1994 Gibson Les Paul Studio Rehab - Jemsite
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post #1 of 14 (permalink) Old 01-04-2014, 09:54 AM Thread Starter
 
Join Date: Nov 2013
Location: Albany, MN
Posts: 31
1994 Gibson Les Paul Studio Rehab

So this is my 1994 Gibson Les Paul Studio that I've had since 1996. It has a carved maple top on a mahogany body and neck with pearloid trapezoid inlays on the rosewood fretboard. It has a pair of Seymour Duncan pickups (not quite sure which ones) and all the body elements came in black.


(You can see the edge of my trusty, 1987 Kramer 610, on the stand next to it.)

I've always loved the sound of this guitar but the look always left me wanting. So what does any self-respecting guitarist do? Try to destroy it in the hopes it will look better when you're done! Actually, I just started with replacing the hardware:



I changed out the original black selector switch, pickup rings, input and pickguard for creme and replaced the black speed knobs with gold. It looked better, kind of like a Les Paul Classic but it still wasn't sitting right. So I proceeded to the next step which, if not done properly, would kill the poor thing. Let the stripping and sanding commence!



The danger with jumping in with this step is some of the Les Paul Studios, being of a lower quality range, may not have a single slab of mahogany and may actually consist of two pieces glued together. Fortunately, mine had a single slab and it looked really nice. The stripping and sanding was a bit of a challenge and required quite a bit of work but I was starting to get an idea of what it would look like when done.



Once the multiple passes of sanding were complete, from a heavy grit down to a very fine grit, I applied four coats of Tru-Oil gun stock oil/sealer with a fine steel wool rub down between each coat to keep the application even.



Once I started applying the Tru-Oil, the maple cap began to really exhibit a faux-binding look to the guitar, giving it more of a hybrid, gold-top look. Very nice!



I'm sure it is mostly psychological but sanding off the paint has really opened up the sound of this guitar. I always liked the sound before but now it sounds incredible and finally has the looks to match.



As always, I'd love your thoughts on this mod. I'm always tinkering with my guitars but this was the first heavy "modification" I've done and, I must say, I'm very pleased with the way it turned out. Thank you for reading!
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post #2 of 14 (permalink) Old 01-04-2014, 10:22 AM
 
Join Date: Jul 2012
Location: Northern California
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Re: 1994 Gibson Les Paul Studio Rehab

What would be amazing, assuming the top is acceptable, is to make it a sunburst Les Paul. If you find the top is not pretty enough, you can make it a goldtop.

Anyway if you go gold, it could look like this:

The original '57 is different in that there is the "thinner" binding (as opposed to the heavier one today) and the neck angle geometry is different. The Les Pauls since 1959 have a gentler, lower action feel due to newer neck angle. But some players like the pre-1959 neck but it's a very small difference.

Your Studio may have the desirable aspect of a lighter body with chambers under the maple cap but if it's solid, then it would be heavier but just like the original 1957. Your off the shelf burstbucker 1s from any online store could complete your mod to sound like the original old Les Paul. In the innards, get the original bumblebee capacitor to dial it in even closer.

Last edited by 63Blazer; 01-28-2014 at 11:25 AM.
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post #3 of 14 (permalink) Old 01-04-2014, 10:28 AM Thread Starter
 
Join Date: Nov 2013
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Re: 1994 Gibson Les Paul Studio Rehab

I love the look of that road-worn, gold-top, 63Blazer! Is that yours? I actually do like the look of the black-top now and hadn't considered taking it to the next level with a custom, burst, paint job. Something to ponder...
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post #4 of 14 (permalink) Old 01-04-2014, 10:31 AM
 
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Re: 1994 Gibson Les Paul Studio Rehab

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jamvan View Post
I love the look of that road-worn, gold-top, 63Blazer! Is that yours? I actually do like the look of the black-top now and hadn't considered taking it to the next level with a custom, burst, paint job. Something to ponder...
I used to have a ton of vintage stuff, but no it's just a standard old '57 from the internet. Most look like this with weird wear patterns and cracking on top. If the OP messes up the finish, he could always relic it to make it look more authentic. It wouldn't be easy to make a flawless gold top or flawless sunburst top unless he has a buffer. There are ways to make the cracking on the gold.

