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Unread 01-24-2008, 10:09 AM   #1 (permalink)
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How to (not) break your headstock

I've been noticing that several LP's for sale have headstock repairs, and that it appears that breaking a headstock is a danger of owning a Les Paul (maybe all guitars?)

So as a beginner who keeps his LP out, how do you avoid breaking a headstock? Is it something that I need to worry about?

Thanks,

Anthony
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Unread 01-24-2008, 10:27 AM   #2 (permalink)
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Re: How to (not) break your headstock

Don't drop it on the floor etc.
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Unread 01-24-2008, 10:31 AM   #3 (permalink)
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Re: How to (not) break your headstock

If it falls off a stand and onto the floor, then there's a likelihood the headstock will break or at least crack. Although some folks have better luck than this.

I do leave mine on the stand when I'm not playing it, but always take the lead out when I'm done for a particular session, so I don't trip over it and pull the guitar onto the floor.

Les Pauls are quite prone to headstock breakage because of where the wood has been machined away for the truss-rod and the grain carrys on in line with the neck.

Other angle headstocks can be vulnerable, but as they are often scarf jointed onto the neck, the grain in the wood helps and in any case, glue is often stronger than the wood.

What we need is mahogany that is grown around a 15 (or is it 17? I forget) degree corner, so that the grain follows the line of the the neck and the headstock..

If you really want to avoid breaking the headstock, you should keep it in the case. On the other hand, you could buy one that has already been broken, then you don't have to worry about it...

That reminds me, just where is that Peter Green burst again?...
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Unread 01-24-2008, 12:03 PM   #4 (permalink)
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Re: How to (not) break your headstock

Buy a Norlin. Problem solved, and yet everyone 'hates' the volute and the maple neck, right?

Busted neck/headstock makes for an exceptional deal. My friend just got a 2000 Les Paul Custom for $300. The repair is usually stronger than the original neck was on its own *if done properly* and on an ebony guitar for example, a complete repair+refinish of the neck is CHEAP and again if done well, nobody will be able to tell it has been repaired.

Look at some of BCRGreg's work. The man is a genius when it comes to neck/headstock repair.
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Unread 01-24-2008, 06:38 PM   #5 (permalink)
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Re: How to (not) break your headstock

Keep it in the case while your not playing it, don't lean it up against the wall to go answer the phone... strap locks are a good idea, also don't decide to show it off to your drunk buddies....avoid situations that it may tip over, get dropped, bang into something , don't unplug it and run to answer the phone with it strapped on only to whack it on the door frame... lol, the list goes on and on... just use common sense and you should be alright lol
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Unread 01-24-2008, 07:00 PM   #6 (permalink)
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Re: How to (not) break your headstock

Quote:
Originally Posted by goby View Post
I've been noticing that several LP's for sale have headstock repairs, and that it appears that breaking a headstock is a danger of owning a Les Paul (maybe all guitars?)

So as a beginner who keeps his LP out, how do you avoid breaking a headstock? Is it something that I need to worry about?

Thanks,

Anthony
Buy a Kramer, or a Fender...
Seriously though, a one piece mahogany neck is much more likely to break,and the transition from neck to headstock is the Achilles' heel. Just be VERY careful with it. Take all the advice the others said, and never lean it up against an amp or chair, etc. If you move it from extreme cold to warm, or vice versa, let it acclimate slowly. Open the case for a few seconds, and close it. Wait a few minutes and repeat. This will help prevent the finish from cracking, or checking on a nitro finish.
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Unread 01-24-2008, 07:02 PM   #7 (permalink)
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Re: How to (not) break your headstock

Oh, and WELCOME to MLP
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Unread 01-24-2008, 09:49 PM   #8 (permalink)
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Re: How to (not) break your headstock

Quote:
Originally Posted by LoKi View Post
Buy a Norlin. Problem solved, and yet everyone 'hates' the volute and the maple neck, right?

Busted neck/headstock makes for an exceptional deal. My friend just got a 2000 Les Paul Custom for $300. The repair is usually stronger than the original neck was on its own *if done properly* and on an ebony guitar for example, a complete repair+refinish of the neck is CHEAP and again if done well, nobody will be able to tell it has been repaired.

