What started out as a simple refret....

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....has turned into a full on headstock repair.

So Wednesday, I decided to give my beloved J45 an overdue refret. All was going well...started pulling the frets, almost no chipping at all. Very pleased. Cleaned up the slots, lined up the first new fret, first tap with the hammer and....



***BIG SIGH***

So, I thought 'F*ck It' and carried on with the full refret....so much easier with a missing headstock!! :)



Anyway, The headstock had been broken twice before, I'd had it repaired and had lasted 3 years then it had failed again and I glued it up about 18 months ago (intending to tidy it up at some point) and it had started to creep again only for the joint to fail on Wednesday.

So a more substantial fix is now in order. I re-glued the break and left it 24 hours:



Removing the clamps this morning, we're here:



I don't like splines. I think they look ugly and they take out too much 'good' wood IMO. So i'm going for a 'backstrap' this time.

Squeeky bum time, I take my prized acoustic guitar over to the belt sander and take 3mm off the back of the headstock. The white masking tape gives me a depth stop and the blue masking tape gives me a point to stop at just behind the first fret:



The repaired joint can be seen here, I'm pleased with how well it has knitted together:



So, I thickness a new piece of mahogany to about 6mm and spend the next 2 1/2 hours insuring a perfectly tight fit...What a pain in the 'arris!!

I'm going to make the headstock slightly thicker (about 16mm in total) and leave some more meat at the back of the truss rod route too.



So both faces are now glued up and set in clamps for the next 24 hours....



More Sunday...










 
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Comments

  • Adam_MDAdam_MD Frets: 2720
    Wow thanks for posting this.  Sorry it came off in the first place but I do enjoy this kind of thread.  
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  • Winny_PoohWinny_Pooh Frets: 2581
    edited June 1
    Looking great so far, is the patch grain running in the opposite direction? 
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  • miserneilmiserneil Frets: 4675
    Looking great so far, is the patch grain running in the opposite direction? 
    The backstrap grain runs parallel to the headstock face.
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  • lonestarlonestar Frets: 1684
    @miserneil hats off to you, sir. Fantastic job, sorry that this happened but you seem to know what you’re doing. 
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  • SeshSesh Frets: 785
    If you only signed you're a better man than me. I'd have gone terminal Basil Fawlty.
    Can't sing, can't dance, can handle a guitar a little.
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  • sweepysweepy Frets: 1643
    Yet another reason to buy a fret press and leave the hammer for throwing at cats ;)
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  • miserneilmiserneil Frets: 4675
    sweepy said:
    Yet another reason to buy a fret press and leave the hammer for throwing at cats ;)
    Yeah, I won’t disagree.

    Funnily enough, I did go to order a 12” fret caul on Monday but they were out of stock...
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  • markblagdonmarkblagdon Frets: 559
    Wow, are you sure it wouldn’t have just polished out ;-)
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  • ICBMICBM Frets: 30892
    It’s a good thing it came off now. It was clearly so weak that under string tension, the smallest knock would have probably been enough - usually when least convenient...

    That’s certainly a bold way to fix it, but given the existing damage you really aren’t taking away much ‘good’ wood.
    "Take these three items, some WD-40, a vise grip, and a roll of duct tape. Any man worth his salt can fix almost any problem with this stuff alone."
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  • miserneilmiserneil Frets: 4675
    edited June 2
    ICBM said:
    It’s a good thing it came off now. It was clearly so weak that under string tension, the smallest knock would have probably been enough - usually when least convenient...

    That’s certainly a bold way to fix it, but given the existing damage you really aren’t taking away much ‘good’ wood.
    The second time it came off was in the case, it had obviously been knocked on the load in, typically it was at a quite prestigious award ceremony at a local golf club. I had set up the PA in the day, and gone back later, with the proviso that I would strike up straight after the final award. 10 minutes to go, I quietly open the case to tune up and find it in 2 pieces....

