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Mar 28, 2020 - 11:57:28 AM
234 posts since 11/22/2009

Hi
Advice on a major repair needed. As you see from the photo the banjo has fallen over and at the valout--where the neck joins the headstock--a severe breakage leaving a considerable gap-the two parts 'wavering about'. What would you do to join the two parts? Is that possible? Have you repaired such damage in the past? It is a banjo I do not want scrap. Your expertise most welcome. Many thanks.


 

Mar 28, 2020 - 12:07:26 PM

54478 posts since 12/14/2005

What a pity!
Do you want it to look as good as new?
If so, do not accept any advice from ME!

If appearance is not paramount, I did a repair on a snapped-off (completely) guitar peghead, 1970 something, and more than a quarter century later, it's still solid.

Steamed & bent a rather thick piece of hardwood veneer to fit UNDER the neck, and an equally thick piece across the top, clamped them on with PC-7 two part epoxy.
Then sanded the edges to sort of blend in with the previous shape.

Ugly but dependable.

Mar 28, 2020 - 12:36:14 PM

rcc56

USA

2756 posts since 2/20/2016

That's the worst I've seen in quite a while.

The depth of the truss rod pocket complicates the repair-- that was the weak spot that contributed to the severity of the damage.

Normally I just glue everything back together and add reinforcement if I think it is necessary.
But you have a lot of missing wood, and I don't think you have enough gluing surface left at the back and side of the break to do that.

I've studied your picture carefully several times, and I think you're looking at either grafting on a new peghead or simply replacing the whole neck.

Mar 28, 2020 - 12:36:58 PM

7059 posts since 8/28/2013

First of all, I'd like to know what that white stuff is. To me it appears to be some sort of adhesive and that this neck has been broken once before. If that's the case, you're in for a very difficult job which should probably be left to a professional. This is not an easy repair to begin with, and will be 100 times more difficult if it's been "fixed" before.

Mar 28, 2020 - 12:43:36 PM

242 posts since 4/14/2017

I would not mess with this. You could cut off the fingerboard, cut off the faceplate of the headstock and glue them on to a new neck. Of course put the new neck
on the same banjo. The only ship that has sailed is the neck wood.

Mar 28, 2020 - 12:57:51 PM

868 posts since 5/19/2018
Online Now

Most likely Another victim of the dreaded banjo stand/safe place.

Instruments, when not being played need to be in a case. There are dozens of threads here on just this subject...broken necks.

Been guilty of it myself, suffered the consequences and never again will I use any type of instrument stand. Not for a second.

That’s a really bad break. I would not even know how to address that. Someone here will have a solid solution, but that neck will never look the same.

Mar 28, 2020 - 1:05:04 PM
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rcc56

USA

2756 posts since 2/20/2016

I see from your profile that you've built a couple of instruments.
I would take Sean's advice and salvage the fingerboard and head plate, and re-neck the instrument.
PM me if you want info on how to safely remove a fingerboard with heat.

Mar 28, 2020 - 1:59:59 PM
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12821 posts since 10/30/2008

I agree with G Edward, I think that peghead has been busted before.

I would give up on that neck. Get or make another.

Too bad though.

Mar 28, 2020 - 2:21:57 PM
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12894 posts since 6/29/2005

I've seen it many times and read a lot of advice about how to fix it.  Always remember that when someone tells you something cannot be done, it means that THEY cannot do it—an important thing to remember.

Having said that (and I could restore this neck except I don't do repairs) you cannot use titebond filled with sawsdust on this.  You need to use a structural epoxy resin with fillers that will bridge the gaps—really, it's not that big a deal—You DO NOT have to abandon the neck—general purpose epoxy with probably a silicone filler and wood flour used as thickeners will restore it structurally—boat builders use this kind of material every day.

HOWEVER, You will always see the repair, so if you are "condition sensitive", and  that's a blocking issue, then listen to those who want you to trash the neck.

