To reattach or replace?

Robert Parker

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BLUF: I need some guidance on whether this headstock can be effectively reattached or if I need a new neck.

Background: this is my beloved '93 LP. It's not valuable to anyone but me, but I will NOT give it up. However, (deep breath and embarrassment) this is the second time the headstock has been broken off. It was initially just a crack several years ago, and a repair shop in Nashville glued it back. Since then, a pattern has developed.

The crack opened up and had to be reglued in about 1999. The crack opened again, but before I got it repaired it was knocked over by a waiter at a gig. This time the headstock came clean off where the crack had weakened and was reattached by a luthier in Virginia, where I was living. He used a set of splines but told me that if it ever broke again there probably wouldn't be enough integrity left to reattach and a new neck would be required. This was in 2011. Note that the splines were pretty thin (about 1/8"), so they're hard to see in the picture. Perhaps they weren't thick enough to begin with....

The crack had slowly reemerged over the last couple of years, and I feared this was coming. I even retired it from regular play for a while, but got complacent over the last few weeks. At band rehearsal this week I laid it against my amp, and it fell and broke right where the old break was. You can see that the break angle is pretty sharp. So even though it's a relatively clean break, there isn't much gluing surface. The longest section is only 1" long. So, here is my choice:

1. Reglue the headstock with hide glue or urea formaldehyde glue and then put in thicker spines. Maybe that will hold for a few years - maybe forever if it's done just right. But the track record says otherwise.

2. Replace the neck. If I go this route, the best case scenario is to pull the original fretboard and headstock overlay to reuse (keeping as much as possible of the original guitar) and carve a new neck blank. If I can get the fretboard off cleanly, I can just saw off the old neck and route out the mortise for the new one.

I've made a few set neck guitars that turned out pretty great, so I'm not worried about my ability to make a new neck. It'll have a scarf jointed headstock. If I get in over my head in either case, I'll take it to a pro.

Thoughts?
LP Break 2.jpg
LP Break 3.jpg
LP Break 1.jpg
 

pinefd

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Hate to say it, but while there are those out there (like Greg) who could probably repair this properly, it would likely cost you more to do so than the guitar is worth...unless it's a particularly rare, high-end guitar. Likewise with a neck replacement, unless it's something you can do yourself.


Frank
 
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WhiteEpiLP

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Make a new neck for it, since you say you have the capability to do so.
I'd salvage the fretboard but I wouldn't worry about the headstock overlay, there are replacements available that will be much easier to use then trying to cut off the old one. And since you aren't worried about resale I'd spice it up a bit and get an overlay with the crown or flower pot inlay.
Also I'd make the new neck with a slimmer 2 way truss rod instead of the Gibson style, I know everyone will think it's not right or a fake but who cares if it's just for you, ita a better design.
 

ehb

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Grumpy Greg could probably fix it...and it be stronger than new from what I have seen of his work...

Up to you on whether it would be worth it, chippie wise... It won't be real cheap.

If it were one of mine, I would consider it as I love the way all of mine play...

Again, from what I have seen of his work, you will not be able to tell it has been popped.....


disclaimer: I do not personally know the guy, am not even distantly related, haven't dated his sister to his knowledge, and do not owe him money....

He has just done some freaking amazing repairs/restorations to guitars... His paint work is mondo badass....
Probably has done more neck pops than Carter has liver pills too....
 

ehb

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Go to BCR Music and Sound on FlakeBook and look at pics...

The JBJ full Goldie and that Firebird from the third level of hell job (I would have woodchippered it) were phenomenal works to me...
 

Robert Parker

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Oh, yeah, BCR is a miracle worker. I was reading through the JBJ job and a couple others last night. His approach is why I think the splines done on mine in 2010 were too thin.

And I know there's a good chance any repair will cost more than the guitar is worth on the market. I might be delusional, but I feel fairly confident I can make a new neck that works fine. But it'll be a lot of work and won't be "the original neck." I'm not sure how much that matters to me, so I'm trying to think it all through carefully.
 
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Robert Parker

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I've fixed worse..... Depending on the amount of finish work wanted price may be more reasonable than you think.
https://howardguitars.blogspot.com/2015/01/severely-shattered-neck-repair.html

https://howardguitars.blogspot.com/2019/02/ovation-neck-break.html
I remember reading that 2015 blog on the LP with the make splines. If I were to cook with a reattachment, the refinish would actually be pretty minimal, as the rest of the guitar is pretty naturally relic'd. Something to think about.
 

moreles

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Just my own opinion, but if this were mine, I would fix the break. Since it's painted, you could use ebony or carbon fiber or other pretty mighty material for splines as long as needed, with the whole thing covered by paint. Unless you need a neck set, I would think it would be far, far better to yield a fixed and stiffer-than-new headstock area than fitting a new neck. That's a terrible break, but I don't think it's a scary or iffy repair.
 

