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Unread 05-21-2011, 09:12 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Les Paul Finish Checking (natural or not?)

I recently bought this '99 Les Paul Classic. It has some finish checking, but I can't decide if I think it occurred naturally or if somebody took a can of compressed air to it.

It appears on both the top and back. It appears more around the knobs and other typical wear spots (ie, where your arm rests, or where your belt or waist touches the back of the guitar most). It looks pretty natural, but I've heard that the tighter pattern, as opposed to long lines is typical of artificial relic'ing via blow dryer & compressed air... just curious, what do you think?

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Unread 05-22-2011, 02:52 AM   #2 (permalink)
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Re: Les Paul Finish Checking (natural or not?)

who cares?? plug that thing into a jcm 800, dime the volume and rock that SOB out....
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Unread 05-22-2011, 03:02 AM   #3 (permalink)
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Re: Les Paul Finish Checking (natural or not?)

Why would someone bother with the back? At the same time, I wouldn't expect that from a late 90's guitar. So ?????????
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Unread 05-22-2011, 03:05 AM   #4 (permalink)
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Re: Les Paul Finish Checking (natural or not?)

Natural. If someone used the "compressed air" method on it, it would look much worse (like breken glass or spiderwebs).

As was previously mention, just enjoy it. Some people bay BIG money for that!
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Unread 05-22-2011, 04:17 AM   #5 (permalink)
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Re: Les Paul Finish Checking (natural or not?)

I don't see how that is possible as I have a 92 Standard that literally doesn't have a mark or hint of checking and that guitar is 7 years newer than. I'm sure they all don't age exactly the same but I don't see how mine is almost 20 years old and shows no checking at all. Unless the laquer they applied in 99 is far different from what they used in 92. I'm no expert but I just don't see how that much checking could happen in 12 years.

I have close up pics of mine in my albums if you care to look. Like I said, I could be wrong but it just doesn't seem normal to me.
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Unread 05-22-2011, 04:40 AM   #6 (permalink)
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Re: Les Paul Finish Checking (natural or not?)

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Originally Posted by 92Standard View Post
I don't see how that is possible as I have a 92 Standard that literally doesn't have a mark or hint of checking and that guitar is 7 years newer than. I'm sure they all don't age exactly the same but I don't see how mine is almost 20 years old and shows no checking at all. Unless the laquer they applied in 99 is far different from what they used in 92. I'm no expert but I just don't see how that much checking could happen in 12 years.

I have close up pics of mine in my albums if you care to look. Like I said, I could be wrong but it just doesn't seem normal to me.
Lacquer breaks down over time (solvents gas-off, and organic materials decompose) which causes it to become brittle, which leads to cracking/checking.

Also, no two finishes are exactly the same. Even if two guitars are sprayed back-to-back with the same batch of lacquer, the finishes will react differently to the environment.
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Unread 05-22-2011, 04:40 AM   #7 (permalink)
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Re: Les Paul Finish Checking (natural or not?)

could have been caused by:

poor original application - recoating too quickly for example.
a poorly executed refinish
excessive temperature/humidity changes at some point in its life

the trouble with a used guitar is that you have no way of knowing what it has been subjected to prior to your acquisition of it. whatever has caused it you will either have to learn to love it or do a refinish!
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Unread 05-22-2011, 06:07 AM   #8 (permalink)
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Re: Les Paul Finish Checking (natural or not?)

Probably got left in the back of a car or a van overnight would be my guess
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Unread 05-22-2011, 06:23 AM   #9 (permalink)
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Re: Les Paul Finish Checking (natural or not?)

more photos
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Unread 05-22-2011, 08:07 AM   #10 (permalink)
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Re: Les Paul Finish Checking (natural or not?)

Ive seen worse on 90's les pauls
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Unread 05-22-2011, 08:44 AM   #11 (permalink)
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Re: Les Paul Finish Checking (natural or not?)

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Originally Posted by 92Standard View Post
I don't see how that is possible as I have a 92 Standard that literally doesn't have a mark or hint of checking and that guitar is 7 years newer than. I'm sure they all don't age exactly the same but I don't see how mine is almost 20 years old and shows no checking at all. Unless the laquer they applied in 99 is far different from what they used in 92. I'm no expert but I just don't see how that much checking could happen in 12 years.

