I got this guitar in from a customer who didn't know how the original horn fell off but he wants a new one put on. I've had the new one cut and joined for awhile but I'm having problems clamping it. I've tried a band clamp and several variations of bar clamps and jigs. I'm seriously considering a temporary screw from the neck pickup slot and the control cavity. Any thoughts? 

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You have basically got an end grain to end grain joint there, I would not trust wood glue to do the job.

I'd be using epoxy, just setting it up on a board with blocks and wedges to hold it in position, light clamping only. Allow time for absorbtion into the wood before pushing the joint fully closed.

Hi John.

I'd use dowels to secure the 2 pieces. We must remember that the 'horn' has zero stress on it. And, it will be receiving a matching finish so making it invisible may not be impossible.

Ideally, you should have cut a replacement piece in a shape (over-sized) that allows for clamping. Glue, clamp and THEN refine the shape.

The type of glue is your call.

Also, you have cracks in the corners of the neck pocket. These should be investigated and addressed.

Out of general curiosity, what brand/year is that body? Also, the pup cutouts show wood that doesn't appear to be Ash or Alder. Is it per chance something from the mahogany family?

And my final 'curiosity' question: Are you going to do a complete refin or just a spot refin?

Thanks & best of luck :)

An old technique is to gather some 1" 18 gauge brads, and drive then into the harder of the wooden part at least half way. Then, clip them off so about 3/32" protrudes. Sharpen them all around to a needle point with a fine file; I usually shot for 3 sides. Lay the body on a nice flat surface, and press the horn into place, leaving alignment holes where the brads poked in. Once this is done, apply glue (I'd use at least 15 minute epoxy) and mild clamping pressure with a Quik Grip clamp or two should bring them together. I would use at least 6 brads; two on each end and two in the middle. They should stop the sliding. Having the body and the horn lightly clamped to a flat reference surface would add to the accuracy. The over-sized piece would have been my preference, but this should work. Good luck. 

One of the challenging aspects of this repair was the customers request that it be done with no finishing involved. This means it has to be shaped exactly before it's glued.

Unless you're referring to the horn as a fin in which case I'm replacing the whole fin. 

It's a70s ash body, I have no concerns about the neck pocket. 

The peice is cut on an angle so it's not end grain exactly more like end grain ish, which still had me wanting to use a dowel or mortise and tenon, I've even considered using bisquits. 

Hi John,

I read your last, and the customers wishes are just at , wishes.  And anything more than 45% from long grain is end-grain for gluing purposes (not everyone agrees with this figure, but they don't have to).   Some glues cope better than others.

Couple of things:

Firstly, the problem here is not how to fix this , the problem is it was done wrong to start with and the forum is pursuing the best worst option: 

Jeff Highland pointed out the obvious problem of end grain to end grain gluing whereby a epoxy or an expending polyurethane glue is required.   Paul pointed out there is little stress on the area, however the first "drop on the horn" event will likely separate a poor joint, especially an endgrain butt joint in something like swamp ash (which it looks like). 

Others have pointed out the problem with getting the "cut to size" new section  to align perfectly otherwize the whole body will have to be surface sanded or planed to get the new section invisible.

A couple of screws wont do this as the section to be glued is bigger than this proposed method of clamping (screws) allows and is insufficient to apply adequate pressure over the surface area in question.  I'm not saying it won't work, I'm saying that its not best practice or even good practice.  Additionally, if the screws go in at an angle it will also compromise the joint when they are tightened as they will exert pressure and asymmetrically.

The options already presented are high risk, low quality and time consuming, but, ultimately doable.  In the tradition of luthiers the world over that means they will usually become the first option.

My first suggestion is to throw away the existing horn and cut an oversized block with better grain orientation, with clamp pads oriented to allow  multiple sash clamps to be used, and then finish the whole lot in situ. 

My second suggestion is to just buy a new aftermarket finished Tel body from any of ten Companies that do cheap stuff or scope out EBAY.   As far as cost effectiveness goes this one probably wins hands down.

None of this is popular advice I know, but it's worth a thought.


"My second suggestion is to just buy a new aftermarket finished Tel body from any of ten Companies that do cheap stuff or scope out EBAY. As far as cost effectiveness goes this one probably wins hands down."

Amen, Rusty. I restrained myself from putting forth that solution. If this were my project, that's the ONLY solution I would've recommended to the customer. 

John: here's an EXTREMELY affordable suggestion:

They also sell an unfinished Swamp Ash body.  I assembled a 'kit' guitar for a customer using a Warmoth neck and the referenced 'finished' GF body. The quality of the body was VERY good... or I wouldn't recommend them as a solution. It's only presented as an option to discuss with your customer.

Again, best of luck worth your project.

The customer owns a70s fender neck and this is a70s fender body, the grain runs exactly the same as the body. The peice I've made already fits perfectly. The decision is how to clamp it and what method would be best to strengthen the joint. Besides replacing the body isn't a repair and I make a living doing repairs.

