My 1952 altered and tortured Goldtop

charlie chitlins

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The cool thing about gold tops is you can patch up a ravaged top and the paint hides everything. The low Mojoaxe or Glazer bridge can make it play as well as anything while using the original tailpiece. I happen to love that tailpiece and own an ES225 because it's unlikely I'll be able to afford a 52 Lester.
At this point, you can hardly make a mistake...give it some sleep, follow your heart, plug it in and turn it up.
 

rialcnis

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My guitar was seen today, by Ryan in LA area and I guess I am going to take action on what needs to be done.

I was told, essentially my '52 was converted to a '57, when Milt Owens worked on it in 1967. My own choice was to restore as much as possible to a 1952, or take the 57 conversion further.

So as Neely had already said, Ryan confirmed when Milt Owens put in the humbuckers, he never did a neck angle change. Ryan said the action is a little high. (although I find it very playable as it is) So much better than when had the trapeze.

I had been thinking to just do a Goldtop refinish, and have the trapeze put on. but now it looks like I am going to do all the hardware to proper '57, including tuners, patch the holes, repair the missing binding piece. Neck angle, and rather than Goldtop refinish----maybe Burst instead....why not?

The only issue going sunburst, will be the patched hole between the knobs will be difficult to mask and will probably show.. (Unless he works a miracle.)

I think I am settled on this plan now. Everything in the conversion will be documented and then the guitar will get a honest appraisal, so my daughters will know what they have got, if something happened to me, (unless I sold it in a weak moment.)

I was caregiver for my mom for years so my personal life and freedom was limited 24/7 .... and she passed away at 97 yrs (not covid) on April 14th ---I thought she would last till past 100.. I am still getting over that..

So now the lockdown is still confining me but I am going take the plunge and have the guitar work done.

The existing humbuckers are apparently early 60's just after PAF's and before the T-Tops, so says Ryan.

I will commit to this plan in the next few days. Am I doing the right thing? lol
 
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lpfan1980

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My guitar was seen today, by Ryan in LA area and I guess I am going to take action on what needs to be done.

I was told, essentially my '52 was converted to a '57, when Milt Owens worked on it in 1967. My own choice was to restore as much as possible to a 1952, or take the 57 conversion further.

So as Neely had already said, Ryan confirmed when Milt Owens put in the humbuckers, he never did a neck angle change. Ryan said the action is a little high. (although I find it very playable as it is) So much better than when had the trapeze.

I had been thinking to just do a Goldtop refinish, and have the trapeze put on. but now it looks like I am going to do all the hardware to proper '57, including tuners, patch the holes, repair the missing binding piece. Neck angle, and rather than Goldtop refinish----maybe Burst instead....why not?

The only issue going sunburst, will be the patched hole between the knobs will be difficult to mask and will probably show.. (Unless he works a miracle.)

I think I am settled on this plan now. Everything in the conversion will be documented and then the guitar will get a honest appraisal, so my daughters will know what they have got, if something happened to me, (unless I sold it in a weak moment.)

I was caregiver for my mom for years so my personal life and freedom was limited 24/7 .... and she passed away at 97 yrs (not covid) on April 14th ---I thought she would last till past 100.. I am still getting over that..

So now the lockdown is still confining me but I am going take the plunge and have the guitar work done.

The existing humbuckers are apparently early 60's just after PAF's and before the T-Tops, so says Ryan.

I will commit to this plan in the next few days. Am I doing the right thing? lol
Do what you feel is best -its aspecial guitar-Sorry to hear about your mother I lost my mother at age 68 in 2018 named my Gibson Les Paul after her nickname-show us pics love vintage guitars!.
 

JMP

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My guitar was seen today, by Ryan in LA area and I guess I am going to take action on what needs to be done.

I was told, essentially my '52 was converted to a '57, when Milt Owens worked on it in 1967. My own choice was to restore as much as possible to a 1952, or take the 57 conversion further.

So as Neely had already said, Ryan confirmed when Milt Owens put in the humbuckers, he never did a neck angle change. Ryan said the action is a little high. (although I find it very playable as it is) So much better than when had the trapeze.

I had been thinking to just do a Goldtop refinish, and have the trapeze put on. but now it looks like I am going to do all the hardware to proper '57, including tuners, patch the holes, repair the missing binding piece. Neck angle, and rather than Goldtop refinish----maybe Burst instead....why not?

The only issue going sunburst, will be the patched hole between the knobs will be difficult to mask and will probably show.. (Unless he works a miracle.)

I think I am settled on this plan now. Everything in the conversion will be documented and then the guitar will get a honest appraisal, so my daughters will know what they have got, if something happened to me, (unless I sold it in a weak moment.)

I was caregiver for my mom for years so my personal life and freedom was limited 24/7 .... and she passed away at 97 yrs (not covid) on April 14th ---I thought she would last till past 100.. I am still getting over that..

So now the lockdown is still confining me but I am going take the plunge and have the guitar work done.

The existing humbuckers are apparently early 60's just after PAF's and before the T-Tops, so says Ryan.

I will commit to this plan in the next few days. Am I doing the right thing? lol
I’m very sorry for the loss of your mother.

