On the workbench a 1968 Gibson 335.
A phone call from a distraught Stage Tech. This guitar was slowly losing its headstock!
The guitar belongs to Richard Oakes, the guitarist with Suede.
This is his beloved guitar which has had the headstock broken and repaired once before. The Stage Tech had resorted to binding the headstock with Gaffer Tape in the hope that it would last a little longer until the end of the band’s tour.
Once on the bench it is clear that the repair is substandard and slowly coming undone.
All it takes is a little tug and the whole repair comes apart.
This particular break is a bad one, it’s a shear break. The headstock has broken from the neck at 90° to the grain of the wood.
This makes for a challenging repair confounded by the fact that it has been repaired once before. All remnants of the old glue must be removed before a new join can be made. Fortunately there is no damage to the end of the truss-rod.
A shear break makes for a difficult repair because it is impossible to rejoin and glue the end grain of a section of wood to another end grain. Reinforcement strips will need to be inserted.
It is important that the any repair work should be discreet and invisible.
Fortunately the head veneer is still in one piece and undamaged. The break has occurred just underneath the top nut. So it is decided that the head veneer should be removed and replaced once the repair and inserts have be added.
The head veneer is clamped under a piece of perspex to keep it flat until needed later on.
The idea is to join/re-glue the neck to the headstock (as best as). And once this is done reinforcing inserts can be added.
A jig is made up to hold the guitar and headstock in place whilst the glue sets.
Once rejoined, the neck and head are routed to except the inserts. Brazilian Mahogany and ebony inserts are made up and glued in oversized to be trimmed down to shape once dry.
The head veneer is then re-fitted, conveniently hiding the Ebony inserts
And the back of the neck/headstock is refinished to disguise the work.
A few other jobs around the guitar are carried out i.e. fret work and a new bone nut.
All in all a successful repair.
I believe the guitar will now only be used for studio work. It is regarded too highly for the rigours of touring.