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cutting and reattaching a headstock

Discussion in 'Luthier's Corner' started by rufus.K, Feb 3, 2016.


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  1. rufus.K

    rufus.K

    Oct 18, 2015
    SoCal
    So I am a lefty. Lets get that out of the way.

    I was wondering if, strength wise, its feasible to to take a right handed neck and cut off then re attach the headstock - but flipped over (back side facing front).

    upload_2016-2-3_18-8-42.
    I drew in red where I was thinking. Obviously thats one already lefty, so heres a righty
    upload_2016-2-3_18-11-2.
    Would that joint be strong enough, assuming i made symmetrical cuts and the fitup is tight?
    Lets not get into the bad economics of it and say "just buy a lefty neck".
     
  2. wraub

    wraub

    Apr 9, 2004
    ennui, az
    previated devert
    Cut the neck, reverse the peghead, replace the tuners, make a new nut, fill the holes, refinish...

    The joint may be strong enough, added dowels would further strengthen.

    Ummm... I get the "why" in your post, but I have to ask... "Why?"
     
  3. rufus.K

    rufus.K

    Oct 18, 2015
    SoCal
    Wouldn't replace the tuners. No holes to fill or refinish. Just a new nut.
    The why is an abundance of righty necks available.
     
  4. JustForSport

    JustForSport

    Nov 17, 2011
    Who made necks with 'reverse headstock'?

    If the cut is long enough (more glue area) and you use slow-set epoxy, it'll never let go.
     
    rufus.K likes this.
  5. wraub

    wraub

    Apr 9, 2004
    ennui, az
    previated devert
    Perhaps I misunderstand, but...

    "take a right handed neck and cut off then re attach the headstock - but flipped over (back side facing front)"
    Implies that you would have the back of the peghead facing front, no? This further implies there would be screw holes to fill, and potentially to refinish. Also implies the tuners would have to be replaced to the front (now the back) of the peghead, no?
     
  6. rufus.K

    rufus.K

    Oct 18, 2015
    SoCal
    Yes, back facing front, so it would be a left handed neck.
    I wouldnt refill the screw holes. Yes, relocate tuners to to the side. Lets just say that finish detail isnt the priority
     
  7. rufus.K

    rufus.K

    Oct 18, 2015
    SoCal
    Slow set epoxy, thank you!
     
  8. JustForSport

    JustForSport

    Nov 17, 2011
    West System makes a 'slow set' epoxy- basically, the hardener kicks the resin slower, often used in hot temps to get longer pot life, but it allows better penetration with longer time to set.

    Also, there's a product called 'Git-Rot' that is an thinner epoxy made for injecting into and penetrating compromised wood in wooden boats where it's cost prohibitive or not yet req'd to replace the compromised wood.
     
    rufus.K likes this.
  9. rufus.K

    rufus.K

    Oct 18, 2015
    SoCal
    thank you
     
  10. Bruce Johnson

    Bruce Johnson Commercial User

    Feb 4, 2011
    Fillmore, CA
    Professional Luthier
    Your basic idea is okay, but the "V" needs to extend further out onto the headstock, to give it better strength. I'd extend it out to about the center of the A string post. The V-joint would need to be sawn accurately and refitted carefully for a tight joint. Glue it with West Systems 105/206 epoxy. Use the West Systems to fill the screw holes. Flatten the surfaces; rework the blend area; re-ream for the tuner bushings; etc. The tuners would need to be replaced or converted (if possible) from RH to LH.

    It can be done, and made to look good under paint, but it's a fair amount of work. I've done quite a few headstock reworks for customers, such as making 8-string versions and custom shapes. It works structurally, as long as you leave a few inches of the original wood spine down the center.
     
    rufus.K likes this.
  11. rufus.K

    rufus.K

    Oct 18, 2015
    SoCal
    Thank you.
     
