April, 2018

'72 Gibson L-50

     Repair and Refinish

     The first thing to do was to identify the vintage of the guitar.  I've had it since about 1980, and the Gibson serial number on the back of the head stock places it in the 1972-1975 range. That would be about right but I know Gibson serial numbers are... let's say, sketchy sometimes.

     Next, the pick up installation work began. It was decided to put a Lindy Fralin P-90 hum-cancelling pick up at the neck (ES-125 style). Lindy's shop is here in Richmond and he was very helpful in selecting and harnessing up the hardware. I just had to rout the top for the pick up, tone and volume knobs, and the output jack. This was not difficult but there could not be any "oh-shit" moments once the router bit touched the 40-year old archtop. 

     As expected, routing for the neck pick up cut about half way through the braces, so piggyback bracing was installed to keep the top reinforcement at full strength. The side was also reinforced where the output jack passes through.  All went well.

     The top and neck were masked and the back and sides were cleaned, scuff sanded and sprayed with a semi-gloss, clear lacquer finish.

     This old Gibson now has new life.  It's been a productive month.

     We hope to see you here again next month.


     Next came the replacement of the back and routing the binding rabbet. Then new bindings had to be installed and the back and sides would need clear lacquer finish. The tricky part of installing bindings on this instrument was that the back and sides were already stained and finished so that there could be no sanding of the bindings to flush them up with the back and sides. The rabbet had to be cut very precisely to the dimensions of the binding, and the new bindings would have to be only slightly proud so that they could be scraped down very carefully. I did NOT want to get into the color under the existing finish. 

     As we talked I explained that the Gibson had been hanging on the wall for 35 years or so and I always intended to repair it and install a pickup... but never got around to it. I've got more than one of these projects waiting for an incentive to take up and finish. My friend supplied the interest and incentive as he said that he might like to have the guitar when it was finished.

     Well, there's nothing like having a goal unless it's having a friend with a mutual interest in that goal. So, that's how the project began.

     1972 Gibson L-50 Archtop, carved solid-spruce top, layered maple back and sides.

April, 2018

     A friend came into the shop this month just curious to see what Woody Strings is all about. I showed him around and before we were done he saw an old Gibson L-50 archtop guitar hanging on the wall.  I took it down and explained to my friend that I had taken the back off (years ago) to repair the broken bass bars (braces) attached to the under side of the top.

     Apparently, the Gibson had been dropped on its face and landed on the bridge. Both of the braces, which ran from the heel block to the tail block, had been jarred loose from the top. One of the braces had actually snapped. Both needed to be removed and replaced.