    Bold perhaps but ultimately the best option I feel. I’m going to try and go for an invisible fix, just to see if I can more than anything.
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  • WezVWezV Frets: 8231
    it’s the right fix at this point.  So much more pleasing than the usual splints.

    it will look good even if you don’t get it invisible 
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  • miserneilmiserneil Frets: 4675
    WezV said:
    it’s the right fix at this point.  So much more pleasing than the usual splints.

    it will look good even if you don’t get it invisible 
    Cheers @WezV! ;

    I totally agree regarding splints, every guitar I’ve seen with them I’ve just thought “what a shame” especially when it’s clear some didn’t need them either. Seems to be a ‘70’s’ tradition to me that has continued - bit like putting Schallers on everything! :)

    I did think about inlaying some carbon fibre rods under the overlay too but decided that would be overkill....and I need the guitar for a gig on Wednesday anyway so this needs to keep moving ASAP! 
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  • WezVWezV Frets: 8231
    Well if it does ever break again, you still have the CF option.  But I think your fix should be more than enough.

    have you considered a volute right over the break.  It’s debatable how much strength they add to a neck normally, but in this case I think it would give support right where you need it
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  • miserneilmiserneil Frets: 4675
    WezV said:
    Well if it does ever break again, you still have the CF option.  But I think your fix should be more than enough.

    have you considered a volute right over the break.  It’s debatable how much strength they add to a neck normally, but in this case I think it would give support right where you need it
    Well, again the term ‘volute’ Sends me into a cold sweat think of Norlin era Gibson’s...but you’re totally right of course. I’m going to do something similar over the break but try and blend it in a little more than a standard volute, I currently have about 20mm of material right over the break point and back of the truss rod route and I’m intending to leave as much of that in as I can whilst still retaining the ‘classic’ look.
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  • ICBMICBM Frets: 30892
    A lot of 50s Gibsons are noticeably more 'flared' before you get to the nut, as I'm sure you've noticed - that makes them a lot stronger than the almost (and in some cases actually!) 'dished' shape on many modern ones, which removes a quite surprising amount of wood right at the weakest point.

    The most flared one I've ever seen was my old '57 LP Junior, which not only had that but wood grain that almost followed the curve of the head - and even though the end of the headstock looked like it had been used to dig roads with, it had never been broken. So I think a combination of as much flare as you can get away with without it feeling odd, and the grain of the new piece being parallel to the head, and it should be pretty strong.
    "Take these three items, some WD-40, a vise grip, and a roll of duct tape. Any man worth his salt can fix almost any problem with this stuff alone."
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  • WezVWezV Frets: 8231
    miserneil said:
    WezV said:
    Well if it does ever break again, you still have the CF option.  But I think your fix should be more than enough.

    have you considered a volute right over the break.  It’s debatable how much strength they add to a neck normally, but in this case I think it would give support right where you need it
    Well, again the term ‘volute’ Sends me into a cold sweat think of Norlin era Gibson’s...but you’re totally right of course. I’m going to do something similar over the break but try and blend it in a little more than a standard volute, I currently have about 20mm of material right over the break point and back of the truss rod route and I’m intending to leave as much of that in as I can whilst still retaining the ‘classic’ look.
    I understand the reservation but I wouldn’t ever consider a blended in volute as you end up with a shapeless lump just like the worst of the Norlin era.

    a well defined volute is a thing of beauty... but still not necessarily the right choice for this guitar.

    if you carve one in and don’t like it you can always carve it away again ;)






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  • miserneilmiserneil Frets: 4675
    WezV said:
    miserneil said:
    WezV said:
    Well if it does ever break again, you still have the CF option.  But I think your fix should be more than enough.

    have you considered a volute right over the break.  It’s debatable how much strength they add to a neck normally, but in this case I think it would give support right where you need it
    Well, again the term ‘volute’ Sends me into a cold sweat think of Norlin era Gibson’s...but you’re totally right of course. I’m going to do something similar over the break but try and blend it in a little more than a standard volute, I currently have about 20mm of material right over the break point and back of the truss rod route and I’m intending to leave as much of that in as I can whilst still retaining the ‘classic’ look.
    I understand the reservation but I wouldn’t ever consider a blended in volute as you end up with a shapeless lump just like the worst of the Norlin era.

    a well defined volute is a thing of beauty... but still not necessarily the right choice for this guitar.

    if you carve one in and don’t like it you can always carve it away again ;)






    Haha! Yes, you’re right, I don’t want it to end up looking like a growth! I think what I’m trying to say is I’m going to try an leave as much meat behind there as possible without it looking obvious. I’m aiming for about 16mm final thickness of the headstock but if I can get away with a mm or 2 more, I’ll definitey do it.
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  • ICBMICBM Frets: 30892
    edited June 2
    Are you going to taper it like a vintage one as well?