The hardest part, if you get a chance to see old 50s and 60s Gibsons, is to get the metal parts to look worn like the originals. Even Gibson does a terrible job in relic-ing their metal parts to look old. While nobody could get the uneven cracking to look right, a mediocre cracking/crazing job will still fool the eye of most who don't know the real thing.

If you want the sound to be real, beyond Gibson you could probably get a better vintage sound from DiMarzio 36th or Duncan '59s or Duncan Seth Lover. Gibson feels to be under pressure to make their vintage stuff always a little new or hotter and bow under pressure. DiMarzio and Duncan make so many pickups that they have the time and energy to replicate the actual low resistance humbucker of the very old Les Pauls which may not cater to proper modern hard rock and metal fans thus the things like Duncan JBs which get the basic PAF but with balls.

If OP wants a perfect medium that can cross over either way, nothing is better than going to eBay and getting a pair of Gibson Norlin-era Tim Shaw humbuckers. He led the pickup division and then became head engineer for Gibson and many consider the Tim Shaw humbuckers as his crowning achievement. They are pricey, but not as much as a pair of original Gibson PAFs, so the Shaws would make the OP's Les Paul the best sounding thing other than a vintage Les Paul and please both vintage and modern rock fans. Not that it matters but under the chrome covers, a dual creme humbucker is most sought after followed by zebra.

http://www.ebay.com/itm/Vintage-1980...item20dd8d6a05

Last edited by 63Blazer; 01-04-2014 at 10:42 AM.
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post #5 of 14 (permalink) Old 01-04-2014, 10:46 AM Thread Starter
 
Join Date: Nov 2013
Location: Albany, MN
Posts: 31
Re: 1994 Gibson Les Paul Studio Rehab

I actually thought I had the original Gibson 490r/498t in her until I pulled them to replace the rings and was surprised to see "Seymour Duncan" stamped on the bottom. I was so surprised that I neglected to see what type they actually were. I'm going to pull them again when I next change my strings and see if I can get the specific models.

I had considered adding a pair of Slash alnico II pro zebras to her as I tend to lean a bit more towards the hard rock end of the spectrum but opted to hold off and get a better idea of her personality after these changes to see if that was the direction I wanted to go.

You're giving me too many things to think about!
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post #6 of 14 (permalink) Old 01-04-2014, 12:16 PM
 
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Re: 1994 Gibson Les Paul Studio Rehab

Maybe you have a 15 year pair of Duncans and if that's the case then you have a nice pair of aged pickups that should get any sound you want. Many guitars that initially sound harsh won't change much (if electric solidbody) when the wood ages but has the mellowness coming from older pickups.

A Duncan '59 right off the shelf today may not sound as good as a pair of Duncan '59s that are 15 years old. If you like hard rock a great old set of Duncans would be a JB in bridge and '59 in neck which was the most common combination then and is quite common today. I wouldn't think you have a Duncan Custom, Pearly Gates, Distortion, or Jazz but those are possible, too.
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post #7 of 14 (permalink) Old 01-08-2014, 08:01 AM
 
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Re: 1994 Gibson Les Paul Studio Rehab

Your Les Paul looks awesome. Well done. You did a great job.

Here is a link to a guide that should help you work out what Duncans you have in it..

http://www.seymourduncan.com/support..._can_i_tell_2/
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post #8 of 14 (permalink) Old 01-08-2014, 08:09 AM Thread Starter
 
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Re: 1994 Gibson Les Paul Studio Rehab

Thanks Dutchie. That SD site will definitely help figure out what's currently in there.
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post #9 of 14 (permalink) Old 01-08-2014, 08:37 AM
 
Join Date: Jul 2011
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Re: 1994 Gibson Les Paul Studio Rehab

awesome thread. I love messing with my guitars this way! I love the look of the mahogany back now. just great. You didn't get any steel wool in the finish did you? I was always advised against using steel wool between coats of anything.
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post #10 of 14 (permalink) Old 01-08-2014, 09:59 AM Thread Starter
 
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Re: 1994 Gibson Les Paul Studio Rehab

Quote:
Originally Posted by GUITARMAGEDDON View Post
You didn't get any steel wool in the finish did you? I was always advised against using steel wool between coats of anything.
Thanks Guitarmageddon! I'm very pleased with how it turned out.

