Finish "lifting" on headstock - how to stop it getting worse?

TomThumbsticks

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I've got a 1997 Gordon Smith G-60 which I bought second-hand in about... 2006 from Johnny Roadhouse in Manchester. It was pretty cheap for a GS at the time, but also, quite banged up! Sounds awesome though, nice and light for an LP-type, and I'm a sucker for single-pickup guitars.

IMG-20220511-193840.jpg

IMG-20220511-193858.jpg


None of the marks in the finish have particularly bothered me (battle scars are cool) but I've noticed recently the finish lifting on the headstock, where there are chips around the edges/corners from (presumably) where it was dropped and chipped before I bought it.

Guitar is (I think) a mahogany body with maple top and mahogany neck, and when I bought it I assumed the finish was some sort of blue stain from the colour, but based on what's happening around the headstock I'm now wondering if it's either a veneer face on the headstock that's lifting, or it's just a thick layer of paint that's coming away?

IMG-20220511-193622.jpg

IMG-20220511-193650.jpg


It's also coming away from the treble side of the neck around the 12th-15th frets, but that's a lot easier to explain!

IMG-20220511-193720.jpg


(And yes, I know it needs a good clean and new strings! I was waiting to decide what to do with the lifting finish before I sorted that all out...)

Question is, what are my options to stop this from spreading/getting worse? I'd rather not refinish because, as I say, I like battle scars, but I'm concerned if I don't do something the face of the headstock is going to keep lifting and is basically going to peel away eventually...

My gut instinct on the headstock is to wick some CA under the lifting layer and fix it back down, then sand the corners slightly so there isn't a "loose" edge to get caught and flap open again? Unless anybody has any better suggestions.

As for the neck... no idea! Sand it all back? I don't particularly like painted necks anyway, though this one is at least very satin (hence why I initially assumed it was a stain and not a paint layer).

Thanks in advance!
 
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Painter644

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Strip and refin. Piecemeal repairs would cost an arm and a leg by a pro, whereas you could do a complete refin without professional help for very little $. Hard to know what’s under there that caused the separation but it’s not going to get better, so…strip and refinish.
 

Timbresmith1

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The headstock veneer is lifting AND you have poor adhesion in the finish.
I like 5 minute epoxy better than super glue for the lifting veneer. It won’t take very much glue at all.

The lifting finish is a poly type finish.
You can wick thin super glue in at the edges- you may need to use an x-acto blade to get glue all the way down in there on the fingerboard edges. I used to see this adhesion problem on pee are ess guitars that had taken a hit or had been played to the point where the finish had worn at the fingerboard edge. I think it’s because these finishes rely on mechanical adhesion rather than chemical bond, but what I know about chemistry could fit on a post it note.
 

TomThumbsticks

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Cool, thanks. Good to know I was thinking along the right lines with the CA on the finish, and I think the DIY store near me sells Gorilla 5-min epoxy so I'll give that a go for the veneer.

It's funny, the eye gets drawn to the damage to the finish on the body and headstock from all the drops and dings, and I never really noticed just how poor the finish was where the neck meets the fingerboard until I looked at that photo...

Fits in with everything I know about older Gordon Smith guitars, though: rock solid build, awful QC on the finishing! :D

(And I appreciate a refin would be a "better finished product" if I cared about such things, but it's a 25-year-old guitar that has worked hard and gotten a bit beat up – it would just be weird for it to be pristine now!)
 

Beebe

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The less viscous the adhesive is, the further it will wick under the finish. So start with really watery stuff. Like thin CA glue.

You can brush some shellac onto any exposed wood to protect it. It's also a decent adhesive and will wick under and help secure thinner lighter pieces of finish.
 

stratisfied

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Someone oversprayed the back, sides and neck black on top of the original blue finish, You can see it's flaking off everywhere due to poor prep. I'd use the thick super glue or plain old wood glue and clamp the corner tight. Always the potential for it crack pressed back down so heating with a blow drier first before glueing wouldn't be a bad idea if it doesn't seem springy enough to clamp down.
 

Boreas

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The less viscous the adhesive is, the further it will wick under the finish. So start with really watery stuff. Like thin CA glue.

You can brush some shellac onto any exposed wood to protect it. It's also a decent adhesive and will wick under and help secure thinner lighter pieces of finish.

THIS.

I would perform 4 steps.

1. Wick very thin CA under the chips - taping down any that aren't flush.

2. Drop fill with epoxy, Z-poxy, Solareze, or thick CA.

3. Level and polish.

4. Ignore remaining blemishes.
 

Peegoo

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Water-thin CA as advised above...BUT: Not directly from the bottle, beause you will make a dog's breakfast out of the repair if you do.

Instead, break the pointy end off a round wooden toothpick and dispense some CA into a small bottle cap. Dip the broken end of the toothpick into the CA and use it to apply to the cracked/broken finish. Apply it only inside the dings/chips; not atop existing finish.

This is a slow process, but it makes for clean repairs because the super-runny CA is very controllable this way.

Use magnification glasses and work under a bright light so you can see what you're doing.

The reason you break the pointy end off the toothpick is because the pointy/sanded end will not hold the CA. A broken point works perfectly, and you can 'push' the CA around in the repair sort of like using a crayon. Take your time and you'll get good results.
 

schmee

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That looks like a veneer or plastic headstock covering. For the headstock I would try thick CA glue. Thick wicks in very good also. and clamp together. But Epoxy is good too, just wonder if it will wick in far enough, it's pretty thick. The plastic is likely shrinking though and may not hold.
 

dogmeat

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StewMac makes a Whip tip that goes on the CA bottle.... way worth the price (which is cheap). lets you weep the glue into those tiny cracks. thats what I would do (and have done many times). then I would match finish some of the damaged parts and clear coat the repairs and buff it out. its not what I use, but the clear epoxy might be good for the deepest damage in to the clear coat. it won't look like new, but thats not the goal anyway. it can also be done a piece at a time

I have fixed large "lifts" where the CA couldn't wick all the way under by drilling a small hole in the topcoat in the middle of the void. then CA through the lift, and drop fill hole back to level

SM has a few vids on how to do a drop fill if you are un familiar
 

Freeman Keller

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Water-thin CA as advised above...BUT: Not directly from the bottle, beause you will make a dog's breakfast out of the repair if you do.

Instead, break the pointy end off a round wooden toothpick and dispense some CA into a small bottle cap. Dip the broken end of the toothpick into the CA and use it to apply to the cracked/broken finish. Apply it only inside the dings/chips; not atop existing finish.

This is a slow process, but it makes for clean repairs because the super-runny CA is very controllable this way.

Use magnification glasses and work under a bright light so you can see what you're doing.

The reason you break the pointy end off the toothpick is because the pointy/sanded end will not hold the CA. A broken point works perfectly, and you can 'push' the CA around in the repair sort of like using a crayon. Take your time and you'll get good results.
Good advice. I always use a little pipette to wick thin CA into damaged area. You can squirt the excess out and reuse the pipette if you are careful.
 

Boreas

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Good advice. I always use a little pipette to wick thin CA into damaged area. You can squirt the excess out and reuse the pipette if you are careful.
If I use the bottle often enough, I don't even bother re-capping it - I just fold a piece of tape over the whip, sealing it.
 




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