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Dec 1, 2022 - 6:39:51 PM
378 posts since 11/10/2022

I newly aquired a 2002 gibson rb delux. There is a very thin cut horizontally as if by an exacto knife. It is very shallow on one side but eventually cuts about halfway through the thin peg head board. Im guessing someone put on a badly designed d tuner on at some point but Im sure your guess is better than mine.

I have tried to contact some luthiers with no luck but in the meantime see if the fine BHO folks know what this material is and any techniques for fixing? I may just pay someone to hide it with a nice custom inlay.

Or not


Dec 1, 2022 - 8:34:12 PM

192 posts since 8/31/2015

It would be helpful to see more pictures, but judging from that one picture, that type of damage should be fairly easy to make dissapear for someone with finish touch-up experience. If it looks like a fairly deep mark, drop filling with lacquer would be the best bet. Fill the line with new lacquer then wait several weeks for it to fully cure (a month is usually plenty), then scrape it flush followed by wet sanding then buffing to a gloss. (All with tuners and strings removed of course)


Dec 1, 2022 - 8:58:17 PM

176 posts since 7/24/2021

Is there another scratch on the other side ? If so maybe some kind of D tuners ? Could someone have cut it while cutting the packing material off the banjo, once out of the case?

Dec 1, 2022 - 9:45:32 PM

13883 posts since 6/2/2008

Can you tell if the scratch goes through the lacquer into the wood? Or is it just in the lacquer?

If just in the lacquer, you wipe on a little instrument polish, mineral spirits, or even a bit of water to get a hint of what it will look like if you touch up the finish. If you use water, wipe dry as soon as you've seen the effect. What you want to see is if wetness makes the discolor of the scratch disappear. If so you only need a finish repair and not color touch-up.

Rather than drop-filling a straight line scratch, I'd be inclined to overspray lacquer. Light coats, sanding in between as recommended on the product label. Letting final coat cure a week or so before final sanding and polish. 

Earlier this year, I ended up over-spraying the peghead face on one banjo after an unsuccessful attempt at touching up finish bubbles that had appeared at the edges of one tuner washer.

Dec 2, 2022 - 9:10:47 AM
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Alex Z


5108 posts since 12/7/2006

Could leave as is.  

The benefit is that the 20-year-old banjo is still "original" -- not partly refinished.  And very probably no one but the owner would notice the scratch.

The benefit of fixing is that the owner prefers the fixed appearance.

The disadvantage of fixing is that the outcome could be unsatisfactory also.

 To prospective buyer in future:  "Well, there are no cracks, but there was a scratch in headstock that needed the entire headstock refinished."  smiley

Dec 2, 2022 - 9:13:15 AM
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Players Union Member



5986 posts since 10/12/2009

If it was mine......I'd just consider it a "battle scar" and "adds character" and leave it like it is.

Dec 2, 2022 - 10:11:36 AM
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15129 posts since 10/30/2008

My initial impression was similar to yours, a straight edge mark left by D tuner that has the large black plastic rectangular "soap bar" across the peghead front. However, I can't imagine how it cold possibly cut halfway through the veneer.

If it were mine I guess I'd just leave it alone and let dust accumulate on the peghead to somewhat hide the scratch/cut.

Don't try to drop fill it yourself.

Dec 2, 2022 - 10:42:25 AM
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378 posts since 11/10/2022

Here are some more pics. There is no damage to the back side at all. I did the spit test which didnt hide much of it. Like I said, its deep on one side and barely hits the surface on half the scratch.

Ignore the white residue. I was polishing my acoustic with martin polish and figured it couldnt hurt to polish the banjo while I was at it. That polish didnt do much to the scratch but leave some residue that i have since wiped off.

I have two 3rd gen martin acoustics handed down from Grandpa to Dad then me. I have a couple 60s Les Pauls. All handed down from bar musician to bar musician to bar musician. They took immaculate care of all thier instruments and had scratches fixed, pic guards polished etc for 80 years and counting so that future generations can play them in bars too.

This banjo means nothing to me (yet) but its in my DNA to protect the wood, which is my main goal on a cut this small but deep.  The pics arent that great but on one of them you can see how deep it is on the edge...bout halfway through.


Edited by - NotABanjoYoda on 12/02/2022 10:44:14

Dec 2, 2022 - 2:17:53 PM

176 posts since 7/24/2021

If something like a mightyD tuner didn’t do it? … I’m going with someone accidentally cut with box cutter?? It’s crazy how scratches and dings appear. One day you’re playing and look down and you have some flaw that leaves you scratching your head. Who knows??

Dec 4, 2022 - 1:41:49 PM

13883 posts since 6/2/2008

Being no luthier or wood expert, I can't tell if the overlay is rosewood, some other naturally dark wood, or some other dyed wood. I'm also color-blind, and while the color here isn't what typically gives me trouble, I can't trust my color vision.

A pre-cursor to repairing might be to start with knowing what the wood is under the finish. Then match the color the best you can in an alcohol dye, waterbased stain, or touch-up stain pen or marker. If the color is black, you might even get away with a  Sharpie. I don't think you need to fill the scratch with colored filler. Just get color in there and then fill with the clear coat. In over-spraying, the scratch will eventually fill to match the level of the surroundings.

But I could be wrong! I'll leave it to the experienced folks to say whether you should fill the scratch with dark filler. That seems to me like it would give you a dark line of varied width.

Good luck.

Dec 4, 2022 - 1:43:18 PM
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13883 posts since 6/2/2008

Originally posted by RioStat

If it was mine......I'd just consider it a "battle scar" and "adds character" and leave it like it is.

If it were mine, it would bother me no end until I had to try to fix it, then make it worse, then end up with it sort of ok.

Dec 4, 2022 - 1:53:35 PM



2539 posts since 9/16/2007

That looks very square and straight suggesting to me the possibility it is a less than perfect joint.

Dec 6, 2022 - 7:30:22 AM

13883 posts since 6/2/2008

There would be no joint there on a Gibson. I think it's the perfectly straight mark from a set of clamp-on D-tuners. 

Dec 6, 2022 - 11:19:44 AM
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2924 posts since 4/16/2003

Mighty D Tuners don't attach to the front of the peghead.

I'll take A GUESS that the banjo previously had "Cheat-a-Keys" on it, and they were applied "on the tight side", as in... way too much.

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