Les Paul Headstock: repair or refinish?

Discussion in 'Finely Finished' started by kevarilla, Mar 5, 2020.

  1. kevarilla

    kevarilla TDPRI Member

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    Hi friends,

    I recently acquired an Epiphone Les Paul to work on as a fun project. I'm writing out plans for the work I want to do on it, but one part I'm not sure what to do:

    It looks like a previous owner had to deal with the dreaded weak LP headstock - it appears that they did a repair, and it seems to be done well (it feels like they got it back in the right place, and the glue is holding.

    They didn't do anything to fix the finish and the headstock front, though. And I don't want to leave it like this (with that giant crack through the middle)

    So: do I repair/patch the missing poly from the front of the headstock and try to blend it in, or do I strip it down and re-finish the headstock? Anyone have advice or know how for having done this before?

    Note: Eventual plan is to refinish the body and neck. I've done this on a previous guitar, but haven't done any headstock work in the past Screenshot_20200305-004432.png
     
    EsquireBoy likes this.
  2. EsquireBoy

    EsquireBoy Tele-Afflicted

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    I would say that it’s the perfect candidate for a new headstock veneer. Should not be too hard and a fun project.
     
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  3. boredguy6060

    boredguy6060 Poster Extraordinaire

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    New veneer, new paint, new decals.
     
  4. littlebadboy

    littlebadboy Tele-Afflicted

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    I thought Epiphone actually had the better less to break angle than Gibson's.
     
  5. guitarbuilder

    guitarbuilder Telefied Ad Free Member

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  6. jvin248

    jvin248 Poster Extraordinaire

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    They do. They also have scarf joints so the wood fibers are long and not cut short like Gibson, nor as huge of a truss pocket (allen wrench hole vs nut socket pocket).

    However, Epiphones get battered more often because players are less cautious with them because they are not a Gibson "my dad makes me play this cheap guitar".
    So a much higher probability of getting into a damaging situation.

    .
     
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  7. guitarbuilder

    guitarbuilder Telefied Ad Free Member

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    Epiphones may have a spliced peghead, but the truss rod nut is located about a half an inch farther back behind the nut than where the Gibson acorn is. This with a larger nut and large adjustment cavity makes for almost an equal weak spot. There's a thread going on right now with a guy fixing one.
     
    Last edited: Mar 5, 2020
  8. Peegoo

    Peegoo Friend of Leo's

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    If you want to get your repair chops up, absolutely you can replace the veneer on the face of the headstock, apply a new decal, and refinish. But if you want to make a simple repair without getting too far into it and make it look good from a foot away, you can use black epoxy (LMI, Stooge Mac, etc.).

    Remove the strings, tuners, and plastic cover plate. Apply tape to the sides of the headstock to act as little dams. Mix up a small amount of black epoxy. Mix slowly to prevent introduction of air bubbles.

    With the headstock level, use a small stick like a coffee stirrer to apply a thin layer into the open crack. The idea here is to bring it up to a point that it's just barely above the surface of the surrounding area. When it sets hard--give it an hour--use a single-edge razor blade (taped on both ends) to shave back the epoxy level with the face of the headstock. Obviously, the closer to level it is with your application, the less work you have to do. And even if your buildup is a little too low when scraping, you can always add a little more.

    Scrape level, block sand, wet sand, and polish. The repair will be virtually invisible.
     
  9. kevarilla

    kevarilla TDPRI Member

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  10. Peegoo

    Peegoo Friend of Leo's

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    Cut the veneer about 2mm larger than the headstock all the way around, and don't drill for the tuner holes until after it's glued on. This guarantees accurate hole placement, as well as reducing risk of splitting the veneer when drilling it. The best way is to drill the holes undersize and then trim them to final diameter with a tapered reamer. You do need to cut out the window for the truss rod adjustment recess before gluing.

    You can use a flush-cutting pattern bit on a laminate router to trim the edge of the veneer flush, or use a very sharp knife to trim it flush all the way around.
     
    Last edited: Mar 5, 2020
    kevarilla likes this.
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