I have close up pics of mine in my albums if you care to look. Like I said, I could be wrong but it just doesn't seem normal to me.
I have an '87 Standard and there is absolutely no signs of this on mine. But on the other hand, mine spent most of its life in a case under the original owner's bed. It's almost perfect. Her days of hiding under the bed are over now that she'd mine.
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Unread 05-22-2011, 10:59 AM   #12 (permalink)
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Re: Les Paul Finish Checking (natural or not?)

Is checking present on the neck and headstock as well? Looks like it spent some time in the cold and was brought in and wasn't given time to acclimate before the case was opened.
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Unread 05-22-2011, 11:09 AM   #13 (permalink)
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Re: Les Paul Finish Checking (natural or not?)

I don't have a problem with the checking. I was just curious if people had thoughts on whether it might be artificial or not.

The guitar is at my practice space, so I can't post more pictures that show the checking very well right now. But here are some others of the guitar.

You can make it out a little bit where your arm rests/rubs in the one photo of the top, but the rest you can't see it. It only shows up at the right angle.

Anyway, it's a good looking guitar, and I'm not too worried about it. The ceramic pickups have been replaced with covered BBPro's. With the exception of the greenish inlays, I like the look of it a lot.



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Unread 05-22-2011, 11:26 AM   #14 (permalink)
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Re: Les Paul Finish Checking (natural or not?)



Man, that guitar is gorgeous. My dream come true. Good score.
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Unread 05-22-2011, 02:19 PM   #15 (permalink)
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Re: Les Paul Finish Checking (natural or not?)

First of all, that is an absolutely gorgeous guitar!!! Really like the plain top honey burst!!! And I think the checking is cool as it just adds character. I guess it IS possible from what I've read here. I wish my guitar WOULD start checking!!! LOL It has not been gigged but has been played consistantly (jamming with friends as well) the entire time I've had it since 1992. It's almost too new yet!!!
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Unread 05-23-2011, 12:16 AM   #16 (permalink)
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Re: Les Paul Finish Checking (natural or not?)

I suppose if the guitar was frigid from a car trunk in cold weather the heat from the guy's arm could be responsible for that pattern, if he started playing it while it was still cold. And the back from his body?

Nice guitar BTW.
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Unread 05-23-2011, 06:38 PM   #17 (permalink)
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Re: Les Paul Finish Checking (natural or not?)

No Gibson that I have has a pattern like that. And I have Gibsons dating to 1949. I'm guessing some half-fast relicing technique.
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Unread 05-23-2011, 07:03 PM   #18 (permalink)
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Re: Les Paul Finish Checking (natural or not?)

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No Gibson that I have has a pattern like that. And I have Gibsons dating to 1949. I'm guessing some half-fast relicing technique.
Personally, that's what I think as well. A relicing job. I just cannot believe a 99 would check like that in 12 years. I also had a 1990 Standard that I sold in 2003 (regret it every day) and it too was flawless regarding paint as well. No checking at all. Not even a hint. Like I said, my 92 looks like it did the day I bought it and even I thought it would start to check after almost 20 years.
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Unread 05-23-2011, 07:18 PM   #19 (permalink)
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Re: Les Paul Finish Checking (natural or not?)

Yeah, I'm undecided on whether it's "natural" or not, but I tend to think that it either occurred unintentionally or was induced intentionally with unintended results.

I lean toward it being "natural" in some way though. It is concentrated most in high stress areas for the finish: around the knobs, where the guitar rests against one's body, near contact points for hardware, etc. This either occurred with an incredible amount of accuracy and forethought, or was induced by a "natural" or unnatural shortcoming in the finish. The lines and pattern are too fine to be any kind of razor blade job. So, most likely is either the hair dryer/compressed air method, or some kind of unintended environmental cause.

Again, I'm quickly growing attached to this guitar and it doesn't really matter. It sounds and plays really nice, and that's what matters most.

However, I'm still curious if anyone has any photos of checking intentionally caused by the compressed air method?
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Unread 05-23-2011, 07:28 PM   #20 (permalink)
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Re: Les Paul Finish Checking (natural or not?)

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Originally Posted by ksms View Post
Yeah, I'm undecided on whether it's "natural" or not, but I tend to think that it either occurred unintentionally or was induced intentionally with unintended results.

