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Fixing up the Les Paul Studio - Tear Down to Custom Rebuild

Andy R

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Project 2 this week if I get more time off will be to clean up the beat Les Paul Studio I just got. This thing has been rode hard and put away wet for quite some time.



* Take it Completely Apart - Pretty Much Done

* Remove the Black Tape From the back that said "APPLAUS" ( Don't know where the "E" went ) - Done

* Clean and Polish the Finish - Done as it is going to be

* Level frets to remove divits

* Crown whatever fret is left after leveling

* Polish all the Frets

* Level fret ends that are sticking out due to fret board shrinkage

* Clean the half inch of gunk from the fretboard and give it an oiling

* Replace the Tuners

* Replace Bridge and Tail Piece with Gold Tone Pros

* Replace Chipped nut ( maybe )

* Clean all Pots

* Clean Input Jack

* re-solder all connections

* Put It Back Together Set-up Action and Intonation

* Rock out!


Some Pics of what I'm Working With


Doesn't look bad from a distance!




Top Isn't too bad. I kinda like the nicotine stained look. Kinda has a Steve Jones Feel.




The Back on the other Hand.... I'm Pretty much stuck with the "Applaus" forever... Maybe I will at least air brush a yellowed "E" Might Have to add a cardboard flap that I can just flip out with the "E" On It. msp_biggrin.gif




Fret divits and finger board crud. If the divits are to deep this might turn into "How to re-fret a Les Paul Studio" Thread.





More to come as I knock things off the list.

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Looking pretty rough. Keep the top, but that back is begging for some sandpaper, man.

You can do it! Make it a dark-back, maybe? [biggrin]


Nah.... The finish is checking pretty good now. Don't want to add a wet blanket of new paint and clear to it. Sides, I might want people to Applaus....msp_biggrin.gif I might try some wet sanding to see if it lightens up or not.

Whatever, It has character at least. msp_thumbup.gif


If I do decide to do something more aggressive It will be MAJOR!




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will have some usefull tips, if you need any help.


Thanks and I'm familiar with that forum. I was a tech for many years so I have done a ton of fret jobs and re-frets so not a biggie. Just depends on how much time I want to spend on it. msp_biggrin.gif

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You would make a great neighbor! I saw you worked for Dean. What did you do there?


We were the US distributor ( not the factory ) Unfortunately at the time everything was pretty much cheap imports. I did all the inspection, QC, Set-up and repair for anything that went out to dealers. I also worked with other builders and luthiers and customers/artists If we "Built" a US made custom like the one for Dime. I worked with Dime on what he wanted, he sent me the Dean from Hell and I got all the specs from it. Paul Chandler Guitars built it. I assembled it and set it up to his specs and gave it to him at the Namm show in 93? I think it was.


I had known about Dime from when I lived in Dallas around 1988. I worked in a record store there and actually met Phil one night at a party. When I moved back to Indiana I always kept an eye on what Pantera was up to and when we became the dean distributor I told my boss we had to get Dime as an endorser. At the time I think he might have been in one half page article in Guitar World or one of the magazines. I told my Boss about the Dean headstock tattoo and he got ahold of his manager and asked him if he would be interested. I got a call from Dime about a week later. He had just got off stage when they were out on tour with Alice In Chains. He was very excited about doing it.


Things were looking good at doing a full US made Dimebag line back in 93 but something happened between the owner of the company I worked for and the owner of the Dean brand at the time. I ended up bailing out and Saw Dime a few years later when he was endorsing Washburn. I asked him about what happened after I left and why he went to Washburn and he said they sent him some Crappy asian built replicas and he was not into that at all. I worked on his Dean from Hell a couple of times through the years when he would come through town. He was a nice guy and always "Hooked" me up when they were here. He also played the Dean I gave him on a few songs when they were out touring. You can tell which one it is because it says "DemonDime" on the truss rod cover.


He was a very cool and nice guy.


There ya go....




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The guy who put the APPLAUS on probably was like "ah sh!t, I ran out of room" Good to see that guitar with a good home.


The way this guitar looks I imagine he didn't know there was an "E" . msp_w00t.gif




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I'm one of the few here who like the Dean headstock. I remember seeing them in a local store around 80 I think. A V and an ML.I always wanted one of the earlier E"Lites. The ones with the slab body and the unique tailpiece. I think their called Cadillacs now, mostly bolt ons.

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I'm one of the few here who like the Dean headstock. I remember seeing them in a local store around 80 I think. A V and an ML.I always wanted one of the earlier E"Lites. The ones with the slab body and the unique tailpiece. I think their called Cadillacs now, mostly bolt ons.

You should save up for a USA dime, i think someone on MLP owns a bunch of them. Ive also met a bunch of people who swear by the USA dean guitars.

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I'm one of the few here who like the Dean headstock. I remember seeing them in a local store around 80 I think. A V and an ML.I always wanted one of the earlier E"Lites. The ones with the slab body and the unique tailpiece. I think their called Cadillacs now, mostly bolt ons.




