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Catastrophe and catharsis.

Few things are as catastrophic to a guitarist as breaking their headstock (besides being asked to read music, that is).  Yet, as awful as a headstock break can be, we can’t help but have fun fixing them.

One particularly fun aspect of fixing a headstock is creating a wood overlay.  Angled headstocks (particularly Gibsons), can be rather fragile, and need some additional reinforcement once the break has been glued back together.  In some cases that can work just gluing the two pieces back together can work, but to really get it solid we like to go the extra mile and create a headstock overlay (we will sometimes use splines to reinforce the fix – but we’ll save that for another day).  The fun part of doing an overlay is carving the back of the neck to accommodate the new wood – it’s a cathartic process, and a great way to work out some aggression.  Our normally mild-mannered Spencer Maki demonstrates the proper technique and facial expressions for such a task:


Once we’ve cleared enough wood, we carve a piece of (in this case) mahogany and bend it on our bending iron:


Then we mate and clamp it to the back of the neck, like so:


Sometimes we do a full overlay:


Sometimes a half overlay:


Once the glue has cured, we move on to shaping the overlay to match the neck.  This is a delicate process, but it’s a lot of fun (NOTE: Geoff’s excellent T-shirt says “Death… it’s goin’ around!”):


An example of a final carve.  This particular guitar had broken once before, and had been repaired with a fiberglass sheath, which you can see peeking out from the finish (it’s the yellow weave looking stuff).  Needless to say, the fiberglass didn’t quite hold and it broke again – SF Guitarworks to the rescue!


Now that’s all that’s left is to drill the tuner holes, finish the neck, string it up, and rawk out.

SF Guitarworks

San Francisco Guitarworks and Sonoma County Guitarworks—The bay areas premier guitar service centers. We provide high-quality guitar repair, and teach guitar maintenance and building workshops to all levels of musicians.
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