Broken Headstock Repair

Discussion in 'Finely Finished' started by T. Dorsey, Jul 6, 2019.

Why are your thoughts?

  1. Dude, killing it! Great job

    31 vote(s)
    96.9%
  2. Dude, ruined it- keep posting those ruined shots

    1 vote(s)
    3.1%
  1. T. Dorsey

    T. Dorsey TDPRI Member

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    A friends 95 white SG had a headstock repair fail, and asked me to assist. He told me he didn’t care if I ruined it and didn’t mind being the guinea pig (this repair was my first).

    Not finished yet, but still wanted to share. First started by opening up the joint and removing all the glue with acetone. Needed it clean enough and wide enough to take to the titebond 3. Once fully opened, got in as much titebond as possible and clamped. At first I thought I’d have to spline it, but after testing the reglued headstock, turns out it was structurally sound!

    Sanded back the glue, added some primer and began to try and paint match the yellow patina with mixol tints. The last photo isn’t the most recent, as I just this am sprayed and feathered in the yellow/white over the cracks. My buddy wants a stinger, so I just need to cover the cracks on the side before I prep and mask off the stinger. Stay tuned for updates! Hoping to be shooting black by end of this weekend.
     

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  2. T. Dorsey

    T. Dorsey TDPRI Member

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    Another update (original post was a few days ago) So I feathered out the edges, and not only had a little burn through but noticed some tape lines were still imprinted in the color (I thought I could skip a step and feather all at the end since I ran out of paint - I guess not! )

    The meticulous person I am, I feathered all edges, mixed up a new batch of white and started to layer up the fresh color. Thankfully I counted my mixol drops.

    All of this work to paint match a one inch visible glue line but really want to nail it. I likely would have been OK but figured this isn’t the stage to settle. Take a look at my custom dry booth with a pull fan!
     

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  3. NothingGoatboat

    NothingGoatboat Tele-Meister

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    Looks pretty good so far! That's a bad crack, I've never repaired one like that before. Good luck!
     
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  4. T. Dorsey

    T. Dorsey TDPRI Member

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    Neither have I - gotta start somewhere!
     
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  5. Dismalhead

    Dismalhead Poster Extraordinaire

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    Very cool, looks like it will remain a nice guitar. I'd love to be able to work on something good like that without the fear of screwing up.
     
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  6. harold h

    harold h Friend of Leo's

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    You did a good job.
     
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  7. Sarde

    Sarde Tele-Meister

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    That was a nasty break. The glue up looks good I hope it sounds even better as a result!
     
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  8. Freeman Keller

    Freeman Keller Tele-Afflicted

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    Good job. Unfortunately that is the second most common failure I see (the first being bridge separations). I've ended up building a couple of jigs just for clamping and often I'll add a back strap and/or a couple of splines just to feel better about the break. A green stick fracture like yours has the advantage of staying in alignment but you have the problem of completely cleaning the break before the glue up. And isn't it wonderful when someone puts bad glue in before you get a chance to go it right.

    And matching the colors can be the hardest part - I tell people that it will be structurally sound but maybe not cosmetically perfect.

    This one was imperfectly "repaired" with some 5 minute epozy, when it failed again I had to get the old glue out like you did.

    IMG_3435.JPG IMG_3448.JPG IMG_3459.JPG IMG_3477.JPG

    This old 12 string was fixed a year and a half ago and is holding up fine, Yours will too.
     
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  9. jvin248

    jvin248 Poster Extraordinaire

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    .

    This is why I won't buy any more Gibson guitars, reinforced by their recent youtube management shenanigans. So much drama around these headstock repairs and Gibson basically leaves it up to the guitar owners to repair. It's not like they are giving a rebate, covering a warranty, or anything. You buy a $4,000 guitar, the headstock breaks, you now can sell the repaired guitar for maybe $1,000 or even less. If it were car brakes failing like that there would be recalls and lawyer class action suits. But no, it's the buyer's problem they should have been more careful with their things. A whole cottage industry has popped up with special fixtures to route in splines and reglue and repair these guitars. Even players have accepted that 'a repaired guitar is stronger than original' which seems like whistling in the dark to keep the monsters back. Drama.

    Glad you were able to make the repair and keep your friend playing!

    .
     
  10. max_twang

    max_twang Tele-Afflicted

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    Hmmm, a class action lawsuit over broken headstocks...
     
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  11. Fretting out

    Fretting out Tele-Holic

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    At least he didn’t try to graft a new headstock on all the while burying the truss rod !
    Don’t ask
    O.P did a good job
     
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  12. rad1

    rad1 Tele-Afflicted

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    Daymn, I’m impressed, those are some beautiful repairs.
     
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  13. Freeman Keller

    Freeman Keller Tele-Afflicted

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    If you are saying you won't buy a Gibson because of their head design then you are dramatically limiting your options for brands of guitars. The problem with Gibson head breaks is three fold - first, the heads are sawn from a one piece hunk of wood at an angle to the grain creating a very weak area at the most highly stressed part of the neck. Second, they rout out a great big hunk of wood in that already weak area to put the truss rod adjuster. Third, their owners leave them out on a stand or hanging on the wall where they are going to get knocked off.

    The problem with your argument is that many other manufacturers use similar head designs - the whole idea of cutting a neck out of a single piece of wood is just basically wrong. Here are a few examples from my little gallery of broken heads - one or two are Gibsons (or Epiphones) but you'll see a lot of others here too. And some that aren't guitars

    IMG_1494.JPG IMG_2012.JPG IMG_4859.JPG IMG_3193.JPG IMG_3386.JPG IMG_1356.JPG IMG_1589.JPG IMG_3728.JPG IMG_1355.JPG

    Oh, look at the last picture - one of our precious Fenders, altho yes, its an acoustic.

