Repair Shop Spot: Broken Headstocks Repaired

I’ve run into friends who say they’ve got a cool old guitar, but the headstock is cracked, or worse yet, completely broken. I always tell them, “Bring it in – if it’s fixable, our guys can do it.” Here are two headstock repairs from the Mass Street Music Repair Shop courtesy of our luthiers Matt H. & Mike R.:

headstock crack with routs for splints

This Gibson 335 came in with the headstock completely broken off. This pic shows his routs for splints, after he’d reattached the headstock.

Mike Runyon did a killer headstock repair on a Gibson 335. This guitar came in with the headstock clean off. Mike could see that it had suffered other breaks in the past and been repaired several times by someone else – it now required more drastic repair measures than a normal headstock fix. He began by gluing on the old headstock, then routed for splints – the only way he said to “guarantee it would be fixed for good” – and something usually done only for very weak joints.

guitar headstock repair with splints in place

The splints in place

guitar headstock repair splints sanded

The splints carved and sanded down

After putting in the splints, he honed them down to the proper height, sanded and did a bang up job touching up the paint with a similar transparent finish. While he could have hidden this major repair with an opaque finish, the customer opted to leave it visible and save some dough on the cosmetic end. All in all a spectacular job, and the customer wound up with a 335 sturdier than ever before.

guitar headstock repair finished with transparent finish

The customer opted for transparent finish and minimal cosmetic touch up (and saved some dough), thus this is not an ‘invisible’ repair – which the guys are quite adapt at as well! Looks sharp though!


Mike Runyon holding Gibson 335 with headstock repair

Yay! Mike with the repaired guitar


Matt Harmon tackled a Les Paul with a split headstock which had suffered several falls, splits and regluing jobs by someone else. The glue from previous repairs was actually keeping the crack open, so he (very carefully) fully removed the cracked piece, adjusted the pieces and put them back together before making small splints.

Les Paul with split headstock

This Les Paul had suffered multiple injuries in its life and came in to us with a split headstock – the glue was actually keeping the crack open.

There were still gaps open after fitting the pieces back together, so he routed for splints, much like Runyon did for the 335, only on a much smaller scale.

Les Paul broken head ready to be repaired

Matt H made the split a clean break to reset it properly. Ouch.


Les Paul heastock repair glued but not with splints yet

The headstock glued back together properly still had gaps

Les Paul headstock repair with rout in place not yet splint

One of the two small routs Harmon made


Les paul headstock repair with sanded splint in place

Splinted, sanded and repaired!

The customer here did not want any cosmetic touch up, only structural repair, and his Les Paul is now rock solid.

back of repaired Les Paul headstock

This was a total structural repair and the customer opted to pass on cosmetic touch ups – and saved some money in doing so.

And now for a special winter time message from our Repair Shop:

Dear Pickers:

If you have an acoustic guitar, mando or other acoustic instrument, be sure to humidify it if you’re in a colder climate like we are here in Kansas! Once the heat is on in your home, your sweet guitar will be drying out. There are many humidifiers out there but we like the Kyser Lifeguard Soundhole humidifier best – it’s super easy to use and maintain.  It’s best to use it while your guitar is stored in its case and we promise, it’ll save you dough in the long run. Lack of humidification can easily cause serious cracks and buckling in the sturdiest of guitars – much better to spend a little on a humidifier than getting a crack repaired.


your Mass St Music luthiers Mike H., Mike R., Matt H. & Josh B.


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