    I just found this pic, it's of a 1948 J50 - not only is there the taper, but look at the amount of flare behind the nut! It's not quite a volute, but it's not far off...

    photo HeadstocktaperA.jpg

    This pic also shows the difference between the vintage 'flare' and the modern 'dish' - although neither are extreme examples, there's still a fair difference in the depth of wood under the nut.

    http://magazine.dv247.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/06/les-paul-junior-headstock.jpg

    (I'm sure miserneil knows this .)
    "Take these three items, some WD-40, a vise grip, and a roll of duct tape. Any man worth his salt can fix almost any problem with this stuff alone."
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  • miserneilmiserneil Frets: 4675
    ICBM said:
    Are you going to taper it like a vintage one as well?

    I just found this pic, it's of a 1948 J50 - not only is there the taper, but look at the amount of flare behind the nut! It's not quite a volute, but it's not far off...

    photo HeadstocktaperA.jpg

    This pic also shows the difference between the vintage 'flare' and the modern 'dish' - although neither are extreme examples, there's still a fair difference in the depth of wood under the nut.

    http://magazine.dv247.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/06/les-paul-junior-headstock.jpg

    (I'm sure miserneil knows this .)
    Thanks for this @ICBM, I’d got the measurements from a couple of 50’s LP’s so I usually work to that but I’d not seen that comparison photo before! That’s a substantial amount of wood removed on the modern guitar, I had no idea they were as thin as that! :open_mouth: 
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  • ICBMICBM Frets: 30892
    miserneil said:

    Thanks for this @ICBM, I’d got the measurements from a couple of 50’s LP’s so I usually work to that but I’d not seen that comparison photo before! That’s a substantial amount of wood removed on the modern guitar, I had no idea they were as thin as that! :open_mouth: 
    Yes - and as you'll know, it's right in the worst possible place directly under the truss rod cavity. I've even seen ones where whoever was on the belt-sander has got carried away and they're actually slightly *concave* there - the back of the neck must be wafer-thin.

    On my Junior, it was more like a straight line between the end of the E tuners and the back of the neck under the 1st fret!

    I admit I do harp on about the fragility of modern Gibsons, but I have to say I have a reason for it :).
    "Take these three items, some WD-40, a vise grip, and a roll of duct tape. Any man worth his salt can fix almost any problem with this stuff alone."
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  • miserneilmiserneil Frets: 4675
    Revisiting this after sitting in clamps for 30 odd hours this morning, we find ourselves here. I was excited to get started so missed some pics. Here's the neck resting in my headstock thickening jig ready to get it down to thickness.



    I'm aiming for between 16/17mm in total which will give me about 2.5mm extra 'meat' on the back of the headstock and still allow enough clearance for the tuners to get through.



    Bibbity Bobbity Boo...



    Time to work on the transition:



    I didn't get any pics at this point as I was keen to get on....and forgot basically.

    Anyway, I carved the transition, tidied up the edges with the router and we're currently here:



    An afternoon of hand sanding and grain filling awaits.... :)

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  • miserneilmiserneil Frets: 4675
    Further update (and spot the mistake time...)

    After some more shaping and sanding, it's time for grain filler, that is until I noticed that i'd need those all important tuner holes!

    So I drill those out and, as expected, I bugger it up, push the drill too hard and get some tear out on the G tuner hole...

