Let's Repair a Broken Guitar! #1: How to Re-Repair a Les Paul With a Broken Headstock and NOT Kill the Perpetrator!

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Blog entry by Dallas posted 01-11-2014 01:43 AM 5705 reads 0 times favorited 10 comments Add to Favorites Watch
no previous part Part 1 of Let's Repair a Broken Guitar! series Part 2: How to Re-Repair a Les Paul With a Broken Headstock Part II »


About a month and a half ago I posted a forum topic about a new toy…. A brand new Epiphone Les Paul with a broken neck.
This is a pretty common failure for Les Paul’s and SG’s, both Gibson and Epiphone.
I bought this guitar to see if I could do a credible fix. Forum Topic Here!

All went well until I had to go to the Doctor and found I had some problems and I couldn’t use any sho tools for awhile.

I was nearly finished with this guitar and even had it strung up and had been playing it for awhile.
It sounded pretty good to my ear, and was holding ‘tune’ for days without problem so the repair was plenty strong.

Then one night one of my favorite kitty shop helpers wanted to play it as it was leaning against the amplifier and knocked it over breaking the headstock in a different spot but close enough to the original place that it was going to be a bugger.

I was already depressed, and didn’t touch the guitar for weeks, although we almost had Fricasseed Feline with Broiled Onions for dinner.

Every time I went into the shop to clean up a little bit, or sit on my stool and drink coffee I would pass that broken guitar and it would call out to me.

This is the story of that re-repair.

I did take a picture of the broken pieces but it was so fuzzy even I couldn’t tell what it was.

The photo above is a picture where I had already glued the second break back together but wasn’t satisfied because of the closeness of the two breaks and a bit of missing material between the two.
In this photo you can see where I matched the two pieces up as well as I could and glued them with Gorilla Wood Glue, (NOT GORILLA GLUE!).
I decided I would put in a Dutchman. I didn’t have any small router bits for my Dremel tool so I did the next best thing….. I used the drill press with a 1/2” straight bottoming bit to cut the slot for the Dutchman.
The drill press was set for as fast as I could get it to go, about 3000 rpm, (I think).

I spent quite a bit of time sanding and sizing the Dutchman so it would fit tightly.

These are the tools I used to smooth and shape the splint, (Dutchman).

Starting to shape, the splint is glued in with wood glue.

Filling small gaps with Super Glue, (Medium base), and sawdust. The white dust you see is baking soda which helps the CA glue cure in just a short time.

All smooth and nicely fitting. Ready for a bit of black dye to help blend the wood.

A couple of coats of dye and I can see some spots that need some attention. Fix those and then to a seal coat of Deft clear lacquer.

Clear Sealer.

First coat of black lacquer, looks OK, a little orange peely but it will smooth out before it dries. I don’t like the Deft rattle cans, the droplets are too large.

Second coat of black lacquer. It looks better and it is still wet. I may have to go over it with another coat of clear tomorrow, the clear has a better spray pattern. A little buffing and polish and it should be good to go!

Then we’ll put the tuners back on, string it up, tune it ans see how she sounds! Maybe I can get a video for the second part of actually playing it. Just Don’t expect BB King or Axle rose or even Pete Rose. More like Pee Wee Herman!

‘till tomorrow Buckaroo’s and Buckarettes!

-- Improvise.... Adapt...... Overcome!

10 comments so far

View gfadvm's profile


14940 posts in 3706 days

#1 posted 01-11-2014 01:49 AM

That’s a pretty innovative save my friend!
I’ve put splints on chairs and horses but never a guitar!
Hope your health issues are improving.

-- " I'll try to be nicer, if you'll try to be smarter" gfadvm

View juniorjock's profile


1930 posts in 4782 days

#2 posted 01-11-2014 01:50 AM

I think you did a really good job. This stuff ain’t easy, I know. You’re right about Gibson and Epiphone being the same Co. There are differences, but not a great deal.

Edit: Just wanted to make sure that you knew that you really, really did a great job. Lots of guys would have tossed it.

View Texcaster's profile


1293 posts in 2690 days

#3 posted 01-11-2014 01:51 AM

Nice work Dallas. I’ll have more room soon if you want to keep it with me.

-- Mama calls me Texcaster but my real name is Mr. Earl.

View juniorjock's profile


1930 posts in 4782 days

#4 posted 01-11-2014 01:55 AM

Sorry, I forgot . . . . cat isn’t that great.

View johnhutchinson's profile


1243 posts in 2646 days

#5 posted 01-11-2014 02:42 AM

Where were you when Pete Townshend needed you? :)

-- John - Central Ohio - "too much is never enough"

View luv2learn's profile


3109 posts in 3319 days

#6 posted 01-11-2014 02:45 AM

I admire persistence Dallas and you have it in spades. Nice save, I’m looking forward to the concert!!

-- Lee - Northern idaho~"If the women don't find you handsome, at least they ought to find you handy"~ Red Green

View NormG's profile


6508 posts in 4020 days

#7 posted 01-11-2014 06:10 AM

I know what you mean

I hve one to do myself, someone was playinbg rockstar

-- Norman - I never never make a mistake, I just change the design.

View CFrye's profile


11187 posts in 2856 days

#8 posted 01-11-2014 12:19 PM

Similarly sidelined out of the shop here Dallas. Glad you were able to get this re-repaired! Congrats on healing and persevering! Thanks for sharing.

-- God bless, Candy

View sras's profile


5887 posts in 4146 days

#9 posted 01-11-2014 01:46 PM

If you can’t fix it – it ain’t broke!

Nice save.

-- Steve - Impatience is Expensive

View Dallas's profile


3599 posts in 3503 days

#10 posted 01-11-2014 02:21 PM

Thanks all! I think this time the repair will be even stronger than the original.
The splint goes all the way past the scarf joint, (Where they join a headstock and neck together at the factory).
It is about 1/8” thick at the lower end and over 1/4” thick at the headstock end. You can see a step in the splint at the top where I didn’t want to dig too deeply into the headstock with the router bit.

I made the splint from black cherry, which according to the USDA is a bit harder at 920 Janka as opposed to mahogany at 850 Janka.
It is also a bit more resilient and less subject to striation fractures.
I am hoping it will have decent tones.

Andy – They still won’t let me do a lot of stuff, but I get bored easily, especially since I quit drinking. (Mostly). I sneak in some band saw and planer use now and then when I can get away with it.

Juniorjock – the only real difference I can find between Gibson and Epi is that Gibson is made in the US (With the same materials as Epi), and uses Imperial measurement. Epi uses metric.

Txcaster – If I send that one I’d have to send the other five to keep it company, along with the autoharp collection that has yet to be repaired and tuned.

JohnHutchinson – I hate when someone abuses a nice instrument like that. Especially a vintage Telecaster like that one!

Luvtolearn – We’ll see how it sounds later today. I am no longer a guitar player, the best I can do is plunk around and play rhythm at times. I am just trying to repair and build this stuff to make a few dollars to supplement our fixed income and learn some stuff at the same time.

NormG – That’s an easy fix, just drill a hole and install an old rusty 3/8” hex bolt! Bwahaha!

CFrye – I’m still not suppose to do much in the shop, but I get really itchy and bored when just watching TV or playing on the computer. If I want to use a large piece of equipment with sharp edges I have to wait until the wife goes to town to get the mail.
She probably thinks I’m watching porn or having an online affair when I try to get her to go shopping so often. Little does she know I just want to make a couple of cuts with the band saw!

Sras – Damned right!

-- Improvise.... Adapt...... Overcome!

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