• New Sponsor: ShipNerd, Ship Your Gear with Us... for less! Click Here.

Thoughts on headstock repair

pd1030

Gold Supporting Member
Messages
230
Looking for input on a headstock repair guitar that I am interested in. The guitar is significantly reduced from a reputable dealer that has done the repair but as you will see no paint work. Looking for thoughts and experiences with headstock repairs. The guitar is out of state and I can’t play it before purchase. Thanks in advance!
C6285D9C-2635-450A-AF34-6FF98A372CDB.jpeg
C6285D9C-2635-450A-AF34-6FF98A372CDB.jpeg
 

Attachments

Tony Done

Member
Messages
7,663
I would also say OK if the price is right. Being a belt and braces type, I would probably add a few bamboo pins.
 

FingYourStyle

Member
Messages
281
Looking for input on a headstock repair guitar that I am interested in. The guitar is significantly reduced from a reputable dealer that has done the repair but as you will see no paint work. Looking for thoughts and experiences with headstock repairs. The guitar is out of state and I can’t play it before purchase. Thanks in advance!
View attachment 440474 View attachment 440474
The only negative could be the price. Repair job looks done solid!
 

VanishingAnimal

Active Member
Messages
46
It might be worth calling them up and asking for an “in hand” description of how the seamlines of the repair feel since you can’t check it out in person.

I’d be looking for a 35-45% discount off regular new price for this

Though I’m sure that’s probably unrealistic in today’s market with availability how it is.
 

sixty2strat

Senior Member
Messages
12,561
IN person I be open to it but by mail, I'd walk. 1st guitar I bought with a HSR would not stay in tune when playing full out with a band and I thought I was screw but I knew the store and that gave me some reassurance. Then it was suggested in these pre net days try heavier strings .009 as it had .008. it became rock solid. So at least in person you can test it out and see if the issue is set up or structural
 
Last edited:

fretout

Member
Messages
112
Was the Headstock repair performed by the Store, or by a reputable luthier?

In my experience, any decent luthier would have also installed dowels to fix this break, especially considering that the break was so severe that it caused the headstock to end up in two separate halves. IMHO, I would want some rigidity that ties both halves of the headstock together before I’d consider it “structurally sound”.

While it is known that a glue joint is normally stronger than the original wood’s strength, there will be significant amount of string tension stressing the repair, and glue alone seems insufficient.
 

Jayyj

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
10,192
I would also say OK if the price is right. Being a belt and braces type, I would probably add a few bamboo pins.
Was the Headstock repair performed by the Store, or by a reputable luthier?

In my experience, any decent luthier would have also installed dowels to fix this break, especially considering that the break was so severe that it caused the headstock to end up in two separate halves. IMHO, I would want some rigidity that ties both halves of the headstock together before I’d consider it “structurally sound”.

While it is known that a glue joint is normally stronger than the original wood’s strength, there will be significant amount of string tension stressing the repair, and glue alone seems insufficient.
As a repairer who's done my fair share of these, adding things like dowels or pins to a clean break with lots of gluing surface actually serves to weaken the joint - I understand the logic, but it's flawed.

Wood is basically lots of long strands loosely bonded together, so it's strong but easily splittable, and those splits easy to reverse with glue that does the same job as the natural fibres that booked it originally. Imagine it as bundles of straws glued together along their length. You have a lot of strength there in your bundle and if does split you can glue it back together soon that it's as strong as it was before. If you want to add to your bundle you can glue more to the outside and they'll be as secure as everything else in the bundle - as long as they're lying in the same direction.

If you wanted to glue more straws to the end of the bundle to make a T shape, that joint will be pretty flimsy as you only have those narrow straw ends to glue to your T shape, so that join will require some sort of reinforcement - a join that allows you to glue the sides of some of the straws in one bundle to the sides of some of the straws in the other - is likely to be needed for your two bundles to stay together.

