Tuesday, December 30, 2014

1950 Gibson ES-140 Restoration

So I found this guitar at the Folk Store in Kansas City, and thought it was really cool. A 1950 Gibson ES-140, which is a 3/4 size archtop electric. It had a broken neck with a bad repair job, the finish was rough, tuners shot, pickguard damaged, but the electronics were still good.


I guess the repair worked even if it wasn't pretty. I'll have to make a new neck. This one is beyond repair.

I got the neck out and then decided I wanted to replace the plywood back and top with solid carved spruce and maple. So, off with the back!

I copied the peghead exactly... sort of.
The original had a screen printed logo, but I painted mine. Oh, and I added an inlay to make it look like it's full-sized brother, the ES-175.

I might as well inlay the fretboard to go with the 175 theme. I cut all the pearl by hand. 

I used the original fretboard, filled in the dots, inlayed the pearl and repaired the worn areas.

I used solid Engelmann spruce for the top and hand carved it to shape. 

Solid maple back.

I glued in the tone bars just like the original top.

Here are some details

I sanded the sides down to the bare wood and used cream colored binding to match the faded color of the original

Finished!! One of a kind, solid carved spruce top and solid carved flamed maple back, The sides are still original, as well as the fretboard, electronics, tailpiece and pickguard bracket.
I made a new pickguard and bridge, and replaced the tuners, and had the tailpiece bracket re-plated.

After spraying the lacquer, I noticed the painted logo was dissolving, so I repainted with different paints, and it still wasn't holding up, so I decided to cut the logo out of gold Mother-of-Pearl and inlay it. Now back to finishing.

I replaced the tuners with repro Kluson tuners that are nearly identical to the original ones.