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Questions: Damaged Ironbird

Questions: Damaged Ironbird

by John Calkin

Originally published in American Lutherie #94, 2008


Adam from the Internet asks:

I have a B.C. Rich 2003 Platinum Pro Ironbird. Got seriously damaged in shipping. The body has five cracks, in some places that I don’t know are even possible to fix. I play technical death metal, black metal, Gothenburg death metal, and all those styles, my favorite being neo-classical metal. The body is agathis. I have an EMG Zakk Wylde set in it. (I could care less about Zakk Wylde. The set, though, is the standard 85/81 combo.) There is a large crack that goes down the middle of the body from where the neck goes on (bolt on neck — the action is great though), then two cracks around the cutaway near the neck (I need to have that so I can have fast access to the 24th fret). There’s another on the back that’s spread just past the serial number plate. I think I’d just want to fix it so I could play it again. I’m not at all concerned about looks right now.

B.C. Rich 2003 Platinum Pro Ironbird. Photo by Adam G.

John Calkin from Greenville, Virginia responds:

Go to a hobby shop and buy water-thin superglue. Also buy superglue accelerator. Take all the hardware and electronics off the guitar. Mask off the cracks with a heavy coat of good car wax — don’t use tape. Push/tap the broken wood back into alignment and trickle in some superglue. It will wick into the crack. If it wants to run out of the crack into a cavity or out the other side of the guitar, use some accelerator to solidify it at the point of runout, not at the fill point of the crack. Keep trickling the glue in. Work slowly and keep looking for exit points for the glue so you don’t make a big mess on the other side of the guitar or something. Keep wiping the glue buildup off the wax and rewax as many times as you have to to keep the paint surfaces clean. Eventually the wood will be completely sealed inside and the glue will stop seeping in. It’s almost like welding wood. If you’ve been careful, there should only be a line of glue right at the crack to clean up. Scrape it clean with a razor blade, sand level with 1000 grit wet/dry paper, polish with automotive rubbing compound, and you are good to go.

I’d bet a lot of money that your guitar will be as sound as it ever was if you do this right. I also have to warn you that I’ve seen guys make a horrible mess of their guitars trying to do this, with glue drips and buildup everywhere. But unless they ran glue into the pots or something, their guitars were fixed. If this sounds intimidating, find a pro to do it. It’s not that big of a deal, you just have to be very careful.