1950's Jr Identification

JL251

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Sometime around 1960, my father bought a Les Paul Jr from a music shop in Richardson TX. Over the years, it's been through the ringer. At one point he or someone painted it and all the original hardware has gone missing. Also some repairs done to the headstock, apparently. Nevertheless, what I ended up with is a stripped body, with a hint of the original logo on the headstock.

Long story short, it is one of the only things I have that belonged to him, and I'm having it completely restored. Question I have is if there is any way at all I can date it. The SN, which I presume was on the back of the headstock, is long gone. Are there any other characteristics I can look for that might give me a better idea of the date it was made? Growing up, I remember seeing this with a TV Yellow finish (which is what I will restore it to), and remember hearing that it was possibly a 57' or 58'.

Any info is appreciated. Will post pics once I have the restoration done, but here is what I started with.
 

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Danelectro

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Its from 1954-1956. Without a serial number its impossible to pinpoint the year.

I can help you out with the hardware. email: [email protected]

- Dan
 

jimi55lp

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The neck angle will tell if it was a 1954. 1955-mid 56 will be difficult to determine without a serial# or original harness/pots?
 

delawaregold

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1954 to early 1956. As Scott has said, late in 1956 the pick-up cavity was moved further up
from the Stop Tail hole, to make it more stable.


1956 Junior
56Junior003.JPG


56 Junior002.JPG


DSC00066.JPG
 
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JL251

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Thanks for all the input. Phase 1 is done, and I just got it back today. Bone nut, Lollar 50s Wind P90, fretted and dressed. Plays nice, but g string intonation is a little suspect. Strings are new so need to break them in a bit. Next step is re-finish. So based on the pickup position, It's pretty clear it must be 54-mid 56

LesPaul - 2.jpg


The neck angle will tell if it was a 1954. 1955-mid 56 will be difficult to determine without a serial# or original harness/pots?
I wish to god I had ANY of the original hardware. I remember seeing some of the parts lying around back in the 80s. Had I known then what it was I would have made sure it stayed safe. Unfortunately, I have no idea where it ended up.
What can I look for on the neck angle to tell if it is a 54? If the best I can do is narrow it to 55 or early 56, that will have to do.

Also, my dad's brother (uncle) said the original was definitely TV Yellow. Was that available in 54?. From what I can tell by reading, it looks like TV Yellow started being an option in late 54, after the original sunburst
 

Liam

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Sound about right on year, although full scale length '54 TV Juniors are very rare, evidently most were 3/4 scale length. It's more likely a '55 or '56, but you might never know.

Up to '56 the higher strings will intonate OK, but the G, and low E particularly tend to be flat even with the intonation screw backed off completely on that side. They sorted this in late '56 when they moved the pickup cavity, as they also moved one of the bridge posts a tiny bit. MojoAxe bridge alleviates all this, as well as the tendency to strange resonances. I've fitted them to most of my 50s Juniors, whether the posts were in a good place or not, as they make the guitars a lot more playable for me. That "lightning flash" bridge is probably not helping. Guessing the G string is flat pretty much wherever you put the bridge.

Liam
 

JL251

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Sound about right on year, although full scale length '54 TV Juniors are very rare, evidently most were 3/4 scale length. It's more likely a '55 or '56, but you might never know.

Up to '56 the higher strings will intonate OK, but the G, and low E particularly tend to be flat even with the intonation screw backed off completely on that side. They sorted this in late '56 when they moved the pickup cavity, as they also moved one of the bridge posts a tiny bit. MojoAxe bridge alleviates all this, as well as the tendency to strange resonances. I've fitted them to most of my 50s Juniors, whether the posts were in a good place or not, as they make the guitars a lot more playable for me. That "lightning flash" bridge is probably not helping. Guessing the G string is flat pretty much wherever you put the bridge.

Liam
Thanks. Intonation is not terrible, by any means. G string is actually a bit sharp further up the neck. I can find a happy medium by tuning a little flat to where it's ok up the fretboard. If a MojoAxe bridge will correct that, I may look into it. I'm good with 55 to early 56. About as close as I'll get without the SN.
 
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JL251

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Follow up question.

Assuming what I have is a 55-early 56, will a pickguard from a later 56 or 57 fit? Given the pickup and slight bridge movement, my assumption would be that a pickguard from a model with the pickup moved forward would be OK, but there would be more space between the pickup and pickguard (since mine is back a bit further).
Does this make sense? Same for the backplate.

Pickguardplanet can fabricate a 56 pickguard or a 54. Would either or both of those work?
 

Danelectro

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Is that a lightning bolt bridge that I see on the guitar? If so, I would have to guess that the intonation must be way off. A lightning bolt bridge has the saddles stair-stepped upwards from low-E to high-E and it needs to be mounted on aligned studs which put the bridge relatively horizontal. When a lightning bolt bridge is installed onto a 1950s Les Paul with offset studs, then the increments of the stair-stepping are pretty much doubled and the intonation will suffer greatly. The MojoAxe bridge would make a huge improvement to the intonation.

I have or can make all of the hardware parts you'll need to put the guitar back together. Drop me an email at [email protected]

- Dan

 
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Danelectro

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Follow up question.

Assuming what I have is a 55-early 56, will a pickguard from a later 56 or 57 fit?
A 1957 pickguard will fit, but you'll end up with a larger gap between the pickup and the guard. When the pickup was moved 1/4" away from the bridge in late-1956, the guard was scalloped deeper in order to clear it.





The Junior control cover plates are the same from 1954 thru 1960
 
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JL251

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Is that a lightning bolt bridge that I see on the guitar? If so, I would have to guess that the intonation must be way off. A lightning bolt bridge has the saddles stair-stepped upwards from low-E to high-E and it needs to be mounted on aligned studs which put the bridge relatively horizontal. When a lightning bolt bridge is installed onto a 1950s Les Paul with offset studs, then the increments of the stair-stepping are pretty much doubled and the intonation will suffer greatly. The MojoAxe bridge would make a huge improvement to the intonation.

I have or can make all of the hardware parts you'll need to put the guitar back together. Drop me an email at [email protected]

- Dan

Huge shout out and thanks to Dan (@Danelectro ) at MojoAxe. Got my tailpiece today, put it on and a huge improvement out of the box! Intonation is much better, action feels better and it plays great. Not only that, it came super fast.
 

PlainAllman

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Just out of curiosity what is going on there behind the truss rod nut. It looks like green and white paint.
 

JL251

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Haha, yeah . . . so someone in my family decided years ago to re-paint it this ugly green color. Probably used house paint. I had most of it stripped off, but didn't get into the truss rod area too much. Is a shame, but is what it is. Somehow part of the gibson logo survived.
 

PlainAllman

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That poor little guitar deserves some tlc. I’m glad to see you’re bringing it back to its former glory. It’ll be an amazing family heirloom especially with the story of what it’s been through.
 

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From my experience, the MojoAxe CWT is the best upgrade for a 50’s style wraparound bridge. Not only does it improve intonation, but also eliminates any sitar effect on the high strings due to the string breakpoint on the original 50's wraparound bridge being too rounded.

I have the MojoAxe CWT installed on both of my custom shop reissues and could not be any happier.



 
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Liam

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does this help?

Looks like there is a slight angle
Definitely an angle. I'll dig out '55, '57 and '60 examples of the same shot when I get a moment. '54, '56 and '58 are on the bucket list!

Liam
 

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