Watch this youtube sent to me by Dan Drabek, a BHO member and consumate craftsman.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6KjlyXKeo8c

Edited by - Ken LeVan on 03/28/2020 14:22:39

Mar 28, 2020 - 3:00:41 PM
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234 posts since 11/22/2009

Thanks everybody for all your replies.

Advice taken--as I thought beyond repair. One of the first banjo's I made many years ago--and being one of the first made quite a few mistakes made building it. A learning curve.

Yes--it has been repaired before. And yes--another victim of 'standing it in a safe place'---just waiting for it to be knocked over--and it was.

I am a firm believer of putting instruments on stands, a good stand though. (In this episode I didn't)
I have been gigging for many years and always put my double bass / guitar / banjo on a stand--no problems. (Though if there is a corner to put a double bass in that is the safest place). I can guarantee that if you put the double bass on the floor a member of the band will trip over it! (Perhaps it's their way of telling me what a terrible D/B player I am).

Mar 28, 2020 - 3:53:49 PM

234 posts since 11/22/2009

Hi Ken
Thanks for the advice using structural epoxy resin with fillers---worth a try-'nothing ventured-nothing gained'. Thanks for the video.

Mar 28, 2020 - 3:53:55 PM
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7621 posts since 1/7/2005

I agree with Ken. Anything made of wood can be repaired. Invisible repairs are a different story, and this one may not be possible without leaving traces of what has been done.

If it were mine, I would first dig out any bits of previous glue or wood filler. Then I would clamp or otherwise assemble the two parts in proper position, and fill the gaps with marine grade epoxy. The epoxy will need to be thickened with wood dust, or cabosil, to keep it from running out of the joint. The epoxy can be colored with powdered dye pigments to match the existing neck wood as close as possible.
I would over-fill the gaps, let them harden and then file and sand the repair area to blend in with the solid wood. You could then touch up the fill areas with more stain, seal it with French polish of shellac, and blend in a top coat of Tru-Oil. Chances are it will never look untouched, but if you have retouching skills, it could be brought back to working condition and not look too bad.
Whether the banjo is worth the repair is up to you. But I'd try for repair over replacement of the neck.
It is important to remove any old repair material or loose, damaged wood, or it will eventually end up in the same place, since new glue doesn't generally take well to old glue.

DD

Mar 28, 2020 - 4:14:07 PM
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rcc56

USA

2756 posts since 2/20/2016

quote:
Originally posted by Ken LeVan

I've seen it many times and read a lot of advice about how to fix it.  Always remember that when someone tells you something cannot be done, it means that THEY cannot do it—an important thing to remember.

Having said that (and I could restore this neck except I don't do repairs)  . . .


I do perform repairs, have done several of these, and a couple of them were pretty badly shattered.

It could be done, and I could do it, but I would not do it because it would take many more hours than it would be worth to me to execute a repair that I was convinced was structurally sound and looked good.  And that oversized truss rod pocket complicates the job.

And I wouldn't do it with epoxy.  I would either create a good, long gluing surface on the neck and graft on a new head, using the original overlay, and if necessary installing a backstrap for reinforcement.  It might be necessary for the graft to extend an inch or two down the barrel of the neck.  Another alternative would be to splice in new wood that extended past all of the damaged and missing wood, creating an in-line graft.   A new head would look better than an in-line graft, and would be more reliable.

I don't appreciate it when people who don't do repair work give advice.  And just because it is possible to salvage something does not mean that it is the best course of action.

Edited by - rcc56 on 03/28/2020 16:23:28

Mar 28, 2020 - 4:34:29 PM
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54478 posts since 12/14/2005

I agree with Mr. 56 that it might be a LOT more than it's worth, to try get a good-looking repair.
Which is why my answer was about what MIGHT work, IF Mr. ClubMan was willing to settle for UGLY.

As for giving advice:
I hear the word.. ADVICE... and my memory zips on over to My Hero, Alan Sherman.

 

 

Mar 28, 2020 - 5:44:46 PM

12894 posts since 6/29/2005

quote:
Originally posted by rcc56
quote:
Originally posted by Ken LeVan

I've seen it many times and read a lot of advice about how to fix it.  Always remember that when someone tells you something cannot be done, it means that THEY cannot do it—an important thing to remember.

