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Les Paul Headstock Crack

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Dec 23, 2012 Broken Headstock Repair. Gibson Les Paul Neck/Headstock crack My guitar fell down. Les Paul Headstock Conversion.

This instructable will show you how to repair a broken guitar neck and, depending on how severe the damage, how to do some minor cosmetic repair. The guitar in question for this example is an Epiphone Les Paul Studio. I actually bought this guitar about a year ago for the very purpose of practicing neck repair - as it already had a broken neck.

I fixed the neck about 9 months ago (and you can see the results of that fix in this series). Fast forward to the arrival of a new puppy. Long story short, another broken neck (the old fix held up though!!!) and a chance to create a new instructable. In the case of the Epiphone, they are great, affordable guitars. And with these broken neck ones (depending on the nature of the break), these can be a great deal for someone with the time and tools to fix them. And if you happen to bust the top off your Gibson ES335, that can be fixed too! To make the guitar totally playable again, you only need to glue the headstock back on.

For that you will need: 1. Clamps - I like the clamp type shown. I think screw clamps encourage people to really crank it down and damage the finish. You don't need it THAT tight. Several clamps of different sizes works well - I bought an entire set of these cheap clamps at a $5 table at Harbor Freight or Ace or where ever. Glue - No magic glue. White glue is stronger than the wood.

I use the 'wood' white glue because it seems to not run all over like the regular white type. Plus the curing time works for my purposes. Water - for cleanup 4. Paper towels - Lot's O Lot's. Little artist paint brush - you could use a large brush if you wanted. Size doesn't matter much here.

Something to hold the neck up - I have a little tripod thing that I won at a recent demonstration thing. A full roll of paper towels works very well also.

To determine if the break is worth fixing to your satisfaction and ability, inspect the nature of the break. As I said before, this break was about as clean as you can get. In the pics you can also see the line from my previous fix. What interesting to note is that the previous fix held up just fine.

The wood failed (again), not the old glue joint. But what that also tells me is that the wood on this neck is fairly weak and would split just as fast and clean if it gets dropped again. The split paint and paint/wood interface might present a challenge depending on the guitar. But it this case, it did just fine with wood glue. When I looked closely at the wood, I noticed that the primary break seemed to occur along a plane that sucked up the stain rather deep. This MIGHT indicate that the wood was dryer and maybe weaker along this plane that the neighboring planes. The wood next to the truss rod opening broke on a slightly different plane.

Perhaps is was stronger? Assuming that the break happened how I described in step 1, the truss rod area would have split first.

Not so strong after all! So micro-examining the wood structure is probably not worth worrying about for this. I suggest you keep the wood finish work to a minimum.

This can get extremely frustrating and take you down a long path of work that will just make things looking worse. For this repair, I just use a little crayon type scratch filler and buff it down. My goal is to make the repair smooth to the touch. Not invisible to the eye. For a point of reference, I tried to do the finish repair on the previous fix.

Les

That's why there's a band of light finish across the neck. It took me about a week to do and it ended up being very noticeable. To be fair, the previous break was missing some edge pieces when I bought it. The headstock was similar. Yet different.

We were dealing with paint instead of wood. Clean up the glue. I tried to get it cleaned up and leveled with wet/dry sandpaper. Started with 320 then 400, 600 and 800.

Keep it wet and avoid the logo. Black Kiwi shoe polish. I hit the entire headstock with the shoe polish to give it the same gleam. That was the first time I tried that - seemed to work good here!

Note about flash photography: For the majority of my pics, I used a flash. In virtually all of those pictures, the crack looks much worse that it does in real life. From a distance the fix is just not that noticeable.

This is one of those 'OMG what'll I do!' Accidents for most people. But if it looks like a clean break and can be pressed back together without to much work, you can probably fix it yourself. Just don't get to worried about the final wood finish. Keep it simple and you'll be happier than if you try to make the crack totally invisible.

To let you hear the results, I added two sound clips - both were recorded through a Tech 21 Trademark 10 using the effects send straight into the PC. So it's basically a Sans Amp direct.

The first is with a 'metalica' type configuration on the bridge pickup. At the end of that one, I let the final open E ring out to give you an idea how well the sustain help up after the fix. Since it's direct with no-speaker to feedback on, it's probably a fair demonstration. The second is a basic Fender Blackface sound with the neck p'up.

Feel free to ask any questions or submit suggestions. Attachments. I'm not familiar with shoe glue.

Les Paul Headstock

But shoes are not wood, so I'm not sure how that's going to work long term. Might last forever - if it does then you're OK:-) If you could post some decent/in-focus pics, then that would help. Here's some questions in the meantime: 1. What kind of guitar is it? Electric, acoustic, 6 vs 12 string? What kind of break was it?

