To Reattach or Replace?

Discussion in 'Tele Home Depot' started by horseman308, Dec 7, 2019.

  1. horseman308

    horseman308 Tele-Holic

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    BLUF: I need some guidance on whether this headstock can be effectively reattached or if I need a new neck.

    Background: this is my beloved '93 LP. It's not valuable to anyone but me, but I will NOT give it up. However, (deep breath and embarrassment) this is the second time the headstock has been broken off. It was initially just a crack several years ago, and a repair shop in Nashville glued it back. Since the, a pattern has developed.

    The crack opened up and had to be reglued in about 1999. The crack opened again and before I got it repaired it was knocked over by a waiter at a gig. This time the headstock came clean off where the crack had weakened and was reattached by a luthier in Virginia, where I was living. He used a set of splines but told me that if it ever broke again there probably wouldn't be enough integrity left to reattach and a new neck would be required. This was in 2011.

    The crack had slowly reemerged over the last couple of years, and I feared this was coming. I even retired it from regular play for a while, but got complacent over the last few weeks. At band rehearsal this week I laid it against my amp, and it fell and broke right where the old break was.

    You can see that the break angle is pretty sharp. So even though it's a relatively clean break, there isn't much gluing surface. The longest section is only 1" long. So, here is my choice:

    1. Reglue the headstock with hide glue or urea formaldehyde glue and then put in thicker spines. Maybe that will hold for a few years - maybe forever if it's done just right. But the track record says otherwise.

    2. Replace the neck. If I go this route, the best case scenario is to pull the original fretboard and headstock overlay to reuse (keeping as much as possible of the original guitar) and carve a new neck blank. If I can get the fretboard off cleanly, I can just saw off the old neck and route out the mortise for the new one.

    I've made a few set neck guitars that turned out pretty great, so I'm not worried about my ability to make a new neck. It'll have a scarf jointed headstock. If I get in over my head in either case, I'll take it to a pro.

    Thoughts?
    20191207_082622.jpg 20191207_082645.jpg 20191207_082654.jpg

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  2. fenderchamp

    fenderchamp Tele-Afflicted Silver Supporter

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    Actually early 90's les Pauls are considered to be really great guitars.



    maybe this video could give you another approach? I've seen a few scarf joint type repairs (only on the internet) and they always impress me for some reason. A full neck replacement would be great too I'd think. I've seen quite a few spline type repairs, and often they are really nice too.
     
  3. charlie chitlin

    charlie chitlin Doctor of Teleocity Silver Supporter

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    I don't see evidence of splines there.
    Looks like a candidate.
    There is a guy here in PA who is well known for doing great headstock repairs.
    Greg @ BCR Guitars.
     
  4. guitarbuilder

    guitarbuilder Telefied Ad Free Member

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    Yep a reglue and splines are in order. Replacing the neck could cost you more than the guitar is worth. I had to spline a LP like this just to make it a player. I did it on a cnc router. I glued the peghead back on and then did a couple of splines a day until all the cracked short grain was gone.

    splines.jpg
     
    Last edited: Dec 7, 2019
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  5. Sparky2

    Sparky2 Friend of Leo's

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    I would replace the neck, and yes, I would keep the old fingerboard and frets and re-apply them, if at all possible.

    But that's just me.

    :(
     
  6. horseman308

    horseman308 Tele-Holic

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    Yeah, all the early '90's ones I've seen are nice, especially the Studio models that ended up getting the ebony fretboards (like mine!).

    That's a really impressive repair, though I wonder if it wasn't more complicated than it had to be. I've seen that done where the fretboard was removed so that cutting the scarf joint would be easier to do cleanly and the gluing surface easier to flatten.
     
  7. Ronkirn

    Ronkirn Doctor of Teleocity Vendor Member

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    actually the last one I did.. I removed the fingerboard,. made the "splines"from ¼" tool steel rods., embedded 'n epoxy... so once the headstock veneer and fingerboard were replaced and the back of the neck refinished, you could not see the "fix"... after 8 years, it's still rock solid..

    And a Pox upon Gibson for not addressing that design flaw that has plagued 'em for all these decades... and with the change of ownership several times, you would think one of 'em would have thought, "Yo Guys, that sux, fix it dammit."

    r
     
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  8. horseman308

    horseman308 Tele-Holic

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    Interesting. I take the same sort of approach to the necks I make for Fender-types - stainless t-nuts epoxied under the fretboard at the heel. Did you bend the steel rods to match the curvature of the angle?