    I fixed every one of those, stronger than they were originally. I gave the owners my little rant about keeping their guitars in cases, I doubt that they listened.

    For what it is worth, I build angled head stock guitars with truss rod adjusters in the head but they are scarf joined with the long grain running at the angle and the t/r rout is as small as I can make it.
     
    Last edited: Jul 7, 2019
  14. Vizcaster

    Vizcaster Poster Extraordinaire

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    The OP did a fantastic job on something that many, if not almost every, professional repair person would avoid entirely. The fact is it's so difficult to disguise the repair so it isn't obvious, and that any finish touch up takes lots and lots of time (spray, dry, let cure, buff, drop fill, start over...).

    I've heard more than one pro try to convince me that they never try to conceal a headstock repair they're not trying to deceive anyone centuries from now, blah blah blah. they have a magic way of repairing the crack without any finish touchup (translation: they won't attempt finish touchup). The reality is they can't deal with the disappointment of a customer who expected the busted neck to be repaired as if it never happened. I think most players are more realistic in their expectations.

    And I appreciate the OP not bragging about how much more difficult the job was because of a failed previous repair. Many repair people succumb to the temptation of saying they're smarter than anyone who's ever tried to repair the same guitar before. Classy move by simply pointing out you had to remove old glue.
     
  15. Vizcaster

    Vizcaster Poster Extraordinaire

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    Freeman, did you run a piece of veneer down over the back of that 12-string to bridge the crack? Looks that way from the photo with the safe-t-planer but you certainly can't tell from the finished repair.
     
  16. Freeman Keller

    Freeman Keller Tele-Afflicted

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    Yes, I thinned the back of the head with the safe-t-planer, then I routed a small channel and put a piece of carbon fiber across the crack itself (kind of a spline but since the 12 string has two truss rods it isn't a true spline. Then I bent a piece of mahogany to make a back strap from the neck to the head - it is in tension so it adds a lot of strength to the repair. Normally I would do spline or back strap but with the previous bad glue job I just wanted to use every trick in my quiver. The mahogany is thicker than a true veneer - probably 60 thousands.

    There are several hard parts of doing a head repair. If it is completely broken off the pieces want to skate around under clamping pressure - creative jigging is usually required. Often the wood is splintered - I heard Dan Earlewine say never try to dry fit a splintered head since you will compress the splinters - you only get one chance.

    The choice of glue is important - I usually use HHG or AR but some folks argue for slow setting epoxy for badly splintered breaks.

    Strengthening the break is always a good idea - splines, back straps, etc. Often the head plate is damaged - sometimes you will want to plane that off and replace it. And matching finish can be a nightmare, particularly with these modern poly-whateever. I do the best I can but often the repair is pretty obvious.
     
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  17. Freeman Keller

    Freeman Keller Tele-Afflicted

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    Whatever you think or say about Fender's head designs, they don't break. I sincerely doubt that Leo said to himself "that Gibson head just sucks - its just waiting to break and I can make one that won't....." No, he was looking for ease of fabrication but the design is strong.

    However I also think it is possible to do an angled head that is (relatively) strong, looks classic, and has better control of the string paths., It just won't look like a Fender.
     
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  18. Milspec

    Milspec Friend of Leo's

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    Tradition can be a good thing, but maintaining a bad flaw out of tradition is not. I swore off Gibsons years ago for the same reasons given by jvin248, it isn't a matter of "if" but when it will break. No thanks.

    Sure, dropping a guitar is not the fault of the guitar, but I have seen a Les Paul suffer a broken headstock while sitting in a hard case. That isn't an instrument that I want.
     
  19. Freeman Keller

    Freeman Keller Tele-Afflicted

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    The other reason a sawn angled head is a bad idea is that it is wasteful of wood. LMI used to have a drawing showing how to nest three necks in one of their standard mahogany blanks but it had a great deal of waste (they suggested cutting it up to make braces). Depending on the length of the neck I'm building I can get it out of a 7/8 or 1 by 3 by whatever length I need board for any guitar I want to build (except a Fender) with almost no waste.

    Its also interesting that right now at OLF there is discussion about a scarf joined neck that has failed exactly at the glue line - people are saying they have never seen this before. Its a green stick fracture and the discussion revolves around which glue would be the best and how to get the old glue cleaned off the interface.
     
  20. Silverface

    Silverface Poster Extraordinaire Ad Free Member

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    A few thoughts:

    1. Did you COMPLETELY remove the headstock (i.e. complete the break)? On one that serious you should not bend it open/clean it - it needs to come apart. Otherwise it will be fighting against itself at the bend.

    2. In 45 years of work I have always added structural reinforcement via splines or pins. You may *think* it's structurally sound....now...but no matter what glue you used, if the break was not totally dismantles and reassembled with ZERO strain - it's not. If you did, it MAY be - but pins or splines are added insurance that hurt nothing. FWIW I use internal pins on higher-end guitars where splines would detract from appearance; splines where I can add opaque finish over the repair.

    3. On cheap guitars, splintered breaks and "re-breaks" I'll use Titebond or even epoxy, but on quality instruments I use only hot hide glue. You need a perfect fit, but where you do it provides a better, stronger joint that can be re-set if necessary.

    4. Beware of "overclamping". Many beginning woodworkers think you need to clamp every joint as tight as possible. This is not correct, and results in "dry clamping" - where almost no glue is left to act as joint adhesive. What little is left has been pressed completely into the grain, resulting in a very weakly glued joint OTOH, most glues are NOT meant as "gap fillers". so a tightly fitting joint is important with fitted patches as required.
     
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