Look at some of BCRGreg's work. The man is a genius when it comes to neck/headstock repair.
Loki, This man , is not a cure, I have seen Norlins that even had huge valutes back there that had headtock repairs , Ask Greg and Roman if that lunk of wood back there did anything to save from one?
If its not in your hands or a very secure stand, like a Hercules, then should be in your case , dont let drunks handle your Les Pauls or other Gibsons .
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Unread 01-24-2008, 10:14 PM   #9 (permalink)
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Re: How to (not) break your headstock

Thank you for all the replies. I will be careful to not do something really stupid. I appreciate the "scientific" reason why I see LP's with broken headstocks.

Thanks again,

Anthony
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Unread 01-24-2008, 10:22 PM   #10 (permalink)
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Re: How to (not) break your headstock

In my years as a repairman, I have seen MANY les Pauls break the headstock IN THE CASE.

The guy thinks it is safe and the case gets knocked over, He doesn't even notice it got broken till the next time he pulls it out.

Newer cases are better but the older cases lack padding in the headstock area. Some T shirts or socks under the headstock saves the day!
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Unread 01-25-2008, 02:16 AM   #11 (permalink)
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Re: How to (not) break your headstock

The only sure way to not break it is to keep it in the case when you're not playing it
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Unread 01-25-2008, 01:25 PM   #12 (permalink)
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Re: How to (not) break your headstock

Quote:
Originally Posted by Ziggy Stardust View Post
Don't drop it on the floor etc.


Brilliant
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Unread 01-25-2008, 02:16 PM   #13 (permalink)
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Re: How to (not) break your headstock

Yep. LP's can break ina case as well if it drops/falls.

Hang it high on the wall when not in use. I use String Tree hangers. Nitro safe and there when I need it to jam.
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Unread 01-25-2008, 02:18 PM   #14 (permalink)
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Re: How to (not) break your headstock

Ah It aint a diving board either, Dont try any half gainers , ect off it into the pool
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Unread 01-25-2008, 05:55 PM   #15 (permalink)
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Re: How to (not) break your headstock

you really got to be carefull, especially moving around in small areas, gibson headstocks are more prone to breaking becasue the grain of the headstock id cut at a 13o angle to the straight flow grain of hte neck anf this makes it easier to break fender guiatrs are less seceptable to headstock breaks because the grain of the headstock is parralel with the neck grain running straight.

some guitar companys including epiphone cut their headstocks seperate from the neck of hte guitar at a straight orentation and the angled edge that attached to the neck at a 13o angle to ensure the same look and string pull of the normal style headstock but give the grain of hte headstock more strength you can tell if this is done on your guitar by looking at the neck near the headstock look for a verry curved long line across the neck in a big U shape this means that the heasstock was cut seperate from the guitar.

you can also look at the back of the headstok and examin the grain to see if it is angled and you can see endgrain or normal straight grain but it's a bit harder to tell this way.
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Unread 01-25-2008, 08:15 PM   #16 (permalink)
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Re: How to (not) break your headstock

I guess you could wrap your head with Kevlar
and resin (that turns into something as strong as steal)
but probably would look and sound awful
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Unread 12-22-2008, 06:40 PM   #17 (permalink)
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Re: How to (not) break your headstock

Thanks for all the info about this prob, folks... I found (and joined) this forum because I'd already done what Goby feared might happen to HIS Les Paul... It's in the shop now, and the tech told me he sees these all the time - and that I'm fortunate because it's a long, clean crack that runs with the grain. I'm especially glad to hear that it will be stronger after the repair.

BUT... was this preventable? Maybe, if I never used it. It was sitting on my Hercules stand as I was teaching, strap and locks on, and the strap caught in the wheel of my swivel chair as I swung around to another computer. Whack, straight down on its face! Horrorshow! Lesson? Shit happens, I guess.
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Unread 12-22-2008, 06:51 PM   #18 (permalink)
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Re: How to (not) break your headstock

Quote:
Originally Posted by alligatorbling View Post
Keep it in the case while your not playing it, don't lean it up against the wall to go answer the phone... strap locks are a good idea, also don't decide to show it off to your drunk buddies....avoid situations that it may tip over, get dropped, bang into something , don't unplug it and run to answer the phone with it strapped on only to whack it on the door frame... lol, the list goes on and on... just use common sense and you should be alright lol
+1 on all of the above, it's what I do with my LP. Get the straplocks ASAP! I dropped mine last year while tuning up at a gig and luckily it landed on a carpeted floor and no damage except I shat my pants LOL! Put straplocks on her the next day!
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Unread 12-22-2008, 07:29 PM   #19 (permalink)
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Re: How to (not) break your headstock

One thing to note:

If you Do break your headstock absolutely resist the urge to try & dry fit the pieces back together (like a puzzle).

