Gibson Les Paul Classic

I'm a big fan of these Les Paul Classic series. They were released as a "kind of" re-issue and were actually great quality (in general) even though they weren't absolutely historically correct. The timber quality was great and the "1960" necks are my favorite Gibson necks with maybe the exception of the late 60's/early 70's SG necks.


This one came in with a pretty serious truss rod issue and I wasn't sure weather it was going to be a "simple" repair or a major "the fretboard needs to come off" repair.

The original truss rod nut had started to sink badly into the neck and to try and keep the neck straight the owner had attempted to keep tightening the rod. He had taken it to a repairer when he realized that after years of tightening it it still wasn't staying straight, only for them to ...... Tighten it even more.

Being mahogany, which is a soft timber and pushing on a wak endgrain the nut had nearly disappeared down into the neck. The owner had believedvthat the factory had neglected to install the original semi circular washer that the nut "pushes" against, but it was there, you just couldn't see it anymore.

    


The washer had collapsed all the way in and the timber around it was damaged badly and needed to be removed and rebuilt. I wasn't even sure this was going to work properly but it was worth a try before ringing the customer to tell them this just went from a $100 repair to a $1000 repair.

I removed the timber around the rod to about 10mm deep and made a hardwood "plug" to fill the room. I used two part epoxy to glue this plug in and let that sit for a week. I then made a metal semi circular washer biggerthan the plug that still fitted in the original truss rod slot opening and this was epoxied in and left. This repair bought the "neck" back out to where the original neck would have been. After sitting for a couple of weeks it was a simple (I hoped) matter of refitting the original washer and nut and ...............

   


With the truss rod working again I now  had to work against 15 years of tension pulling this neck into a ski jump. The action on this guitar when it came in was about 4 - 4.5mm, and it wasn't tuned up to pitch. The neck had settled into a huge amount of relief and even though the truss rod now worked, it was working hard before it was even getting close to straight.

To help with this I clamped the neck into a bit of backbow and left it for a few weeks, checking every couple of days to retention the clamps and check nothing was cracking from the pressure.

  


After a few weeks the neck now had the slightest amount of back bow with very little tension on the rod. With the neck now straight I could do a fret dress as I was more confident this repair was going to work so it was now worth going ahead to the guitar playing properly.

I adjusted the nut with a slight amount of  preassure on the clamps and then tuned it up to pitch and finished the job to get the right relief.

I let the guitar sit for another couple of weeks with string tension tuned up to pitch to let it settle back in. Over a couple of weeks it lost about a full step of tuning which wasn't to bad and to be expected. Once it settled properly it seemed to hold tune without any problems. While I still fully expect it might "slip" slightly over a period of time, it seems to have stayed solid for over six weeks while the owner was overseas and it was waiting to get picked up.

   


As most of you who read my blogs know, this is how I (and many others) recommend to string a Les Paul. This is the way this system was designed to be used and I believe, with the right neck angle, this adds sustain (and tone) without putting undue pressure on the bridge and too much break angle between the bridge and tailpiece.

The rest of the set up went well and with everything settled in the guitar played great.

These Classic series had overwound "hot" humbuckers which, for me didn't suit the "vintage" vibe but they're not bad sounding pick ups at all. These Classics with a good set of aftermarket pick ups can be some of the best Les Paul's around, and have always sold for less than Standards of similar age.

  


       

 

Jul 27 2013 Written By: Tim Brennan