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  1. #1

    1960 Burst Restoration

    Hi all, the LPF has always been receptive to vintage Les Paul restoration threads, and as this guitar came from our very own LPF member ‘Stoker’, and has been discussed before, I thought some would be interested in the full process.

    For those with less patience, this:



    Is now this:



    As in the previous LPF thread, this was a factory flame top ‘60 Les Paul that was factory finished as an LP Custom- so has full Burst construction with correct internal routing, but LPC cosmetics and ebony fretboard and ornate headstock etc.

    As I understood it, this lived anonymously as a run of the mill ‘60 LPC until an owner stripped the top revealing the centre seam flame maple cap (as I’m sure most reading this are aware all ‘50s LPC’s were full mahogany with no cap at all, but a single piece carved body), and after staining the top a kinda Gretsch orange played it as such until it eventually made it into Stroker’s hands.

    At Stroker’s request HM did a beautiful job of bursting the top while keeping it as a three pickup Custom/Burst, but I had other plans, namely to bring it back to full ‘60 Standard spec by going back to bare wood and methodically correcting the Custom appointments.

    The most obvious challenge was of course cleanly filling the middle pickup route to allow for a traditional twin pickup set up and transparent sunburst finish, but tackling the extra wide binding channels on top and back to leave a clean result was actually much more of a head scratcher!
    Less troublesome was swapping the ebony board for a ‘60 SG Braz board I’d salvaged and tweaking the headstock to Burst spec, as well as a full vintage correct refinish, but enough blabbing- on to the build log!

    Here it is after initial stripping, showing the original heavily flamed maple cap, with original black lacquer still in the cavities- note the 1/2” Burst/Standard spec routed wiring channel, and not the round drilled hole as found on the one piece body LP Custom, undisturbed long tenon neck joint, and traditional LP Standard control cavity with all expected ‘chew marks’ present:





    First came heating off the ebony board, which confirmed the neck was original to the body, with the typical tenon shim I’ve seen on a vast amount of vintage Gibson’s:









    After removing the top binding and levelling the channel, I hand cut a ‘frame’ of flamed and grain matched maple that exactly followed the perimeter of the top, just wide enough to make up the extra width of the LPC binding, but leaving enough space for traditional single ply Burst binding:



    The reason I didn’t just use flexible maple trim and steam bent it was because the grain would not have matched, and there would have been a very obvious straight grained ‘halo’ the full way around- this way, although hugely time consuming and technically challenging allowed an excellent grain/flame match, even though it would be all but lost in the sunburst anyway..


  2. #2
    Forum Moderator T.Allen's Avatar
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    Re: 1960 Burst Restoration

    Beautiful work!



    Thanks for sharing this!

  3. #3

    Re: 1960 Burst Restoration

    Jumping ahead a bit, but keeping with this narrative, I heated off the LPC headstock veneer, which came away in one clean piece and now lives in the case pocket:





    The LPC headstock is both longer and wider than a Burst, and with the Custom overlay removed, the existing headstock was much thinner, so I replaced the ‘wings’ with full thickness old Honduran mahogany from my stash along with a a 2/3mm mahogany plate over the centre portion, topped with the traditional holly veneer building up the correct tapered thickness with no evidence of work from the back.

    I then hand shaped the typically asymmetrical and muted open book Burst headstock using various ‘50s Gibson’s in my workshop- you can see how much mahogany was added on the layer visible in the truss rod cavity:



    The serial number 0 9300 was pressed into the headstock rear, which presumably was the original restamped after a previous minor headstock repair, and duly was the one I eventually used with vintage correct ink stamped font towards completion:



    Keeping with the neck for now: another challenge was the fact it had been shaved and narrowed in the past, with a near 1 9/16” late ‘60s nut width, and very slim feel, which was unacceptable to me, and there was no way I was going to reneck when all the wood was intact, so I employed a method I’ve used in several other restos where I inlaid a ~2mm quarter sawn tapered mahogany fillet under the fretboard which adds both width and depth, and brought the neck right into chunky ‘59 territory:







