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Les Paul 52->59 Conversion Pictorial


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The gap between the neck pickup ring and the fingerboard doesn't look much different from photos of 59 bursts I've seen, but I'll have to check my copy of BOTB.

The owner confirms that the tailpiece is slightly angled...not certain if that is true to 59 specs or not. In one of the photos you can see that the builder laid down a pencil line for the tailpiece, so whatever angle is built in there was probably done intentionally.

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Doesn't look like it started out like a "great old guitar".

It looked like it was just about ready to be used as firewood...

What I don't get is, why do you go through all that work to restore an old guitar to its original glory, just to relic it when you're finished............?

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Doesn't look like it started out like a "great old guitar".

It looked like it was just about ready to be used as firewood...

What I don't get is, why do you go through all that work to restore an old guitar to its original glory, just to relic it when you're finished............?

Well, duuuuhhh, so you can pass it off as a real '59 and eBay it for ten times the price!

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Doesn't look like it started out like a "great old guitar".

It looked like it was just about ready to be used as firewood...

What I don't get is, why do you go through all that work to restore an old guitar to its original glory, just to relic it when you're finished............?

I was wondering the same thing...doesn't make much sense to me to put a massive "ding" or "scrape" in the finish after doing such a beautiful job of restoring it. To each his own, I guess.

Does anyone know what kind of machine he used to do the carve on the top? I'd sure like to have one of those. I'm really pretty scared of doing that part after I build my body. I've never carved a top before, and after looking at many "in progress" pics from others, I'm tempted to try it with a spoke shave. Is there one preferred way to do it over other methods?

Edited by Stolysmaster
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You gotta understand, to the LP aficionado an all-orignal '58 or '59 suburst (or a '60 to a lesser degree) is the Holy Grail of guitars. Gibson initially made LP sunbursts only for those three years (1958-1960, around 1600 of them total) and didn't make them again until 1968, so those first 3 years are the cat's meow of Les Pauls. That's one reason (there are 10,000 others) why an all-original '58 or '59 can now go for something like $300,000. Trained ears will tell you these Les Pauls have a totally different sound from anything else produced since. Undoubtedly some of this is mojo, some of it is hype....I'm no Eric Johnson, but I've played 2 original 50's sunbursts, and they ARE different from my '83 Custom, no doubt about it.

The next-best thing is 50's wood re-topped and re-finished in sunburst, which is what you see there. The guy did a really good job on the finish, even going to the length of making the burst more red underneath the pickguard and switch ring (simulated fading).

There is a closet industry dedicated to taking 50s goldtops and either refinishing them or re-topping them. That is fine if you start with something already partially trashed (like that one), but rumor has it that perfectly nice 50's goldtops are being sacrificed to convert them to sunbursts (a crime if you ask me). If that keeps up, the 50s goldtops will eventually be more scarce than the sunbursts.

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As far as tone goes, a gold-top with P90's beats the holy hell out of a flame top with buckers.

As far as tone goes...they're different! I don't agree that one sounds "better" than the other. I like 'em both!

By the way...how does one beat the "holy hell" out of something anyway? :D

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