B. Howard

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That's a terrible break, but I don't think it's a scary or iffy repair.
No, that's a really bad situation..... Break is very short, no long grain engagement. The break is also below the top of the truss channel providing another challenge with less wood contact and you must provide hard enough repair section for the truss rod to work against. Then there is the fact it has already been fixed twice...... so if any glue failed it leaves the joint contaminated and makes it very difficult to bond to with any other glue unless it is mechanically prepped.....

Simple looking sure...... But it's deceptive, this will be a complex repair. Only reason to save the head is to preserve identity of the instrument ( serial # etc.) Although that can also be done when replacing an entire neck like I do here....
https://howardguitars.blogspot.com/2017/10/new-neck-for-old-friend_13.html
 

Robert Parker

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No, that's a really bad situation..... Break is very short, no long grain engagement. The break is also below the top of the truss channel providing another challenge with less wood contact and you must provide hard enough repair section for the truss rod to work against. Then there is the fact it has already been fixed twice...... so if any glue failed it leaves the joint contaminated and makes it very difficult to bond to with any other glue unless it is mechanically prepped.....

Simple looking sure...... But it's deceptive, this will be a complex repair. Only reason to save the head is to preserve identity of the instrument ( serial # etc.) Although that can also be done when replacing an entire neck like I do here....
https://howardguitars.blogspot.com/2017/10/new-neck-for-old-friend_13.html
Ok, this has been the most helpful post so far. Each post has generally provided good points of thought and exploration for me, but this one tries together all the issues that have had me ambivalent about the reattachment option.

Thanks Brian.
 

emoney

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It needs a new neck for sure. And, you've already admitted it doesn't have any "resale value" that exceeds your personal attachment so losing the serial number doesn't matter....even though there are plenty folks out there that would replicate that as well.

End of the day; take a ton of pics of before/during/after the neck replacement and print them. That way if you ever do wish to sell it, you'll get a few dollars back when you can confirm what happened versus telling someone.
 

lowatter

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You didn't say exactly what guitar you have. You say it's a '93 LP. I'm assuming it's a true Gibson but what model? Is it a Studio, Standard or Classic? I can't tell squat from the pics. Please give us more pics/info for better advice. If it's just a '93 Studio Lite I'd attempt the repair the repair myself(which I have with good results), other models I'd send off to Greg or repair guru of simular abilities. I can't see it being much more than a grand as far as bench time and materials/shipping. I hope you can retain the integrity and recover most of the value of the guitar. Regardless, if it's a beloved guitar of mine that's what I would do. JMHOYMMV
 
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Robert Parker

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You didn't say exactly what guitar you have. You say it's a '93 LP. I'm assuming it's a true Gibson but what model? Is it a Studio, Standard or Classic? I can't tell squat from the pics. Please give us more pics/info for better advice. If it's just a '93 Studio Lite I'd attempt the repair the repair myself(which I have with good results), other models I'd send off to Greg or repair guru of simular abilities. I can't see it being much more than a grand as far a bench time and materials/shipping. I hope you can retain the integrity and recover most of the value of the guitar. Regardless, if it's a beloved guitar of mine that's what I would do. JMHOYMMV
Yeah, it's a Studio Lite. I know it's not worth much money - it would certainly cost one than it is worth in dollars to repair.
 

lowatter

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Then...Bob's your Uncle. I'd take it as a challenge and do the repair yourself. Mine wasn't as severe as yours but it had a headstock overlay that folded over from the break and once repaired became a great player again. BTW, I ended up trading that Studio for a Epiphone Sorrento that I've been wanting for quite a few years in perfect condition. Worth my time and efforts. I'd love to get another Studio Lite. They're great guitars.
5902992916_744de7fd08_b.jpg
4676432270_f5e12ac24e_b.jpg
 
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moreles

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I think B Howard's comment about the truss rod is the clincher, and something I did not consider. I would be completely confident doing a very stable physical repair, even given the nature of the break and presence of old glue, but the downside would be that the neck no longer behaves consistently across the length of the truss rod. The more I think about it, and consider how critical adjustment is if you really want a guitar optimized for you, the more this looms as vital. So while I would be confident about "fixing" the break, that really wouldn't yield a very good guitar. Glad we have experts who speak up!
 


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