    This fillet is all but lost with a very slightly taller, well rolled neck binding and judiciously placed side dots, and to my mind is far preferable than replacing the original ‘60 neck, and it now has the chunky late ‘50s feel we know and love, and the ideal profile for a Burst:


  4. #4

    Re: 1960 Burst Restoration

    Addressing the back binding was a much more challenging proposition than the top as there would be no sunburst shading or binding to help blend, but I knew it would be all but lost in the round over and be very clean looking, if not invisible, so after some head scratching opted to sacrifice a trashed ‘59 Melody Maker body to give a ‘trim’ which I painstakingly shaped and inlaid:







    What looks simple actually took many, many hours of hand work, but I’m again, extremely happy with the results


  5. #5

    Re: 1960 Burst Restoration

    So on to addressing the middle pickup route..

    Simply plugging the cavity would always be obtrusive, as three faces is would be visible, and flame/grain matching extremely challenging, so I opted to replace the centre potion between the two pickups leaving only one clean join exposed:



    Note the maple ‘binding’ is now fully fitted to size, and looks very clean..

    I made a centre seamed flame maple block with well matched flame:



    And plugged and carved it in:



    Then routed late ‘50s correct humbucker cavities following the neck plane, as well as bound the top with single ply cream binding leaving this:





    The flame match is excellent, but the grain needed some help so after some artistry I was extremely happy with the results:






  6. #6

    Re: 1960 Burst Restoration

    Now, on the fun part- finishing!

    I use pure nitro lacquers, colour fast pore fillers and aniline dyes in my finishes, and shooting a correct ‘50s sunburst is a personal passion.

    With the top repairs and binding restoration to the back, and that beautiful flamed top I opted for something approaching a Hotlanta style Darkburst, but more towards a ‘50s 335 finish with rich cherry blending into burgundy/tobacco.

    First comes the yellow base coat:



    Then fast forward through colour and amber coats, the finished product:







    I fitted all ‘50s parts including long magnet zebra PAFs, full ‘59 loom, late ‘50s nickel hardware, cut ‘56 guard, real cream bridge M69 ring and gold bell knobs, and after owning and working on probably 100-120 ‘50s Les Pauls, and playing and handling countless others on a daily basis for several years, even after all this guitar has been through its an absolutely exceptionally killer sounding example!

    It weighs 9lbs exactly and has the ideal chunky ‘59 neck shape, and the PAFs are absolutely definitive of the Peter Green/ZZ Top/Led Zep tones that have haunted me all my life, and more so it looks absolutely stunning with a compelling Burst vibe!

    I’ll be ageing it over the coming months, but for the moment it’s on a strap around my neck getting played every spare minute I have, and I’m also going to do the unthinkable and actually gig it!!

    I’ve had piles of player grade vintage guitars and a good few conversions, but this one feels different to me- to know it’s a factory centre seam flame top 1960 Les Paul, with the original body/neck/top, and looking, playing and sounding as it does, really gives me a heady Burst hit every time I handle it, and it’s the closest I’ll ever come to being in that gang, and having done every last bit of the work myself, from concept to completion makes it all the more special.

    Thanks for following the thread, and I hope some of you have enjoyed the process, and if you’d like to see more of my vintage restorations please follow me on Instagram under ‘playergradevintage’.

  7. #7
    Les Paul Forum Member Daytripper67's Avatar
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    Re: 1960 Burst Restoration

    Looks great

  8. #8
    Les Paul Forum Member J.D.'s Avatar
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    Re: 1960 Burst Restoration

    Wow.

    Looks like a lot of work, and good quality work, but when I compare the before and after I'm not really sure I understand this.

