Gibson style guitar headstock breaks

This is the most common repair I have encountered since I started repairing guitars all those years ago, and sadly it is getting more common. This is a problem less common on cheaper copies as they often have scarf-jointed necks.

If you look how a Gibson style neck is made it is cut out of a single piece of wood. The headstock angle is at about 17 degrees.


This means the grain runs up the length of the neck and when it get to the headstock the grain goes diagonally across it. A weak point. Add to that the opening for the truss rod nut which further weakens the joint.

head cross section

Just look at the above picture and you will see what I mean. This is a cross section of a guitar neck and headstock.

It is always best to use a hard shell guitar case because, if you bang the back or front of the head, it might just come off. If you do decide to spend your hard earned cash on a hard case make sure when you put the guitar in the case that the back of the head does NOT touch the back of the case.  If  the headstock is in contact with the back of the case, this will put the weak point of the headstock /neck joint under pressure which in turn can crack or split the wood.   This will mean you could be spending more money at your local repairer.

If you are unfortunate and the headstock joint breaks/cracks, or snaps, do the following.

  • Loosen the string tension immediately.
  • Do not move the broken joint about.
  • Take it to your local repairer as soon as possible. The longer you leave it, the harder it is to re-set the joint.