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  1. #1

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    Can Any of you experts out there tell me how to for sure determine whether a guitar has a refin.

    I'm looking at a vintage L5c from 1959 that's an ice tea burst. I'm already told that ice tea burst is a red flag because most of the guitars from 59 were a sunburst that was darker around the edges. My luthier is very suspicious, although the finish is well done and black lights perfectly all over.

    Also the guitar has this weird patch on the top by by the bridge where two small pieces of wood were inlaid to cover up a precious chip or repair.

    A black light shows that the the guitar was refinished AFTER the repair.

    The seller offered the possibility that Gibson did this at the factory to cover up imperfections in the wood, but I've never ever seen something like this before and neither have friend who deal with vintage Gibson's.

    Here's a photo of the patch and the finish



    Thanks for any expertise that can be offered!

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  3. #2

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    I have never understood why a refinish is such a problem. The insistence on 'original' everything baffles me. But I'm not the one buying the guitar.

  4. #3
    Just a problem for me if I’m paying too much for it. I like the guitar a lot


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  5. #4

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    It is hard to be sure from looking at a photo but my guess is someone may have drilled a few holes under the bridge to pin the bridge in place. Not such a good idea in my opinion. I can't tell if there has been a refinish.

  6. #5

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    My Super-400 CES is a '62 model and has the same somewhat faded finish on the back. The previous owner had the front refinished years ago BECAUSE he thought it had faded too much .... my luck in this case because I never could have paid the price for a '62 model with the finish intact/all original. Yours looks alright to my eyes judging from the photos. What other means of scrutinization/authentication do we have other than blacklighting ? If it passed this test then I'd think all is good. I also doubt that Gibson had only one guy who did all the spraying .....

  7. #6
    Quote Originally Posted by Matt Cushman View Post
    It is hard to be sure from looking at a photo but my guess is someone may have drilled a few holes under the bridge to pin the bridge in place. Not such a good idea in my opinion. I can't tell if there has been a refinish.
    That is possible, but there are no holes through the top that can be seen from inside the guitar.

    The seller suggested that Gibson may have done this to hide some imperfections in the wood before it was finished. That seems questionable to me, although a possibility. which was why I was asking if anyone had seen this on on other guitar.

    My thought was that if the guitar was refinished, that some chunks of wood came up in the stripping process at that spot.
    The finish is old, according to the black light. It doesn’t make sense that someone would refinish the guitar just because of that one spot.


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  8. #7
    Quote Originally Posted by gitman View Post
    My Super-400 CES is a '62 model and has the same somewhat faded finish on the back. The previous owner had the front refinished years ago BECAUSE he thought it had faded too much .... my luck in this case because I never could have paid the price for a '62 model with the finish intact/all original. Yours looks alright to my eyes judging from the photos. What other means of scrutinization/authentication do we have other than blacklighting ? If it passed this test then I'd think all is good. I also doubt that Gibson had only one guy who did all the spraying .....

    My luthier noticed some potential taping marks on the very edge of the fret board by the tongue where finish wasn’t cleaned .

    He also notice a brown spot on the binding on the neck that he thought was the stain from the finish on the body.

    He thought the finish looked more polished than sprayed

    Also the stinger doesn’t look perfectly neat around the edges.

    He just thought the finish was a respectable job but certain things didn’t look like factory work exactly.


    Also most people think in 59, you don’t see any ice tea burst l5’s. They are more dark sunbursts.

    Nevertheless it’s a nice guitar, and in my lack of expertise I thought finish looks good. That little spot on the bridge is weird to me



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  9. #8

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    It can be impossible to determine at times if a guitar has been refinished. If done correctly and everthing undernether gone, over time it can be impossible. If that is the case then I feel pretty good about the guitar in the first place because it says it could be original and if not then it certainly looks completely original. A pro nitro refinish is not necessarily a problem at all it depends on the guitar, price, and circumstances. I certainly would not want to wager a guess on a photo.
    specializing in repair and setup, does your guitar play like it should?

  10. #9

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    Quote Originally Posted by Jazzer04 View Post
    That is possible, but there are no holes through the top that can be seen from inside the guitar.

    The seller suggested that Gibson may have done this to hide some imperfections in the wood before it was finished. That seems questionable to me, although a possibility. which was why I was asking if anyone had seen this on on other guitar.

    My thought was that if the guitar was refinished, that some chunks of wood came up in the stripping process at that spot.
    The finish is old, according to the black light. It doesn’t make sense that someone would refinish the guitar just because of that one spot.


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    From my experience if any chunks of wood come off doing a refinish they are most likely to be in a place where they are impossible to hide. It looks like a scratch near the two marks on the bass side, possibly from a bridge with a pin?

  11. #10

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    As far as vintage finish colors go, all bets are off due to the propensity for the shade fading over the intervening 60 years; that may be to a greater or less or extent depending on how much exposure to sunlight, etc. that the instrument received. If you look at Tal Farlow's prototype guitar from a year or so later, that was a sunburst which faded to blonde by the end of his life. There was virtually no shading left at all. I suspect that the color of the dark areas in sunburst finishes varied depending on who was doing the mixing, the spraying, what dye lot they happened to have in their colorant, etc. tobacco, ice tea, etc., etc., may have come from the exact same colors and it just depended on how heavily they were sprayed. There are plenty of very faded Les Paul guitars from that year, as well.
    Beauty is as close to terror as we can well endure. -Rainer Maria Rilke

  12. #11

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    Very hard to tell from the pics but I'd say it's the original finish, though I can't say if it's been oversprayed w/out seeing it in person, but I'd say that's very likely.
    I agree w/Matt that there's something going on w/a bridge that was on there before, it might have been pinned w/out drilling. Something was on there that damaged the top though.
    As far as Gibson doing anything to cover imperfections, there's no chance of that.
    If it was an imperfection in a dark area of sunburst, maybe, but not in the middle.