I lean toward it being "natural" in some way though. It is concentrated most in high stress areas for the finish: around the knobs, where the guitar rests against one's body, near contact points for hardware, etc. This either occurred with an incredible amount of accuracy and forethought, or was induced by a "natural" or unnatural shortcoming in the finish. The lines and pattern are too fine to be any kind of razor blade job. So, most likely is either the hair dryer/compressed air method, or some kind of unintended environmental cause.

Again, I'm quickly growing attached to this guitar and it doesn't really matter. It sounds and plays really nice, and that's what matters most.

However, I'm still curious if anyone has any photos of checking intentionally caused by the compressed air method?
Since all of the checked spots are concentrated to areas that come in contact with one's body, that tells me that the previous owner may have been very sweaty, because sweat (or more specifically, the acids in sweat) can cause the finish to break down faster, which in turn causes it to become very brittle.

Intentionally or not, it looks great to me, and isn't really a cause for concern. So, just enjoy her, she's a beauty. And, don't turn into one of those "OMG, I just got a pinhead sized scratch on my guitar! What am I going to do!?" type of people.
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Unread 05-23-2011, 07:39 PM   #21 (permalink)
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Re: Les Paul Finish Checking (natural or not?)

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... don't turn into one of those "OMG, I just got a pinhead sized scratch on my guitar! What am I going to do!?" type of people.
Nah, my other 2 Les Pauls are Studios. This LPC is the most I ever spent on a guitar, but I'm not about to change all of my bad guitar handling practices. If I wanted to be a ninny, I'd buy a high-dollar PRS.

I was just surprised that this guitar, younger than either of my studios, one of which has a translucent finish, was checking. The clearcoat on the studios does seem thinner, though. Do the studios have a poly finish?
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Unread 05-23-2011, 07:43 PM   #22 (permalink)
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Re: Les Paul Finish Checking (natural or not?)

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Nah, my other 2 Les Pauls are Studios. This LPC is the most I ever spent on a guitar, but I'm not about to change all of my bad guitar handling practices. If I wanted to be a ninny, I'd buy a high-dollar PRS.

I was just surprised that this guitar, younger than either of my studios, one of which has a translucent finish, was checking. The clearcoat on the studios does seem thinner, though. Do the studios have a poly finish?
Glad to hear it!

And, no, Studios don't have a poly finish (Gibson doesn't use poly on any of their guitars).
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Unread 05-24-2011, 01:44 AM   #23 (permalink)
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Re: Les Paul Finish Checking (natural or not?)

I agree with what you said ksms.....in the end, it doesn't really matter how the checking appeared. I actually think it looks cool and gives the guitar character. Like I said, I wish my 92 would start checking but it doesn't look like thats gonna happen any time soon.

You have a beautiful guitar and I love the color!!! You said it sounds and plays good and thats what really matters as you want to make beautiful music with it. Thats what it was designed to do!!!

Now play the hell out of it!!!
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Unread 05-24-2011, 01:55 AM   #24 (permalink)
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Re: Les Paul Finish Checking (natural or not?)

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Personally, that's what I think as well. A relicing job. I just cannot believe a 99 would check like that in 12 years. I also had a 1990 Standard that I sold in 2003 (regret it every day) and it too was flawless regarding paint as well. No checking at all. Not even a hint. Like I said, my 92 looks like it did the day I bought it and even I thought it would start to check after almost 20 years.
for what it's worth i have a 1990 that is checked all over. i have owned it since new... i have gigged it which means occasional overnights in minnesota winter (-20)and i think what is worse is leaving a hot club with a hot guitar after playing it for 4 hours then tossing into a -20 degree car... whatever, it is certainly possible for it to be naturally checked. and keep in mind, the whole guitar can check in one night in the trunk... or just parts, mine started on the back of the neck...
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Unread 05-24-2011, 04:01 AM   #25 (permalink)
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Re: Les Paul Finish Checking (natural or not?)

