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Damocles

Derelict Gibson LG-12

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Earlier this week I took possession of my first Gibson (been a Fender man for over 40 years); a somewhat derelict Gibson LG-12. It suffers from some damage to the soundboard (as if someone once mounted electronics to it). The tuners have been spray painted gold (with some overspray on the back of the headstock). Inside, between the soundhole and bridge, are a couple of blocks and dowels mounted to the back and soundboard. Nevertheless, for a 12 string, I find it quite playable with a nice parlor guitar kinda tone. Thinking about doing some restoration and towards that end I've already got a new bone nut and bridge saddle.

 

Any ideas or suggestions (like where I might find replacement tuners and/or that adjustable bridge) would be appreciated.

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Are they closed back Kluson tuners? (Likely stamped "Gibson Deluxe" by the time the LG-12 came around). If so, it'd be worth cleaning them up instead of replacing them.

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Are they closed back Kluson tuners? (Likely stamped "Gibson Deluxe" by the time the LG-12 came around). If so, it'd be worth cleaning them up instead of replacing them.

 

Yes, closed back Klusons (didn't notice what was stamped on them). Not sure how best to clean them...

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I'd start with 'Goof Off' or 'Oops' and a very firm toothbrush, maybe keeping a little saucepan of boiling water to dip in and swish around between applications.

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I'd start with 'Goof Off' or 'Oops' and a very firm toothbrush, maybe keeping a little saucepan of boiling water to dip in and swish around between applications.

 

Thanks, sounds good. Would that work on the headstock overspray?

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Try naphtha (lighter fluid) on the overspray. With elbow grease. Lighter fluid is your friend but a slow friend.

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Try naphtha (lighter fluid) on the overspray. With elbow grease. Lighter fluid is your friend but a slow friend.

 

Would 0000 steel wool be appropriate?

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The headstock overspray is a different story. Is it just that it's thick and not smooth looking? If so, I've used acetone on a rag just to re-liquefy it until it looks more or less smooth, but it's the max strength lacquer thinner and works instantly. Also dries very quickly so rub out a small section and don't over rub. You may end up having to buff it out or spray a coat or two of lacquer at the end to get it to a uniform sheen, something like Color-Tone satin you can buy from Srew-Mac.

 

http://www.stewmac.com/Materials_and_Supplies/Finishing_Supplies/Finishes_and_Solvents/ColorTone_Aerosol_Guitar_Lacquer.html?lac_guid=47271363-cd3b-e711-80d7-ecb1d775572a&utm_campaign=ts0286&utm_medium=email&utm_source=newsletter&utm_content=ts0286_O_20170518

 

Maybe live with the overspray if it seems daunting. A good luthier will doll up the head for the cost of a can of lacquer.

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No big deal. Mostly everyone here reads and comments on both. Also, what ksdaddy said about the chemicals and buttons also goes for the boiling water, as you don't want heat traveling up the stem and loosening the bond. It works as a quick rinse as you're taking paint off the covers.

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Not unusual to find an older Gibson w/plugged top holes from ancient electronics - sad, but not uncommon. Properly plugged, there should be some attempt at a grain match, but the plug's still likely to be visible. Doesn't usually do harm, provides a bit of aesthetic nuance😋

As an old biker, I'd suggest hitting the klusons w/a little Flitz Polish - doesn't always work, but it's amazing when it does; keep it away from gold plating! Personally, I'd live w/the painted buttons or replace them - a wrong substance can start deteriorating them pretty quickly and you'd need to replace 'em then for sure. Replacing the adjustable bridge takes a lot of hardware - and a lot of luck finding it as well. Now and then that kind of thing shows up on ebay, or you might try seeking out a luthier with a tendency to keep leftovers from previous conversions. My luthier does that kind of thing. Actually, it should sound pretty good with a bone saddle. Hope you enjoy the guitar!

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Not unusual to find an older Gibson w/plugged top holes from ancient electronics - sad, but not uncommon. Properly plugged, there should be some attempt at a grain match, but the plug's still likely to be visible. Doesn't usually do harm, provides a bit of aesthetic nuance😋

As an old biker, I'd suggest hitting the klusons w/a little Flitz Polish - doesn't always work, but it's amazing when it does; keep it away from gold plating! Personally, I'd live w/the painted buttons or replace them - a wrong substance can start deteriorating them pretty quickly and you'd need to replace 'em then for sure. Replacing the adjustable bridge takes a lot of hardware - and a lot of luck finding it as well. Now and then that kind of thing shows up on ebay, or you might try seeking out a luthier with a tendency to keep leftovers from previous conversions. My luthier does that kind of thing. Actually, it should sound pretty good with a bone saddle. Hope you enjoy the guitar!

 

 

I'll second the use of Flitz. I go through a fair amount of it. I've done restorations of old closed Klusons using naphtha, Flitz, and cotton swabs. The naphtha can be used to remove dirt and grease, and to inject into the closed tuner bodies with a syringe to rinse out dried grease and muck.

 

I then attack the rusted bits with Flitz on cotton swabs (Q-tips). They won't look like new, but you don't want them to. Once you get them all clean, shoot a little dry lube through the lube hole in the tuner cover, or straight into the gear casing along the tuning shaft and worm screw (not the string post).

 

Just bought a one-pound can of Flitz yesterday (about $50), since I also use it as a stainless polish on my boat. And there's a lot of stainless on it. You can buy small tubes ( a few ounces, which is plenty for most folks) for $15 bucks or so.

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Flitz removes paint, Nick?

 

Probably not, but it depends on the paint.

 

Removing paint from the tuners is going to be a pain. I might use some citrus-based paint remover applied with cotton swabs, then cleaned off with naphtha and small pieces of rag, but you have to keep the stripper off the plastic buttons or you will destroy them.

