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  1. #1

    2019 Les Paul Traditional - is your finish wavy? Smells funny?

    My brand new 2019 Les Paul Traditional is one of the transparent cherry ones. I haven't bought a brand-new Gibson in many years. I understand all new USA Gibsons are finished in nitrocellulose lacquer. I've been around that stuff most of my life, I know what it looks like, what it smells like and how thin it is - you have to put on more than a dozen coats to get a reasonable coating.
    THIS new Les Paul has me scratching my head. For one thing, the lacquer seems to be put on really thick - thick enough to have high and low waves in it. If I look at the back at a low angle towards a light so I can see how flat it is (isn't) - the back has at least 12 stripes or ridges that look like the polishing wheel dug deep with every pass. The butt end of the guitar, the shoulder and the top of the headstock too, all show waves in the finish. If Gibson uses lacquer the way I understand lacquer, that must have taken 30 or 40 coats to get it that thick -- not likely, right? They don't spend that kind of time on a Traditional.
    So what's going on with this finish? Even my dear old 56 Special was flat everywhere without wavy ridges in the finish.
    Is yours like that? Does it bother you too?

    On another note, the smell. We all know what nitro lacquer smells like: nail polish. This finish smells like Play-Doh or some kind of cheap gift store scented candle, nothing at all like nail polish. That's not lacquer the way I know lacquer. Can anybody bring me up to date on what Gibson is using to account for the incredibly thick film depth of their lacquer - if that's what it even is - and this decidedly un-lacquer-like scent?

  2. #2

    Re: 2019 Les Paul Traditional - is your finish wavy? Smells funny?

    My 2019 Traditional smells kind of like vanilla, just like every Gibson Iíve ever owned. And, the finish is completely level. In fact, it has the most perfect finish of any of my Gibsonís, past or present.

  3. #3

    Re: 2019 Les Paul Traditional - is your finish wavy? Smells funny?

    So, if you hold up the guitar to the light and look across the back like it was a lake, you have a smooth flat surface? Mine looks like surf's up.

  4. #4

    Re: 2019 Les Paul Traditional - is your finish wavy? Smells funny?

    I had a Sig T that smell of Play-Doh, the finish had some patches on it where the lining of the case had marked it too where it was soft.

    When the finish took a knock or two bubbles appeared under the finish. I had the back and sides refinished but once the front started coming off I flipped it. Shame because it played and sounded great.

  5. #5

    Re: 2019 Les Paul Traditional - is your finish wavy? Smells funny?

    Quote Originally Posted by NotJeffBeck View Post
    So, if you hold up the guitar to the light and look across the back like it was a lake, you have a smooth flat surface? Mine looks like surf's up.
    Flat and glassy.

  6. #6

    Re: 2019 Les Paul Traditional - is your finish wavy? Smells funny?

    Quote Originally Posted by grimlyflick View Post

    When the finish took a knock or two bubbles appeared under the finish. I had the back and sides refinished but once the front started coming off I flipped it. Shame because it played and sounded great.
    Doesn't Gibson have a warranty for a defective finish like that?
    Too late now of course, but you maybe could have had it repaired or exchanged by Gibson.

    Update -- I went to Guitar Center and looked at about seven other USA Les Pauls, different models. They all had this same kind of wavy finish to a degree, so mine is only a little worse than the current "normal" for Gibson. You'd think Gibson would be the benchmark for quality finishes but the Fenders, the Asian Epis, ESPs and a Yamaha Pacifica I looked at all had much more evenly finished surfaces. And strangely, the most perfect finish in my guitar array is a Tele body from Warmoth - it's absolutely flawless.
    I don't think that these LPs are worth the asking price, looking at it objectively, but I paid it because I have a long emotional attachment to the Gibsons of my early days and to feel 'back in the saddle' my Les Paul has to say Gibson on it. Nothing objective about that requirement.
    I must be in good company because a lot of other people still buy high priced Les Pauls.

  7. #7

    Re: 2019 Les Paul Traditional - is your finish wavy? Smells funny?

    Quote Originally Posted by edselman View Post
    Flat and glassy.
    Wish mine was!

  8. #8
    Les Paul Forum Member LPR6's Avatar
    Join Date
    Feb 2019
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    Los Angeles
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    Re: 2019 Les Paul Traditional - is your finish wavy? Smells funny?

    Quote Originally Posted by NotJeffBeck View Post
    Wish mine was!
    The vintage Gibsons were probably wet-sanded, that step is left out by Gibson USA. Thatís what it takes to get a smooth lacquer finish. These days gibson USA only uses a buffing wheel, the aroma is probably buffing compound.

  9. #9
    Les Paul Forum Member
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    Jan 2018
    Location
    Birmingham UK
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    16

    Re: 2019 Les Paul Traditional - is your finish wavy? Smells funny?

    The smell is the case. TKL put the vanilla smell in them. Both of my new ones smell the same.

  10. #10

    Re: 2019 Les Paul Traditional - is your finish wavy? Smells funny?

    Quote Originally Posted by LarryUK View Post
    The smell is the case. TKL put the vanilla smell in them. Both of my new ones smell the same.
    LarryUK, I think you are right...

    JAK over at mandolincafe.com posted this:
    "Received this from TKL's Director of Domestic & International Operations = "The adhesives we use are all water-based, and have their natural odors scented with a vanilla concentrate. Sometimes there is a residual odor. The concentration of this scent will continue to diminish over time."



  11. #11

    Re: 2019 Les Paul Traditional - is your finish wavy? Smells funny?

    Quote Originally Posted by NotJeffBeck View Post
    LarryUK, I think you are right...