  9. #9
    Les Paul Forum Member StSpider's Avatar
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    Re: 1960 Burst Restoration

    Frankly, I'm appalled that someone can take something cool unique and of historic value and destroy it like this. So sad and distasteful. Besides, this will never be a real burst and you know it. You talk about chew marks? Really? We obsess about these things because they offer cool insights of the manufacturing process that happened in the Gibson factory back in the day. This guitar was another testimony of it, and now it's not. It's just a fake.

    This is no "restoration" at all, if anything, it's the exact opposite of it.
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  10. #10
    Les Paul Forum Member 2002standardmat's Avatar
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    Re: 1960 Burst Restoration

    I've had the privilege of playing some of your previous work at LPF meets in the past and I was impressed then but I'm really impressed with the work on this one - the work you have done on the top and binding really is something special.

    I always had in mind that if I end up in the position to have someone do this kind of work on a job for me that you'd be my first choice, this just confirms it.

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  11. #11

    Re: 1960 Burst Restoration

    One of the best threads I’ve seen on here in a while. Thanks for posting!

  12. #12
    Les Paul Forum Member Progear's Avatar
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    Re: 1960 Burst Restoration

    Quote Originally Posted by StSpider View Post
    Frankly, I'm appalled that someone can take something cool unique and of historic value and destroy it like this. So sad and distasteful. Besides, this will never be a real burst and you know it. You talk about chew marks? Really? We obsess about these things because they offer cool insights of the manufacturing process that happened in the Gibson factory back in the day. This guitar was another testimony of it, and now it's not. It's just a fake.

    This is no "restoration" at all, if anything, it's the exact opposite of it.

    You can be appalled all you want, but it’s his guitar and he can do what he what’s.
    Music for me.

  13. #13
    Les Paul Forum Member LPunbound's Avatar
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    Re: 1960 Burst Restoration

    What a shame. His guitar yes. His right to do what he wants but it’s not something I understand or would do. My original post was out of line.
    Last edited by LPunbound; 11-22-18 at 06:10 PM. Reason: Inappropriate comments

  14. #14
    Les Paul Forum Member skydog6653's Avatar
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    Re: 1960 Burst Restoration

    Quote Originally Posted by LPunbound View Post
    What a shame. His guitar yes. His right to do what he wants. But what an asshole move.
    You're referring to your own comment, right?

  15. #15
    Les Paul Forum Member LPunbound's Avatar
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    Re: 1960 Burst Restoration

    Nope!!
    Last edited by LPunbound; 11-22-18 at 06:11 PM.

  16. #16
    Les Paul Forum Member Ed Driscoll's Avatar
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    Re: 1960 Burst Restoration

    The end result is a very attractive guitar with some brilliant craftsmanship to bring it to fruition, but I think the headline is somewhat misleading. This isn’t a 1960 ‘Burst “Restoration,” this is a conversion, much like stripping a P-90-equipped goldtop, routing it for humbuckers, adding late ‘50s appointments, and ‘bursting it. As with the goldtop conversions, this is a faux original sunburst Les Paul, not an original 1960 Les Paul Standard that’s been given its 500,000 mile tune-up. But as with many conversions, it does look great.

  17. #17
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    Re: 1960 Burst Restoration

    The guitar looks great, but I agree with the comment that it is a conversion and not a restoration. I think it would have been better to have left it as a Custom and finish it in cherry red. Anybody know how many maple topped 1954-61 Customs were made? There is one less now.

  18. #18
    Les Paul Forum Member latestarter's Avatar
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    Re: 1960 Burst Restoration

    Fabulous work, but I’ll admit I don’t understand the motivation given how largely complete/original this guitar “was”.
    Otherwise known as Grant.

  19. #19
    Les Paul Forum Member StSpider's Avatar
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    Re: 1960 Burst Restoration

    Quote Originally Posted by Progear View Post
    You can be appalled all you want, but it’s his guitar and he can do what he what’s.
    Of course he can. Just as much as I'm entitled to my opinion on the subject.
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  20. #20
    Les Paul Forum Member fakejake's Avatar
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    Re: 1960 Burst Restoration

    Would have loved to see this restored to a 3 or maybe 2 PU black beauty custom, but I don't get this....

