Hi all.  I just purchased a 1976 Gibson Explorer that has seen better days.  On top of a bad repaint in zebra stripes, it also had a headstock break with a very amateur but functional headstock repair.   I'd like to strip the paint on the headstock (except the serial number) and give a proper fix to the break as well.  I have no idea what type of glue was used to repair the headstock and with the serial number being close to the break, I am worried about using heat to try and dissolve the glue and accidently damaging the serial number.

What are my options?


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Jason, can we please see some more pics? I want to see were SE# actually is. Thanks...

Here are some more pics.  The break went all the way through the headstock veneer on the bass side but not the treble.  I think since it was still connected they just threw some glue in there without getting the pieces lined up properly.

OMG! Some people just seem to 'compound' an 'issue' ....for lack of money and a luthier...and 'the obvious'....good judgement.

How does the rest of the guitar look?

Other then the routing for the Kahler Trem, it's really nice.  One piece mahogany body and a really nice feeling neck.  It was originally a black guitar but the grain looks so nice I think a natural finish is the way to go.

So from what I can see, I am just wondering now why it is that you want to keep the SE#? This was not an important year for this guitar?

 As far as I can see, you  might want to consider cutting the entire headstock off and making a new one. The 'were you should cut'question is the most important question too. I know how I would do it. And just to put it forward, you already have an almost perfect template to make the headstock.   Is this totally not an option?

Hi Kerry-- Might be that the axx has more than being important to the owner-- (just my 2 cents)

perhaps the owner can get ahold of Gibson to see if a replacement neck with the same serial number can be obtained-- just my 2 cents again--

good luck with your project Jason -- peace


wouldn't think twice about replacing that's a heavymetal  loser for Frank's sake...imo a boy scouter as per the title Explorer...a new neck w/maybe salvaging the fretboard ?

Well I've always been of the school of thought that you save everything you can in a restoration especially any identifying numbers so the serial number needs to stay.  

I think I'm going to just heat in slowly and see how the glue reacts and completely remove the headstock so it can be cleaned up and refitted properly.  

The story was that the original owner was in a band opening for Def Leppard when the damage happened, hence the hideous paint job.  Here is how it looked before.

Jason, I can't see how taking the current headstock off, and reglueing it is possibly going to work, short of you adding a whole bunch of new wood in there via splicing and cutting. And doing this work just to keep a SE#?  If you were just hoping to reattach this current headstock without adding a bunch of new wood to strengthen the break, this guitar will quite possibly be coming back to your shop again in short order.

 The instrument is at this point, is a total write off. It's been stripped of it's lacquer, and it looks like this axe needs a whole new neck, which are available too. So why not start this project by just ordering a new neck? You can even put the old SE# in on it in the same place, as I have seen done before.

  But this is your gig, and I'll just be bowing out here and leave you too it. Please post pics of the repair process if you can. 

I appreciate all the input Kerry.  It is actually my personal guitar I bought for a song.  I'd actually prefer cutting off the headstock and making a new one with a scarf joint if a repair is not feasible instead of a whole new neck,  but I'm not sure if I have the skill to do it as I never have before.  My "shop" is my garage and I am just a hobbyist, fixing guitars I get cheap for my personal collection.   I'd like to perhaps someday do some repair work for others so I am using my own dumpster finds for practice.  That said I want to do the job right.

I am starting to think a new headstock is the way to go and I'll just throw the old one in the case as a keepsake.  No plans on ever selling the guitar just want to save this cool old instrument and make it playable.

Jason, the serial number can be replicated by taking a photo and, through computer magic, have a waterslide decal made to match. I'm with Kerry that the proper repair calls for a new headstock at the minimum. Then you'll be able to get rid of the locking nut as well. I repaired a Flying V that had a Kahler route like that by making a matched filler block. The guitar was black and the repair was invisible when done. Good luck which ever way you go.

One of the VIPs at the mylespaul forum who goes by the handle "pinefd" made a kit for stamping serial numbers. You could easily do longer serials:


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