1980 Greco EGF1200 Super Real restoration and '50s makeover.

Jumping@shadows

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Hi all, as some of you may know I restore vintage '50s and '60s Gibson guitars, specialising in 'burst' conversions where I find trashed '50s Goldtops, repair, rebuild and refinish them to late '50s Burst spec using correct methods and materials.
While I live and breath vintage Gibson guitars, I've always had a niggling curiosity about vintage MIJ LP's, but after a couple of lukewarm experiences with '79-'81 Tokai guitars I'd pretty much given up on them....until I spotted a beat up, split veneer EGF1200 with original DRY-Z for sale in the MIJ classifieds, and took a punt.
While a comparatively cheap instrument, the BRW board and supposed old Honduran mahogany really appealed and I wanted to see what all the hype about these DRY Z was about, and I'm happy to say despite the funky non vintage correct construction like the multipiece back, poly/nitro hybrid finish and the dreaded veneer flame top, it's a KILLER guitar, and totally worthy of a vintage makeover.
The veneer was split in multiple places, and I wasn't a fan of the rather orange finish so I immediately began removing the very thick multi ply, cross banded veneer.
 

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Jumping@shadows

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I was hoping for a decent centre seam plain top, but removing the veneer revealed a five piece block board with a rather dark mismatched length on the bass side, but a near centre seam join that looked OK, so I first attempted bleaching to even out the look.
 

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Jumping@shadows

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The flame is deep and reactive, and I would never guess it were a thin veneer, and it has the look of a real '59 uber burst with wild tiger flame, no book matching and flat grain cross grain, and with sealer coats it really POPS!
I stripped and prepped the body which is indeed excellent cafe au lait Honduran mahogany, and pore filled with deep cherry oil based filler, ready for aniline cherry colour coats later this week.
I intend to shoot a NOS '59 cherry burst then let it fade naturally to a honey blonde with greenish hues, and I expect it'll be a jaw dropping guitar on completion, and will update as I go ;)
 

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wulfman

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Thanks for sharing this, you have amazing skills with restoration. Too bad about the 5-piece top, that is really disappointing to see though it seems like it sounds and plays well despite that.
 

mono

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Really great thread this, thanks for the detailed process. I had no idea 1200's had multiplier tops like that... They have been sold at premium prices for a long time. Must've been the Z's!
Cant wait to see the end product.
 

J-Dizzle

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That new veneer is probably the nicest veneer I've ever seen.

Having said that... the wood under the original veneer was killer! Its just a shame that it was so many pieces! Even a 3 piece top would have still looked great.

Thanks for posting the pics.
 

jimmyjames

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Forgot to ask, J@s, what was lukewarm about the Tokais you tried? I'm not outta shape about it, I've just never had or tried one, stopped at Grecos :yesway:
 

Jumping@shadows

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Thanks for sharing this, you have amazing skills with restoration. Too bad about the 5-piece top, that is really disappointing to see though it seems like it sounds and plays well despite that.
I was disappointed by the multi piece top, especially as I found a close to centre seam when the first chunk of veneer came off, and really with a factory produced guitar such as this, any economic saving from a mismatched 5 piece would be negligible over a mismatched two piece, but the guitar really does sound fantastic, and your average '50s Gibson Gold top will have at least 3 on average ;)
 

Jumping@shadows

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Really great thread this, thanks for the detailed process. I had no idea 1200's had multiplier tops like that... They have been sold at premium prices for a long time. Must've been the Z's!
Cant wait to see the end product.
Thanks man :) The original veneer was almost 3mm thick, and actually a cross banded Spruce and Maple laminate like an ES guitar, so it's a very robust and well conceived system imo, and some pretty serious skill and machinery were used to execute it.
Another cool detail is the binding is '50s correct cellulose with that distinct menthol smell when working it, and the finish, while some kind of poly/nitro mix was hard and brittle and responded much like pure nitro when scraping, and along with the genuine Braz RW, excellent Honduran mahogany it's a premium instrument at the fundamental level.
 

Jumping@shadows

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That new veneer is probably the nicest veneer I've ever seen.

Having said that... the wood under the original veneer was killer! Its just a shame that it was so many pieces! Even a 3 piece top would have still looked great.

Thanks for posting the pics.
Thanks man- it's a killer piece of eastern maple and I took great care in laying out the halves to avoid an obvious bookmatch and placing the deepest flame in the coolest spots- the switch area has full finger wide claw figure like Wolverine has been at it, and I deliberately located a wide swatch of triangle figure between the pickups as a nod to Keef's 'Claw'.
 

Jumping@shadows

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Forgot to ask, J@s, what was lukewarm about the Tokais you tried? I'm not outta shape about it, I've just never had or tried one, stopped at Grecos :yesway:
I really didn't like the finish- felt dull and slightly tacky like poly, and they just were not 'quick', bright and zingy guitars like the '50s LP's I'm used to.. I intended to find a tatty LS80 with one piece back/solid top, but the mahogany used doesn't look like Honduran to me, and is always quarter sawn unlike '50s, and I place a great premium on BRW, so while the Greco deviates in construction, from a material perspective it ticks all the boxes.
 

Dalko

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I was disappointed by the multi piece top, especially as I found a close to centre seam when the first chunk of veneer came off, and really with a factory produced guitar such as this, any economic saving from a mismatched 5 piece would be negligible over a mismatched two piece, but the guitar really does sound fantastic, and your average '50s Gibson Gold top will have at least 3 on average ;)
Man, your work is great, and for the first time we can see what is under veneer cap on Greco EGF-1200.

Disappointment. Still the woods seem to have real quality ...

By the way, on the picture here there is 6 pieces of maple, non?

 


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