    Now, what I should have done....and what I was actually going to do when thinking about it when I woke up this morning....but didn't cause I was too busy thinking about the next stage....was drill the holes before I thicknessed the headstock which would have given me perfectly clean holes. But, to be honest, it's no biggy given the extent of the main repair and a small dab of wood filler tomorrow will sort it out and, to be fair, the tuner body covers it pretty much fully anyway. But, just another one of those things which makes me shout "Neil, You Tit!!" 

    Here's a quick back and side shot of the headstock smeared with grain filler. I think I have another 2mm behind the truss rod cover than before so i'm happy.




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  • ICBMICBM Frets: 30892
    I would do a vintage taper on it - that will get rid of the majority of the tear-out I think. Somehow it just looks wrong with the full thickness all the way to the end now! Possibly because it's thicker than a normal Gibson head.
    "Take these three items, some WD-40, a vise grip, and a roll of duct tape. Any man worth his salt can fix almost any problem with this stuff alone."
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  • mr-macmr-mac Frets: 149
    fantastic job so far it looks awesome and really impressed how well it meets neck and looks like the vintage shape under nut area.

    agree with icbm but how do tuners work so ones nearer top stick through more or do you get sets for taper headstock?
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  • ICBMICBM Frets: 30892
    mr-mac said:

    agree with icbm but how do tuners work so ones nearer top stick through more or do you get sets for taper headstock?
    They stick through further - have a look at the pic of the '48 J50 above. It doesn't matter because they're further from the nut so the break angle is still low enough.
    "Take these three items, some WD-40, a vise grip, and a roll of duct tape. Any man worth his salt can fix almost any problem with this stuff alone."
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  • mr-macmr-mac Frets: 149
    ICBM said:
    mr-mac said:

    agree with icbm but how do tuners work so ones nearer top stick through more or do you get sets for taper headstock?
    They stick through further - have a look at the pic of the '48 J50 above. It doesn't matter because they're further from the nut so the break angle is still low enough.
    In which case I am with you totally that it would look best with a vintage taper ;)
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  • mr-macmr-mac Frets: 149
    Begs the question why the hell did they change it?????
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  • miserneilmiserneil Frets: 4675
    ICBM said:
    I would do a vintage taper on it - that will get rid of the majority of the tear-out I think. Somehow it just looks wrong with the full thickness all the way to the end now! Possibly because it's thicker than a normal Gibson head.
    Well, as most of my audiences don’t come to my gigs with vernier gauges and I want as much strength behind there as possible, that’s whats it’s going to be.

    Totally appreciate the vintage aspect of it, you certainly have my ‘vintage cork sniffer’ side all of a dither but, as it’s no longer ‘Gibson’ thickness now anyway and, ultimately, i’m very happy with it, That’s what it’s going to be :) 
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  • ICBMICBM Frets: 30892
    edited June 3
    miserneil said:

    Well, as most of my audiences don’t come to my gigs with vernier gauges and I want as much strength behind there as possible, that’s whats it’s going to be. 

    Totally appreciate the vintage aspect of it, you certainly have my ‘vintage cork sniffer’ side all of a dither but, as it’s no longer ‘Gibson’ thickness now anyway and, ultimately, i’m very happy with it, That’s what it’s going to be  
    I don't think increasing the thickness of the head at the far end adds strength, and if anything actually makes the risk of breakage very slightly (well OK microscopically ) greater - it increases the mass of the head, and means that any bump on the back will start sooner and bend it further, even if only by a couple of millimetres.

    The greater thickness at the nut end does add strength though. I have no idea whether that's why they were like that originally - I'd probably guess it was some sort of quirk of the manufacturing process.

    Looking at the pics, I think it would be pretty close to the '48 at both ends if you thicknessed the new piece down to nothing at the far end, which would definitely lose the tear-out.
    "Take these three items, some WD-40, a vise grip, and a roll of duct tape. Any man worth his salt can fix almost any problem with this stuff alone."
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  • miserneilmiserneil Frets: 4675
    @ICBM Alright, Alright, Alright, FFS Stop going on....

    Happy now?!!



    ;)

    What with your pedantry getting my vintage cork sniffing in a tizzy....I couldn't not do it...got nowt else to do on a Sunday night have i....
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