Recently, my son's cat, Don, had a manic spaz attack and bounded into my son's Taylor 110 (yes, it was left in a precarious position from the start). The results: The Taylor is now decapitated and Don is currently at the taxidermist rather patiently awaiting his consequences (I kid, I kid).
I've combed through quite a few threads on this fine forum re: headstock repair so I'm beginning to get the gist of some of the considerations and strategies, but also understand from the many informed comments that the nature of the break shapes the specific suggestions offered, so I've attached a few pics. As you will see, it's an ugly one. Not much surface area, jagged and right at the topnut/truss rod; so I'm thinking any repair short of making a new headstock/neck section will be pretty iffy.
A new neck can be had from Taylor for $175 but they will not send it to me directly. It has to be sent to and installed by an authorized Taylor repair location (at an additional cost), according to the Taylor Customer Service rep I spoke with. With funds tight, thought I might give it a go myself with the kind help offered by my neighbor who happens to be an accomplished woodworker, though not a luthier.
Would really appreciate hearing how some of you guys would approach this particular break, other than not at all ;)
Update: 8+ years later and still holding strong - see f/u post below for more.
The nature of this failure is such that, as both an accompished woodworker/luthier and composites specialist I would not touch this particular break at all. $175++ would not get me out of bed for this sort of reconstruction and any amateur attempt to dodge this one will likely result in a new neck being the end game anyway.
But if you insist on having a go, it's going to require a couple of graphite fibre splints embedded under a sizeable backstrap and preferably with a volute to bulk up the non-existent support under the truss rod area. Imagery attached of various iterations of this fix. This is the bare minimum that I would recommend and it will last if done properly.Hopefully my colleagues on the forum will come to your assistance with a more appropriate fix but this one is all I know for this sort of break.
Regards andgood luck.
How do you create a backstrap to fit the neck with such precision?
Yep, I think Rusty is spot on with that advice. If this was a valuable guitar with a glued dovetail neck you could go with embedded splints and backstrap overlay, like he shows (nice pics Russell). But this is a pretty cheap guitar with a bolt on neck. You should work out the cheapest way to get a replacement neck for it and then change it over like you would a blown tyre on your car.
Thanks gents. I expected advice would be in this direction (i.e., "run away!"), and I understand that for a luthier to repair it adequately, the cost would be prohibitive; but I do appreciate your suggestions/pics, Rusty. If I could find a recently widowed 110 neck, that would be ideal. Still may give something like the backstrap a shot as a learning project. I'll look into the graphite spline option more carefully.
If I may just add my two cents worth here you have been given very good advice on the repair .But make sure that you take that nut and washer off and grease the threads good so you don't get the trust rod that it don't work when you start to glue it back together.Bill............
Poor Don.... he was only being a cat..... ;) Maybe he's a music critic as well? ;)
What Rusty said! A new neck is actually not very expensive when one considers what a time-suck this repair would be.
As for a learning experience we look for two things for something to actually be a decent learning experience. First is there decent possibility of success once the effort is expended? And second is the nature of the repair useful for something else down the road?
Lots of folks attempt to reset necks on cheap imports with dowelled joints and in that case the experience is really not useful toward resetting a neck on a guitar that was built with servicability in mind.
Anyway I don't think that this would would be a useful learning experience because you likely are not tooled-up with head stock repair jigs, clamps, proper glues, finish, etc. In other words the first guitar that I ever built was a $400 kit. They never told me that I needed $2,000 of tools to complete the kit....
Any way pat Don for me, he knew not what he did....
Never seen the carbon fiber splints under a backstrap-pretty cool. Lots of additional strength for very little added weight. I assume you epoxy those in? Nice. Still, hope I never run into a job like this. I'd be mighty tempted to break down and buy the neck.
I would like to tip my hat to all the CAT'S out there that help keep us Luthiers on the payrole.Bill.........
Don has a very mercenary philosophy towards life. For a nominal fee, or perhaps a commission, I'm sure he would be happy for you to turn him loose in a venue of your choice; guaranteed to wreak havoc on all things under tension and not tied down or otherwise prone to snapping, including disgruntled housewives.
He could help you plan for your early retirement...much safer investement than any financial planner can offer these days....you don't have to make a decision today, you can sleep on it....Don seems to prefer this approach, at least between manic episodes.
They are .050 thou poltruded graphite fibre splints. They are keyed with 60 grit and secured with epoxy into a conformal channel. They are 3 times as strong as the equivalent 1/8" domestic carbon fibre used for neck reinforcement and being skinny they can be positioned, angled in three dimensions and manipulated to fit in some complex and confined breaks.
The banana shape allows them to go round the corner of the headstock angles and also extend the length of the support (load spread) while concentrating the main support in the area of the crack. They machine down with standard sanding drums (gas quality mask and goggles required) to follow the wood removal for the backstrap so they have good contact with the backstrap reinforcement when it is glued across the repair section. They for the equivalent of a "T" beam reinforcement when used with a backstrap which gives strength in 3 axis'.
They are good fun to do.
Rusty, seems I recall reading about some tests you guys did comparing Titebond I and II. Given your commendable empirical approach, I wondered if you guys had done any methodologically rigourous comparisons between repairs done with and without the graphite splines. Sounds like a very robust solution so would be cool to see some data.
Evan, Titebond II (two) has no place in luthiery that I know of. Original Titebond has been used for decades and its performance is a matter of fact and observed performance.
Don't worry about the data - the reason we use a splines (of any kind - wood splines or rods used to be the standard when the industry was mainly cottage based) is that end-grain/small surface area gluing was unsatisfactory in our general repairs of decapitations. Titebond tech specs specifically nix Titebond for end-grain gluing of stressed joints and epoxy and hide glue are similarly afflicted
So to answer your question completely - I developed and use this system because it has been shown to work over a large number of hitherto unrepairable breaks - whereas failure of marginal repairs without the spline/backstrap system shows that they simply do not work in all but the most benign circumstances. Don't forget, we are talking about decapitation here , not standard birds-beak or scarf style breaks which respond well to long grain gluing with TB/Hide/epoxy and the likes.
The other main benefit is that the back-strap laminates blends well into the original timber if you chose and match your wood well - we make our own veneers and laminates specifically for this purpose which is a bonus in getting grain match and appearance right.
You could test this if you wanted to but I don't have the time, money or the inclination to do this with a system that has proven itself in service already.