NGD- 1974 Anniversary Custom with issues.

tache3

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Picked up this '74 Custom during a recent visit to the US. It took a slow boat back, so I've only just got it in my hands today.

It belonged to a friend who got burned on an Ebay deal. Its had a headstock break- which was mentioned in the listing- but I suspect that it has also had a full refin (and not a very good one) at some point, which wasn't mentioned. Also, the nut can't be original either as its a dreadful fit. I'm also suspecting a refret.

On the plus side, it plays OK, all hardware is original and so are most of the electronics- the pots have been changed (obviously someone didn't like the 300K) but the originals are included in the case pocket. Case itself is also period correct but is missing the handle.

He offered it to me for $1100, which I took. He was pleased with this and I hope that is a fair price. Its a lot less than he paid but obviously with the issues it has, he is realistic about what his chances would be of moving it on the open market.

This is just a quick cellphone pic for now, I'll get the camera out and get some detailed shots later.

 

RichBurst59

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Hello friend, a real nice score in my book. Me... I have 15 Les Pauls, Gibson's, Agiles, Epis, American copies, Japs and Chibs.... and some needed extensive restoring most got extensive upgrades too. If you are at all versed +or somewhat handy with any aspect of Gibson LP restoring you know it is real slow and deliberate... and most importantly ( with real Gibby's) you need to examine every aspect of what you plan to do so you get a result you can be happy with as well as maintaining the intrinsic value of the iconic model/year you have there...(Randy Rhodes) Ozzy's best guitarist ever played that guitar for a good reason. It's an authentic BEAST of an instrument. My 80 standard and 85 Black Beauty wFactory term are both great Tim Shaw gems so only minor little authentic restoring was done. Just something to keep in mind as you move forward with it. Tip...X-raying that break from side + back with all the hardware off will show you exactly what the state of the repair is. A Good find, good luck and enjoy it ....that's why they makem !
 

HardCore Troubadour

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not a bad deal at $1100, that is about right......pull the pups and take pics of the cavities....we can tell if there was a refinish.....refret should be easy to spot, no nibs.
 

tache3

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Many thanks for the responses fellas. Much appreciated. Here are the initial bunch of pics. The lacquer cracks that you can see are all over the guitar, all areas of the headstock, neck and body.

Firstly, front and back of headstock.





Next, a close up of what would be the serial number area. This is what first made me convinced that its had a refin- serial is obscured by paint. There is a very faint hint of them from certain angles but not enough for them to be readable. The 'Made In USA' is still readable though, more than it seems in this pic. Difficult to get a clear shot.



The headstock break area. I'm assuming the areas of different colour are mis-matched filler. Notice also the lacquer cracking which follows the line of the binding.



That dreadful nut that I mentioned in the OP. Looking at the fingerboard side of it, there appears to be a glue line already on it. Perhaps a used nut from elsewhere? It would explain why it doesn't sit in the slot correctly.



Not quite as badly fitting from this side but still far from satisfactory. If it was the original nut, would there be lacquer spray on the sides? Or are the nuts fitted after lacquering?



Nibs are still in place on the frets but there is no wear on the wire itself, which is what made me suspicious of a refret. I'll take the strings off to get some close ups of the fretboard and pull the pups tomorrow.
 
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ARandall

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If its had that refret, then the original nut could have either been removed, or simply taken out and lifted/shimmed up to get the nut slots back to the right height.....which seems to be how it is currently sitting - albeit without the shim.

On those solid colour guitars, the colour coat can often completely fill the ser#.....even from the factory. The stamp on my early 75 is so faint that its hard to read.....and thats on wine red.
 

XpensiveWino

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First, congrats! I'd rock that all day long for $1100!!

Given the checking, the off color filling on the neck break, and the general look of the aged white, I think you might have an original finish and original frets '74 Custom.

My logic is a slippery slope for sure, but my thought is anyone who has the skills to do a refret with nibs, wouldn't (shouldn't) ever let it leave their shop set up with that busted nut. It could have been done by two different people, or in the headstock break gotten knocked, etc... who knows? Personally, I do not see anything disqualifying that finish from being original. Those solid color finishes are notorious for hiding the serial numbers or Made in USA stamps. @HardCore Troubadour has won many a forum bet with people who didn't think there was a stamp under the finish.

Have you had a chance to check out if the truss rod adjusts? Judging by those jagged finish cracks, that guitar took a serious jolt. The break itself doesn't always tell the story.

Again, congrats. That's a cool guitar!
 

HardCore Troubadour

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my bet is the nut was redone on the headstock crack..., if so, the crack repair is probably suspect......might have tried to use the same nut....who knows?

I agree with the above......

let someone who can do the job right take a look and tell you what they think.

I think that is factory finish on the neck line at the binding....too clean not to be.