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for what it's worth i have a 1990 that is checked all over. i have owned it since new... i have gigged it which means occasional overnights in minnesota winter (-20)and i think what is worse is leaving a hot club with a hot guitar after playing it for 4 hours then tossing into a -20 degree car... whatever, it is certainly possible for it to be naturally checked. and keep in mind, the whole guitar can check in one night in the trunk... or just parts, mine started on the back of the neck...
Very true and good point as that drastic change in weather could most certainly be the culprit. Like I said, I'm not a gigging muscian so my guitars are not exposed to extreme changes in temp like someone who gigs and takes the guitar all over. Well, I've changed my mind (AGAIN..LOL) and maybe it IS possible. Learn something new all the time on MLP and thats why I'm here!
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Unread 05-24-2011, 11:35 AM   #26 (permalink)
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Re: Les Paul Finish Checking (natural or not?)

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. . . I don't see how mine is almost 20 years old and shows no checking at all. . . . I'm no expert but I just don't see how that much checking could happen in 12 years.
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. . . I was just surprised that this guitar, younger than either of my studios, one of which has a translucent finish, was checking. . . .
Like others have said, checking can happen very quickly.

The age of a guitar has very little correlation to the amount of checking it has. After a nitrocellulose finish has completely cured, it is susceptible to checking-- primarily due to extreme temperature/humidity swings.

You can get last year's guitars to check by taking them immediately from a cold/wet atmosphere into a dry heated building. Or vice versa, an air-conditioned home into a humid summer environment.

Peace

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Unread 05-24-2011, 06:20 PM   #27 (permalink)
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Re: Les Paul Finish Checking (natural or not?)

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I don't see how that is possible as I have a 92 Standard that literally doesn't have a mark or hint of checking and that guitar is 7 years newer than. I'm sure they all don't age exactly the same but I don't see how mine is almost 20 years old and shows no checking at all. Unless the laquer they applied in 99 is far different from what they used in 92. I'm no expert but I just don't see how that much checking could happen in 12 years.

I have close up pics of mine in my albums if you care to look. Like I said, I could be wrong but it just doesn't seem normal to me.
I think the laquer was done different in the 90's. then I think in the early 2000's they started doing it the old fashioned way.

A pupil of mine has got a les paul classic, its prob from the mid 90's. you can tell the guitar has been played but hasnt aged the cool way if you know what I mean. it seems its more poly. my 2003 Les Paul is def ageing the cool proper way. Thats my 2 cents on the subject!
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Unread 05-24-2011, 06:41 PM   #28 (permalink)
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Re: Les Paul Finish Checking (natural or not?)

it can be done using a razor blade, it is hard to tell if it is natural or not, it is unusual to get checking like that on a guitar of that age, because some time in the 70's Gibson started to added plasticizes to the nitro lacquer and once they did this the finish did not age the same way, best to ask Nico he is the expert on aging finishes, he will most probably be able to determine one way or the other for you
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Unread 05-24-2011, 08:50 PM   #29 (permalink)
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Re: Les Paul Finish Checking (natural or not?)

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I think the laquer was done different in the 90's. then I think in the early 2000's they started doing it the old fashioned way.

A pupil of mine has got a les paul classic, its prob from the mid 90's. you can tell the guitar has been played but hasnt aged the cool way if you know what I mean. it seems its more poly. my 2003 Les Paul is def ageing the cool proper way. Thats my 2 cents on the subject!
I didn't know that Gibson changed the way they apply nitro from the early 90's to 2000. Also, I sure could be wrong but you mentioned early 90's may be more poly? Never heard that and as far as I'm aware, there isn't any poly coating on my 92 Standard. I know it's certainly not made poorly as early 90's Les Pauls are known for being a great time regarding quality and wood choice (known as the "good wood" era) at Gibson.

Again, I never read that Gibson applied any poly coating on their guitars. Someone correct me if I'm wrong as I sure don't claim to know all.
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Unread 05-24-2011, 08:57 PM   #30 (permalink)
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Re: Les Paul Finish Checking (natural or not?)

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I didn't know that Gibson changed the way they apply nitro from the early 90's to 2000. Also, I sure could be wrong but you mentioned early 90's may be more poly? Never heard that and as far as I'm aware, there isn't any poly coating on my 92 Standard. I know it's certainly not made poorly as early 90's Les Pauls are known for being a great time regarding quality and wood choice (known as the "good wood" era) at Gibson.

Again, I never read that Gibson applied any poly coating on their guitars. Someone correct me if I'm wrong as I sure don't claim to know all.
it was changed a long time before the 90's and still today has the plasticizes in it today, this is why people buy new Gibson historic reissues and pay a lot of money to have them refinished with vintage correct lacquer
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