RESTORING AN ORIGINAL Welcome to part three of our restoration project, featuring a ‘59 Gibson Les Paul TV model.

Reflecting back to last month’s issue, I was implementing a variety of techniques using Q-Tips, explorers, denatured alcohol, acetone, and buffing pads. It was all about removing this very thick, dull, non-original white paint to reveal the original TV Yellow. The serial number was unveiled in its entirety and the research supported that our guitar is a ’59 Gibson Les Paul TV.

A Long Process
I have been excavating away literally weeks – perhaps months – on this project. Yes, by now I''m feeling a bit like an archeologist, suited up with my OptiVISOR, gloves and explorer in hand. Removing the last bit of unwanted finish with my Q-Tip and denatured alcohol, I discover a whole new level of perfection to achieve.

There was paint in the bridge post bushings, body routes and screw holes. The original dents, scrapes and finish cracks required the most effort and patience, as they were the more vulnerable areas for absorption, and just plain hard to reach areas for extracting this white imbedded crust. Using the buffing wheel with a feather-like touch is the final step before assembly.

The Patina
It was very important to me to keep the integrity of this finish intact. As you can see by the pictures, I did not fuse/melt any of the original finish cracks together by the chemicals, nor did I alter the patina, the aging of the original multi layered clear coats. You can still see the lighter finish tone where the pickguard and pickup attaches. These areas were somewhat protected from UV rays, smoke, and other contaminants throughout its life.

RESTORING AN ORIGINALMost of the supplies that were used for this project can be purchased from your local hardware store. The buffing supplies and the OptiVISOR headband magnifier came from Stewart McDonald ( The dental “explorer” tools came from my dental hygienist.

We will pick up here with next month’s issue, as the non-original finish is completely removed and we are ready to install the electronics, followed up with a full set-up, Brown''s Guitar Factory style.

You can view past articles on “Restoring an Original”

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.