Replacing a perfectly good headstock (will it ruin the guitar)????

Alfredo1982

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The guitar I'm building requires a headstock angle much more obtuse than the average Les Paul. As you can imagine, I won't be able to convert it by just carving a little bit here and there, and there's no way I'm building a neck from scratch. So, I have to take one regular Les Paul neck and cut off more than half of the headstock, and then add new wood to the remaining part.

(See attached image that explains what I want)

The problem is... Wouldn't that be very similar to fixing a broken headstock?

I've heard that once the headstock has been separated from the rest of the guitar, no matter how well you fix it back on, it will NEVER sound like it did when it was one single piece. So, will this happen with the customization I'm planning?

headstock fix 40%.png
 

ARandall

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What do you mean you will take a 'regular Les Paul neck'??
Every time you build a glue-in neck they have to be perfectly mated mortice to tenon so the joint doesn't fail......or that it looks like a nice build and not a dog's dinner guitar. The work to make it fit properly is way more troublesome than roughcutting a neck blank to suit your needs.
Even a bolt on you would have to do a similar level of fine work to get them to mate nicely - unless you buy something like a Fender type spec where there are bodies and necks already routed to the licenced shape........but then this version is hardly a 'build' - more of an 'assembly'.

Secondly, you're way overthinking the added bit. Just buy a rectangular block of wood, glue it onto the headstock face and shape as needed on the face and back. This keyed bit in the middle is odd, and will do nothing but add in work that is more complicated than the work you already said you didn't want to do making a neck from a blank.

Thirdly - I know people say the guitars after headstock breaks sound different. But honestly I have unbroken headstock guitars that you fire up 2 or 3 days in succession and you swear they are sounding different each time. Given its likely to be a period of weeks into months (especially if a refin is needed) since the guitar was last used, and new strings will also be fitted.....who can really say with certainty that there really was an accurate appraisal of the tone before/after.
Second point here, a change is just that.....why worry that it can only be worse.
Lastly......I'm not sure if you've twigged to this yet, but your guitar is going to be made of multiple pieces already. And it will come into being as a multipiece guitar.......just like essentially every other guitar that has ever been made in the whole history of luthiery. There is simply no time of its existence to compare it to where it was made with any different construction. Your very first tonal assessment of any guitar can only take place once the guitar is finished - irrespective of how many pieces is is made from

Lastly - what is the underlying reason for a shallow headstock angle. Not to put too fine a point on it, but some of your ideas are a little obtuse/odd and it might be that this is another area where you've jumped to an incorrect conclusion.
 

Jay4321

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I've been building guitars for many years, for whatever my .02 is worth I would definitely not do anything like this. And if I did, I would tell the owner to assume the guitar's sound could very well be affected. That kind of thing is very hard to predict, this isn't like filling screw holes or something.

That said if it were stuck in my head that I needed to do this to a Les Paul, I would agree with the above and add the wood needed and re-cut and shape from there, not cut it down to a wisp and glue something else on. From what the photos described I wouldn't feel comfortable doing it that way at all.
 

Jay4321

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I definitely misread this as working on an existing LP, and not simply and existing LP neck. I don't understand the resistance to a scratch build.

Although what you could do is take a beat-up used Epiphone neck and re-work it I guess, the neck angle isn't as steep and there's less drama. But then again you could also find an LP style neck anywhere, you could get a kit seller like precision to start you one or something too.

In fact I'm sure I have an Epi neck I could pull, you could swap out the fretboard for something nice and bind it however you wanted. I could use a spare LP body for another project
 

Alfredo1982

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What do you mean you will take a 'regular Les Paul neck'??

What I meant was mainly using a neck from one of those Les Paul DIY kits, or getting one from Warmoth. I mean a neck that's ready to mount on the body. But wherever I get the neck from, the headstock angle won't be the one I want. There are no custom options for that kind of angle.

.but then this version is hardly a 'build' - more of an 'assembly'.
Well, I was using the word "build" as a blanket term for a guitar made to my specifications instead of one bought at a store.

Actually, I'm not even the one doing the work; I'm having it built (according to my design). I just worry because I want to make sure that what I want is possible. An honest luthier will tell me if it's not, but others might just say yes to everything, take the money, and build something that won't work the way I think it will. I'm investing on high-end heavy-duty parts, so I want a high-end heavy-duty result.


what is the underlying reason for a shallow headstock angle.
I want a Les Paul that can lie flat on a table, and with a thinner body, with a straight-angle neck, and without it being a flat top. So yeah, that will require a pretty subtle angle on the headstock.

Here's a picture of what I want, which I don't even know is possible:



normal vs mine 40%.png
 

Jay4321

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You can do that, yes, with a recessed tune-o-matic and stringing through the body instead of having a tailpiece, no problems there. Thinning out the body and neck joint can also work fine.

That said, although it may look the part at a glance, it won't really be all that like a Les Paul. All of the design things being changed combined are very likely to put you at some distance from LP sound and feel. You may want that or be find with it but just FYI.

Are you sure you want to build one? There are existing models out there that are similar to this type of design already.
 

