Up to this point, we’ve completed the headstock rebuild, designed and inlayed two reinforcement splines into the neck and grafted a section of maple to the damaged peghead overlay veneer. We then finalized the procedure by mixing stains and lacquer and meticulously applying the new finish to match the old. Finally, we sanded, buffed and aged the new finish. After seven installments of the column, we will finally finish this restoration.
After putting on some strings it was clear that I would need to reset the neck – the bridge was flush to the body and the strings measured 5/32” from the top of the 12th fret to the underside of the low E string. Unless you wanted to play slide all day – and elevate the pickups so they would actually pick up vibration from the strings – this would not be acceptable.
Since I would be steaming off the neck, I first removed the pickup to avoid damaging it. I readied my trusty cappuccino machine (equipped with a 3” steamer needle) and started drilling. I drilled a 3/32” hole into the seam where the neck meets the body, starting at the inside of the pickup route so that the repair would be less obvious. It only took a few minutes of carefully steaming the neck-to-body joint – protecting the finish with cool, damp cloths – and the neck came off cleanly.
Pitching the Neck
I removed some wood from the bottom surface of the neck with a razor blade, making sure to check it with a straight edge. I then attached the neck to the body, readjusting until there was an acceptable increase of back pitch and the bridge would be able to be adjusted appropriately.
Before gluing, I assembled it dry, clamped it up, and tested it with string tension. It looked perfect, so I glued it together and clamped it to dry for 24 hours. After the glue cured completely, I strung up some 10s and gave it a strum. There it was – tone, glorious tone!
After sitting broken and gathering dust for nearly 30 years, the Gibson SG has finally been restored to its previous glory and is back in the hands of its original owner, Mike Muellner. Check out the pictures of Mike back then – 1973 was a great time for wood paneled walls and orange-carpeted bars – and now, and you can see that Mike is happy to have his axe back in shape and ready for a trip down memory lane.
It has been a pleasure restoring this ’65 Gibson SG and giving it the opportunity to again tell its stories through song.
John Brown, of Brown's Guitar Factory, is the inventor of the Fretted/Less bass. He owns and operates a full guitar manufacturing and repair/restoration facility, which is staffed by a team of talented luthiers. He is also the designer of guitar making/repair tools and accessories that are used today by instrument builders throughout the world.