Tuner swap / headstock damage -- need repair advice

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sangtlee
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Tuner swap / headstock damage -- need repair advice

Post by sangtlee » Thu Feb 04, 2021 10:28 pm

Hi everyone -- need your input/perspective on how you might repair or proceed here...

I have a '65 original, vintage JM neck/headstock. Previous owner had Grovers installed...very messy install. The bushings were tightened so much that they left pretty deep, un-level, chipped impressions on the top of the headstock around the tuner holes. The holes themselves were not properly reamed, I would guess with sandpaper or a file since the hole diameters are not consistent nor perfectly round. I have vintage Klusons with the original bushing (not the adapter/conversion ones) and am trying to decide how to proceed:

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Option 1 -- level out the top of the headstock with combo of filler (famowood) / stain / drop fill with clear + don't mess with the holes...shim/fill the inner diameter to fit the original (narrow) bushings

Option 2 -- ream holes to be wider and use (wider) conversion bushings << still might need some minor filling work due to the chip outs and indentations not being level

Option 3 -- drill and plug with maple, finish fresh wood to match rest of headstock, re-drill, etc. << this seems like a nightmare

IMHO, each option would still leave a visible ring around the bushing so nothing is going to be perfect...I'm okay with that, as long as it's not offensive looking. But am leaning towards option #1 to avoid having to remove any original wood from the headstock...but am not sure if drip fill lacquer / filler will be too brittle and the bushings will loosen over time....or should I just accept the fact that more wood has to be removed and that the bushing will need to be relic'ed new stock...or is there an option 4 that I'm missing!!?

What would you do?

Many thanks in advance,
Sang
Last edited by sangtlee on Thu Feb 04, 2021 10:38 pm, edited 2 times in total.

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Re: Tuner swap / headstock damage -- need repair advice

Post by sangtlee » Thu Feb 04, 2021 10:34 pm

Here's a photo of one of the original bushings placed inside the existing hole...the diameter of the flange is 11mm. And the conversion bushings that I have are 11.28mm, so slightly wider...but not enough to fully conceal the impression rings.

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Re: Tuner swap / headstock damage -- need repair advice

Post by CROSS_guitars » Fri Feb 05, 2021 4:44 am

Apart from the chips, you may be able to steam them so the indented rings are level again. Not sure what you would use though. a tiny iron?
then plug the holes and re-drill.
after that, sand the area down and touch it up with some tinted nitro.

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Re: Tuner swap / headstock damage -- need repair advice

Post by sangtlee » Fri Feb 05, 2021 6:42 pm

CROSS_guitars wrote:
Fri Feb 05, 2021 4:44 am
Apart from the chips, you may be able to steam them so the indented rings are level again. Not sure what you would use though. a tiny iron?
then plug the holes and re-drill.
after that, sand the area down and touch it up with some tinted nitro.
Have you successfully steamed out dents through a layer of nitro? Or would you scrape out the "ring" of nitro first before trying to steam it? My understanding of the steam technique is that its only safe/effective on bare wood.

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Re: Tuner swap / headstock damage -- need repair advice

Post by CROSS_guitars » Fri Feb 05, 2021 6:49 pm

Not really and and I know you can't really steam out dents in a poly finish.
But I imagine nitro that's aged this much would be more flexible, perhaps.

I was thinking you could use a solder iron and gently go around each hole with a damp cloth or cotton wool.
It would make the holes swell, but wouldn't be an issue if you are re plugging.

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Re: Tuner swap / headstock damage -- need repair advice

Post by jvin248 » Fri Feb 05, 2021 7:32 pm

.

Use a damp cotton white t-shirt and a clothes iron set on high.
As long as the t-shirt is 'sizzling' you are converting water to steam and not scorching the wood (212degF water boils). Nitro may be problematic so perhaps test your technique first on the neck heel where it won't be seen. It's no problem on modern finishes. You'll want to test first.

You have splits in the wood leading from the tuner holes. When the prior owner installed the tuners they must have hammered them in from the back and split the wood. They probably heard all the snapple cracks and then made sure the nuts were down super tight to clamp the broken bits just in case.