Regarding the steel wool, I was using Tru-Oil, an oil finish typically used for gun stocks, and not a poly or nitro finish and it is recommended to use an extra fine steel wool between coats, after each coat dries. It is (obviously) an oil based finish and not tacky/sticky at all once it dries/hardens. It's not a typical oil finish in that it does build up and provide a hardened coat for further protection. I just made sure I wiped with a lint-free cloth after evening the finish with the steel wool and I didn't have any issues.

Here's a link to learn more about using Tru-Oil for further info: http://www.lmii.com/oil-finishes
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post #11 of 14 (permalink) Old 01-08-2014, 12:42 PM
 
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Re: 1994 Gibson Les Paul Studio Rehab

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jamvan View Post
Thanks Guitarmageddon! I'm very pleased with how it turned out.

Regarding the steel wool, I was using Tru-Oil, an oil finish typically used for gun stocks, and not a poly or nitro finish and it is recommended to use an extra fine steel wool between coats, after each coat dries. It is (obviously) an oil based finish and not tacky/sticky at all once it dries/hardens. It's not a typical oil finish in that it does build up and provide a hardened coat for further protection. I just made sure I wiped with a lint-free cloth after evening the finish with the steel wool and I didn't have any issues.

Here's a link to learn more about using Tru-Oil for further info: http://www.lmii.com/oil-finishes
I have used tru oil a bunch, usually on neck but your right, I used steel wool on the necks between coats. I have never used anything but sand paper on a body though. My last build, I did a tru oil finish over the entire body. It looks great : )
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post #12 of 14 (permalink) Old 01-08-2014, 12:51 PM Thread Starter
 
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Re: 1994 Gibson Les Paul Studio Rehab

Quote:
Originally Posted by GUITARMAGEDDON View Post
I have used tru oil a bunch, usually on neck but your right, I used steel wool on the necks between coats. I have never used anything but sand paper on a body though. My last build, I did a tru oil finish over the entire body. It looks great : )
I did different grits of sandpaper in the stripping/prep process but only used the steel wool/cloth during the finish work. I can see why you'd stick with the sandpaper though as it could certainly be an issue.

My issue with the neck is that the former owner had sanded the paint off of the neck from the 1st fret up to roughly the 14th fret so there are literally YEARS of hand grime/oils in there already and it has proved elusive when it comes to blending the tone of the wood. You can see it in the 4th (unfinished) and 5th (finished) pictures above. For now I'm considering it "character" but I will likely take another run at it to see if I can get it to blend a bit better.

Last edited by Jamvan; 01-08-2014 at 12:52 PM. Reason: spelling error
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post #13 of 14 (permalink) Old 01-08-2014, 12:58 PM
 
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Re: 1994 Gibson Les Paul Studio Rehab

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jamvan View Post
I did different grits of sandpaper in the stripping/prep process but only used the steel wool/cloth during the finish work. I can see why you'd stick with the sandpaper though as it could certainly be an issue.

My issue with the neck is that the former owner had sanded the paint off of the neck from the 1st fret up to roughly the 14th fret so there are literally YEARS of hand grime/oils in there already and it has proved elusive when it comes to blending the tone of the wood. You can see it in the 4th (unfinished) and 5th (finished) pictures above. For now I'm considering it "character" but I will likely take another run at it to see if I can get it to blend a bit better.
also when I did mine, I used the tru oil grain fill too, before the tru oil top coat and if I used wool it would have taken forever to get anywhere,, shoot, I was starting with 600 grit and though about going heavier, but it worked out.

I see what you are saying about the neck, I have a faded explorer that is the same way, not so much grime but its faded more in certain areas. for me, I don't mind the back of the neck being discolored but I'm sure if you went a little further it would clean up

oh crap!!! you are in Albany!??! I grew up in Brandon if you know where that is, and my folks are in Alexandria
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post #14 of 14 (permalink) Old 01-08-2014, 01:32 PM Thread Starter
 
Join Date: Nov 2013
Location: Albany, MN
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Re: 1994 Gibson Les Paul Studio Rehab

I do know where Brandon is (although I've never gotten off the interstate to see it!) and have been to Alex numerous times.

I may have to dig in to the neck some more to work it out. Lord knows the Les Paul has enough meat on that neck to sand for days and not worry about messing it up too bad!
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