 

The good thing is that whoever painted probably did no surface prep, so there might have been enough oil on the surface to keep the paint from bonding well. If that's the case, the Flitz (or Naphtha) should take it off. The same could be true on the back of the headstock, but you'd need to use naphtha on that, not Flitz.

 

This is painstaking work, and it may or may not be worth doing. If it proves too difficult, I'd just remove the tuners, flush out the insides with naphtha, shoot in some dry lube, and re-install them. The buttons on those old tuners may be celluloid, which is pretty fragile stuff.

 

Flitz also happens to be good for bringing a shine back to oil-based or poly painted surfaces. I would NOT use it on nitro.

 

I don't know what's in it. They say "no acids, no abrasives". But they don't say what it is.

 

It's a German product, so maybe it was developed to clean up the Panzer paint they used on old hummingbird pickguards...

 

Just checked, and it's actually a two-pound can (about a quart/litre) They say it's good for polishing 2,000 square feet. I have no idea how they figure that out, but I'd be in a straightjacket after polishing 2,000 square feet of anything with it.

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OK, well this continues to be an ongoing learning experience... According to Reverb, and other sites, the serial number dates it to 1968 but then I find other sites telling me that the impressed number with Made in USA as well as the volute dates it to 1970. It also has a number 2 between the serial number and Made in USA which I assume makes it a Second (?). In any case, I shot some more photos to show you guys what I'm dealing with.

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What is the peculiar little pit prop thing for on the inside? It looks like a nice project guitar, how does it sound?

 

The gold hack job on the tuners is the kind of thing that makes me wonder why some people even bother attempting that sort of work 😩

 

I'd be inclined to refinish it totally with a small '30s style dark burst to hide the filled holes etc.

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There are two dowels; one beneath the bridge and one beneath the damage to the soundboard. I need to find a small mirror to get a better look at the inside to see what's going on. I didn't even notice them until I put the strings on.

 

The neck is good. The most comfortable 12 string I've played. Decent amount of fret wire left; a little dressing and polishing wouldn't hurt. Fret board is worn but I've seen a lot worse (including my old Epiphone 6830E). It tunes up and stays in tune and has a nice, bright parlor guitar kinda tone with not a lot of bottom (although, I suppose heavier strings at the bottom would help). Other than the tuners and the soundboard damage it appears solid. And old... And I like that refinishing idea. But the real question at this stage is...where to begin?

 

BTW, Jinder, an old mate from uni plays the occasional gig with his band down your Dorset way...Flashmob?

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I've heard of Flashmob! I've not seen them play but the name is definitely familiar, I'll keep an eye out.

 

The dowels are interesting, do they look stock or like something that's been added at a later date?

 

I'd say the first step with the refinish is to have a word with a few luthiers who are local to you and figure out who has the expertise to give it a top notch nitro refinish with a proper burst, I know in the Reso world there are specialists who can do authentic replatings and refinishes with period correct Duco crystal paint etc...on the non-Reso side, Dave King and Celine Camerlynck in London have done some spectacular restoration work I've seen, and I know Graham Parker does very good refinishes too, although his are more satin finish/hand rubbed which wouldn't be my first choice (personal taste of course, he is brilliant at what he does).

 

As it has a few repairs and isn't a particularly rare instrument there is nothing to lose by having it refinished, and I think it would turn out to be an absolutely beautiful looking little guitar and a one of a kind instrument with the work done right...plus it would be all tidied up and ready to go for another fortysomething years.

 

I find this sort of thing massively exciting...I apologise for rambling excitedly about it!

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The doweling doesn't look professional enough to be stock. Definitely playing a part with that soundboard damage as support or something... The bridge has that "halo" around it as if it was reglued, as well.

 

Thanks for the suggestions but I'm not in the UK right now and, besides, anything that much fun I'd rather do it myself. I've refinished solid body electrics but never an acoustic. Wondering whether sanding the soundboard, to start, or scrub it with some steel wool and solvent to get it even...?

 

Yes, it is easy to get excited by something so challenging and so much fun, isn't it?

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The doweling doesn't look professional enough to be stock. Definitely playing a part with that soundboard damage as support or something... The bridge has that "halo" around it as if it was reglued, as well.

 

Thanks for the suggestions but I'm not in the UK right now and, besides, anything that much fun I'd rather do it myself. I've refinished solid body electrics but never an acoustic. Wondering whether sanding the soundboard, to start, or scrub it with some steel wool and solvent to get it even...?

 

Yes, it is easy to get excited by something so challenging and so much fun, isn't it?

 

 

I have stripped and sanded soundboards down and refinished them before. It just requires careful masking and careful scraping and sanding, using sanding blocks to level the soundboard. Before doing this, you need to carefully inspect the inside of the guitar for loose braces, as the dowel may have been inserted to counteract a sinking soundboard.

 

If you use a chemical stripper, keep it off the binding. It will dissolve it. This is from first-hand experience.

 

When I first did this type of job almost 50 years ago, I refinished with Deft, which was a brushable or sprayable nitrocellulose lacquer. These days, I would use the spray cans of nitro lacquer available from Stewmac.

 

Your chances of doing an acceptable sunburst refinish as a first-time effort are close to nil. You may want to simply do a clear finish similar to what you have now. Gibson has used a clear finish as an option on most models over the years, so there is nothing non-authentic about this.

 

You can buy the lacquer from Stewmac pre-tinted with an aging toner. If you just use un-toned clear lacquer, the wood is likely to look like new wood, rather than a 40+ year old finish.

 

But it's your guitar, so it's your choice.

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