  13. #12
    Quote Originally Posted by Cunamara View Post
    As far as vintage finish colors go, all bets are off due to the propensity for the shade fading over the intervening 60 years; that may be to a greater or less or extent depending on how much exposure to sunlight, etc. that the instrument received. If you look at Tal Farlow's prototype guitar from a year or so later, that was a sunburst which faded to blonde by the end of his life. There was virtually no shading left at all. I suspect that the color of the dark areas in sunburst finishes varied depending on who was doing the mixing, the spraying, what dye lot they happened to have in their colorant, etc. tobacco, ice tea, etc., etc., may have come from the exact same colors and it just depended on how heavily they were sprayed. There are plenty of very faded Les Paul guitars from that year, as well.
    This was something else my luthier pointed out. The stinger is a little sloppy on the edges.
    From picks I’ve seen online at archtop.com and other places, the stingers are pretty neat looking.
    Although I don’t have another 59 in hand.






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  14. #13
    Quote Originally Posted by wintermoon View Post
    Very hard to tell from the pics but I'd say it's the original finish, though I can't say if it's been oversprayed w/out seeing it in person, but I'd say that's very likely.
    I agree w/Matt that there's something going on w/a bridge that was on there before, it might have been pinned w/out drilling. Something was on there that damaged the top though.
    As far as Gibson doing anything to cover imperfections, there's no chance of that.
    If it was an imperfection in a dark area of sunburst, maybe, but not in the middle.
    Also if there’s no chance of Gibson covering impefections with those pieces of wood by the bridge then the finish would have to have been redone, because it glows evenly with the rest of the top.

    The other marks aren’t from pinning the bridge. I believe they are from the bottom of the bride where the studs are. They are exposed although flush, and I think all the pressure from the springs as well as wood contraction and expansion causes this. I see this on my 76 l5 CES


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  15. #14

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    that makes sense, I've seen that before though someone obviously moved it at least once, that threw me off.
    it may not have been refinished, but just oversprayed w/ clear after the repair, that's why it looks uniform.

  16. #15

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    As for the ice tea burst, it can well be due to fading. I have owned my 1961 175 since 1973 and it has never been refinished but the dark burst at the edges has faded significantly during the 46 years I have owned it and now it resembles a nice ice tea burst.

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    "But if they all play like me, then who am I?" (Lester Young)

  17. #16

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    My L7 project guitar came to me with a known re-finish. As you can see the made a mess of the inside of the guitar with overspray. Does your guitar have anything like that. Also, maybe you can see the guitar appears more shiny than one might expect from being made in 1947.

    Help Determining if A Vintage L5 has a refi-old-image-jpg

  18. #17
    Quote Originally Posted by icr View Post
    My L7 project guitar came to me with a known re-finish. As you can see the made a mess of the inside of the guitar with overspray. Does your guitar have anything like that. Also, maybe you can see the guitar appears more shiny than one might expect from being made in 1947.

    Help Determining if A Vintage L5 has a refi-old-image-jpg
    No mess over the inside but it could have been taped i suppose.




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  19. #18
    What do you all think about the sloppy job on the edges of the stinger. Doesn’t look like factory work to me




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  20. #19

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    ...Is that a screw in the top right 1/4 of the photo ? And what is the L-shaped finish crack ?

    I'll trust anyone's eyesight and stand corrected if need be.

  21. #20
    Quote Originally Posted by Dennis D View Post
    ...Is that a screw in the top right 1/4 of the photo ? And what is the L-shaped finish crack ?

    I'll trust anyone's eyesight and stand corrected if need be.
    No not a screw, and yes that’s just a finish crack. I don’t think it’s a repair.




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  22. #21
    Quote Originally Posted by oldane View Post
    As for the ice tea burst, it can well be due to fading. I have owned my 1961 175 since 1973 and it has never been refinished but the dark burst at the edges has faded significantly during the 46 years I have owned it and now it resembles a nice ice tea burst.

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    I agree with the fading possibility, but doesn’t that usaully correspond with yellower binding as well. The binding is fairly white.

    How is the binding on you 61 175. Would love to see a photo


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  23. #22

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    I did notice the top binding being kinda white. How does that compare w the rest of the guitar's binding.

  24. #23
    Guys what about the stinger paint job?? I feel like Gibson probably has templates, and the paint wouldn’t just run off into the finish and look a little sloppy. Any of you guys mind checking out your late 50’s early 60’s stingers to share with me what they look like.

    Thanks!




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  25. #24

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    mine are all crisp
    what about the binding?

  26. #25
    Quote Originally Posted by wintermoon View Post
    mine are all crisp
    what about the binding?
    Honestly, the face of the headstock with the flower pot only and the Gibson logo have clearly yellowed.



    The rest of the guitar is fairly white. But the guitar has that old smell. Is that laquer or just the old school geib cases?


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  27. #26

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    Probably not refinished, is the top oversprayed?

  28. #27
    Quote Originally Posted by wintermoon View Post
    Probably not refinished, is the top oversprayed?
    I really don’t know, but that sloppy stinger, and potential brown guitar stain dot on fretboard binding still is alarming




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  29. #28

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    I wouldn't worry about the stinger especially if you blacklighted it.
    No idea what brown spot you're talking about.