    And I agree 100% with you on Gibson's insane resistance to improving their design. It's one of the areas where "traditional" isn't better - it's much worse. But hey, they've been keeping luthiers busy since 1952, so I guess someone is happy.
     
  9. jvin248

    jvin248 Poster Extraordinaire

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    +1

    Fender was successful with his Tele design to address Gibson's problems that other players complained about. Replacement neck that the player could swap over and flat headstock with straight grain. Which you would think that Gibson could have seen and addressed back then.


    Here are a couple of recent spline repairs I recently watched. I like the jig used in the Yamaha repair.




    Dan gives some tips here. I'd use Titebond rather than fish glue though.

    .
     
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  10. Freeman Keller

    Freeman Keller Friend of Leo's

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    I would try regluing it plus adding splines plus adding a back strap. I did this to a Guild 12 string neck and the repair is several years old now. Replacing a set neck on an old Gibbie is not a trivial task either, particularly if you are not certain about your ability to make a new one that is correct.
     
  11. Dismalhead

    Dismalhead Poster Extraordinaire

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    Yikes. IMO if it's broken more than once, I'd try to remove and replace it. Would be an interesting project.
     
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  12. Ronkirn

    Ronkirn Doctor of Teleocity Vendor Member

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    Nah, I just left 'em sticking out in the wind... I soldered a couple of mini alligator clips to the end to hold a "joint" while playing a Wedding Reception for the Daughter of the local ATF's Captian, knowing he invited every law enforcement officer in town... it kinda keeps ya on your toes...:p

    r
     
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  13. Freeman Keller

    Freeman Keller Friend of Leo's

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    Here is the 12 string neck. Because it had two truss rods I ran a carbon fiber spline between them, then bent and laminated the back strap on. I used the safe-t-planer to reduce the thickness of the head before gluing the backstrap on

    IMG_3459.JPG

    Here is an old black beauty that had a broken neck. I tried everything I could to get the heel off - steam and heat and my dovetail removing jig - just wouldn't come loose. There really is no good way to inject steam into the joint. I ended up regluing the neck into the heel which resulted in the geometry being a bit too high, but we made it playable again.

    IMG_4396.JPG
     
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  14. photondev

    photondev Tele-Holic

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    May I ask what do you mean by a backstrap and its purpose Freeman?
     
  15. reddy2300

    reddy2300 Tele-Meister

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    This is what you should do.
     
  16. telemnemonics

    telemnemonics Doctor of Teleocity Ad Free Member

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    Holy crap that was a terrible grain orientation Gibson chose when the worker grabbed that piece of stock for that neck!
    It could be repaired by replacing the middle section of neck to headstock transition (as already detailed), but I would not want a neck with the grain running so badly out of parallel with the length of the neck.
     
  17. horseman308

    horseman308 Tele-Holic

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    This is kinda what has me wondering about the reattachment option. At the end of the day, it's really only gonna be however many splines holding the bulk of the joint. There's just not much gluing surface due to how the grain runs in that area.

    The big benefit to the reattachment option is mostly in keeping the main area of the neck original and not having to mess with the mortise area on the body.

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  18. Freeman Keller

    Freeman Keller Friend of Leo's

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    A back strap is like a head plate installed on the back of a headstock. It is typically thin but not actually a veneer - I like to use something in the order of 0.060. It may have to be bent to fit the curve of the neck, sometimes it works into a volute. You see them frequently on archtops. Here it is on the 12 string repair (the curved piece of mahogany above the neck)

    IMG_3457.JPG

    And here is one on my hollow body - mostly decorative but it does add strength in that weak area


    IMG_3581.JPG

    I'll add that doing a backstrap on a guitar with the neck attached is awkward as hell. I got my wife to balance the body while I maneuvered the back of the head under the Safe-t-planer. Obviously no pictures taken at that time.
     
  19. stratoman1

    stratoman1 Friend of Leo's

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  20. bender66

    bender66 Poster Extraordinaire

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    I don't see any previous splines either. If so, it's no wonder that repair didn't last.

    Greg doesn't excellent work. If the OP is near him I wouldn't hesitate.
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
     
    Last edited: Dec 7, 2019
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