  12. Smilodon

    Smilodon Supporting Member

    Feb 18, 2012
    Norway
    Be aware that if you make a V-cut as shown you will loose a bit of wood which means that the curves toward the necks won't line up any more. To prevent this you will need to either reshape the curves or pad out the V with some thin pieces of wood (About the width of your saw blade.). If you use some contrasting wood that may look pretty nice. ;)
     
    rufus.K likes this.
  13. gsnad2000

    gsnad2000 Commercial User

    Aug 6, 2011
    Boston
    Owner of Wrong Way Customs
    As a fellow lefty I can understand where your coming from. That said, I don't think it would work out. Looking at the side profile of one of my fenders, it seems to me you don't have the flat surface area you would need on the back of the headstock. The front and back seem too different, I think by the time you were done removing wood to get a nice glue able surface you'd be left with maybe enough headstock for a three string bass.

    image.
     
    rufus.K likes this.
  14. Bruce Johnson

    Bruce Johnson Commercial User

    Feb 4, 2011
    Fillmore, CA
    Professional Luthier
    Yeah, definitely. Almost any way that you cut it (literally), there's going to be some filling and filing required. It's not just going to snap back together in reverse. A Fender headstock isn't symmetrical, so when you reverse the parts, the curves aren't going to line up. And then there's the vertical slope up to the nut, part of which will end up on the back....And the stepped counterbores of the tuner holes will be backwards. To support the tuners correctly, you really should plug the tuner holes, redrill them, and recut the counterbores from the front.

    If someone brought me the job of converting a Fender Neck into a lefty, I wouldn't even try to save the sawn-off part. Not worth the trouble. I'd saw the headstock into tapered "spear" approximately following the line of the inside edge of the tuner holes. Trim the cut edges nice and straight. Glue on new maple blocks on the sides. Trim the outline, blend and smooth it all together and redrill the tuner holes. That would be the least work and the neatest final result. Under a clear/amber finish, the glue seams would be barely visible. That's how I would do it.

    And, of course, the question is always about the cost of the conversion work versus the value of the neck. The work above would cost about $100. What's the cost of a new or used left handed neck? It depends on the quality level and scarcity.
     
    smithcreek and rufus.K like this.
  15. rufus.K

    rufus.K

    Oct 18, 2015
    SoCal
    So much great input. Thanks everyone.
    In regard to the swoop down from the nut, I was planning on doing it only on the flat portion, that was the main reason for a Vee shaped cut (as well as increased surface area.

    In the larger picture, I have a $13 side-of-the-road P bass, righty, that the neck is too flimsy and water damaged to play. I have zero to lose by doing the flip just for the sake of doing it. Just for the practice, just for the science.

    I don't have a band saw, so I'm thinking jig saw? Maybe the coping saw is thinner..
    What's the advice there?
    I'll make a pattern and try drawing out the most symmetrical cut line I can devise.
     
  16. JustForSport

    JustForSport

    Nov 17, 2011
    Fine-tooth mitre saw?
    Any saw that doesn't have a wide blade is going to be very difficult to keep on a straight line, and after all the highs and valleys in the cuts are straightened, you'll lose a good bit of length.
     
  17. rufus.K

    rufus.K

    Oct 18, 2015
    SoCal
    Okay then. I will butcher this p bass like nobody's business
     
  18. Christopher DBG

    Christopher DBG Commercial User

    May 18, 2015
    Westerly, RI
    Luthier/Owner, Christopher Bass Guitar
    And if I had a customer ask me to do that work, I'd send them to you! :) Does that estimate include refinishing?
     
    PDX Rich and gsnad2000 like this.
  19. Bruce Johnson

    Bruce Johnson Commercial User

    Feb 4, 2011
    Fillmore, CA
    Professional Luthier
    Nope, that's for the woodworking. Shaped, sanded, and ready for paint. The cost for refinishing can vary a lot, depending on many factors.
     
  20. abarson

    abarson

    Nov 6, 2003
    Santa Cruz
    Get a Japanese hand saw for an inexpensive but precise cut.
    An Irwin pull saw will do just fine, and can be found for less than $20 at any hardware store.
    Practice on scrap first, even pallet wood.

    But seriously, if this is something you want to play, buy a left handed neck.
     

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