Repairing a wasted 53 Les Paul Gold

If you have a string instrument of any kind that needs fixing, a mistake you made in building a new instrument that you need to "disappear," or a question about the ethics of altering an older instrument, ask here. Please note that it will be much easier for us to help you decide on the best repair method if you post some pictures of the problem.
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Derek Lenard
Posts: 10
Joined: Thu May 07, 2015 9:10 pm

Repairing a wasted 53 Les Paul Gold

Post by Derek Lenard »

Hello Friends! Its been too long wanted to get some expert advice on a 53 gold top that pretty much saw it all.

Its a 53 that was converted to a new bridge in the late 60s. its a three piece top with the logo lower on the headstock, two pots are dated 53 and two from the late 60s. It also has a 2.5 neck angle so the replacement bridge was sanded down to fit.

The neck broke off and was repaired, it then broke off again and was repaired and a lot of bondo added. Made the joint a complete mess. The owner wants to keep the original inlay but I need to glue a new face over it to hide some of the missing pieces of wood. I am going to add splines to rebuild it, then glue a plate on the back to hide the missing pieces there as well.

My thought was to bandsaw off the head plate and reuse that inlay on another piece of holly. Paint it black and call it a day. The issue I am running into is that the truss rod sticks out just enough that I am worried my saw will hit it. I don't want to pull the truss rod out and put a new one in. It still works fine and I feel like I am opening another set of problems if I do that.

https://imgur.com/gallery/CQfmpI9


Any other thoughts on this?

Mark Wybierala
Posts: 469
Joined: Fri Feb 03, 2012 10:14 am
Location: Central New Jersey

Re: Repairing a wasted 53 Les Paul Gold

Post by Mark Wybierala »

I would walk away. I'd encourage the owner to send it to gibson. The client is looking for a miracle. I know a guy who could maybe pull it off but this looks like a great opportunity to fail.

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Peter Wilcox
Posts: 1107
Joined: Sun Jan 08, 2012 1:31 am
Location: Northeastern California

Re: Repairing a wasted 53 Les Paul Gold

Post by Peter Wilcox »

I can't open your image link.
Maybe I can't fix it, but I can fix it so no one can fix it

Clay Schaeffer
Posts: 1365
Joined: Fri Jan 06, 2012 12:04 pm

Re: Repairing a wasted 53 Les Paul Gold

Post by Clay Schaeffer »

You could use an oscillating tool and plunge cut when you get to the truss rod area. It does look like a "can of worms" project. What is the owner trying to accomplish with the work?

Derek Lenard
Posts: 10
Joined: Thu May 07, 2015 9:10 pm

Re: Repairing a wasted 53 Les Paul Gold

Post by Derek Lenard »

surprised by a few of these responses...

owner wants a playable restored guitar. I can do the same work gibson can do.

At this point I am going to slice off the veneer inlay and put it in a new piece of holly.

Mark Wybierala
Posts: 469
Joined: Fri Feb 03, 2012 10:14 am
Location: Central New Jersey

Re: Repairing a wasted 53 Les Paul Gold

Post by Mark Wybierala »

I would think that a new neck would be more straight forward and without all of the unknowns. A new neck is what Gibson would do. It would be a guitar without potential issues. Maybe your headstock repair can be successful but in the end, its a structure that is not as originally designed. There is no way to determine if there are other hidden fractures that failed to separate when the damage occurred. The last repair on this headstock was done in a questionable manner. I've encountered a nearly exact situation as this. The guy broke the headstock. I repaired it. The guy broke it again by dropping the guitar on stage. It broke at a new location. I repaired it again. The guy broke it again -- again at another location by admitted abuse. I walked away and got slighted for lack of skills. Gibson wanted approximately $1300 to replace the neck. First time repair of a broken headstock is reasonable and generally a straight forward and dependable process. But subsequent repairs become less and less reasonable. Its a matter of effort/risk/reward. There is so much other reasonable work to do for other clients. I wouldn't bother. If the guitar was your own property, what would you do? What would be the right thing to do? The client's desires need to be measured against the potential end result. Not every client who presents a problem can have their desires fulfilled. They are not luthiers. Collector value is nill with this amount damage and repair if honest to a buyer. The baby is ugly. If you're up to this with your current plans, you certainly could make a new neck -- even use the original fretboard.

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