1956 Gold Top Re-Finish

Christian Ansorge

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Hi All,
This is my first post. I'm hoping for some advice / feedback.
In 2017 I bought a 1956 GT from a Jan Rossouw in Cape Town, South Africa. He got it in August 1956 for his 14h birthday and played it in bands, pubs, clubs etc. for 40+ years. In 2017 he was I the process of moving into an old age home and selling off his things. I was fortunate enough to buy the LP. He's pictured holding the guitar the day I bought it.

The guitar is very much a "Players" piece as opposed to one that's been under the bed for 50 years. The frets and fretboard were worn, electrics shot, and the top had been re-sprayed a couple of times over the years.

Since purchase I've had it professionally re-fretted and re-wired with period accurate components. NB the pickups, braided wires and selector switch are all original as far as I can tell. Just the pots and caps needed replacing.

The top however was never right. Clearly it had been re-finshed and not very well. So last weekend I decided to see what was underneath and discovered a very nice flamed maple cap, albeit not joined down the centre.

So the question is what next? My gut feel is to send it to Gibson for a late 50's "Burst" top respray, but leave all the rest as is.

Please look at the pics and let me know what you think.

It is a lovely guitar and a pleasure to play. I have other Les Pauls including an R7 and R9. However this original is in a different league. I guess the passage of time does things you simply can't copy in a workshop.

I really would like to do justice to this beautiful vintage instrument.

Looking forward to any comments.

Best

Christian Ansorge
Cape Town
South Africa.
 

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strayedstrater

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I think that top is gorgeous and I'd hate to cover it up. But I wouldn't try to make it a burst. Clear, amber, translucent red. Maybe some modern wacky blue to green fade.

It'll never be original again. If someday in the future you or someone else wants to return it to original specs, it can always be redone in gold at a later date. Avoid direct stain on wood finishes and stick to pigments so that the wood doesn't get too colored.

You like the flame and your gut wants to see it. So go for it.

There wouldn't be anything wrong with doing it in a burst if that's what your gut wants. Lots of people love Norlins with off center seams and mismatched pieces. That top looks a million times better than those.
------------------------------
If you might end up selling it, gold would give the best return.

But if you plan to keep it, do what you want. Your heirs can always have it painted gold if they want.
 

snowscientist

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I would vote for a proper vintage GOLD. Send it to Historic Makeovers, or Yuuki, but please don't burst it. The guitar is a wonderful 56 and should stay that way. It is yours to do as you like, but i would keep it preserved as what it is, a great 56! Congrats on the great purchase, i wish I would find one like that.......
 

Airplane

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If this was mine i would have a very hard time resisting a cherry red á la Clapton/Harrison Lucy.
Once it was refinished it lost A LOT of value already so… Love an off center seam with those kinds of flame.

Whatever you do, do not let Gibson get their dirty fingers on that beauty.
 

Liam

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Christian,

That is an absolute dream "find" of a guitar. Hope you kept the original caps and pots - the latter can probably be restored, the former seldom have that much wrong with them aside from a drift to slightly higher value than on the label.

As many have said, the top will never be original again, so make it into whatever your dream of a great '56 Les Paul might be. For me it would either be Cherry or Gold. That spectacular flame would probably influence me to make it an outlier rather than get back as close as I could to original. The section under the bridge is more appealing to me than most centre-matched tops because the symmetry is totally "organic".

I wouldn't trust Gibson with the refinish, big businesses seldom understand the needs of specialist customers. Yuuki, Kim, and I am sure a few others are out there recreating 50's feel refinishes in period correct materials still. Definitely get the top aged to suit the rest of the guitar. The patina is a big part of the allure for many of us, and if the refinish is in keeping with what's left of the original parts, so much the better.

Fab guitar, congrats! Would love to see some photos of the back of the body and neck, for no reason beyond personal interest in old Gibsons.

Liam
 

IGRocker

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Wine/cherry red would be neat too. You could always refinish the top back to gold if you don’t like it. I agree with the rest on who to have refinish it. I’d never send anything to Gibson.
 

McHenry

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I recommend going with gold and returning it back to it’s original vintage state. 10/10 experience working Kim and his results.
 

dandorledo

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Hi All,
This is my first post. I'm hoping for some advice / feedback.
In 2017 I bought a 1956 GT from a Jan Rossouw in Cape Town, South Africa. He got it in August 1956 for his 14h birthday and played it in bands, pubs, clubs etc. for 40+ years. In 2017 he was I the process of moving into an old age home and selling off his things. I was fortunate enough to buy the LP. He's pictured holding the guitar the day I bought it.

The guitar is very much a "Players" piece as opposed to one that's been under the bed for 50 years. The frets and fretboard were worn, electrics shot, and the top had been re-sprayed a couple of times over the years.

Since purchase I've had it professionally re-fretted and re-wired with period accurate components. NB the pickups, braided wires and selector switch are all original as far as I can tell. Just the pots and caps needed replacing.

The top however was never right. Clearly it had been re-finshed and not very well. So last weekend I decided to see what was underneath and discovered a very nice flamed maple cap, albeit not joined down the centre.

So the question is what next? My gut feel is to send it to Gibson for a late 50's "Burst" top respray, but leave all the rest as is.

Please look at the pics and let me know what you think.

It is a lovely guitar and a pleasure to play. I have other Les Pauls including an R7 and R9. However this original is in a different league. I guess the passage of time does things you simply can't copy in a workshop.

I really would like to do justice to this beautiful vintage instrument.

Looking forward to any comments.

Best

Christian Ansorge
Cape Town
South Africa.
Fanastic Guitar! Just too bad that the great figured flamed cap is not centered... but the result can worked out to look great in the right hands! Good shot Man! Take it easy ! Rock on!
 

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