It looks as if the headstock was more of a slight crack and someone probably injected glue and clamped it.....I don't see much in the way of over-spray etc. etc. just a few places where the lacquer chipped off.
 

Scotheath

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In that first picture the pickups look way out line with the neck. Especially the neck pickup,
 

grumphh

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The first thing i thought when i saw the detailed pics is "who on earth would think that this is a refin?"

It looks totally period correct, worn in all the right ways, so that from those pics i wouldn't be able to say anything other than that it is a factory finish.


As for the break, yeah, looks ugly, but that doesn't mean that it isn't structurally sound. The break may just have happened before the internet OCD masters decided that if something is not aestetically pleasing to look at it must also be flawed in functionality. And therefore was just glued back together without thoughts about anything other than functionality.
My avatar guitar has a very similar neck break, which is also very sloppy to look at, but structually it is perfectly sound and has been for the past ~20 years.

....and now you need to buy a set of black speed knobs. No Custom should be without them.
 

tache3

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Many thanks for your contributions everyone. Much appreciated. As promised, here's some more pics.

First, in reply to @XpensiveWino 's question, yes the truss rod still adjusts. However, there must be some backbow going on as loosening it completely only introduces about 0.010 of relief. The cavity is pretty tidy though, unlike some of the other areas of the instrument.



Here's the fretboard. All in pretty good condition considering the age, which was what made me suspect a refret (even though the nibs are still intact). Although, on reflection, the Twentieth Anniversary inlay isn't worn, so maybe it just hasn't been played much.





Here's the neck cavity. A bit of a mess if you ask me, especially around the tenon.



Bridge cavity.



Pickups. Both seem to have been marked with their positions, so they must have been yanked out at some point.




Here's the replacement pots. Dated '80 & '81.



Here's the originals, dated '74.



So, here's why I suspected a refin. The original posts are short shaft so don't fit on a shielding plate. However, the replacements are mounted on a plate, as you can see. Looking at the control cavity, the upper wall has been flattened so a plate will fit. However, the paint has been applied after this was done.



This made think that the cavity had been modified to fit the new pots as I couldn't find any pics online of a '74 Custom cavity with the pots mounted on a plate. Then I found the following pic of a '74 cavity with the same flattened section. From reading around, the consensus seems to be that plates started in '75 but did some late 74s end up coming with them (or at least had the cavities prepped for them but were never installed)?



The second reason I suspected a refin was that there is a noticeable ridge (or seam) between the binding and the neck and body, you can feel the line as you run your fingers across it. The paint also overlaps the bottom of the binding on the neck. The paint is so thick its higher than the binding in all areas. Finally, the switch cavity cover is sitting proud of the back, as if the paint on the cavity lip is too thick.
 

grumphh

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So, here's why I suspected a refin. ... Looking at the control cavity, the upper wall has been flattened so a plate will fit. However, the paint has been applied after this was done.



This made think that the cavity had been modified...
This is exactly what an unmolested cavity looks like on an LP from that era. The flattened part is factory.
 

mudface

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It all looks like it should,.... finish/routes..... nothing amiss. Even with the neck/nut issue it's a quality instrument. Also an awesome deal.:applause:
 

ARandall

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The flattened section is just part of the stock cavity seen in every Les paul since 1952. Since they have short shaft pots you have the cavity cut on an angle (as a secondary step after the lobed initial cut is done) so the wood is approx the same thickness despite the carve.

That is all 100% stock and to be expected.
I'm pretty sure Nashville was when the plate was introduced. My Kalamazoo made mid 1975 (but with 70-74 specs) has original volume pots, and both are short shaft too - indicating they were not on a plate.
 

tache3

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Many thanks everyone. With the confirmation of the original frets and paint job, I feel a bit guilty that I might have underpaid for it now!
 

mudface

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Many thanks everyone. With the confirmation of the original frets and paint job, I feel a bit guilty that I might have underpaid for it now!
You can send me the difference if it makes you feel better......

:p

Nah..... you did good..... got a great deal and you shouldn’t feel guilty. :cheers:
 

moreles

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Agreed with all of the above. Looks legit; in fact, looks quite good to me, and not just a fair price -- a really good deal. If the tuning is stable, I wouldn't worry about the clear evidence of a really major whack. You never know from the outside, but it's common enough to have a blow do extensive finish damage at the various joints as the wood gives but the finish doesn't. It's too bad that someone used such mismatched filler on the neck break and I'd be tempted to deal with that. Overall, though, that's just a nice looking guitar. The only thing that really bugs me is not any wear, damage, or age -- it's those period correct but still godawful witch hat knobs!
 

Iron Blimp

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Great deal. Now get it set up to your liking - I like the T-Tops set far from the strings on mine - and start exploring all that it can give you. Congrats.
 


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