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Replacing a snapped off headstock

Discussion in 'Hardware, Setup & Repair [BG]' started by BryanM, Feb 25, 2013.

  1. BryanM


    Dec 15, 2007
    Seattle, WA
    My brother came across a guitar recently for free that's in great shape except the headstock is snapped about 1" above the nut, beyond the fretboard, so the truss rod isn't exposed or anything. It's an acoustic guitar with an angled headstock and the break is just past the volute on the neck.

    I've done some woodworking such as routing, reshaping necks for comfort and other basic finish work and he asked me to give it a go. The worst case scenario is he doesn't get a free guitar.

    My plan of attack is as follows:
    Measure the angle based on the remaining portion of the headstock.
    Use a caliper to measure the headstock thickness.
    Use a bandsaw to cut the headstock off just at the ridge of the volute.
    Get a piece of mahogany and cut a taper from the volute thickness to the final thickness (most likely 1/2" or 5/16") at the top of the headstock.
    Rough shape the mahogany, leaving the top flat for proper pressure at gluing.
    Drill the mahogany for 3x3 pegs.
    Drill down into the existing neck piece to the left and right of where the truss rod is most likely situated with a 1/4" bit, about 1/2" down.
    Drill out the mahogany blank and insert 1" long, 1/4" round dowels to hold in place.
    Glue the headstock blank on.
    Final cut the headstock and carve the taper from the volute.
    Position and install tuning machines.
    Restring and setup guitar.

    If anyone has any suggestions as far as steps I've missed, feasibility of the steps chosen, or tricks to make things easier it would be appreciated, as I've never undertaken this severe a repair before.
  2. If you could put a few pictures up it might give a better idea of the damage that needs to be repaired, then we might be able to offer better advice
  3. FatherG


    Dec 16, 2009
    I can picture what you want to do. But will mahogany be hard enough?
  4. Hopkins

    Hopkins Supporting Member Commercial User

    Nov 17, 2010
    Houston Tx
    Owner/Builder @Hopkins Guitars
    Some pictures of what you are dealing with would help.

    Depending on where the headstock snapped off, your best bet would be to cut whats left at as shallow an angle as possible, with a matching angle cut on the new replacement piece. Picture cutting a scarf joint, but instead of flipping the head stock, just gluing it back together the way it was cut.

    This would give you a larger surface area for gluing, and a stronger repaired joint.
  5. curbowkid

    curbowkid Guest

    Jun 27, 2011
    Brooklyn, New York
    In some cases it is possible to rejoin the broken off bit by just throwing glue on it and clamping. But it depends on how it broke and if the broken edges have been further damaged resulting in gaps if you try to rejoin the pieces
  6. BryanM


    Dec 15, 2007
    Seattle, WA
    Thanks for all the advice. I'll try to get some pictures but the guitar is at my brother's house, so it may be a few days. I hadn't thought of cutting the neck at a shallow angle to increase glue surface and facilitate easier clamping. I'm not certain of mahogany will be strong enough but the original neck is made of mahogany, before seeing that it was mahogany I was considering using maple but figured it would be best to join like to like. The guitar was found being thrown away as it is and doesn't have the original headstock available, otherwise that would be the option I choose.
  7. 202dy


    Sep 26, 2006
    If the rest of the headstock exists in good condition, that is the part that should be used in the repair.

    FG: Mahogany is plenty strong. Martin, Gibson, Taylor, ad infinitum have used mahogany necks (and bodies) since the beginning of each of their respective companies. That includes Gibson basses.
  8. Rocky McD

    Rocky McD

    Jun 28, 2005
    San Antonio, Texas
    There are several good videos on you tube on repairing broken headstocks. This is very common on Gibson guitars

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