  21. #21
    Les Paul Forum Member ourmaninthenorth's Avatar
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    Re: 1960 Burst Restoration

    Restoration in the truest sense of the word.
    Shakespeare walks into a pub, the Landlord says "get out, you're Bard"

  22. #22
    Les Paul Forum Member Reno_1ted's Avatar
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    Re: 1960 Burst Restoration

    The amazing attention to detail, the painstaking work to match wood that wont really be seen, the passion and the drive to get this one "right" is inspiring.

    Any project like this will always divide opinion, which is cool. Personally I feel like this was half way between burst and custom and felt wrong being in that inbetween camp (I do get the people who like that unique camp for sure). The direction to go down the burst route with this would have been my choice too FWIW. It was basically a burst with custom specs, or a custom with burst specs, depending on your view so for me either direction could make sense. The work on the neck needed doing regardless, the real crime in all this being the person who shaved it! Whoever owns this guitar next will be able to get a rose by any other name in my view - at what will certainly be a cheaper price than a factory burst.

    While opinions should always be welcomed, anyone calling this guitar a fake burst needs to give their head a wobble. You just read an entire thread showing every single bit of work done to this guitar, including the before pictures and history of it - not something that the OP needed to share with us all. So he is telling everyone, publicly, in a respected forum, exactly what this guitar is and isn't. Not many people in this industry would do that, and documenting it avoids any future confusion which i think is laudable and exactly why the OP is one of the most trusted luthiers and vintage guitar specialists in the UK.
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  23. #23
    Les Paul Forum Member ourmaninthenorth's Avatar
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    Re: 1960 Burst Restoration

    I can dress up as a Woman ( steady boys, steady ) but my DNA remains unaltered.

    'Burst.
    Shakespeare walks into a pub, the Landlord says "get out, you're Bard"

  24. #24
    Les Paul Forum Member StSpider's Avatar
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    Re: 1960 Burst Restoration

    Quote Originally Posted by Reno_1ted View Post
    While opinions should always be welcomed, anyone calling this guitar a fake burst needs to give their head a wobble. You just read an entire thread showing every single bit of work done to this guitar, including the before pictures and history of it - not something that the OP needed to share with us all. So he is telling everyone, publicly, in a respected forum, exactly what this guitar is and isn't. Not many people in this industry would do that, and documenting it avoids any future confusion which i think is laudable and exactly why the OP is one of the most trusted luthiers and vintage guitar specialists in the UK.
    I did not mean fake as in "done to fool someone else". Besides, and I say this with all due respect to OP, despite being done with exceptional care you can totally see the mods that went through even in the photos, and they're bound to be even more evident in person. I don't think this guitar could ever fool anyone as a real 'burst.
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  25. #25
    Forum Moderator T.Allen's Avatar
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    Re: 1960 Burst Restoration

    Quote Originally Posted by VamboRool View Post
    The guitar looks great, but I agree with the comment that it is a conversion and not a restoration. I think it would have been better to have left it as a Custom and finish it in cherry red. Anybody know how many maple topped 1954-61 Customs were made? There is one less now.
    That would look awesome!

  26. #26
    Les Paul Forum Co-Owner Tom Wittrock's Avatar
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    Re: 1960 Burst Restoration

    So, could one of you "in-the-know" please tell us exactly what this was before this work was done?
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  27. #27
    Les Paul Forum Member StSpider's Avatar
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    Re: 1960 Burst Restoration

    As far as I understand the guitar started it's life as a body made for a burst with a bookmatched maple cap that for whatever reason ended up as a custom, with all the aesthetic appointments and a factory black finish. I don't see any evidence of the contrary and the black paint in the pot cavity seems to point there too.
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  28. #28
    Les Paul Forum Member deytookerjaabs's Avatar
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    Re: 1960 Burst Restoration

    Quote Originally Posted by Tom Wittrock View Post
    So, could one of you "in-the-know" please tell us exactly what this was before this work was done?


