Modding my MIJ LP Custom (DIY or Luthier?)

Discussion in 'Luthiery, Modifications & Customizations' started by neurosis, Feb 25, 2019.

  1. neurosis

    neurosis SS.org Regular

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    Hello all,

    I have a broken headstock Les Paul Custom. It's a Japanese made Epiphone with the regular Gibson headstock. It was repaired and when I bought it I did so because it showed huge potential.

    I cleaned it. Took out the guts and rewired it with a BKP Painkiller (B) and Gibson Custom (N) for the ~21 pups combos à la Jimmy Page, installed new saddles and cut a new nut for it.

    It plays incredibly and sounds even better but detail obsessed as I am and since it was affordable I've kind of made it my platform to try my craftsmanship.

    I just did a fret level which was easy but had some finishing issues doing the crowning and edge treatment. I think I'll have to practice some more before I can have pristine finished look.

    The guitar plays hundred times better now but I have been wondering if I shouldn't get rid of the frets and install medium jumbos, which I prefer and strip the finish on the neck while I am at it.

    I also don't mind that the guitar has a repaired headstock but the binding wasn't redone and the crack under the trussed bell is also visible.

    So I would like to:

    • Remove the frets and install, level and crown medium jumbos.
    • Sand or clean the scratched fretboard (has minor scuffs and marks).
    • Polish/sand/clean the fretboard binding (it also has a couple smaller marks).
    • Redo/restore the binding on the headstock.
    • Possibly refinish or cover the crack that's visible on the face of the headstock.
    • Strip the finish on the neck and leave it natural with just a thin coat or varnish.
    Would you suggest that I attempt to do all of this myself? Or should I try and get a Luthier to do some of these things? I have a feeling that I could do a good job with the fret install and level (not so much with the crowning and rounding). But I am unaware of what the technique to do the binding is like and what things I'd have to consider to take that on. I also feel I could probably do a decent job with stripping the neck, just don't know what I'd use to do the waxing/oiling of the natural wood after.

    Do you guys have a recommendation for a trusted/good Luthier in Northern Virginia or DC that I could call to discuss this?
     
  2. Defyantly

    Defyantly Aspiring Builder

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    I would say you could do the majority of what you want all diy. Not to terribly hard for most of. It might take some time, patience, and research. I know there are a lot of videos and articles on stewmac that would directly relate to what you are wanting to do!
     
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  3. neurosis

    neurosis SS.org Regular

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    Thanks for the reply! I've been looking at stuff on there. I think you're probably right. Was just wondering if anybody knew a truth luthier in the area to chat about it and possibly get a quote. In the meantime I have found a few.

    Of all the things I am listing I am confident all are easy except maybe the fret dressing (I already found that thought this time around) and filing and the binding, face of headstock restoration.

    To be honest I am pretty sure the restoration would be hard for me to do. My apartment is already at the edge of capabilities for this kind of handcrafts work anyway. I also don't know if I'd do a great finishing job even if I were able to do a great job at replacing the binding.

    Right now I am planning to strip the neck from its finish, replace the frets and level myself but for the final crowning and the headstock repair I believe I'd be best served by someone with more experience. I am really meticulous and learn quick but I also don't have a lot of time to spend on this nowadays.
     
  4. Defyantly

    Defyantly Aspiring Builder

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    if you can do the frets (removal, reinstall, and level) then that will significantly lower the price you will see quoted from a luthier, but you could also see what a local luthier will charge you for the whole job just so you have an idea.
     
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  5. Omzig

    Omzig SS.org Regular

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    If you already have the tools at hand then yes id say DIY,but if you don't have the tools or access to them and this will be a 1 off job you might be better of just getting a quote to have the work done as good quality fretting tools might set you back about the same as getting to whole lot done ?

    Id get a few quotes then also price up that tools/finish/polish/parts you will need to DIY and see if the diff is that great.
     
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  6. neurosis

    neurosis SS.org Regular

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    Good point! Yeah. I have the fret flies, the pliers and I have borrowed leveling beams, rockers, etc from a friend before. So anything regarding the frets and fretboard is stuff I can do. I just looked up the prices for the fret wire and it's a reasonable price so I may give it a go. I am less confident about the headstock binding repair. For that I am going to try and find somebody more qualified. I have no time to fuss around with that.
     

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