5/16/2012

c.1963 Gibson LG-0 Guitar





This Gibson LG-0 dates to around 1963 or so -- there's no serial number anymore because it's been entirely refinished -- but the build, former pickguard-screw holes, and plastic bridge place it around 1963-ish. I picked this guitar up locally and when I got it, it had been entirely stripped via 60-grit sandpaper on an electric sander. The back braces were all loose (with some "dropped in" glue jobs that weren't effective) and the back seam was open. In addition all the hardware was gone.

So, I fixed all that, sanded it down to 220 and polished it up, finished in a wipe-on satin poly that I polished up afterwards to a nice mellow, soft and smooth sheen with no stain for an "original"-looking natural color. This mahogany is nicer than usual for an LG-0, with a bit of curl here and there and more on the one-piece (with "ears") neck. I left the original plastic bridge on but recut the saddle lower, dressed and slightly leveled the frets, cleaned it all up, installed repro Kluson tuners and a new strap button, and set it all up.


The result is a subdued-looking instrument, definitely no-frills, and finished in the spirit of the original but with a "natural" headstock (not painted black) and lacking the sort of ugly big see-through red pickguard that would have been on it originally. The new finish is actually a tone enhancer vs. the original thicker finish, so this is slightly louder and more open than most LG-0s I've played and worked on.

These LG-0s are a common guitar in the vintage market but the prices seem to be going up. This makes sense because they're a great use-anywhere instrument and the all-mahogany build and ladder bracing give them a very different sound from the all-mahogany Martins or Guilds of the day. They're a little honkier, more percussive and retro sounding since the ladder bracing gives them the tonality of 1920s and 30s flattops. This makes them ideal for old-timey blues and folk stylings, especially fingerpicking.

The modern-shaped neck, however, means new styles can be played on them easily as well. This has that ultra-fast, electric-feeling Gibson neck that's typical for the time, which means that compared to an old 60s Harmony of the same general specs (mahogany, ladder bracing, etc.) that the playability on this from a modern perspective is far better.


Here's the plastic bridge. Note the unfortunate cross-grain sanding by the previous owner and also the sanded bits on the bridge wings. A light coat of finish on the bridge keeps these from being visible at a distance, however.


Simple one-ring rosette. Note the cleats on the inside to keep that back seam nice and tidy.


These are new repro Kluson tuners. I didn't bother to install a new truss rod cover (I hate them anyway) and instead sanded out the inside of the truss channel and just finished it. I don't mind seeing the truss nut and not having to remove the cover when I want to adjust the rod is a plus.


Nice rosewood, radiused board. The dots are all faux-MOP. Frets are wider nickel-silver stock and in generally good shape. Whatever the action looks like in the photos, it's spot on -- 1/16" at the 12th on treble and 3/32" on the bass.




I love the chocolate look this mahogany got after refinishing. Usually the LG-0s of this period have a lighter-colored mahogany that's a little greener/yellower but this one has that sort of medium-dark cocoa color that I find so pretty in mahogany.


Unlike the original 3-on-a-plate Klusons, I could position these single-unit repros to follow the curve of the headstock.


Good heel join. Note that because I used a wipe-on poly and didn't fill any of the grain beforehand that much of the grain pops up in direct sunlight just like on an old Harmony baritone uke.




Lookin' pretty spiffy. Note the nice tortoise binding on the top edge. Simple but gives it just a little bit more pop.


Simple strap-button end pin.

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