I would suggest stabilizing those splits after you get your steaming operation completed by getting some 'Thin CA' adhesive to them. The 'Thin CA' (that's a type and not you trying to mix something with normal super glue) will wick itself deep into any cracks. Some like to water down wood glue and then try to force it in there but that's often a fools errand. Thin CA can run a foot or more up a crack in the wood. Clean up any drips immediately or you'll have a bit of excitement in store for sanding the runs level.

.

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Re: Tuner swap / headstock damage -- need repair advice

Post by marqueemoon » Fri Feb 05, 2021 7:51 pm

sangtlee wrote:
Thu Feb 04, 2021 10:34 pm
Here's a photo of one of the original bushings placed inside the existing hole...the diameter of the flange is 11mm. And the conversion bushings that I have are 11.28mm, so slightly wider...but not enough to fully conceal the impression rings.

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Honestly this doesn’t look that bad to me.

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Re: Tuner swap / headstock damage -- need repair advice

Post by andy_tchp » Fri Feb 05, 2021 7:56 pm

marqueemoon wrote:
Fri Feb 05, 2021 7:51 pm
Honestly this doesn’t look that bad to me.
+1. Would be barely noticeable once restrung IMHO.
"I don't know why we asked him to join the band 'cause the rest of us don't like country music all that much; we just like Graham Lee."
David McComb, 1987.

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Re: Tuner swap / headstock damage -- need repair advice

Post by sangtlee » Sat Feb 06, 2021 7:50 am

jvin248 wrote:
Fri Feb 05, 2021 7:32 pm
You have splits in the wood leading from the tuner holes. When the prior owner installed the tuners they must have hammered them in from the back and split the wood. They probably heard all the snapple cracks and then made sure the nuts were down super tight to clamp the broken bits just in case
Good point -- I always thought those spilts were superficial but upon taking a closer look in the tuner peg holes...one can clearly see 1-2mm deep pieces of wood must have split upwards and were glued back down. You can see the horizontal glue lines inside the holes. The one in the back isn't too bad -- flat and sounds solid (when tapped on). But the one closer to the camera, isn't flush with the headstock (you can actually see it based on the blue tape) -- and sounds muted when tapped on. Am wondering if it might be worth trying to crack it back open with a chisel and glueing it backdown better?

EDIT: took a xacto knife and poked around the 2 splits...and they are both loose and can be bent upwards, so some glueing and clamping forthcoming.

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Last edited by sangtlee on Sat Feb 06, 2021 8:15 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Tuner swap / headstock damage -- need repair advice

Post by sangtlee » Sat Feb 06, 2021 8:05 am

marqueemoon wrote:
Fri Feb 05, 2021 7:51 pm
Honestly this doesn’t look that bad to me.
I agree that it doesn't look too bad from the top, but I feel like the indents have to be dealt with since they are all uneven...sloping towards the nut. See my scribble diagram below...slope exaggerated a bit to get the point across. And some are deeper than others, etc.

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Re: Tuner swap / headstock damage -- need repair advice

Post by marqueemoon » Sat Feb 06, 2021 8:13 am

Are you worried this will affect the functioning of the tuners?

The cracking is a bummer and I would try to stabilize those.

My concern here is going to a lot of effort to make it look better and ending up with something that draws the eye more.

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Re: Tuner swap / headstock damage -- need repair advice

Post by sangtlee » Sat Feb 06, 2021 8:40 am

marqueemoon wrote:
Sat Feb 06, 2021 8:13 am
Are you worried this will affect the functioning of the tuners?
Part worried that the indents would continue to get worse over time...a la leaning tower of Pisa...and part due to my OCD. But I understand your reasoning. Which is why I'm likely not pursuing the plug and re-drill option.

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Re: Tuner swap / headstock damage -- need repair advice

Post by sangtlee » Sat Feb 06, 2021 11:06 am

Holy batman -- the steam technique works like a charm. Instead of applying heat to the top of the headstock where the nitro is...I stuck the tip of the soldering iron into the tuning hole and pressed a wet rag into the inside of the hole...steamed from the inside more or less. Went slowly, but vastly improved.

Image

This is the low E tuner -- which you can see the "before" in my 1st post for comparison.

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