Headstock finish repair

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 finish repair

Postby Chris Vallillo » Sun Jul 03, 2016 12:05 pm

I recently was asked to repair a damaged Fender acoustic (T-BUCKET™ 300CE) that had taken a fall and had the headstock broken off. It was a clean break and with the help of some "Friendly Plastic" and hot hide glue, went together quite nicely. There is quite a bit of damage to the finish on the faceplate of the headstock and a bit on the back of the neck at the break point and I'm pondering the best way to deal with this.

I have Stu Mac slow setting black epoxy but I have also recently heard that they make a black super glue as well. Would any of you with more experience in this give me your thoughts?

My current thinking is to use the epoxy for the headstock fill since it's a large, flat area, and somewhat deep but I'm not sure if it's the best thing for the smaller crack like on the back.

As always, your thoughts and opinions are greatly appreciated!
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Re: Headstock finish repair

Postby Gordon Bellerose » Sun Jul 03, 2016 12:39 pm

I've used the black superglue for small finish repairs. It would work for the back of the neck.
I think you're probably on the right track for the front. The only thing I worry about is color matching. Always tricky with black.
I need your help. I can't possibly make all the mistakes myself!
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Re: Headstock finish repair

Postby Barry Daniels » Sun Jul 03, 2016 1:01 pm

Is that ebony veneer on the front?
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Re: Headstock finish repair

Postby Chris Vallillo » Sun Jul 03, 2016 1:29 pm

No. There is a thin white wood veneer over the mahogany and the top is a heavy layer of black finish. I'd assume it's some sort of catalyzed finish as this is a relatively new guitar still in production and is made in China. The "inlay" isn't really inlaid, more like decal. I'll need to mask that somehow in order to keep it from being damaged further.
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Re: Headstock finish repair

Postby Greg Steil » Mon Jul 04, 2016 7:56 am

Chris, I used Epoxy with Ebony dust and CA with Ebony dust for that Gibson headstock wreck, but I also had the luxury of being able to overspray with Black Lacquer. Just do thin layers and give it plenty of time to harden.
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Re: Headstock finish repair

Postby Barry Daniels » Mon Jul 04, 2016 10:13 am

First off, if the inlay is simply a decal then it is not worth trying to save it because it is too close to the damage to do any effective blending. There are two issues: filling and finishing. Fill would best be done with something like Water Putty or Bondo. Sand level then finish with black opaque lacquer.

The epoxy or superglue approach would fill the depression, but you would never get a glossy finish unless it was topped with lacquer.
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Re: Headstock finish repair

Postby Barry Daniels » Tue Jul 05, 2016 10:35 am

I forgot that the existing finish might not be lacquer. So the first thing you should do would be to run some tests to see what the finish is. Don't just assume that it is cat poly.
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Re: Headstock finish repair

Postby Greg Steil » Wed Jul 06, 2016 10:46 am

Consider staining the exposed wood first?
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Re: Headstock finish repair

Postby Chris Vallillo » Thu Jul 07, 2016 11:43 pm

OK, here's what I ended up doing. Bear in mind that this was an inexpensive guitar (299 list) and I needed to keep the cost of the repair low.

As suggested by a couple folks, I used black epoxy to fill the missing material on the faceplate. This damage was fairly deep, perhaps 1/32 or more, and needed to be filled. I used black superglue for the back of the neck crack. The super glue worked OK, but didn't set correctly even with an accelerator and tended to run which meant more scraping and sanding than I had hoped. The finish on the neck was much thinner than the faceplate and it wore through easily down to white wood. The epoxy did fill well, but was not a good match color-wise (the super glue was). I tried to color it with a a black Stu mac lacquer pen (basically a magic marker type device that has nitro cellulose lacquer in it), but when I tried to french polish over it, it dissolved.

Ultimately, what did work was coloring in the areas with black permanent marker, then french polishing over the color. It proved to be a surprisingly good match and didn't run or dissolve when I french polished over it. Multiple coats of french polish w/ 800 grit sanding between coats over the face and neck smoothed everything out nicely and made for a nice looking finish.

It's not the best work I've ever done, but turned out surprisingly well and the client was delighted.
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Re: Headstock finish repair

Postby Clay Schaeffer » Sun Jul 10, 2016 11:46 am

Good looking repair, Chris.
Something I've used to color epoxies, superglues, bondo, and other "putties", are pigment powders. They dissolve in most media as well as most finishing materials, and by mixing the various pigments matching the existing colors can be achieved. Very handy to have when doing finish repairs.
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Re: Headstock finish repair

Postby Greg Martin » Wed Nov 02, 2016 11:54 am

Certainly a good enough repair for a 299.00 china guitar. now youve learned something you didnt know before.knowledge is always valuble.
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