Wood glue vs. hide/fish glue...

Discussion in 'Tele Home Depot' started by gregulator450, Aug 14, 2020.

  1. gregulator450

    gregulator450 Friend of Leo's Silver Supporter

    Aug 12, 2014
    The Dry Side
    What do you guys use when you build, and why?

    I saw a video of Jason Isbell today and he was talking about how hide glue in old guitars crystallizes and provides increased vibration transfer across glue joints, specifically set neck joints. It got me curious to find out what the experienced guys on here use and what advantage they see in using their preferred type of glue...
  2. TwangerWannabe

    TwangerWannabe Tele-Holic

    Jun 25, 2019
    West Coast
    On acoustic guitars many believe this to be true. I also believe that there's a lot of "well that's what they used back then, so it's gotta be true", and if some famous players say it's true...

    With that said, for electrics I'm pretty sure you will not hear any discernible difference, and if you say you can you either have the best hearing in the world, or you're ignoring any of the other multitude of factors that go into attributing a guitar's sound and what can make one guitar sound different from another, even if they are of the same model and specs.
    Last edited: Aug 14, 2020
  3. guitarbuilder

    guitarbuilder Telefied Ad Free Member

    Mar 30, 2003
    Ontario County
    I use yellow glue for most every wood to wood joint. If I were restoring an antique guitar that was worth money I'd use hide glue. I've never used fish glue and don't plan on it. If I were making a violin, I'd probably use hide glue by tradition because that's what buyers want.

    Hide glue would be good for instrument parts that need to come apart. I don't build for that to happen, but if a neck or fretboard needed to come off, then heat would do it.

    The only advantage or two of hide glue is its ability to resist creep and release with heat. A second could be said that you can do a rubbed joint without clamps. The rest is BS if you ask me.

    Yellow glue offers a longer open time and when you are working by yourself, that is a plus. Yellow glue releases with heat. Yellow glue dries hard enough to chip planer blades. That's plenty hard enough to transmit tone molecules.

    As always YMMV.
    Last edited: Aug 14, 2020
  4. Old Deaf Roadie

    Old Deaf Roadie Friend of Leo's Silver Supporter

    Oct 11, 2017
    Oregon Coast
    I set the neck on my current SG kit build with hide glue for no particular reason than just to observe the neck joint in the long term. If it doesn't work well, then no harm done as I am not looking to make this guitar my Mona Lisa.
  5. Ronkirn

    Ronkirn Doctor of Teleocity Vendor Member

    May 1, 2003
    Jacksonville, FL
    in the realm of electric guitars.. if you suspect there will ever be a need to disassemble something, then use Hyde glue.. if not then aliphatic resin glue aka good old yellow wood glue..

    There have been endless comparisons in the wood working magazines over the decades I have been reading them .. Yellow glue has consistently been at the top of the list..
    gregulator450 likes this.
  6. Jim_in_PA

    Jim_in_PA Friend of Leo's Silver Supporter

    May 31, 2019
    SE PA - Doylestown PA
    Hide glue has one very redeeming feature which is why it remains popular for certain tasks...it holds well but can be taken apart in the future if necessary...something that's more difficult even with the most water soluble PVA wood glues. But hide glue also comes with some disadvantages, such as the heating and sometimes too quick set. I use PVA and epoxy for all of my woodworking pursuits and this little guitar building thing hasn't been an exception. But if I did chairs (I don't to-date) or wanted to make a repairable acoustic guitar, I'd consider the hide glue route as a means to accomplish this.
  7. Freeman Keller

    Freeman Keller Poster Extraordinaire

    Aug 22, 2018
    I use hot hide glue for the joints where it has a definite advantage or where it would be expected. I do build mostly acoustics and I use it for dovetail neck joints because someday down the line they will have to come apart. Otherwise on new guitars I almost always use Titebond AR glue.

    On any vintage guitar repair or where it was obvious that the builder used hide then I do also - I don't want to surprise a repair person in the future.

    There is definitely a learning curve to hot hide glue and I will not use it when I don't feel that the open time is going to let me do a good job of alignment and clamping - bridge reglues are a good example (however on a vintage instrument I will use it for bridges). I'm currently building an acoustic where I am forcing myself to use hide glue - the only way I get better with it is by using it.

    I'm also of the belief that everything that goes into a guitar has some effect on its sound but many things, like the choice of glue, has such a small effect that it is overshadowed by wood choice, bracing, size of the box and many others.

    Here is a bridge reglue on a vintage Martin 00-17, the original glue was HHG, that is what I am using. Note that everything is ready, clamps are open, caul is adjusted - I only have a short time to get it together


    Here is a dovetail neck about ready to go onto an archtop. If the neck has to be removed in the future to reset the angle it will be easy for the repair person. I've got a hot air gun heating the joints to give me just a tiny bit more working time. Again, everything is ready and I've practiced making the joint several times. The glue is not quite up to temp - I like 145 to 150 F.


    ps - I've never used fish glue or rabbit glue or any of the others. I stay away from liquid hide glue because people I respect say to.
    gregulator450 likes this.
  8. 7he Doc7or

    7he Doc7or TDPRI Member

    Feb 27, 2012
    Protein based glues, such as hide glue and fish glue, also have the advantage that they shrink when they cure. This property is really handy for repairing cracks in acoustic tops and backs. It often can be difficult to get decent lateral clamping pressure and a protein glue helps alleviate this issue, often making the crack invisible or close to it.

    That said, yellow glue is easier to work with and has a longer shelf life. The only disadvantage it has compared to protein glues is that it's water based. If you're gluing something vulnerable to warping, such as veneer, yellow glue may not be the safest bet. In those instances I prefer epoxy.

    In summery, I like protein glues for things that may need to come apart or where I need as tight a joint as possible. Most other applications will be better served by a different glue.
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