If you leave it alone & take it to a Luthier they will have a much better shot at getting a seamless repair.

Often you only get one good shot at refitting it back together, it's best to have glue/epoxy on it before you try to fit it back.

I know I'd be freaked out & would be the first reaction to "fit" it back to see the damage & how it may look repaired.

DON'T!
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Unread 12-22-2008, 08:27 PM   #20 (permalink)
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Re: How to (not) break your headstock

not that Im gonna drop this but hopefully its a little more stout then standard mahogany!
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Unread 12-22-2008, 08:52 PM   #21 (permalink)
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Re: How to (not) break your headstock

They need to bring the volute back. (let the flaming begin!) But all the die-hards hated them since volutes were'nt original spec.

Breaking in the case is comon because the pull of the strings in conjunction with the blow of the fall, is too much for the headstock area to survive.. My 05 Special fell face forward. on a cemement floor at a gig last month and luckily it survived with no damage whatsoever. Tuned it back up and finished the gig. I guess the poly finish kept it from dings, and the fact it was tuned to dropped D flat may have helped it also.
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Unread 12-22-2008, 09:01 PM   #22 (permalink)
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Re: How to (not) break your headstock

When I transport my guitars I always use the original hard case.

People are stupid, carrying Les Pauls in soft bags.

And when the guitar is shipped through a parcel service or transported between gigs on tour etc.; it's smart to stuff some socks or towels around the headstock to keep it firmly and securely in place inside the case. Or to stop it from warping and wobbling (before snapping) as the case hits the ground.

And the golden rule:

*bangs your head into the wall in the same rythm as I speak*
Never... leave... the guitar... leaning... unsecured... against... ANYTHING.

Please use a stand. Be nice to your guitar and it will be nice to you and your wallet.
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Unread 12-22-2008, 09:05 PM   #23 (permalink)
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Re: How to (not) break your headstock

Quote:
Originally Posted by Roman Rist View Post
In my years as a repairman, I have seen MANY les Pauls break the headstock IN THE CASE.

The guy thinks it is safe and the case gets knocked over, He doesn't even notice it got broken till the next time he pulls it out.

Newer cases are better but the older cases lack padding in the headstock area. Some T shirts or socks under the headstock saves the day!
Damn... I guess I was too slow on the trigger.
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Unread 12-22-2008, 09:14 PM   #24 (permalink)
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Re: How to (not) break your headstock

Bring volute back!!!!
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Unread 12-22-2008, 09:16 PM   #25 (permalink)
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Re: How to (not) break your headstock

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Bring volute back!!!!
Aye!
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Unread 12-22-2008, 09:56 PM   #26 (permalink)
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Re: How to (not) break your headstock

when purchasing a new lp, go ahead and add the cost of a headstock break repair, break it, then have it fixed! its much stronger after that and you wont have to fret about it any longer!

oh....and it makes the sound better as well!!

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Unread 12-22-2008, 09:57 PM   #27 (permalink)
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Re: How to (not) break your headstock

Yup.
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Unread 12-23-2008, 01:50 AM   #28 (permalink)
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Re: How to (not) break your headstock

Quote:
Originally Posted by les strat View Post
Yep. LP's can break ina case as well if it drops/falls.

Hang it high on the wall when not in use. I use String Tree hangers. Nitro safe and there when I need it to jam.
yep!
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Unread 12-23-2008, 02:49 AM   #29 (permalink)
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Re: How to (not) break your headstock

Quote:
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Very nice! Yeah - I would think that would be just a tad stronger than mahogany
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Unread 12-23-2008, 02:58 AM   #30 (permalink)
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Re: How to (not) break your headstock

Quote:
Originally Posted by marc1kim View Post
They need to bring the volute back. (let the flaming begin!) But all the die-hards hated them since volutes were'nt original spec.
+1

Norlin might have got a few things wrong, but they made some improvements as well, IMHO. Besides being an arguably superior tonewood, maple was a stronger wood for the neck. And the volute further strengthened the headstock. Yes the maple necks with volutes broke as wel, but not nearly as frequently as the mahogany did, and does.

As far as I'm concerned, going back to a mahogany neck without a volute simply to please a few cork-sniffers who complained that it wasn't "original spec" was asinine. Following the same logic as those "die-hards", our cars should all have a crank starter, and run on thin tires mounted on wooden, 6-spoke wheels. After all, that was "original spec"...
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