Having said that (and I could restore this neck except I don't do repairs)  . . .


I do perform repairs, have done several of these, and a couple of them were pretty badly shattered.

It could be done, and I could do it, but I would not do it because it would take many more hours than it would be worth to me to execute a repair that I was convinced was structurally sound and looked good.  And that oversized truss rod pocket complicates the job.

And I wouldn't do it with epoxy.  I would either create a good, long gluing surface on the neck and graft on a new head, using the original overlay, and if necessary installing a backstrap for reinforcement.  It might be necessary for the graft to extend an inch or two down the barrel of the neck.  Another alternative would be to splice in new wood that extended past all of the damaged and missing wood, creating an in-line graft.   A new head would look better than an in-line graft, and would be more reliable.

I don't appreciate it when people who don't do repair work give advice.  And just because it is possible to salvage something does not mean that it is the best course of action.


Didn't mean to be offensive.

Just because I don't do repairs as part of my building practice doesn't mean I couldn't do it if I wanted that to be part of my business.  I have repaired a lot of  musical instruments and antique furniture to a high professional level, and I could definitely fix that banjo.

To paraphrase what I said earlier in perhaps a less combative tone, You don't want to fix that banjo, but that doesn't mean that someone else shouldn't or can't do it.

Mar 28, 2020 - 5:53:28 PM
Players Union Member

Helix

USA

12555 posts since 8/30/2006

Ken is correct about Nautical level repair

What I see is pieces scabbed to the outside. The Herringbone is interrupted. And whatever glue/filler was used is the wrong stuff in the right place

We need more crosstalk from field to field

Mar 28, 2020 - 5:55:47 PM

1517 posts since 11/17/2018

quote:
Originally posted by Ken LeVan

 Always remember that when someone tells you something cannot be done, it means that THEY cannot do it—an important thing to remember.

 

Or sometimes, it means it can't be done.

Mar 28, 2020 - 6:22:47 PM

115 posts since 2/12/2017

Repairable, not a big deal IMO.

You could always worst case scenario make a new headstock with a reversed scarf fit up.

Steve

Mar 28, 2020 - 6:58:09 PM
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Brett

USA

2153 posts since 11/29/2005

Some of that actually looks like automotive body filler.

Mar 28, 2020 - 8:12:04 PM

rcc56

USA

2756 posts since 2/20/2016

Mar 28, 2020 - 10:42:56 PM
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115 posts since 2/12/2017

quote:
Originally posted by rcc56

Good instructions on one way to handle it:

http://www.12fret.com/parts/twelfth-fret-repair-shop-broken-headstock-fix/


Yep, thats the reverse scarf headstock I was referring too, I only do those for the most severe shattered ones, way easier than making a whole new neck

 

steve


 

Edited by - Mirwa on 03/28/2020 22:45:48

Mar 29, 2020 - 6:12:41 AM

12894 posts since 6/29/2005

I actually started building 55 years ago when I was in school, by repairing peoples broken instruments and in some cases making left-handed necks (many art students are left-handed).  At the same time, I was studying industrial design and was exposed to a number of materials not normally used for instruments.

Industrial designers have to make models of their products, and they have to look realistic enough for market research like focus groups, so model-making involves a lot of piecing together unusually shaped parts, often mahogany, but basswood, various resins and other materials are used. Nowadays there are special materials for this, usually urethanes.  The finish has to be good enough to fool people looking at the model.

Over a period of 20 years, I restored 7 historic houses to National Register standards, and was the Chairman of the Historic Architectural Review Boards in two different historic districts—one ,the largest historic district in the US.  We would advise people about how to fix and restore old broken things rather than replacing them with new ones.

Having done so much of it myself, I knew how to repair windows, doors, slate and wood shingle roofs, stone walls, interior trim, built-in furniture, make hardware (I had rosehead nails made by Historic Williamsburg because I couldn't make them myself), tiles, chimneys, wood siding, stairways, balusters, paneling, etc etc.

