Polishing an expensive turd - anyone ever had a restoration done?

Phantasmonaut

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
183
Would like to hear some experiences from anyone who's ever had a guitar restored to its former glory...was it worth it? What was the guitar? Was it broken, or just in bad shape? What did you have done? Let me know your story.

More specifically, what are the limits of what guys like RS Guitarworks, Nash, can do? I have a 1990 LP Custom that my wife got for me as a gift. It has significant emotional value to me...I could never sell it, nor would I really want to. But I do wish I liked playing it.

I've put a lot of $$ in it. Had a refret, had the neck binding fixed, multiple setups by talented dudes, etc....unfortunately it still plays like crap, there's no way around it. I love the guitar, it's got mojo oozing out of it. I just don't like playing it. Fret buzz, the neck is wonky (not twisted, but bent...looking down it, it kind of curves to the right).

If money were no object, is it conceivable that the right luthier could strip it down to the bone, start from scratch, and make it play like it should? Fix the neck so it doesn't buzz? Or is it just always going to be like that, and I should just let it go?
 

C-4

Member
Messages
13,927
This question may mean different monetary amounts to different players. One thing I have learned is that no matter how much money you put into a guitar to fix it, you will never get it back on the sale end.

I know that some people don't want to sell something due to it's sentimental value, but even then you must try to be realistic and set dollar amounts above which you will not spend any more. When you reach your spending limit, above that amount is when the turd polishing begins.

Rich Robinson had a total re-build of his flooded out 335. It is never going to be the same guitar after that. Yes he can afford it, but that aside, from a monetary standpoint, depending on the cost of a restoration, one might argue that he could have purchased a new guitar for that much money. After the refurb, whether or not the brand new guitar would compete sonically with his refurb, again is personal taste.

If you wanted to have more work done on your LP, look into Historic Makeovers. These folks may or may not take on your guitar, as they normally strip down to the bare wood Historic LP's that the owners want re-done as closely to original '50's specs. Necks are removed, truss rods replaced, correct top dishing done, and many other things that Gibson should be doing as a matter of correctness for the absurd money they charge.
 

mad dog

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
10,992
Just one such experience for me. A 50s Silvertone 1427, which is sort of a poor man's ES-175, only with P13 pickups. Got if from a guy here. Reasonable price. Tried it and realized the fretboard was separating. Happened in transit. Not good, but something about this guitar really got me. Despite how little I could hear and feel of it, it just had something. My luthier friend agreed that it had promise, and he knew exactly what to do. So I worked out a partial refund with the seller, who was a stand up guy.

Not an easy job for him, took a while. Not cheap, though I got a very fair price from my friend. Bottom line: I could not be more pleased. Now the unusual and cool sounds from these pickups are so easy to hear, as it's a very smooth player, feels just right. Not a money thing. It was driven by curiosity and a certain feeling about one old guitar. Completely worth it.
MD
 

stratter

Member
Messages
1,421
I've had luck with the local people at Chicago Music Exchange. They do great work. Just looking at your location tells me you're about 5 or 6 hours from them, but I've heard you could ship your guitar in.

Wouldn't be a cheap job either way though.
 

55GibsonLPJR

Member
Messages
751
A twisted neck is a death sentence to me for a guitar. They never seem to stay in tune and play like crap = sounds a bit like the issue here
 

orourke

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
2,528
I've been slowly (kind of) restoring my old 1972 SG that I used when I was in my teens and twenties (I'm 58 now). The original vibrato was sort of torn up, so I found one on CL that matched perfectly, it's still a terrible trem, but it looks good, just don't touch it.

I've had lot's of different pickups in it over the years. The pickup covers are original, the rhythm pickup is the original, I lost the original lead pickup so I put an early 70's Dimarzio Super Distortion back into to it. It was one of the first after market pickups and I bought it for that guitar back then. The pick guard is wrong, but I'm stuck with it now. Same goes for the electronics. When I originally bought it new, it had two totally separate outputs for each pickup and I had to use a Y cord to plug into one amp.....weird.

I was going to wait until I had some better photos and give this guitar it's own thread, but your thread it apropos



Me back in 1977 playing this guitar at Max's Kansas City:

 

Baxtercat

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
12,698
It's always worth it.
I've done it plenty [which really saves money]. Just dive in and figure it out...I don't even have proper tools.
Most of these freebies come to me w/ mildew, bad action, even necks off.
[just the hollow ones in this pic]
 

oldtelefart

Member
Messages
4,659
I bought my Fernandes Tele ("revival" broadcaster clone) in 1986, used but immaculate. For the next 16 years it was used for 3-5 gigs a week, lots of touring, lots of playing and sweat and abuse. By 2002 it was trashed. The frets were gone, the bridge/saddles was a lump of rust, there was a shallow but irritating divot in the neck under the B string around the 13th-14th fret where a drummer's hi-hat stand had landed.

I sent the guitar to Chris Kinman, who was still doing luthier work before his pickup business took off.
His shop boss Chris Melville did most of the work.
It took 3 months and cost $980, $80 more than I paid for the guitar.

New frets - perfect
Neck shaved to 9.5 radius (removing the divot completely) - perfect
Neck resprayed with vintage-correct nitro - perfect
New nut - perfect
New bridge plate with 6-saddle - perfect (All the old screws had to be drilled out, tops were rusted away.)
New wiring, control plate, pots, switch, LP-style output jack - perfect
Perfect set-up and pickup height.
(Kinman told me on the phone they liked the guitar so much they both wanted to buy it.)

It came back better than new. Expensive and worth every cent.
Thirteen years later it's still in perfect playing condition, all I've done is replace the pickups with Bardens.

If you're in Australia and need top-quality work on a guitar, call Chris Melville in Brisbane.
He builds beautiful acoustics too.
 

loudboy

Member
Messages
27,316
I've been slowly (kind of) restoring my old 1972 SG that I used when I was in my teens and twenties (I'm 58 now). The original vibrato was sort of torn up, so I found one on CL that matched perfectly, it's still a terrible trem, but it looks good, just don't touch it.

I've had lot's of different pickups in it over the years. The pickup covers are original, the rhythm pickup is the original, I lost the original lead pickup so I put an early 70's Dimarzio Super Distortion back into to it. It was one of the first after market pickups and I bought it for that guitar back then. The pick guard is wrong, but I'm stuck with it now. Same goes for the electronics. When I originally bought it new, it had two totally separate outputs for each pickup and I had to use a Y cord to plug into one amp.....weird.

I was going to wait until I had some better photos and give this guitar it's own thread, but your thread it apropos



Me back in 1977 playing this guitar at Max's Kansas City:

High five!

I'm 58, have the same SG Deluxe - my first good guitar. Super sentimental, as my dad helped me buy it, right before he died.

I took off the Bigsby as it refused to stay in tune even when blocked, put a stoptail on it and drilled a hole in the side for an LP-style jack.

It's pretty beat-up, but I've toyed with the idea of getting restored...

1975...

 

orourke

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
2,528
High five!

I'm 58, have the same SG Deluxe - my first good guitar. Super sentimental, as my dad helped me buy it, right before he died.

I took off the Bigsby as it refused to stay in tune even when blocked, put a stoptail on it and drilled a hole in the side for an LP-style jack.

It's pretty beat-up, but I've toyed with the idea of getting restored...

1975...
Do you still have it? Any recent pics?
 




Top