    I'm not "in the know" but from what was stated, as far as I can tell:

    Factory 3 Pickup Les Paul Custom with a 2 piece maple cap hiding under the black.

    At some point a Bigsby, a headstock repair, a neck shave.

    And a refin to translucent orange showing the cap.

    Then another refin to a sunburst.

    Then this full on cosmetic surgery to standard specs.

  29. #29
    Les Paul Forum Member ourmaninthenorth's Avatar
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    Re: 1960 Burst Restoration

    Best guess...

    An order for a Custom that Gibson lifted a Standard off the line to complete.

    Lets face it, contextually the Standard in 1960 was coming to the end of it's life...I think it's a reasonable scenario. I doubt this would have been a big deal and simply Gibson filling an order with what they had to hand.

    It can of course join the plethora of Maple capped Customs from the 50's....that is of course if anyone knows of one...

    Serial number(s) ?

    Anyone?
    Shakespeare walks into a pub, the Landlord says "get out, you're Bard"

  30. #30

    Re: 1960 Burst Restoration

    It’s certainly an impressive amount of work.

    The pickup plug and grain matching is really impressive.

    Your “body rim binding ring” is ingenious!

    I am surprised at how much of the top binding repair is visible....or is that some artifact in the picture??? How does the back look?

  31. #31
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    Re: 1960 Burst Restoration

    From what has been presented, the guitar was sold new as a black, three pick-up, ebony fingerboard, large split diamond headstock Custom. Now it is neither a Custom or a Standard, I guess it is a Custard.

  32. #32
    Les Paul Forum Member Ed Driscoll's Avatar
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    Re: 1960 Burst Restoration

    Quote Originally Posted by ourmaninthenorth View Post
    I can dress up as a Woman ( steady boys, steady ) but my DNA remains unaltered.

    'Burst.
    The guitar left the factory in black paint, with three pickups, an ebony fretboard, a split diamond headstock, and a birth certificate that says Gibson was selling this guitar as a Les Paul Custom, and it spent all of its life as a three pickup Les Paul Custom until a few months ago, when expensive surgery was begun that converted into a guitar that successfully passes as a Standard unless one checks very carefully. What exists now is a handsome conversion of a different model guitar to the more desirable 1958-1960 sunburst Standard model. Not a restoration of an aging factory 1960 Sunburst.

  33. #33
    Les Paul Forum Member J.D.'s Avatar
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    Re: 1960 Burst Restoration

    Quote Originally Posted by VamboRool View Post
    From what has been presented, the guitar was sold new as a black, three pick-up, ebony fingerboard, large split diamond headstock Custom. Now it is neither a Custom or a Standard, I guess it is a Custard.
    This guitar will forever be known in my mind as "custard"

  34. #34
    Les Paul Forum Co-Owner Tom Wittrock's Avatar
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    Re: 1960 Burst Restoration

    Quote Originally Posted by ourmaninthenorth View Post

    It can of course join the plethora of Maple capped Customs from the 50's....that is of course if anyone knows of one...
    Can you point to others of this "plethora"?
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  35. #35
    Les Paul Forum Member Ed Driscoll's Avatar
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    Re: 1960 Burst Restoration

    Quote Originally Posted by Tom Wittrock View Post
    Can you point to others of this "plethora"?
    Tom, in your estimation, how many maple-capped LPCs were built in the 1950s?

  36. #36
    Les Paul Forum Member ourmaninthenorth's Avatar
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    Re: 1960 Burst Restoration

    Quote Originally Posted by Tom Wittrock View Post
    Can you point to others of this "plethora"?
    No Tom, but I can point you in the right direction to the Department of Sarcasm....

