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  1. #1
    Les Paul Forum Member
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    Finish checkering/cracking

    What percentage of the original late 50's and 60 Les Paul's have a cracked laquer? I was told by a well known collector that not all had this issue. I have just about all the books on early LP's and it appears from the photo's that a lot do not have laquer checkering.
    A lot of "new reliced" guitars if not all, show finish cracking as though it's the only way to go, why not relic/age but without.
    Thoughts please.

  2. #2
    Les Paul Forum Member sws1's Avatar
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    Re: Finish checkering/cracking

    Quote Originally Posted by BP4570 View Post
    What percentage of the original late 50's and 60 Les Paul's have a cracked laquer? I was told by a well known collector that not all had this issue. I have just about all the books on early LP's and it appears from the photo's that a lot do not have laquer checkering.
    A lot of "new reliced" guitars if not all, show finish cracking as though it's the only way to go, why not relic/age but without.
    Thoughts please.
    There have been relic'd guitars from Gibson that didn't do cracking. It's not unheard of.

  3. #3

    Re: Finish checkering/cracking

    I’ve got a small handful of gibson made guitars made in the 50’s. All have checking.
    Maybe 1 or 2 from the 60’s they are checked as well. Other makers from the same eras...all checked.

    None are checked with heavy horizontal lines.

  4. #4

    Re: Finish checkering/cracking

    50s Gibsons with truly zero checking are uncommon, but they exist. Many have minimal, almost unnoticeable checking.

    If by "checking" you mean "enough checking to notice" or "enough checking to stand out" then I'd guess that maybe about 30% of 50s Gibsons (as of 2018) have checking that one would consider a feature (good or bad) of the instrument.

    I've had 50s Gibsons with virtually no checking (a few), a little checking (some), lots of checking (not so many) and mega-nonsense-crazy-checking (like, one - maybe). The amount of weather checking on any of these guitars is really best understood and appreciated case-by-case (or guitar-by-guitar). A heavily checked 50s Gibson has either been played for thousands of hours OR it has been mistreated in some way.

    However, a bit of "mojo" (checking and play-wear) looks cool on the ol' Gibson - and it's this feature that is being recreated with some of the modern guitars.

    For example: Charles Daughtry's Mutt is a very cool looking, heavily worn gold top and might be the standard by which the "mojo" look is judged:
    https://www.charlesdaughtry.com/Guit...dtop/i-gGqm5rw

    Here's a website with loads of pictures of late 50s and 60s Gibsons. http://www.es-335.org/ Some instruments have checking and some don't.

    Here's another: http://www.es-335.net/ There are many close-up pictures here.

  5. #5
    Les Paul Forum Member corpse's Avatar
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    Re: Finish checkering/cracking

    When you look at 50's checking it's very hard to see from any distance for the most part- and you certainly cannot feel it. That fine, fine checking is difficult to replicate.

  6. #6
    Les Paul Forum Co-Owner Tom Wittrock's Avatar
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    Re: Finish checkering/cracking

    Quote Originally Posted by BP4570 View Post
    What percentage of the original late 50's and 60 Les Paul's have a cracked laquer? I was told by a well known collector that not all had this issue. I have just about all the books on early LP's and it appears from the photo's that a lot do not have laquer checkering.
    A lot of "new reliced" guitars if not all, show finish cracking as though it's the only way to go, why not relic/age but without.
    Thoughts please.
    First thought … probably 95% or more have some checking.
    Second thought … it is not an "issue".
    Third thought … you can't be certain from almost any photo that looks like there is no checking.
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  7. #7
    Les Paul Forum Member Pellman73's Avatar
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    Re: Finish checkering/cracking

    I’d call that a pretty open and shut case!

    I love checking and dings and relicing

    almost the more the better

    1) it looks cool

    but most importantly

    2) Its built in insurance that you will never worry about dinging your guitar. If you add a ding there is almost no way to know, and if you did, you are just adding to the final artwork of it

    I never really understood that until I started owning relic guitars

    I had a gold top that was so pristine I was worried about scuffing or dinging it— sold it!

    its not for everyone... but I think most people really dig it once they get over the initial feelings that its like kind of weirdly dishonest.

  8. #8
    Les Paul Forum Member
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    Re: Finish checkering/cracking

    Thanks all for your input. Perhaps "issue" was the wrong word to use, although there must have been a few owners who weren't happy with the finish cracking.
    I personally like it and have a few Les Paul Custom Shops with this finish as well as a VOS. One is a CC No. 26 Brad Whitford which is a fantastic player as well as sounding great, I didn't buy it because of the name connection I just liked it, plus we don't have the choice that you have in the US. Another is a True Historic Select with very fine checking, it looks very realistic, not over done unlike some other Custom LP's I have seen, but it is all down to personal taste of course. Each to their own.
    The reason for my post was just to try and fine out what percentage of early ones did indeed have the checkering of some sort, as I said, it was a very well known and trusted collector/dealer who told me that not all had the cracked lacquer, they might have been beat up some but still no cracking. And yes, it is difficult to tell from photo's the condition of the finish, but I have looked at some pretty close up shots where there is no sign of it.
    Some of you, maybe all, have been lucky enough to play, own or at least see some of the originals close up, I have to hope that on one of my trips to Denmark Street I will be lucky to at least see one, MAYBE play, who knows.

    I have to say that this forum is a great place to learn and chat with like minded folk. The more I look into these lovely old guitars the more questions I have so I may well be posting again soon.

    Thanks again,
    Chris

  9. #9
    Les Paul Forum Co-Owner Tom Wittrock's Avatar
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    Re: Finish checkering/cracking

    I should add that there are some that have such minimal checking that you have to hunt for it.
    My guesstimate included those too.
    Pauls to the walls!

    Hüter der Flammen!

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  10. #10

    Re: Finish checkering/cracking

    All of my 50s/60s Gibsons have checking, some more extreme than others. I certainly do not see it as an "issue". None of my 50s/60s Gibsons have the extremely tight/closely spaced checking you see of the headstocks of some of the high end aged reissues though. I've seen artificial checking on the headstocks of some of these that, in my opinion, bordered on the ridiculous.

  11. #11
    Les Paul Forum Member
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    Re: Finish checkering/cracking

    BW, thanks for you thoughts, "issue" was the wrong term to use I agree. Like I said previously, I am hoping to see (maybe) one/some originals when I visit London/Denmark Street area early January, I have never seen one yet!
    I do have a few more questions but they will have to wait until I return from a trip.
    Chris

  12. #12
    Les Paul Forum Member
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    Re: Finish checkering/cracking

    Quote Originally Posted by BurstWurst View Post
    All of my 50s/60s Gibsons have checking, some more extreme than others. I certainly do not see it as an "issue". None of my 50s/60s Gibsons have the extremely tight/closely spaced checking you see of the headstocks of some of the high end aged reissues though. I've seen artificial checking on the headstocks of some of these that, in my opinion, bordered on the ridiculous.
    agreed 100%, some headstocks are way overdone

  13. #13
    Les Paul Forum Co-Owner Tom Wittrock's Avatar
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    Re: Finish checkering/cracking

    Quote Originally Posted by BP4570 View Post
    BW, thanks for you thoughts, "issue" was the wrong term to use I agree.
    But, it can become an issue if the checking starts to flake off the guitar!

    And there are several old threads on checking with interesting photos.
    Here's one I had years ago:



    Pauls to the walls!

    Hüter der Flammen!

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