Fixing a broken headstock for The Revivalists

We do a lot of work for The Revivalists. Three of their seven members play electric, acoustic, and/or bass guitars, and as they seem to play them pretty hard and tour a LOT,  the band keeps us pretty busy. This week Zach brought his old Guild hollowbody in, which had it’s headstock broken and then glued multiple times.


Zach felt that it wasn’t stable enough to handle the rigors of touring, and asked us to make it awesome. With this particular broken headstock we opted to cut away a section of wood across the multiple cracks and insert new wood (a practice sometimes referred to as an overlay). There’s no quick easy way to do this kind of work – it requires a great deal of skill, patience, and extremely sharp tools. Here’s a brief description of how we do it.

First, we carved away a section of wood extending from the neck to the headstock:

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Next, we carved a thick piece of Sipo (a variant of mahogany that is extremely dense and stiff, and hence, stronger), and mated it to the neck. We stuck some toothpicks into the tuner screw holes, which wedged the Sipo perfectly in place and prevented it from slipping during the glueing phase:

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Next, we carefully hand carved the Sipo so that it would blend into the rest of the neck. In order to create a stronger neck/headstock, we carved a volute into the Sipo, which leaves more wood at this critical point in the neck. (Gibson used to do this on all their guitars, which they for some reason removed several decades ago – and now Gibson necks break all the time. It’s a terrible design choice, but at least it keeps us in business!):

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Once satisfied with the shape, we worked on making it look good. The neck had been well played and worn in, and we wanted it to blend into the neck without it looking too new. Admittedly, we probably spent way too much time on this part of the job, but we don’t often get to satisfy our OCD while getting all artsy and aging an instrument all at the same time! We used a combination of stain, gunstock oil, and cyanoacrylate to achieve a worn-in sort of look that blended in well with the rest of the neck. Here’s a few shots of the MANY stages we went through before getting the look we were satisfied with:

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We’re pretty happy with how this came out. It looks great, is a super solid repair, and we were afforded the opportunity to ply our woodworking and artistic craftsmanship. Thanks, Zach!

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