Refinished Sides & Back of My Les Paul Tribute

LesPaul60sTribute

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Hello guys -

A while ago I purchased a 2011 Les Paul Tribute. It was in very good condition but there were a few marks on the sides and back. I thought I would take care of the small marks and imperfections by sanding the sides and back only and then refinishing.

I ended up sanding the body down starting at 150 grit and progressing to 400 grit. I used tru-oil and for the most part left it as close to as it was produced from Gibson as I could given my materials and skill level. I could have grain-filled the Mahogany but decided to leave it as this model was never grain-filled from the factory. You can still see slight grain in the back but that’s exactly how they came so I thought it looked fine that way. I did polish out the top a touch as I did not de-gloss the tru-oil. The longest part by far was the sanding. It took about 5 hours to do a precise and complete job.

The photos should be self explanatory - starting with full sanded back and sides - then showing one coat of tru-oil - then the completed guitar.

The top of the guitar is dead mint so I never touched it at all. Quite a few pics. I’m happy with how it turned out. This Les Paul is chambered and I also love the P 90s. The original owner only played this guitar on a few rare occasions. It is nearly like new.

Thanks for taking a look.


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LocoTex

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Wow! Looks great! You do good work.
 

LCPG282

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Very nice job for a fine guitar.
I also own a Les Paul Tribute (a 2016 with satin ebony finish) with P90's and it sounds awesome. Excellent guitar for the price it was sold.
 

judson

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very nice work...

i think the back and sides of all LPs should be the natural wood with a light finish that shows the wood...its a clean look

i stripped a 90 and 92 both were wine studios....

sprayed one top only black and the other tried to dye a lemon tea color....here are the backs, one got shellac and the other on the right with the maple neck before i sprayed it in clear lacquer...

backs90sLPs.jpg
 

Les Paul Newb

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I have a studio I want to do this on. Always been too scared I’ll screw it up.
 

metalmike222

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Amazing work from everyone. I wish I had half the guts of you guys. I have an LPJ that I got at a great price, but that has a hole in the finish on the top. I keep thinking about stripping it down, but I don't know that I'll ever be brave enough.
 

judson

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I have a studio I want to do this on. Always been too scared I’ll screw it up.

you will screw up maybe but it usually is fixable

read a ton of threads here on stripping and finishing

on removing finish, figure out the best way with minimum sanding....you want to remove finish, not wood, but you will sand the wood lightly depending on your desired result at some point.

the finish, being , just a clear coat, sprayed , brushed, wiped on with a rag, is easy....

trying to spray a sunburst...i have not tried that cuz i would screw that up, but will try that in the future......maybe, that takes alot of skill that i dont have yet...but i might practice on some wood samples...but know your limits..that exceeds my ability for now...some day i will try one.

solid colors you can do, and remember you can remove it and start over which you dont want to do, but some have to get what they wanted...

your guitar should always be playable even if you screwed up a finish...so really appearance isnt #1 you should be concerned with.....so go for it....you can still play it no matter how fugly it turns out..... :dude:

EDIT: read Who's thread....i got the faux binding idea from his thread and i like the result i got in the pic below....it was the guitar on the right in my prior post of the backs....used to wine color...thanks again Who :yesway: .....its a poor mans custom :laugh2:

there is all the information you need on MLP to do anything...just do a search...then go for it!!!!!


1990stripped.jpg
 
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judson

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only did the front...that was the first one i tried after reading your thread...i still think its a great idea for any guitar with no binding

:applause:
 
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metalmike222

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Yours looks great! I did similar to my 2013 Tribute...

View attachment 480258View attachment 480259View attachment 480260
Your Tribute doesn’t appear to have any grain filler, though I could be wrong. Was it hard to get all the black paint out of the pores? Eventually I’m going to do something about the finish on my LPJ. Still weighing the options. I’ve read that the stain can get deep on the end grain, so that might have to stay red. Very tempted by how awesome these backs and necks look, though.
 

