How long should splines be for neck repair?

Meehah

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Hello all. I am planning to repair an Epiphone 339 that has suffered a quite severe headstock break. From what I have read, splines are a good idea for this kind of break repair, but as the break is quite uneven and unusual, I'm struggling to work out how long these splines should be.

Does anyone with more experience on this kind of repair have advice? And should they be the same length and location on both sides, given that the break is uneven? Here are some pictures:

IMG_4125_70.jpeg
IMG_4116_50.jpeg
 

ARandall

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That does look like it has a lot of long grain which will make for a strong regular joint, as well as what looks like a nice clean fracture line with no loose fibres to disrupt a smooth reattaching.

If splines are a given, you'd probably want to extend beyond the extent of the broken area by about the length of the break on both ends.
 

moreles

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As A Randall already said, that looks clean, offers good surface area for gluing, and should be a successful repair. I would not automatically go with splines myself as I'm not sure that cutting into those pieces to fit splines would create greater strength. I can't tell how clean the fit is as it is -- it looks promising -- nor can I know how carefully and effectively you handle glue, but from this distance, it looks like a straight-up glue job and finish fix to me. What a bad, clean break!
 

Meehah

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Thank you both for your replies, they're very helpful and much appreciated. I'll reconsider my spline idea, though the pictures might be a bit deceptive as the fit isn't so great and one side has quite a bit of end grain to it. But on the other hand, making and fitting splines seems to be a pretty full on process, and one that I'd rather avoid if possible.
 

LtDave32

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I would rout for splines into the headstock V, and on down to maybe an inch past the break.
 

Meehah

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Thanks for that advice LtDave32, and if I do end up going with splines I'll use your guidelines. I'll try to report back here once it's done.
 

Meehah

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However many weeks later, the repair is now done. In the end I decided to go with splines, as the break did not join evenly or cleanly (I'm not entirely sure why), and I know the headstock has broken and been repaired before.

The repair went okay, though the router template slipped when I was cutting the slots for the splines, causing me to rout slightly into the headstock. This was unfortunate, though quite easily fixed.

The somewhat worse news is that the repair does not seem to be stable, as the guitar consistently drops tune. If I tune it up to standard, then leave it for a couple of hours, each string flattens by around a quarter of a semitone (so halfway on the tuner's dial). This would seem to me to be a pretty bad sign, and I don't think that just repeatedly tuning back up is a good idea. I've moved it to Eb standard, and if that works, I might either leave it there, or try a set of 9s in standard.

I perhaps would've been better off without splines, but it is very difficult for me to tell how they might have affected this tuning stability issue.

Overall, I'm pretty happy that the guitar is even playable at all, as a local repair shop said that the cost of repair would exceed the guitar's value, and my repair cost me very little at all. I'll post some pictures soon, and will update on how the Eb standard is holding.
 
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lowatter

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When you can share some pics of the repair that would be nice. Also, it looks like the break wasn't from a fall under string tension. Is that true? The break to me looks like it might be from a blow in the opposite direction as most breaks. Regardless, that's a pretty major break. Curious minds need to know.
Also, what glue did you use and how long was it allowed to set up?
 
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the great waldo

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If it's dropping tuning , it's more likely to be a sticking nut or crappy tuners or the strings need to be properly stretched. If it's losing pitch because of a bad repair the headstock would be flopping about or you would see open cracks.
Cheers
Andrew
 

Meehah

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Here are the pictures, as I promised:
This is the only one I took while repairing, after routing one of the two channels:


And here's the finished repair:
Webp.net-resizeimage (1).jpg


The stain doesn't match very well, but I'm not too fussed about that really. I don't really mind how it looks, and I never wanted to hide that it had been repaired. I do have to do some final buffing of the finish once it cures. I used clear spray paint, which though unconventional, seems to have worked well enough, and feels pretty similar to the rest of the neck's poly finish.

Here's how the repair looks close up:
Webp.net-resizeimage (3).jpg
 

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Meehah

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When you can share some pics of the repair that would be nice. Also, it looks like the break wasn't from a fall under string tension. Is that true? The break to me looks like it might be from a blow in the opposite direction as most breaks. Regardless, that's a pretty major break. Curious minds need to know.
Also, what glue did you use and how long was it allowed to set up?
I'm not entirely sure of the details of the break, Lowatter, as I got the guitar after it had happened. From what I understand, the strap slipped off the button while it was being played, so I'd assume it was under string tension. But yes, it does seem to me to be a pretty unusual and extreme break, and I'm sorry if the limited information I have doesn't satisfy your curiosity!

To answer your second question, I used Titebond Original, and I kept it clamped for quite a few days, I don't remember exactly how many.


If it's dropping tuning , it's more likely to be a sticking nut or crappy tuners or the strings need to be properly stretched. If it's losing pitch because of a bad repair the headstock would be flopping about or you would see open cracks.
Cheers
Andrew
That's very encouraging to hear, as the nut I've got on it at the moment is an ultra-cheap plastic one (and the strings are almost brand new). I'm planning on getting a bone one cut for it soon, so hopefully that'll make some difference.

Thanks everyone for your replies!
 

Meehah

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Nice work!

What was the router setup? How did you guide it?
Thanks!

Here's the router jig I made. The end with the two bolts clamped onto the headstock, and then I used that small F-clamp to attach the other end to the neck/fretboard. It seemed to work pretty well, except for the slipping, which I'm fairly sure was because I didn't tighten it down far enough. So if anyone's using a jig like this, do clamp it well!

Webp.net-resizeimage (4).jpg
 

the great waldo

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Here are the pictures, as I promised:
This is the only one I took while repairing, after routing one of the two channels:


And here's the finished repair:
View attachment 550852

The stain doesn't match very well, but I'm not too fussed about that really. I don't really mind how it looks, and I never wanted to hide that it had been repaired. I do have to do some final buffing of the finish once it cures. I used clear spray paint, which though unconventional, seems to have worked well enough, and feels pretty similar to the rest of the neck's poly finish.

Here's how the repair looks close up:
View attachment 550858
If you haven't got an airbrush you could darken those splines a bit mixing stain with some finish and brushing (smearing stain with a sponge or finger works quite well!!). Just a matter of cosmetics and not really essential but good practice. That repair looks solid, so your tuning problems are going to be elsewhere. Watch out with those tuners as the backs can come loose and they start to fall apart I normally stick to gotoh's for vintage lespaul style tuners as they are well put together.
Cheers
Andrew
 
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Meehah

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If you haven't got an airbrush you could darken those splines a bit mixing stain with some finish and brushing (smearing stain with a spone or finger works quite well!!). Just a matter of cosmetics and not really essential but good practice. That repair looks solid, so your tuning problems are going to be elsewhere. Watch out with those tuners as the backs can come loose and they start to fall apart I normally stick to gotoh's for vintage lespaul style tuners as they are well put together.
Cheers
Andrew
Thanks for that finishing tip; I'm quite an amateur in guitar repair, and especially finishing, so anything like that is much appreciated. Thanks also for the warning about the tuners, and I'm not super keen on the gear ratio too, so might look at replacing them with Gotohs.

That's also very good news about the tuning issues for me, and hopefully the new nut and a bit of setup work will correct the problem!
 
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the great waldo

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If your'e going to try and colour the splines a bit try and use a stain with a thinner that doesn't soften the finish underneath to much ie, Niitro underneath = mix stain with alcohol so that it doesn't melt the finish to quickly.
Cheers
Andrew
 


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