    I repeat my earlier posed question, Maple capped 50's Les Paul Custom? With factory correct Custom architecture? ....show me one.

    I view this as a lost 'Burst, another example of Gibson's infamous "one off things" rather than a "destroyed" 50's Custom dressed up via refin to look like a 'Burst.

    The Standard was in the toilet in 1960, Gibson had a Custom order to fill, not rocket science...get that cheque to the sales office..pronto...

    What shape is the cavity hole leading to the jack Yukki?


    Of course I may be completely wrong, and am happy to be proved wrong...again, show me another 50's example of this guitar that's supposed to have been destroyed by this restoration...anyone?

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  37. #37
    Les Paul Forum Member MeHereNow's Avatar
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    Re: 1960 Burst Restoration

    Amazing craftmanship as we are used to see from you J@S.

    Now.. for all of you that don't understand, are appalled, or one, literally not bound by any subtlety calling it "an asshole move"...

    Read!

    J@S explaines in the conclusion below the last photo's why he made this guitar the way it is now.
    And it should be a recognizable reason for most people on this forum.
    Get my money, buy my medicine...

  38. #38
    Les Paul Forum Member MWR's Avatar
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    Re: 1960 Burst Restoration

    I read the commentary after the last photo, unless I missed it I don't get the compelling reason. Looks like great craftsmanship. It's his geetar he can do whatever he wants. However I am in the camp that I would have tried to bring it back to how it came into this world. If that meant a 3 p/u black LP Custom , so be it. YMMV

  39. #39
    Les Paul Forum Member pinefd's Avatar
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    Re: 1960 Burst Restoration

    Quote Originally Posted by ourmaninthenorth View Post
    Best guess...

    An order for a Custom that Gibson lifted a Standard off the line to complete...
    If this were the case...and this may have been what you meant...they would have had to lift the Standard off the line as a body only, before the neck was attached (this would be my guess as to what happened). Since the binding channel for a Custom is different than that of a Standard, then routing for the binding would have taken place before a neck was attached. And when they did attach the neck, it received a Custom neck, which would be different than a Standard.


    Frank

  40. #40
    Les Paul Forum Member MeHereNow's Avatar
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    Re: 1960 Burst Restoration

    Quote Originally Posted by MWR View Post
    I read the commentary after the last photo, unless I missed it I don't get the compelling reason. Looks like great craftsmanship. It's his geetar he can do whatever he wants. However I am in the camp that I would have tried to bring it back to how it came into this world. If that meant a 3 p/u black LP Custom , so be it. YMMV
    "I’ve had piles of player grade vintage guitars and a good few conversions, but this one feels different to me-to know it’s a factory centre seam flame top 1960 Les Paul, with the original body/neck/top, and looking, playing and sounding as it does, really gives me a heady Burst hit every time I handle it, and it’s the closest I’ll ever come to being in that gang, and having done every last bit of the work myself, from concept to completion makes it all the more special. "

    There it is..

    People buy/play les paul historics or conversions to get as close as they can to the real 58/59/60 Burst experience because of the simple fact that most of them can't afford to purchase the real deal.
    Or send historics/coversions to be "Made over", refinished, re-carved/re-glued/retro-fitted with original 50's parts to have LP's be more "Authentic" "Burst-like"

    J@S has the luck that he actually has the incredible woodwork and craftmanship skills, AND an authentic 60's flamed maple body/neck to build his version of the late fifties/early Les Paul everyone worships and wants.

    And: to me this isn't what i would call a "restoration" as others mentioned before, but indeed a "conversion".

    But he converted it into the guitar that it originally supposed to be/what gibson first intended it to be.
    Remember the facts that were already named before:

    -there were no maple capped customs in the 50's, not until they reissued the LPC in 1968.
    -the routing is square diagonal "Burst routing " instead of the through hole drilling routes of 50's customs

    This is one of the most "authentic" conversions out there if you will..





    Get my money, buy my medicine...

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