Roxy13

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Do you know exactly what hs angle you want? I have a number of MIJ singlecuts that do have a shallower one, like 14 degrees I think. The ones with that angle can fit in a strat case whereas the ones with 17 or 18 degrees won't lay flat enough to shut the lid.
 

ARandall

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and there's no way I'm building a neck from scratch.

Actually, I'm not even the one doing the work; I'm having it built
I wish you'd just told the truth from the get-go......would have simplified things.

I want a Les Paul with a straight-angle neck, and without it being a flat top.
There's your sticking point. It can be done, but its not pretty.
With that combo your carved top makes this abrupt ledge to the fretboard. And as the whole guitar is thicker the heel is massive. With this guitar I had to carve some of the back away to make a regular Les Paul depth heel.
DSC_0572.JPG
DSC_0574.JPG
 

Alfredo1982

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although it may look the part at a glance, it won't really be all that like a Les Paul. All of the design things being changed combined are very likely to put you at some distance from LP sound and feel.

I know it most likely won't sound 100% like a Less Paul. I'm willing to sacrifice some of that.
Are you sure you want to build one? There are existing models out there that are similar to this type of design already.
Well, the thing is that I want it to look like the Joe Perry signature Black Burst as much as possible (without the signature bellow the bridge).

cool tiger stripes - less color JPEG.jpg
 

Jay4321

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ARandall makes an excellent point also. You might look okay from a couple of angles but the shape of the carve has to change a lot somewhere to accommodate your plan. And you might be more than "not 100%" of a Les Paul, there are Ibanez models about as close to your plan as there are Les Pauls.

To my eye, the LP is right on or just looks distorted. Any time I see an ESP, or some almost-right LP, it looks a little wrong. I own a number of guitars in that category, they're nice and all but if you want it to look like a Les Paul make a les paul.

To me that Joe Perry looks like a studio with a nice flame top. Suggest you kick around Warmoth a bit more, you can get that finish in a rear-routed Tele with the same control layout, or maybe another model, and have a pickguard made. It won' t be a Les Paul but you're really not building one anyway
 

Jay4321

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Here's a less flattering photo of that model. Still nice but looks a hell of a lot better new to me


JPerry01.JPG
 
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Jay4321

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14 pound LPs for the win

Anyway Warmoth will do that finish, lots of body options that don't involve a neck angle. They don't spray lacquer but their finishes are quite good and I've never known them to yellow much (I'm not saying they can't, but none of mine did). Not cheap, or maybe you could say the finishes are but their parts like bodies aren't, at least if you want a pretty flame top on it.

So you wouldn't get a misshapen Not Really a Les Paul, or save any money, but the layout and finish you like would be covered. Consider a Gibson-scale neck and having a luthier custom route your pickups at the normal locations for a Gibson (or eh, just leave them).
 

Alfredo1982

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There's your sticking point. It can be done, but its not pretty.
With that combo your carved top makes this abrupt ledge to the fretboard. And as the whole guitar is thicker the heel is massive. With this guitar I had to carve some of the back away to make a regular Les Paul depth heel.
View attachment 585295 View attachment 585296

OMG!!! Thanks for that tip. :eek:

I've been looking for information about possible problems with how it would look, pictures from different angles. But I hadn't been able to find anything so far. This is a major bullet I didn't know I needed to dodge. Thank you, really.

I'll ask the luthier I'm talking to and see how to go around this issue. I was already Ok with flattening the carved top a little bit. I might have to reduce it more than I had foreseen. If he's going to build the body from scratch, I'll ask him not carve it down around the neck joint, unless that makes it look weird. We'll see.

I wish you'd just told the truth from the get-go......would have simplified things.
I don't think I was being untrue. Since I'm paying for it, and it's my design, and all the specs I'm asking for are the result of over a year of research, I feel this is MY build.
 

Alfredo1982

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Curious....why does the build require a shallow headstock angle?
Becasue the I want a Les Paul...
  • that can lie flat on a table
  • with a thin body, like an SG
  • with a straight-angle neck, WITHOUT it being a flat top.
  • among other minor changes

And all that will only be possible with a pretty obtuse angle. Here's a picture of what I want. Probably that's no longer a Les Paul, but that’s what I want

normal vs mine.png
 
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Jay4321

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You could wait until the next time guitarsgarden gets this color in stock and tool it up. They’re like $220 shipped
 

ARandall

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Becasue the I want a Les Paul...
  • that can lie flat on a table
  • with a thin body, like an SG
  • with a straight-angle neck, WITHOUT it being a flat top.
  • among other minor changes

And all that will only be possible with a pretty obtuse angle. Here's a picture of what I want. Probably that's no longer a Les Paul, but that’s what I want

View attachment 585370
Essentially what fits your description best is a Tele with humbuckers.
I mean you can already see in your desired guitar just how much the bridge has to be recessed into the top for it to work - with a carved top and no neck angle.
So it would be easy to get a tele body with binding and a flame maple top from Warmoth. If you want to take it further toward Gibson then they have an option for a 24.5" conversion neck - so at least the scale is accurate.
They also do a Regal model similar to a Les Paul......but that might be too much like the angled neck design you don't want.
 

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