Looking for some advice on a broken Lyon & Healy mandolin headstock.

Hi everyone. First time caller, long time listener. Dan Wolf and I are co-owners of Chicago Fret Works. We are a repair shop in the windy city and we've got a doozy of a repair for which we'd love some advice.

It's a very old Lyon & Healy mandolin with a violin style headstock that broke and was repaired years ago at a pretty extreme angle. The previous repair used some small dowels that held for a long time. But we're thinking that this time, rather than just reuse or replace those dowels, that we ought to elongate the gluing surface with a scarf type joint. It's work we've done before; here's a photo essay about a '56 LP Junior we're finishing up right now.

But obviously this repair is complicated by the small size of the neck; the layers of maple , mahogony, and ebony; and especially by the angle of the break. So the question is what would you do?

Tags: &, Healy, Lyon, and, headstock, mandolin, repair, vintage

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A less obtrusive reinforcement might be to rout out the ebony bar and inlay a continuous piece spanning the break.
That's a good one. We'll have to think on how to glue it all up at once, but certainly a contender.

Anyone else?
Let's see if I can send this...I recently did a destroyed thunderbird bass, and hid my graphite/epoxy work under the overlay...It might get long but here we go..
Any how,,,I have done a 1/8 inch slot with a jig I built..( photo's soon ), with my dremel,and inlay graphite re-enforcement, anlged to meet the peghead shape..I epoxy it in and have had nothing come back yet...I've done this for about 10 years, and a Vast majority are on punk rocker guitars that have already been fixed once or twice..I'm sending photo's of a les paul also..
O.K. one more thing...checked out you!..I would....remove fingerboard, Epoxy the headstock back to the angle you desire with a jig...I saw the site, you know how...Then route the ebony thu into the headstock as bow thru brainpan said..placa your graphite ( I dimple it as you can see in the photo...I also use a tiny ball bit on my dremel to dimple the slot ) in the slot..clean and cover...I know a lot of purists hate the word epoxy, but it works and has it's place..Now after that I bet it would be easy to clean up the back of the neck and hide it pretty well...
Wow. That Tbird repair is really something.

Why do you favor graphite for your reinforcements and where do you get your rods?
L.M.I has a fine assortment...It aint rods, it's the widest thickest...1/8 by maybe a 1/4 inch....GREAT STUFF!!!!
P.S another thig on the T.Bird..If you look in the later photo's, I routed the neck on the other end of the headstock repair and filled it with quarter sawn rosewood...Hopefully that was to not interfere with the truss rod function as I figured graphite might...
If it were mine to do, I think I'd combine the two ideas and route out part of the ebony strip then epoxy in a graphite strip. If the expense isn't too great, I'd think about getting a wider length of graphite so I could cutting it to extend well down into the head. It means that you need to pull the finger board but I think you need to do this to replace the wood strips on each side of the neck anyway.

In the pictures you posted, it seems that the dowels didn't fit too well or too far into the head. I'd replace them along with the wood strips. I don't think I would use graphite for these strips, though, since these are very close to the edges and I would be afraid that a blow to the side of the head (or a dropped case) could cause the graphite to crack the wood on the side of the neck.

Even if I decided to cut a longer scarf, I think I'd still use graphite to reinforce the joint. My brother and I reinforced the face of the broken head on a Gibson F4 several years ago using a length of graphite down the center of the head embedded in epoxy. It made a very strong repair. I wouldn't blink an eye at using epoxy to set the graphite in a repair like this. The whole point is to not need to take it apart again.

A lot of good thoughts here fellas. Thanks. I'll keep checking here for others but it's good to workshop ideas like this. We try to use the glue that makes sense for each job and we don't shy away from epoxy when appropriate. I totally agree that the ultimate goal of this repair is to make it hard and fast so it won't break again so there will definately be epoxy involved - and likely some graphite too!

I'll post the results in a few months when it's done.


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