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  1. #1
    Les Paul Forum Member miserneil's Avatar
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    Gibson's 50's TV Yellow Method?

    I accept that this subject has been done to death on the forum (and various others) but does anyone have a definitive answer on how Gibson sprayed a TV yellow finish in the 50's? I realise it was constantly changing from 'limed Mahogany to Banana Custard' but I've scoured the net and found lots of conflicting info - Curtis Novak, Re-ranch, LPF/MLP threads etc.

    I am experimenting with various methods and they all seem a little long winded for a factory finish.

    Anyone able to chime in?

  2. #2
    Les Paul Forum Member latestarter's Avatar
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    Re: Gibson's 50's TV Yellow Method?

    I think the fact that everyone has a different approach indicates that there is no definitive answer. Many approaches seem to deliver the right result. Agree with you that some don't seem suited for mass production though...so that's an interesting angle to consider. My original finish is gone my '56 but the residual (pockets) was sprayed on remarkably thick.
    Otherwise known as Grant.

  3. #3
    Les Paul Forum Member miserneil's Avatar
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    Re: Gibson's 50's TV Yellow Method?

    Quote Originally Posted by latestarter View Post
    I think the fact that everyone has a different approach indicates that there is no definitive answer. Many approaches seem to deliver the right result. Agree with you that some don't seem suited for mass production though...so that's an interesting angle to consider. My original finish is gone my '56 but the residual (pockets) was sprayed on remarkably thick.
    Thanks for the reply latestarter. Totally agree there are many ways of achieving it, i was just interested on how they might have done it in the factory as many methods seem so time consuming. I would have imagined Gibson at the time would just want to be banging them out quickly, especially the Juniors and Specials given that they were just low end student models at the time.

    I had a stripped DC TV for a while and that still had the reminants of what I deduced to be some white pore filler still in the grain so the plot thickens!

  4. #4
    Les Paul Forum Member
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    Re: Gibson's 50's TV Yellow Method?

    I remember reading an interview with Tom Murphey and he said he would like to travel back in time to the Gibson plant to see how they did it. Lot's of mystery there as to exactly how it was done.
    A smile relieves a heart that grieves.

  5. #5
    Les Paul Forum Member renderit's Avatar
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    Re: Gibson's 50's TV Yellow Method?

    There are 2 methods used extensively in the 50's. Liming and pickling. I think liming was the chemical reaction and pickling was the stain type usually. It was like HUGE at the time. I grew up in a house filled with pickled furniture. All the baseboards were limed African (clear) maple. Look it up. I'm sure they used what the furniture manufacturers did. One of my boys has my folks old dining table. I can have him look at the manufacturer next week it it helps. I think a lot of this stuff is a mystery because PEOPLE WANT IT TO BE. It ain't.

  6. #6
    Les Paul Forum Member RJLII's Avatar
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    Re: Gibson's 50's TV Yellow Method?

    Quote Originally Posted by gmann View Post
    I remember reading an interview with Tom Murphey and he said he would like to travel back in time to the Gibson plant to see how they did it. Lot's of mystery there as to exactly how it was done.
    All he needs to do is go to Kalamazoo and talk to the guys at Heritage. As of a couple years ago they still had one of the original Gibson finishing guys from "back in the day" spraying guitars. I was on a plant tour with HOC (Heritage Owners Club) and Marv Lamb told me my H-137 was finished by the same guy that did them in the late 50's. Not sure he's still with us but they still apply a mean TV Yellow. I have a soft spot for that finish and was trying to convince them to do a thinline semi for me. No go. Marv said only on solid body all mahogany guitars. Something about the process.

    Compared to most of you I suck at guitar, but I'm working real hard and sucking less every day. There, I said it.

  7. #7
    Les Paul Forum Member
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    Re: Gibson's 50's TV Yellow Method?

    The TV type finish was used on so many things in that time period and couldn't have been as difficult as the methods I've read these days. The limed finish was a very thin "spit coat" of white lacquer applied and allowed to dry which limed over night on mahogany. The pickled finishes like some Telecasters and many furniture and millworks had was a thinned white paint (lacquer or other wise) that was applied and wiped off like staining and then clear coated when dry if the wood wasn't an open grain that required any filer. I've got a large dresser mirror from my Grandmother that is lime finished mahigany and has a medium siena grain filler that looks exactly like one of my 1955 LP Specials. It's hard to believe Gibson or any other manufacturer was spraying limed finishes over a 2 to 3 day period, but it would have to be dry to apply the grain filled and then dry again to apply the clear topcoat . Many have duplicated those finishes on mahogany but none have sounded very fast at all to me.

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