I know why it happens but it seems like 80% of the headstock repairs I get are from this scenario. Is it just me or is this combination a frequent occurrence for everyone? 

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The tip of the headstock hits the bottom of the case?  That's the most vital thing to check when I ship a guitar, because no matter how hard the case, if the tip of the headstock is against the bottom of the case you have a problem.  With a less than stellar case, I'll put bubble wrap between the neck and case box to 'float' the headstock, then pack around the guitar with crumbled newspaper.

Based on what customers have told me, it's the case falling forward that has caused the break. But I haven't tracked this so it could be both.

Oh yeah. I'm used to tweak the internals of a case in order to protect the guitar.

Other favorites: falling off stand, spinning into mic/cymbal, leaning it on something near people/pets, airplanes... 

The location of the break is often related to the position of the neck support. If it's at the headstock end of the accessory box, the whiplash from a sudden shock is concentrated at the headstock. If the support is near the heel the whole neck whips and the break is more often at the heel. Two supports are clearly safer, and yes, for shipping the neck and headstock need to be immobilized.

I don't de-tune a guitar for shipping because I figure there's a 50/50 chance of it falling on its face as on its back. In the former case string tension is working against you; in the latter it works for you. I pack 'em up real good, you bet- in 35 years I have never had a guitar I shipped arrive broken.

Considering what I've seen until now, the only way not to get a break at that precise spot is to have a case that supports perfectly the headstock's front and back. That means a custom case. No matter the quality of the case, a free Gibson-like headstock (one piece neck) is ready to break.


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