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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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Okay gentlemen, the mandolin is done. Thank you all for your input. Here's the link to our blog post on the whole repair.

After staring at it a little more, Dan and I actually decided on a little bit lower tech approach than we discussed here. The prospect of removing the fretboard and the resulting likelihood of having to refinish the whole neck was looming and we just felt like there might be a simpler way. We felt that the nut shelf gave us just enough extra room to inlay a mahogany block through the top rather than the back of the neck. It meant minimal finish work and the repair is completely covered by a faceplate. Best of all, it worked without removing the fretboard. It's strung up and feels solid as a rock - or as solid as a 100 year old mandolin can feel. I'll let you know if it ever comes back, but I think this one is good to go and the owner is very happy.

This was one of those repairs where we had to ask the owner to forget about it for a few months while we figured out a strategy. Luckily, we got one of those guys who says "No problem and no rush."

Thanks again for all your thoughts and ideas. They were all helpful.

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