Congrats on getting you Les Paul restored. Can’t wait to see the finished result.
 

rialcnis

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I'm going to get the work done then decide whether I go Goldtop or Burst of any kind. I think it has some odd looking grain Which I don't like hiding under gold, but I don't know yet.
 
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agogeter

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at least your schallers have the in line screws instead of the more invasive side tangs. i wonder if nickel grovers would replace those? mass equalls sustain
 

agogeter

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I'd do this. If you're going to get new gold hardware, I'd look for vintage correct reproduction pieces or even real vintage. Only things I would change would be the tailpiece, bridge, and studs. But if you like how your guitar sounds now, I wouldn't bother changing it unless the look bothered you. Besides, you may have some real old vintage stuff installed there already since it rings so well. If the tuners are working fine I'd leave those alone as well.

Definitely paint it how it was, and get your wiring set up just how you like it. Besides what you're planning, I'd get three screws for the pick up rings two for the neck, one for the bridge, and a toggle switch back plate (three additional screws needed) and be done.

I'm not a fan of having fret work done or cleaning the fret board, but if it's bothering your playing I'd get some fret dressing done. If tuning issues are becoming a problem your nut or bridge saddles may need to be tended to. Otherwise keep playing it mate.

Some people here are obsessed with having to have every guitar vintage correct in every aspect and restored to its original glory. You don't seem to fit that style of thinking so be wary, it's your guitar. Also, don't sell it.
i like to clean the fretboard when i change strings. when i get a new (new old) guitar sometimes the filth that comes off is nasty. the rosewood or ebony hides it. i dont want that nasty d.n.a. rubbing into my pores when i play it. i use a damp cloth thats kind of wet more than damp. also some old fret boards have dried out. i can look at them and tell when they are 'thirsty' i take filtered olive oil and soak it down, let it soak in if it will and rub it in real good. its like night and day visually a lot of times. and the board just feels so much better! i read that stradovarious used olive oil as well
i did my one owner 36 d-18 the other night. the fretboard now has this awesome dark black sheen to it.
this is just what i do. guitar maintenance it seems is a very personal matter
 

jimi55lp

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I was just looking at the cutaway and I don't see a maple smile? How wide is the wire channel where it enters the control panel from the jack? If it's a 1952 or even early 53 it should be 3/8 " in diameter. I believe that changed to the same diameter as the jack cavity under the jack plate around serial # 3 1600 in 1953.
 
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rialcnis

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i like to clean the fretboard when i change strings. when i get a new (new old) guitar sometimes the filth that comes off is nasty. the rosewood or ebony hides it. i dont want that nasty d.n.a. rubbing into my pores when i play it. i use a damp cloth thats kind of wet more than damp. also some old fret boards have dried out. i can look at them and tell when they are 'thirsty' i take filtered olive oil and soak it down, let it soak in if it will and rub it in real good. its like night and day visually a lot of times. and the board just feels so much better! i read that stradovarious used olive oil as well
i did my one owner 36 d-18 the other night. the fretboard now has this awesome dark black sheen to it.
this is just what i do. guitar maintenance it seems is a very personal matter
The Fretboard is being cleaned and new frets wires as needed. The nut is replaced. Binding repair and patched holes, Readjust the tailpiece. The neck angle was readjusted. Klausons. I would expect it to be in the top refinish stage soon. I haven't seen it yet. Ryan is taking photos as it goes. I am waiting patiently.... it will still be identifiable as a 1952 to 1957 -late 50'conversion from the original tailpiece hole. All documented.

I spoke to him a month ago. Will talk to him soon, I will still have a final decision on the refinish. The patching of the hole will have to perfectly match to chose a burst finish, so chances are it will be an appropriately aged goldtop. I need to talk to him and have him send me photos.
 
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rialcnis

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I was just looking at the cutaway and I don't see a maple smile? How wide is the wire channel where it enters the control panel from the jack? If it's a 1952 or even early 53 it should be 3/8 " in diameter. I believe that changed to the same diameter as the jack cavity under the jack plate around serial # 3 1600 in 1953.
If the photos I posted some years ago , of the cavity don't show what you are asking, I will enquire about it. Not sure what you mean about the "smile". It's an early 52 according to all the Luthiers that have seen it.
 

bum

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I flipped flopped again...I'm sticking to the '57 Goldtop---not a burst. It will be wonderful.
Yes!
Really support this decision.
I have to say though I adore the guitar the way it is as well, it's honestly one of the nicest guitars I've seen in a long long time, in it's current state.
Good luck with it all though, it's a great story.
And also, my condolences on your Mother, that's a tough break man.
 

StubbyJ

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What a cool story and guitar. If you were famous Gibson would reissue your axe and charge $12,000. If Slash played it in a video it would be $25,000. You have the old wood and pups, thus any option you go with will result in an axe most of us dream about. Enjoy my friend.
 

rialcnis

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It's totally cool. If guitars could only talk...
It would tell me it used to be John Lee Hooker's...


He apparently preferred the hollow body sound.

He performed in San Fran and San Jose in 1967.
 

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dancsgrv

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Love this story and that you're renovating this rare guitar. Hope you go with the gold top and can't wait to see it done.
 




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