    JAK over at mandolincafe.com posted this:
    "Received this from TKL's Director of Domestic & International Operations = "The adhesives we use are all water-based, and have their natural odors scented with a vanilla concentrate. Sometimes there is a residual odor. The concentration of this scent will continue to diminish over time."


    I need to get some of that! Gibson in a bottle!

  12. #12
    Les Paul Forum Member supanorton's Avatar
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    Jul 2015
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    Southeastern New York
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    25

    Re: 2019 Les Paul Traditional - is your finish wavy? Smells funny?

    Quote Originally Posted by NotJeffBeck View Post
    My brand new 2019 Les Paul Traditional is one of the transparent cherry ones. I haven't bought a brand-new Gibson in many years. I understand all new USA Gibsons are finished in nitrocellulose lacquer. I've been around that stuff most of my life, I know what it looks like, what it smells like and how thin it is - you have to put on more than a dozen coats to get a reasonable coating.
    THIS new Les Paul has me scratching my head. For one thing, the lacquer seems to be put on really thick - thick enough to have high and low waves in it. If I look at the back at a low angle towards a light so I can see how flat it is (isn't) - the back has at least 12 stripes or ridges that look like the polishing wheel dug deep with every pass. The butt end of the guitar, the shoulder and the top of the headstock too, all show waves in the finish. If Gibson uses lacquer the way I understand lacquer, that must have taken 30 or 40 coats to get it that thick -- not likely, right? They don't spend that kind of time on a Traditional.
    So what's going on with this finish? Even my dear old 56 Special was flat everywhere without wavy ridges in the finish.
    Is yours like that? Does it bother you too?

    On another note, the smell. We all know what nitro lacquer smells like: nail polish. This finish smells like Play-Doh or some kind of cheap gift store scented candle, nothing at all like nail polish. That's not lacquer the way I know lacquer. Can anybody bring me up to date on what Gibson is using to account for the incredibly thick film depth of their lacquer - if that's what it even is - and this decidedly un-lacquer-like scent?
    Surprising about the uneven finish. I have 2012 Classic Custom and a 2019 Traditional, both purchased brand new. As @edselman says, smooth and glassy. The Heritage Cherry Sunburst finish on my Traditional is absolutely beautiful. Both guitars have the that Gibson vanilla smell, which I find pleasing.

  13. #13
    Les Paul Forum Member ej.'s Avatar
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    Apr 2019
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    39

    Re: 2019 Les Paul Traditional - is your finish wavy? Smells funny?

    My 2013 has a little wave on the front of the headstock, like too much lacquer was applied and it drooped a little bit. Can't notice it too much since it's black. I'll try and get a picture of it later.

  14. #14

    Re: 2019 Les Paul Traditional - is your finish wavy? Smells funny?

    Quote Originally Posted by supanorton View Post
    Surprising about the uneven finish. I have 2012 Classic Custom and a 2019 Traditional, both purchased brand new. As @edselman says, smooth and glassy. The Heritage Cherry Sunburst finish on my Traditional is absolutely beautiful. Both guitars have the that Gibson vanilla smell, which I find pleasing.
    Turns out after all that it isn't a Gibson vanilla smell - it's TKL case company smell leaching into the guitar's finish. At least in 2019 that's where it's coming from. TKL told me personally in an email exchange I had with them that they add a concentrated vanilla-ish fragrance to their glue. The new, closed guitar case is like an incubator and embeds that smell into the guitar. That annoys me because I like the smell of real lacquer and the cheesy scented-candle fake vanilla smell obliterates it!

  15. #15

    Re: 2019 Les Paul Traditional - is your finish wavy? Smells funny?

    Quote Originally Posted by NotJeffBeck View Post
    Doesn't Gibson have a warranty for a defective finish like that?
    Too late now of course, but you maybe could have had it repaired or exchanged by Gibson.
    Guitar was returned to Gibson and upon inspection they said it was regular wear and tear.

    I must add though the 2016 Les Paul I bought to replace it is flawless and the best guitar Iíve ever owned.

  16. #16
    Les Paul Forum Member cincyguitar's Avatar
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    Jul 2015
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    Cincinnati,Ohio
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    220

    Re: 2019 Les Paul Traditional - is your finish wavy? Smells funny?

    Congrats on the new LP...just play it...dont worry if it smells funny

  17. #17
    Les Paul Forum Member
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    Apr 2019
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    Conyers, Georgia USA
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    10

    Re: 2019 Les Paul Traditional - is your finish wavy? Smells funny?

    I don't have a 2019 Traditional, but I recently bought a 2019 Classic Gold-top. The finish is absolutely flawless and better than the finishes on all but a couple of my previous LP's. I also just got a 2019 SG Standard '61 reissue and I can't find any quality issues at all. It appears Gibson is getting back on track quality-wise judging from the 2 I've purchased so far this year.

  18. #18
    Les Paul Forum Member Atlas 82's Avatar
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    Dec 2018
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    Spain
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    4

    Re: 2019 Les Paul Traditional - is your finish wavy? Smells funny?

    Quote Originally Posted by Axegrinder View Post
    I don't have a 2019 Traditional, but I recently bought a 2019 Classic Gold-top. The finish is absolutely flawless and better than the finishes on all but a couple of my previous LP's. I also just got a 2019 SG Standard '61 reissue and I can't find any quality issues at all. It appears Gibson is getting back on track quality-wise judging from the 2 I've purchased so far this year.
    Last year I had to return back 6 Gibson ( 5 trad + 1 Stad) due quality issues. Happy to hear that. Waiting to pull the trigger again.

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