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Headstock break on a Gibson Les Paul (For Barry McKenna from Twin Atlantic)


This yellow beast of a guitar belongs to Barry McKenna, from the Scottish rock band Twin Atlantic. Well gigged and road worn! (I was recommended by my friend and guitar tech Fraser Fulton). Unfortunately it had suffered a significant break on the headstock, completely off (I stupidly didn't get a photo of this). The classic Gibson problem, the headstock is a weak point for them. They use a steep angle and make their necks from 1 piece of wood, which creates a weak point were the grain runs short.

First steps on fixing the break, glue it back on. I then made a simple router jig to hold the headstock and allow me to route channels for some wooden splints to go across the break. The jig followed the angle of the headstock in a gentle curve. I then shaped some mahogany wooden splints to fit in the channels, and glued them in. These splints just add in a lot of extra strength to the joint. I then shaped them to fit in with the profile of the neck.




After this I sanded the splints/neck smooth (and filled any gaps). I then started the grueling process of refinishing the neck, I don't have spray equipment so having to finish with brushes, a lot of sanding and patience is required. Start with a white undercoat, and then proceeded to match the yellow colour. This took a lot of back and forth until I was happy with the colour match and the feel of the finish. I then proceeded to scratch it up and match it into the road worn distressed look of the finish of the guitar.



Once I was now happy that I had ruined the nice finish I had achieved and now had a natural road worn look. I applied some clear shellac coats over the repair to finish it of. Here is the final results: Ready just in time for Twin Atlantics recent UK tour and joined Barry back on stage! (He was a happy man)





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