some foam double sided tape and will pop off quite easily. The tenon is glued in, but barely holds without the screw and will usually come loose without any heat or steam. The fingerboard extension is glued to the top with white glue, and will come loose quite easily with a bit of heat. 

a true cadaver if ere I saw 1 ...

Fixing up a laminate would not be my first choice, however, I felt sorry for this one. It will cost very little cash and nothing but time to repair.

I have always wanted a Martin guitar just because they tend to sound beautiful. I still have a "Tempo" brand guitar I got at a second hand store 25 years ago for 6 dollars.

I have been a working with wood on and off for 30 years when I studied with a master for a few years. I am very well capable of fixing this. I tend to fix instead of replace as much as possible.

The HPL is a mystery to me, from my experience with Formica, it either "is" or "is not" in one piece and right now this appears to be in one piece with all smooth edges and such with no visible signs of weakening, cracking or blisters. 

Thank you all for your helpful information and input.


I'm with the other guys.  It's not worth the time. That neck, especially, is shot.

"I have always wanted a Martin guitar just because they tend to sound beautiful."  This formica Martin won't.  Even brand new, they pale in comparison to even a $150 import.

Since you are an accomplished woodworker, consider investing your time building an instrument from scratch.   Pre-bent sides & top, back & brace woods are not that expensive. 

Check out the Stew-Mac website for the woods & complete guitar kits.

Best of luck (-:

 Go ahead my friend you will likely do it anyway. It will be a very interesting project. What can you lose just a little time the lord made lots of that good luck .Let us see the results .Bill....................

I will keep you in the loop.

Looks like quite the project! Here is how I deal with that neck joint:

Wow! Nathan Thank you, this is perfect!

The neck is held by a screw behind the wood label.

I would make a new top, and use the existing back and sides.


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