Headstock spline

If you have a string instrument of any kind that needs fixing, a mistake you made in building a new instrument that you need to "disappear," or a question about the ethics of altering an older instrument, ask here. Please note that it will be much easier for us to help you decide on the best repair method if you post some pictures of the problem.

Headstock spline

Postby Chris Mudd » Wed Sep 07, 2016 12:25 pm

I have an Alvarez Dreadnaught with a broken headstock that is precious to me. The cost of the repair by a pro will outweigh the worth of the guitar by a long-shot, except for the sentimental worth and the fact that it has VERY low playing time on it.

I am going to do the repair myself and am planning on installing 2 splines on the back of the neck and refinishing the neck.

Does anyone have any pictures of the process or the jigs that you used, or would use to create the slots for a spline?

THANKS!

Chris
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Re: Headstock spline

Postby David King » Wed Sep 07, 2016 12:56 pm

Chris,
I'm not sure that splines are the easiest or even the best way to tackle this repair. Post a photo of the break so we can see what makes the most sense. Often a veneer layer over the back of the headstock with a backstrap continuing dawn the back of the neck a short distance and then all wrapped in a few layers of 6oz fiberglass cloth with epoxy resin will do a fine job and look less molested in the end.
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Re: Headstock spline

Postby Greg Steil » Thu Sep 08, 2016 8:50 am

there is a very nice article about this repair, with jigs etc. in an issue of GAL magazine.
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Re: Headstock spline

Postby David King » Thu Sep 08, 2016 12:53 pm

I saw 4 articles listed when I searched the past issues abstracts. Two were from the 1980s talking about repairs using fiberglass. This one deals with splines:
"1996
AL#45 p.40 BRB4 p.294
Richard Beck

■ Beck is a repairman for some heavy hitters in the music biz. Here he offers a sound method of repairing shattered headstocks using a router. With 11 photos."

BRB4 is Big Red Book Volume 4.
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Re: Headstock spline

Postby Todd Stock » Sat Sep 10, 2016 7:54 am

If the break is on the neck in the transition area between shaft and headstock, a back strap may not be all that effective without a major change in neck contour. I usually use grafts and straps for a break on the head stock itself.

For a break in the transition area of the neck, which is common on Gibsons, I use a two axis saddle mill fashioned after Frank Ford's saddle slotting setup, and a cradle that the instrument can be clamped to. A slotted template could be substituted for the mill, provided the 1/4" downcut spiral bit is long enough.

The neck shown was on its third repair - two amateur repairs with Titebond and CA, and mine. We cleaned out as much junk as possible, then glued with thin and medium CA to stabilize for milling the splines. Once the slots were cut, we used a chisel to deepen them further, then milled the spline stock and glued up. Once carved down, the neck was sealed, touched up, and clear top coats done. We have repaired 90 degree crossgrain breaks with this technique and all have been successful.
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Re: Headstock spline

Postby Chris Mudd » Sun Sep 11, 2016 2:24 pm

Thanks for the replies!
I am working on pictures, but I did want to add that the guitar was repaired many years ago by a tech.in st. Louis. His name was Chris. He worked at a north St Louis music store and had a British accent. I wish I knew more!

He added a wedge that went behind the nut to about the 3rd fret. This creates a nice round volute to add some mass behind d the nut. This is mainly why I am not sure I can add a back strap. I would like to leave that mass at that point on the neck.

I really like the pictures. This setup is really nice. Much more extensive than others I have seen.
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Re: Headstock spline

Postby Todd Stock » Mon Sep 12, 2016 10:04 am

It seems like we are the luthiers of last resort in our area, so see lots of really bad, previously repaired Gibson and Epi necks that require extraordinary measures. This is the third iteration of the jig, done after realizing I had accumulated four necks worth of splining work in a week's time a few years ago...made it worth the investment of time.
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