I recently made a pin router attachment for a table router and I seriously considered making it the horn join like a puzzle piece. The pin router makes it relatively easy to make a male and female template set.

I think I'd make the body immovable with a couple of cauls fitted like tight, reverse images on each side of the horn and screwed into the bench, with other cauls at the opposite waist and bottom. The first two cauls would trap the horn so that screwing, doweling, clamping etc could happen without the horn slipping. I'd use biscuits and epoxy. If you have another tele body around of the same size it would be helpful in setting up the clamping jig. As for clamps, a band clamp combined with Frank's standing aluminum edge clamps would probably do the job.

Short of making a saddle/half lap joint, dowels, loose tenon joints and pocket screws are options. If you know anyone (cabinet shop?) with a Festool Domino or Multirouter or horizontal slot mortiser I would see if they could help.  I've used Dominos with pocket screws acting as clamps for similar paint grade carpentry sistering a replacement base on a post. In your situation, if I didn't have access to loose tenon machinery I would use Titebond on both mating endgrain surfaces, two pocket screws on the front and one on the back all aligned with the grain. A face frame clamp will keep the top and back surfaces aligned while driving the screws home closes the joint. Once the glue dries, glue and insert some matching wood, grain density and grain orientation pocket hole plugs from scraps of the wood used for the horn  DIY Pocket Hole Plug Cutter

 DIY Plug Instructions.  Trim them ~1/8" proud of the surface and lightly peen the exposed surface of the plug to spread the plug into any gaps between the plug and the surface. Then flush cut, sand and finish. Pocket hole joinery has been proven to be equal or stronger than any glue joint except for a saddle glue joint. Kreg Jigs Face Frame Clamps  DIY Pocket Hole Plug Cutter

 DIY Pocket Hole Plug Cutter

Thanks Mark,

We used a Domino for years in a previous shop for complex  tennoning and that would work in this situation, but not many small time repairers I know can spring to the cost of a Festool Domino System which was the reason I didn't go there.  The horizontal slot mortiser went rusty after the Domino came along.

Franklin cautions against the use of Titebond for end grain gluing (we specifically asked them about a similar situation some years ago) but there is a procedure available if required even though it comes with a proviso that the joint will not be optimum.

Epoxy is an alternative but because of the open grain structure of the SASH presented by the end-grain orientation of the vessels the problem of wicking or capillary action after the joint is closed will likely result in a starved joint if epoxy such as West Systems is used.  A thickened epoxy can be used but that presents other problems with strength although it may help fill in a glue line which will be an issue here.

The finish is translucent and the repairer is somehow going to blend that to the new section - plugs will show through and look exactly like they are what they are. As you mentioned, it's a "paint grade" repair.  That's no acceptable by my standards, so I didn't mention that either.

The problem still defeats me at this level:  how can a repair that takes so many hours and  would expend so many resources be a business proposition for a working full time shop or someone who makes a living out of repairs?   Sure there are many ways of doing this as it stands but it's hardly worthwhile (in the true sense of the word) and while we all want to help our fellow luthiers when they get in too deep there is a time to call last drinks.  

I also don't subscribe to the notion mentioned previously that replacement of a part damaged beyond economical or practical/cosmetic repair is somehow not a "repair", this I don't get, at all. 

Nevertheless, its a free world brother and I do wish good luck on this one.



I have long since ceased being overawed by "vintage" instruments.

This situation is not really about the practicalities of repair, but about the belief that old instruments have some magic or mojo due to the age of the wood or the skill of the workers in the factory etc or the past ownership of the instrument by a famous player.

So in this case you have to preserve that 70's wood and 70's polyurethane to keep the magic.

Thanks for broaching another subject I didn't have the guts to address, Jeff. Many of the ultra desirable "vintage pieces", too, have their design flaws & warts.

70's era Fender guitars are essentially JUNK. They are not coveted by collectors "in the know" or by players. ESPECIALLY players. Except for one or two over the last 20+ years, their quality is substandard to even Fender's current Squire line. In the 70's and 80's, both Fender & Gibson seemingly courted MIJ imports to supplant them as those companies abandoned quality for profit and "market over-saturation'. The latter, unfortunately continues.

It's your customer's guitar and you can invest as much time as he/she can afford. That's your call. I'm sure the end product will be to his/her spec's. NO ONE can argue that 'a customer's expectation' isn't a valid compass. :)

Along with Rusty, I too consider 'replacing a broken component' a REPAIR. If not, I've been overcharging customer for decades by replacing tuning machines, jacks, pots, switches, nuts, saddles, pickups, bodies... etc, [when it was appropriate and cost effective], for 'REPAIRS' that were 'never?' performed. 

Given any conclusion, good luck & best regards.:)


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