Story of My Conversion (52-59)

Discussion in 'Vintage Les Pauls' started by amused, Aug 8, 2017.

  1. amused

    amused Senior Member

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    Hello guys,

    I wanted to share with you guys my journey with a special guitar from the fifties.

    I propose that I go by part to let you guys make comments and so that we can all have a discussion here about her.

    First about the guitar I found, a 52 Les Paul from the very first, with no binding ... story as described by the previous owner:

    "This is as I found the guitar.

    It has been modified to accept humbuckers. As far as I can tell, and according to what Tom observed, the neck has not been reset. The original finish has been stripped and a clear coat was it's replacement. It had the stopbar/tailpiece retrofit onto it, as it had that long single piece wraparound style bridge. The end hole where the original bridge connected on the side of the body has been filled - but it looks to have been done in the mid-late 60s, and the filler they used has depressed slightly. At some point, it had the typical Gibson headstock break - it was a clean break and was repaired so all that is left is a very faint line. Cannot be felt to the touch. The electronics were a hodgepodge and have been swapped out/replaced over the years. The pickups do not work and are not the PAFs. Tom said they were probably some sort of hum knockoff from the late 60s/early 70s. Tuning machines were from the 70s. There are a few pieces of original accessories, including the factory electronics cavity covers, 2 knobs, and a couple of pots. I would assume everything else to be replacements, although the pick guard may be original. It still has original frets, original inlays, and original peghead overlay, as you can see from the photo I sent last night.

    I will however, include everything with the guitar that was on the guitar when I got it.

    As for the story behind this piece - it's fairly unromantic. A friend of mine, her father is a guitar player, and has been for many many years. She mentioned that he had a Les Paul for a very long time which her dad considered to be junk, and had let it sit in his closet for the past 30 years or so. I asked her if I could see it to authenticate it one way or the other, as I love old guitars, she brought it to me, and here we are. Apparently her father hated it as he traded his favorite guitar for it back in his early years and always had some resentment towards this guitar as he never liked it as much as the guitar he traded for it. He never knew anything about it though as he had gotten it in trade, after it had been modified to it's current state.

    More or less, after I got in touch with Tom, authenticated it, learned what it would take to restore it, etc., I presented that to my friends father and told him I'd be glad to connect him with the correct people to restore it, or, I'd be willing to buy it from him and restore it at some point when I could. he didn't want to spend the money, so I bought it from him with the intentions of converting t. I can't afford it at this point, and as much as it sucks to let it go, I think it's the best choice for me. I'd rather get it into the hands of someone who plans on bringing it back to life as opposed to letting it sit in MY closet, as it's been doing for the past two years - for another 20 years."

    Let see the first pictures I received from the seller first:

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    As you can see, the guitar has a beautiful center-seamed maple top, which immediately seduced me. So I decided to buy it and send her to the hand of Tom Bartlett because I knew he would make the best job possible.

    [End of Part 1]
     

    Attached Files:

  2. BrianB

    BrianB Senior Member

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    Subbed. :thumb:

    Let's see where you went with this. I know what *I* woulda done...and I think it'll differ greatly from what was done.
     
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  3. Thermionik

    Thermionik Not Fade Away Premium Member

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    I want to see the finished project. Heck, I am petrified to even THINK about putting my 60's original Bigsby on my '52. Sure - yours was kinda "converted" anyway, but man... that is a scary trip and no messing...
     
  4. amused

    amused Senior Member

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    Hi Brian, I guess you would have converted it back to a 52 goldtop with P90s, am I wrong??
     
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  5. BrianB

    BrianB Senior Member

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    Most likely. Although if I was staring firsthand at that top....it might have gotten a 'burst.
     
  6. deadlyweasel

    deadlyweasel Premium Member

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    Damn that is a cool top.
     
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  7. mdubya

    mdubya Senior Member

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    I would put the hardware and pickups on it as is in the OP and let her rip. I am afraid any further modification will make it less cool and less good.

    ETA: I am curious to see what Tom Bartlett does, though. He is a Maestro.
     
  8. VictorB

    VictorB Formerly LZF Super Mod

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    Very cool!

    That top is very unique.
     
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  9. chasenblues

    chasenblues Senior Member

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    With or without the Bigsby?


    Captureora.JPG
     
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  10. 61LPSG

    61LPSG Senior Member

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    * Gold Top
    * P90s
    * No Bigsby
    Problem solved.

    P.S. Excellent find...Congrats
     
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  11. amused

    amused Senior Member

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    Without, to be honest, I am not using bigsby a lot so my choice was more "tradicional" :)

    But the idea was to respect her past and let past scars visible of course
     
  12. amused

    amused Senior Member

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    Thanks,

    I wuld have loved a goldtop and P90s but you know, with THIS top, I couldn't go back... hehe
     
  13. amused

    amused Senior Member

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    So, guys just to get a little bit forward, I bought the guitar and made the seller send it to Tom Bartlett directly.

    He received her and made a few more pictures:

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    [End of part 2]
     
    Last edited: Aug 10, 2017
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  14. Sct13

    Sct13 Premium Member

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    Subscribed!
     
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  15. Jimmi

    Jimmi Senior Member

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    Tom does great work. It will take a while (was quoted 1 yr at least when I talked to him about a refin project) but will look great when done.

    The damage has been done to originality so go ahead and burst the finish and enjoy. Make sure they address the neck angle issue. Use vintage parts as you can find them.
     
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  16. Sunburstman

    Sunburstman Senior Member

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    I second that, your Les Paul is in excellent hands, Tom Bartlett is the man when it comes LP's!!!!!!
     
  17. judson

    judson Senior Member

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    these threads are great but i am so friggin impatient i wanna see the finished product NOW:hyper:
     
  18. mdubya

    mdubya Senior Member

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    If anyone does anything to that fretboard, they should be locked up, throw away the key. :eek2:
     
  19. amused

    amused Senior Member

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    Guys, maybe I didn't express myself very well, but the beginning of this story was like 2 years ago. I bought this guitar in December 2015, and told Tom to take his time because I was not in a hurry and wanted him to make the best job possible.

    Yu will soon see how it ended up, today I will show you some of the work Tom realized on the guitar. Maybe he could popup in the discussion and explain better than me if anybody have questions I can't answer :)

    Also for the one interested in nice LP guitars and PAFs, something very interesting is coming... stay tuned here !!!
     
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  20. amused

    amused Senior Member

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    Don't worry, the fretboard is not going anywhere, just getting some work to look even better :) It is soooo dark ... wait and see
     

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