I always liked the Original Dean Large V Headstock too. I had a 79 see thru burgundy Explorer that I sold about 11 years ago that I'm kicking myself over. If I bought A dean it would be a late 70's ML. The Cadillac used to look like a Les Paul with A long pointy bottom neck cutaway and the V style headstock. Elliot Easton used to play one. I wouldn't mind one of those too but again from the original era. I'm just not into "New" Guitars, even if they look like the old ones and are built halfway well. Just no Vibe to them. That's why I like the guitar above.


If I were to buy a new "Dean" I would buy a DBZ Guitar. I think "Dean" he company gave him a bit of a screwing when he came back and did all the Dimebag stuff. The owner of the Dean guitar trademark even changed his name to Deanblink.gif Dean Z's new brand looks pretty decent and innovative. It must really stink to lose your Name and Identifying guitar trademarks.









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I'll be paying attention, as I just got the same guitar (it's a 92, right?). Mine has been "rode hard" as well!!


Great stuff on the Dime stories, BTW.




By the way I have a ton of stories about Dime. Like when he Stole my firebird for a quick Joy Ride!



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What Color is it?



Just had a chance to get back on here, work's been kickin' my arse! Anyhoo, mine is Alpine white, with the ebony fretboard. Some idiot filled in the serial number, but I can just make it out, mine is a 93. It has the big baseball bat neck.


Maybe you can help clear up some mysteries as to what the Studios are actually made of. I thought they where mahogany with a maple cap (1/8 inch maybe?), but my buddy read in a price guide info type book that they were made out of alder. What's yours look like? Thanks!



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Well it is my last day off before my vacation ends and I pretty much completed all the projects I wanted to get finished. This is the last of them. So I started off by giving the old girl a good fret level, crown and polish and a new set of Kluson "Waffle" backs.


Straightening the neck before fret level. I always check three points both edges and the middle. That way I can compensate for any slight neck twist. Which this one didn't have:




Lot's of tape to protect the body and fretboard. I use black tape that isn't two sticky for a bit of extra protection:




I also remove the nut so when I am leveling I can make long complete passes across the frets. I always use a razor blade to cut the finish on all sides. Then I heat up the nut with a heat gun. Then use the razor blade and lightly tap it between the fretboard and the nut until it starts to come loose. Then I gently tap it with a hammer and piece of wood from both sides until it comes loose. Nice clean removal:






I use red sharpie and color all the frets. This makes it much easier to "read" the frets as you progress. You can also see in this pic how flat the frets were and the major divots in the frets.





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When I level frets I have a very flat piece of hardwood and start with 150 grade sandpaper. I start at the first fret and lightly increase pressure as I progress down the neck so that the frets get slightly lower as you move towards the body.


My "Fret level"





The first pass read... I will continue with the 150 grade until I have a bare edge on the tops of all the frets. In the case of the divots I only progress until just the slightest sign that the top of the divot is gone. From there if any of the divot remains I will remove it in the crowning process. This way you only remove the bare minimum of fret.






Stop once you get to the top of the divot




Next I color all the frets again and move to 320 sand paper.... Once I make enough passes with the 320 to remove all the red I do something that most people don't. I then sand lightly with the block up and down ( instead of side to side. This way I have the sand marks going the direction you bend the strings.





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I re-color the frets and repeat this up to about 800 grit :




Once I get to this point I begin to crown the frets. I'm a bit "Old school" and like to use a 3 edge file (with the corners ground down). I feel that you have better control of the fret shaping this way.


My fret crowning files from Stew Mc'ds: ( I rarely use the large file ) usually I rough the crown in with the medium file and then finish crowning with the smaller file.




Hand crowning is a lot of work so I start from the body and work my way towards the nut. This way I get the majority done while I'm "Fresh" Using the medium file I start by removing the red from the side of the fret and slowly roll the file towards the center alternating sides until I have a nice thin line of red in the middle of the fret.






Once I have done this with all the frets I re color them all again and use the small crown file repeating the process but this time i actually work my way completely over the thin line.


After this is complete I use some 000 steel wool and polish the length of the fret (the same direction you bend the strings.




Once that is complete I use some 1200 grit sand paper and use my finger to finish polishing out any scratches. again going along the length of the fret. Once this is complete I recolor the frets again and use the 1500 with the wood block to "Re-Level" anything that has changed during the crowning process. If all goes well you should be able to see a nice thin line of bare metal in one or two passes without adding pressure to the block. After that I polish with 0000 steel wool and final polish using a rag, my finger and some white buffing compound.


Here is the end result! Nice level, shiny and round frets. msp_biggrin.gif





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Installing Kluson waffle back Tuning keys.... Problem ... the bushing are slightly smaller than the original Gibson Deluxe bushings.... Problem solved by a little bit of heat shrink tube!


Sometimes you just have to punt and see how you fare...




I Like the way these things look!






That's it for today! My Gold Tone Pro's Bridge and Tail Piece should be here tomorrow! I hope.

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