The most common and most frustrating problem we faced when working with people was contractors who didn't know how or want to do the work telling people that their stained glass window or slate roof couldn't be repaired when I damn well knew it not only could, but had done similar things myself.

I think the same thing is true of instrument repairs, and I agree with Dan Drabek—whatever it is, there is someone who can do it—I have personally made every wood and metal part of a banjo including frets and geared tuners, and beyond my own abilities, I have seen unbelievable repairs done to shattered guitar sides and other wrecked instruments.  In terms of this one, I also agree with Helix, that other pieces can be scabbed in to an epoxy matrix.  There are many ways to do this.

Maybe it's too expensive to be worth it (?), but that was not the question, and no price estimates have been proposed.  I can say that to get the proper materials will cost upwards of $50 because you would have to buy more than is actually needed for a single repair.

So, I am going to go back to the OP and say "Yes, it can be repaired" but if someone tells you it can't, take it elsewhere.  I also take exception of the idea that people shouldn't offer advice—much of what we read on this forum is advice, usually specifically asked for by the poster—should their be a ban on advice, or should we have to be qualified to give it?  Who's going to be the judge?

Edited by - Ken LeVan on 03/29/2020 06:21:21

Mar 29, 2020 - 6:48:15 AM
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7059 posts since 8/28/2013

As far as advice is concerned, I think it's very unwise to limit the giving of it to supposed "expert repair people." Just because someone has done only one or two instrument repairs, or only done repairs to unrelated instruments such as guitars or even xylophones, or perhaps has only repaired boats or automobiles, does not mean that such a person doesn't have good ideas, alternative methods, or innovative approaches to a problem. One can certainly learn many things and find alternate materials from other fields. 

Although I've never tackled a major instrument repair job similar to the OP's banjo neck (I have tackled way worse projects in other fields), I know that I, too, could repair it. I just wouldn't want to right now; I'm too grumpy.

Mar 29, 2020 - 6:51:07 AM
Players Union Member

Helix

USA

12555 posts since 8/30/2006

An example would be the opinions that abounded when discussing how to properly remove a glued- in dowelstick
It went on for some time
Then a contributor suggested simply using a low percentage vinegar solution wrapped in a rag: pickles the glue overnight. No steam, no drilled holes, just experience, knowledge and good will
Thanks Mirwa

Mar 29, 2020 - 8:40:19 AM

254 posts since 2/15/2015

Tite bond carpenters glue would work. But you have binding, a fret board the nut. It probably can be repaired. Another neck would be easier and seamless in appearance.

I've been scouting around for a 17 fret to replace the 22 fret I have on a nice plectrum banjo but I don't play plek style, I play tenor. So I've been fishing around and there are plenty of neck blanks out there of all grades and I've talked to a couple of builders who said they could do it but it's a three or four hundred dollar replacement. Which would be a cost savings over just another banjo altogether. So those are some of the things I've been considering and maybe you will be too.

Chances are good that the binding off of your old deck can be removed and put on a new neck with no problem whatsoever. At least the patina on the fretboard binding would match any other binding you have on the instrument because it all aged together.

Edited by - geoB on 03/29/2020 08:50:06

Mar 29, 2020 - 8:57:16 AM
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7059 posts since 8/28/2013

quote:
Originally posted by Helix

An example would be the opinions that abounded when discussing how to properly remove a glued- in dowelstick
It went on for some time
Then a contributor suggested simply using a low percentage vinegar solution wrapped in a rag: pickles the glue overnight. No steam, no drilled holes, just experience, knowledge and good will
Thanks Mirwa


Unfortunately, vinegar hasn't worked for me when removing dowelsticks.  Steam has worked, and on occasion, simply working the out with no glue dissolving  worked. It depends on the condition of the glue, the type of glue, or whether or not drilling a hole somewhere might cause further problems, or if steam might split a laminated neck.

That does bring up another advantage of advice from all sources fro all fields, though:

The more suggested ideas, the better one's chances of finding an approach that works.

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