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Fixing Up An Old Les Paul

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Hi chaps...

not been on here for ages!!!

anyway... let's crack on!!

I bought a cheap vintage brand les paul copy on the cheap... it actually played really nice... but me being the idiot i am decided that I couldn't leave it alone and wanted to do it up...

it had some pretty big dings in it and i decided i wanted to take it back to the wood to start from scratch... but like a tool i used a heat gun to strip the clear coat off...

this was bad for a number of reasons.... firstly... it had binding on it... so that's a bit of a mess... and also with it being a cheap guitar the archtop bubbled and splintered in places...

my question for the resident experts is... what would be the best way to sort it out? I understand there will be a lot of filler and lots of sanding but was hoping someone could advise on the best way to do it...

I haven't got pics at the moment but I plan to take some... I tried to cover it with reflective tape... looked awesome but the tape wasn't sticky enough and kept coming off... so i've decided to do it properly...

any advice would be most appreciated as I understand I've screwed it up myself... was gonna get a new guitar but decided that fixing this one up will get me what a want more than buying a new one!!

Ta peeps!

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with a touch of inventiveness I decided to stick a load of reflective tape on it... see first pic...


now i've taken it off I'm actually thinking it was a bit higher end than it first appeared as it was a properly stained finish.. anyhow.... after destruction with the tape it is now sticky as hell... :D take note peeps...

the next pics are a bit rubbbish... cause I'm a crap photographer....




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Get out the sandpaper and clean it up.I would start with 150 so as not to remove too much wood by accident...then get it all sanded to 220.

Use a sanding block on everything....always...even if it is a rubber one or even if it is a battery on the rounded parts of the carve(D battery..nothing smaller)

You CAN use a razor blade as a scraper if you want,but be careful..pull it with the blade angled away from the direction you are going..you are scraping,not cutting

And don't be in such a hurry..patience now will pay off later. :D

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if I'm honest i don't like binding... and was planning on a coloured base coat.... the initial idea was to sand it right down and stain it green but when I made a mess i decided on the tape... which you have to admit if it was all one sheet it would look pretty good on stage!!! well... i still think so... lol...

as to denatured alcohol... is that metholated spirits? the purple stuff?? i'm in the uk so i think it is.... I'll have a go with that first as if the body was flat i reckon it's sticky enough to hold on to a painted wall unassisted!!! I've got some isopropyl alcohol... will that work or should i just go for the purple stuff?

then with whats left i'll scrape with a blade... I have some from when I was reconditioning a fretboard on my epi les paul....

What's the best way to remove inlay stuff? like the mother of pearl in the headstock? I'd like to pull the vintage logo and swirly's off and fill it with something and maybe paint my own on or something...

as to 160/220 grit.... I would have thought i'd have needed the rougher grades... that may be where i was going wrong before!!... if you look at the lighter section near where the selecter switch is that's still the preservey stuff... might even still be some clearcoat left... will i need to make sure that's gone before I paint it? or can i just level the rest out with filler and prime it?

also... is it definitely better to use a block than a detail sander?

that is all.... for now... :D

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Keep stripping until you reach uniform surface texture, then fill, prime and lay down a solid color coat. In a lot of cases binding is just used to hide seams. That hole near the center below (and between) the tailpiece stud holes tells me you've broken thru a veneer or the first layer of plywood.

Edited by Southpa
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It's eminently salvageable, but it will take a fair amount of understanding as to how the instrument you have is built. The binding can be replaced, but you will need to learn about the best way to remove it without ripping wood fibres/chunks out from the sides. Secondly, knowing how finishes are applied to factory instruments will help prepare you for the amount of effort required in a full strip. That will also help should you want to re-apply a finish.

Forget filler. It really is for amateurs unless you're happy with less than satisfactory results. :D

Nah, filler is just another tool which can be used badly. Again, knowing how to use it and why is important. Do some digging around on the site outside of this thread and research other refinishes. Educate yourself on scrapers, sandpapers and solvents so you know the ins and outs. Asking pertinent questions with a bit of foreknowledge will usually yield results....search is your free unquestioning buddy....

Doing your homework will leave you with a much better result, but with the side effect of an addiction more expensive and harder to kick than smack; guitar building, modification and doohickery. Prepare to end up with too many credit cards, loans and wasted money. Prepare to lose your significant other.

Welcome to the sausage party. Sorry Firefly. :D

Edited by Prostheta
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hehe..over here "the purple stuff" is pvc pipe cleaner...NOT suitable.

So why is it purple?Does that not stain wood?Denatured alcohol is clear as filtered water.

To be honest,on bare wood I would still scrape rather than soak it in alcohol.I suspect the alcohol would take some of the glue residue into the grain and might cause problems when staining..but that is just speculation on my part.

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