So put simply, the side surface area is your friend when it comes to a strong joint. If you reduce that surface area, which you will do by drilling holes in it, you also reduce that effectiveness of that joint. That could be acceptable if what you are adding serves a better purpose than the material that was there before, but the dowel in a headstock break doesn't actually do very much. The logic is that it stops the joint creeping towards the body but if you think of any headstock you've seen where the whole thing wasn't taken off, the string tension on a headstock tends to pull the headstock forward through an arc, so the dowel isn't doing the job it's intended to and meanwhile it's taking strength away from the surfaced that were glued back together.

With breaks where there's a lot of surface area and the joint goes back cleanly without leaving any voids in the wood when simply gluing with Titebond or hide glue (not epoxy which makes it hard for the joint to close properly) really does make it as strong as it was before. If there's limited surface area then splines, where you insert a new piece of wood that has plenty of along the grain surface area to bond to the old wood, will make the joint extremely strong in every direction, so they'll contribute everything a dowel might conceivably add whilst potentially adding surface area over simply gluing up the broken pieces. Backstrap repairs where you glue up and reinforce as best possible then thin the back of the headstock and veneer it with new wood are a lot of work but very strong and sometimes used in vintage restorations where the wood is visible and splines would be offputting.

As a vintage enthusiast on a limited budget, headstock breaks are something I'm definitely not afraid of if they make an otherwise desirable guitar affordable but how they were repaired is a really big deal and dowels to me is a major source of control - ok, as long as there was more than enough gluing area even with the dowel holes dropped through it they might be perfectly stable, but to me once someone's doweled one they really need redoing with splines.
 

fretout

Member
Messages
112
As a repairer who's done my fair share of these, adding things like dowels or pins to a clean break with lots of gluing surface actually serves to weaken the joint - I understand the logic, but it's flawed.

Wood is basically lots of long strands loosely bonded together, so it's strong but easily splittable, and those splits easy to reverse with glue that does the same job as the natural fibres that booked it originally. Imagine it as bundles of straws glued together along their length. You have a lot of strength there in your bundle and if does split you can glue it back together soon that it's as strong as it was before. If you want to add to your bundle you can glue more to the outside and they'll be as secure as everything else in the bundle - as long as they're lying in the same direction.

If you wanted to glue more straws to the end of the bundle to make a T shape, that joint will be pretty flimsy as you only have those narrow straw ends to glue to your T shape, so that join will require some sort of reinforcement - a join that allows you to glue the sides of some of the straws in one bundle to the sides of some of the straws in the other - is likely to be needed for your two bundles to stay together.

So put simply, the side surface area is your friend when it comes to a strong joint. If you reduce that surface area, which you will do by drilling holes in it, you also reduce that effectiveness of that joint. That could be acceptable if what you are adding serves a better purpose than the material that was there before, but the dowel in a headstock break doesn't actually do very much. The logic is that it stops the joint creeping towards the body but if you think of any headstock you've seen where the whole thing wasn't taken off, the string tension on a headstock tends to pull the headstock forward through an arc, so the dowel isn't doing the job it's intended to and meanwhile it's taking strength away from the surfaced that were glued back together.

With breaks where there's a lot of surface area and the joint goes back cleanly without leaving any voids in the wood when simply gluing with Titebond or hide glue (not epoxy which makes it hard for the joint to close properly) really does make it as strong as it was before. If there's limited surface area then splines, where you insert a new piece of wood that has plenty of along the grain surface area to bond to the old wood, will make the joint extremely strong in every direction, so they'll contribute everything a dowel might conceivably add whilst potentially adding surface area over simply gluing up the broken pieces. Backstrap repairs where you glue up and reinforce as best possible then thin the back of the headstock and veneer it with new wood are a lot of work but very strong and sometimes used in vintage restorations where the wood is visible and splines would be offputting.