With the grain, across the grain, a complete break (the head totally came off the neck), etc. Where did the break occur on the neck? Near the headstock, in the headstock, in the middle of the neck, etc. Were you able to tune the guitar properly before the break occurred?

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What is the specific brand name/model of the glue you used? If you can get back to me on these questions and try to post some pics, then I can probably give you some kind of an answer. And thanks for asking! 11 months ago.

Les Paul Headstock Break

Les

That is my old guitar. There is finish checking on that guitar just starting throughout the finish, it was made in 1989.I had a bone installed a few years back, but therecwas no crack in the finish there at all when I sold it. To me it looks like a crack in the finishbfrom normal aging, and if this originated at the base of the nut then the checking certainly could be nucleated at this position from the edge where the finish was trimmed to install the nut. Your pics are great and it doesn't look like a mechanical neck break. Was the guitar shipped under normal string tension? I will look around to see if I have Picts of this area. As I remember there were nocheck marks onnthe neck or headstock, but the top was chock full of very fine finish checking cracks.

I think the guitar just developed one where the nut was installed. Send me your email and we can talk further and I would like to see more Picts. And if instill have the Picts I will email them to you. After studying the pict i am 99 percent sure the crack nucleard where the finish was trimmed to add the new nut. That guitar is fantastic. I only sold it because I like the neck fatter and really got a gem of a 57 historic so something had to go.

I personally installed the fralins and caps and rs kit. You should have the old circuit board pickups in the case. I apologize for the broken case lock. The dealer took in that guitar and put it up on the wall.

I immediately grabbed it down and bought it on the spot. The owner was in the store still but forgot to give the combination and the guy tried to stick me with a replacement case instead of the original. I told him to go and get me the original case and the moron realized he forgot to get the combination and never got the sellers contac info, so the bastard took a screwdriver to the lock. My apologies. I love that guitar. If you ever think of selling, call me.

Sorry as well for the typos, doing the typing on an iPhone! Obviously all of this is speculation since the guitar is in the Phillipines and I don't have it in my hands.

However, bear in mind that the guitar has already light checking marks all over its surface nitro finish and it is 20 years old. As I mentioned- I know this personally because it was my guitar for a long time. Also, I replaced the nut with a bone nut a few years ago and the cracks originate from the exact place where the finish was trimmed away to install the new nut. Is it possible that it could be more reflective of a wood crack, perhaps, but I really think this pattern is completely consistent with the following observations-(1) new nut installed at exact site of crack origin; (2) age of guitar and observation that the finish is already checked all over slightly; (3) no tuning instability or obvious increase in crack depth with manipulation of the headstock. If in doubt I'd contact the seller and return the guitar. Although I don't have picts of the area in question, I did email the thread originator everything I had including a closeup of the nut and back of neck.

The dark line incidentally on the back of the neck is a mineral streak. It been there ever since the guitar was in my possession. It is a great guitar, if you are worried take it back and demand a refund. Everything we are doing here is purely speculative, although I know that there were no cracks at this position when I sold the guitar, so it is likely that they were nucleated by temp changes (a winter or two has passed since I sold it) or more remotely by shipping. With no box damage and an excellent hardshell case with a very snug fit, it is a more remote possibility IMHO. I am just saying all this because it is likely a nonissue and you should have a luthier check it out if you are concerned instead of all of us since we can't see it in person.

Obviously all of this is speculation since the guitar is in the Phillipines and I don't have it in my hands. However, bear in mind that the guitar has already light checking marks all over its surface nitro finish and it is 20 years old. As I mentioned- I know this personally because it was my guitar for a long time. Also, I replaced the nut with a bone nut a few years ago and the cracks originate from the exact place where the finish was trimmed away to install the new nut. Is it possible that it could be more reflective of a wood crack, perhaps, but I really think this pattern is completely consistent with the following observations-(1) new nut installed at exact site of crack origin; (2) age of guitar and observation that the finish is already checked all over slightly; (3) no tuning instability or obvious increase in crack depth with manipulation of the headstock. If in doubt I'd contact the seller and return the guitar.

Although I don't have picts of the area in question, I did email the thread originator everything I had including a closeup of the nut and back of neck. The dark line incidentally on the back of the neck is a mineral streak. It been there ever since the guitar was in my possession. It is a great guitar, if you are worried take it back and demand a refund.

Everything we are doing here is purely speculative, although I know that there were no cracks at this position when I sold the guitar, so it is likely that they were nucleated by temp changes (a winter or two has passed since I sold it) or more remotely by shipping. With no box damage and an excellent hardshell case with a very snug fit, it is a more remote possibility IMHO.

I am just saying all this because it is likely a nonissue and you should have a luthier check it out if you are concerned instead of all of us since we can't see it in person.