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(Introduction) L-50 repair conundrum


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(My first post) I have this rather odd factory revised L-50 cutaway. When I purchased the guitar about a decade ago the story was that the original owner received it as a gift but really preferred to have a cutaway. So they sent it back to Gibson where the cutaway was added and then apparently refinished in black… As it sits now the guitar is in ok shade, no cracks or dings but the very thick black finish is checked with some cracked and missing top coat, nothing I haven’t seen from other guitars from this period, but it’s not an A+ for sure. Some of the finish abutting the binding is a little rough as well, it wasn’t masked off perfectly when re-finished.

 

Anyways, now the guitar needs some refreshing and repair. I’d like to replace the tuners with something more period correct (roughly) so some suggestions there would be great. The neck will receive new frets, a new nut will be created and some bridge work/re-fitting done. The bad news though is that the two tone bars running under the archtop are both half detached, the top is also caving in a bit as a consequence. The Luthier I’m working with has concerns about being about to gain enough access through the f-holes to adequately do this repair. One suggestion on the table is to open it up enough by fitting a period-correct pickup, use this hole to gain access/fit jacks through to try and re-glue and reshape the top. I should also add that when I originally purchased this guitar it had a p.o.s. humbucker TAPED to it, sort of midway to the bridge, with a plug insert wired to and drilled/installed in the rear, no tone controls however. It was barely functional, massive feedback and sounded awful. I’m guessing that this could have also led to the ungluing and demise of the tone bars. I am of course a bit reticent about cutting into the top, but then again it’d be nice to have a functioning pickup (one that worked, feedback free and good tone) but moreover, it needs the repair work, somehow.

 

 

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First off there are a number of things to consider before doing any work on your guitar.

 

Value. Without doing some research about this specific model I would be very reluctant to just dig into it. The cutaway and the black paint are not original and how does that effect the value.

 

I know refinishing a guitar can cut the value in half (even if you are bringing it back to original specs). If you don't really care about what it is worth and just want to bring it back to life then you have to consider how much the repairs will cost and is the guitar actuall worth putting the kind of money into it (if it is a $500 guitar is it worth putting $1,200 into it)

 

 

With the money side of it out of the way next is what would be the best way to fix it.

 

If you were my client I would suggest NOT cutting into the top for any reason. If you want a decent pick up Stew Mac sells an add on pickup just for this type of guitar. It mounts to the end of the fretboard and you do not need to cut the top.

 

http://www.stewmac.com/shop/Electronics,_pickups/Pickups:_Guitar,_archtop/Kent_Armstrong_Suspended_Jazz_Humbucker.html

 

 

Now the next thing to consider is how to fix the braces and the top. Without seeing the guitar in person I would prefer to remove the back to make the repairs. I have fixed a few guitars where that was the option of choice. It will require re-binding and re-finishing but it will give you full access to repair and inspect the braces. Some repair guys have to tools and expertise to work on violins and Cello's so they may be able to work through the F-holes to complete the repairs but from my experience it may be cheaper to just remove the back. (Quotes are needed to find out if that is viable)

 

Those are the things I would think about first and then decide if the cost is really worth the effort. Having done a number of repairs similar to this I can pretty much guarantee they will find more once they get into it.

 

 

If it were my personal guitar and I were just fixing it up for myself I would probably not hesitate to pull the back and refinish but then I can do all the work myself so it would just cost me for the materials. If I wanted to sell it then that becomes a different matter.

 

Hope this helps,

Bob

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Now the next thing to consider is how to fix the braces and the top. Without seeing the guitar in person I would prefer to remove the back to make the repairs. I have fixed a few guitars where that was the option of choice. It will require re-binding and re-finishing but it will give you full access to repair and inspect the braces. Some repair guys have to tools and expertise to work on violins and Cello's so they may be able to work through the F-holes to complete the repairs but from my experience it may be cheaper to just remove the back.

thanks for the reply. we discussed removing the back in order to do the repairs, around a grand all said and done. which is probably beyond reasonable for this guitar, unfortunately. They can try and attempt the repairs accessed through the f-holes, a series of clamps and some way of getting the glue up in there.. it certainly won't be me attempting this!

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If you like the guitar it is worth putting more into it than you would ever get back in a resale.

 

As we are talking player's guitar here I would think the cutaway although a prtetty big midification might be an advantage.

 

Peronally I would just take care of the structural issues and the frets if they are shot. The reapir guys I have worked with would prefer not to have to remove the back but I am guessing it is going to be necessary. A real good one might be able to save the binding. I had the back removed from an early 1940s Gibson and while I don't know how he did it - the guitar came back to me with the original binding.

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