1953 Les Paul Restoration – Disassembly and Cleaning

Removing the control covers revealed that this guitar was originally a rare, all-gold model.

The only way to properly remove a finish from a vintage guitar is through careful scraping. The use of chemical strippers is avoided due to the potential damage to original elements on the guitar such as binding, but more so due to the solvents soaking into the very dry wood which will cause paint adhesion issues. This problem can manifest itself months or even years down the road with the finish flaking off.

Removal of the old finish via scraping with the proper tools and techniques leaves a perfectly smooth, clean finish, superior to that of sanding and removes none of the wood. The various dents, dings, and belt buckle wear are repaired through a proprietary process which literally un-dents the wood. Again, no wood is removed or added and no wood fillers are used, leaving the body of the guitar just like it left the factory.

The pickup cover in the foreground is in the process of being cleaned, having already had most of the varnish carefully removed. The pickup cover in the background has not been touched yet. What is vital in a restoration process is to remove the dirt and foreign matter without removing the original patina. If the original wear and coloration is gone, you might as well put on reproduction parts… as you’ve lost the value that comes with the authenticity and age of original pieces.

<- Previous Page - Next Page ->

JW Guitar Restoration - Home