Mini Forklift Ⓥ

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Impressive work by everyone that has posted photos. Jealous of both your courage and skill level
 

LesPaul60sTribute

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Hey guys - Looks like many have tried the same as myself :)

I have experience finishing rifle stocks so I figured I could do the same work on my 2011 Tribute.

However I would never do this on a $2000 Standard. The Tribute is a much less sophisticated process due to the non-grain fill and the semi gloss final result. I was happy to also remove some of the very light markings on the sides and back. Mine really appears as new now.

The sanding is by far the most time consuming. You want to take off just enough to get to the bare mahogany but at the same time not remove any extra natural wood or change any of the factory lines in any way.

When Gibson went to a black back on these models it really made them look much less attractive. I was happy to fine a model that left the factory as a natural back. I have read only the first run of the 2011 Tributes had the natural backs.

Fun stuff tho - these Tributes really have a unique warmth to them with the chambered body and P90s

20200803_033535.jpg
20200803_033743.jpg
 

Gimper

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Your Tribute doesn’t appear to have any grain filler, though I could be wrong. Was it hard to get all the black paint out of the pores? Eventually I’m going to do something about the finish on my LPJ. Still weighing the options. I’ve read that the stain can get deep on the end grain, so that might have to stay red. Very tempted by how awesome these backs and necks look, though.
You are correct, no filler. Yes, there were probably specks of black in the deeper pores of the wood after sanding, but I was ok with that. I had never done anything like this before, but I got a great deal on this guitar so I was not really concerned about screwing it up.

The black is nitro finish, so no stripper was needed, just sanding. Used 120 grit on the back, sides, and neck, and used a straight razor scraping in the tight spots. Applied 3 coats of Satin Clear Polyurethane, sanding with 220 grit in between each coat. I know some people would not want to use Poly. No big deal for me. You could always use Tru Oil instead.
I'm guessing it took about 3hrs of sanding and scraping with the razor. Applying the poly only takes about 10min each time, with a couple hours drying in between light sanding and the next coat (3 times). It was a good rainy day project. I have zero experience doing this kind of thing. It was easier than I expected it to be, and also came out better than I thought it would.
The left are stock photos, but were essentially the same as original... before and after.

LP_Before-After.jpg

20160918_194751.jpg


I actually sold this guitar (for a little profit) a while ago (to help fund another LP).
 

metalmike222

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Definitely fantastic results. I only spent $400 on my LPJ, so it really won't be that huge of a loss if I screw it all up. Maybe I'll give it a go after we get settled in to the new place we're buying.
 

KelvinS1965

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I'm wondering if I could do similar with my 60s Tribute Gold Top? I like the faux binding effect to. I have spray equipment and I have been considering respraying the top in gloss finish anyway. Mine is a dark brown finish on the back of the neck and body, so I would like to try a Tru-oil finish on the back.
 
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LesPaul60sTribute

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I'm wondering if I could do similar with my 60s Tribute Gold Top? I like the faux binding effect to. I have spray equipment and I have been considering respraying the top in gloss finish anyway. Mine is a dark brown finish on the back of the neck and body, so I would like to try a Tru-oil finish on the back.

I was sure happy with my final result. I already had a natural finish - it just had a few marks in a few places that I wanted to take care of. Like I said in another post above I would never try this on my $2500 Standard but for the improvements made on my Tribute is was sure worth it. Just don't rush the process along the way. :) I thought tru-oil was a great match also. Its durable and fairly easy to apply.
 

KelvinS1965

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I'm OK with the re-finishing side of things; I recently stripped and refinished the neck on my Esquire project, using tinted nitro. I haven't used Tru-oil though and I'm not even sure whether it's available in the UK (or perhaps it has another name?). I need to do some research on that side, plus if anyone has done this to a Gold Top I'd love to see some pictures.

This is the neck I finished last night, appologies for putting a Fender part on a Les Paul forum. ;)
Redone neck.jpg
 


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