As a vintage enthusiast on a limited budget, headstock breaks are something I'm definitely not afraid of if they make an otherwise desirable guitar affordable but how they were repaired is a really big deal and dowels to me is a major source of control - ok, as long as there was more than enough gluing area even with the dowel holes dropped through it they might be perfectly stable, but to me once someone's doweled one they really need redoing with splines.
Thanks for the long response! Attached below is an image of the type of repair I referred to as “dowels”, but based on your description above, it sounds like they are called splines, correct?
A173BE22-2ED7-4266-9819-780E04014D61.jpeg
 

Jayyj

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
10,192
Thanks for the long response! Attached below is an image of the type of repair I referred to as “dowels”, but based on your description above, it sounds like they are called splines, correct? View attachment 440585
Yes, that's the fella!

For anything that's not split more or less directly along the grain or with bits missing this is the way to go. It's a shame it's not exactly an elegant solution but on an opaque finish a good finish guy can usually make them more or less disappear.
 

Tony Done

Member
Messages
7,663
As a repairer who's done my fair share of these, adding things like dowels or pins to a clean break with lots of gluing surface actually serves to weaken the joint - I understand the logic, but it's flawed.

Wood is basically lots of long strands loosely bonded together, so it's strong but easily splittable, and those splits easy to reverse with glue that does the same job as the natural fibres that booked it originally. Imagine it as bundles of straws glued together along their length. You have a lot of strength there in your bundle and if does split you can glue it back together soon that it's as strong as it was before. If you want to add to your bundle you can glue more to the outside and they'll be as secure as everything else in the bundle - as long as they're lying in the same direction.

If you wanted to glue more straws to the end of the bundle to make a T shape, that joint will be pretty flimsy as you only have those narrow straw ends to glue to your T shape, so that join will require some sort of reinforcement - a join that allows you to glue the sides of some of the straws in one bundle to the sides of some of the straws in the other - is likely to be needed for your two bundles to stay together.

So put simply, the side surface area is your friend when it comes to a strong joint. If you reduce that surface area, which you will do by drilling holes in it, you also reduce that effectiveness of that joint. That could be acceptable if what you are adding serves a better purpose than the material that was there before, but the dowel in a headstock break doesn't actually do very much. The logic is that it stops the joint creeping towards the body but if you think of any headstock you've seen where the whole thing wasn't taken off, the string tension on a headstock tends to pull the headstock forward through an arc, so the dowel isn't doing the job it's intended to and meanwhile it's taking strength away from the surfaced that were glued back together.

With breaks where there's a lot of surface area and the joint goes back cleanly without leaving any voids in the wood when simply gluing with Titebond or hide glue (not epoxy which makes it hard for the joint to close properly) really does make it as strong as it was before. If there's limited surface area then splines, where you insert a new piece of wood that has plenty of along the grain surface area to bond to the old wood, will make the joint extremely strong in every direction, so they'll contribute everything a dowel might conceivably add whilst potentially adding surface area over simply gluing up the broken pieces. Backstrap repairs where you glue up and reinforce as best possible then thin the back of the headstock and veneer it with new wood are a lot of work but very strong and sometimes used in vintage restorations where the wood is visible and splines would be offputting.

As a vintage enthusiast on a limited budget, headstock breaks are something I'm definitely not afraid of if they make an otherwise desirable guitar affordable but how they were repaired is a really big deal and dowels to me is a major source of control - ok, as long as there was more than enough gluing area even with the dowel holes dropped through it they might be perfectly stable, but to me once someone's doweled one they really need redoing with splines.
I can certainly see the logic in preferring splines, but I'm not geared up for that. I did some a couple of weeks ago in a walking stick I altered, but they were pretty rough. I was thinking more of how dowel pins are used in cabinet making, but I use bamboo skewers, which are small but very strong along the grain. The break in the OP's example runs along the grain fairly well, and I was envisaging the (small!) pins across the grain as preventing it opening like a hinge. - In repairs such as that I wonder if there are other longitudinal cracks in addition to the one that actually caused the break, and maybe pins would keep them closed.

Coincidentally, I decided to put three dowel pins in an acoustic bridge I glued back on today, replacing the bolts that originally failed to hold it down. I'll be tidying it up tomorrow, when I'm sure that the glue has dried.
 




Top Bottom