1956 LP Goldtop style guitar
My favourite Les Paul guitar has always been the P90 Goldtop from the mid 1950s and preferably with the ABR bridge and stop tailpiece. I've always loved the way that the gold finish ages and once it cracks and starts to get the verdigris colour it looks fantastic.
I've always wanted to have a go at recreating one of these finishes but never really had the background knowledge to build a Les Paul type guitar, so in order to get going on the project I bought a top quality kit....Let's get some pictures up and I'll carry on my chat in between them.
Just as a taster here's the final job..
..And here's how it starts, applying the gold finish is quite a process, firstly the gold is actually a metal powder made up of VERY fine particles of bronze and zinc crushed metal, this is then mixed in with clear lacquer and then sprayed. The metal powder is a specific "formula" and I imported the exact stuff that Gibson used back in the day from the USA.
Now here's the trick, the gold colour straight from the spray gun is too light but it can be shaded by tinting the clear lacquer that you spray over it, as you can see from my test plank which has various shades of lacquer sprayed over the gold. This is actually an original '56 LP that I refinished and here I'm matching the shade of the gold from the original paint that I left in the pickup cavities.
Ok back to this guitar and here it is with the shaded lacquer sprayed over the gold. The shade of gold is really a personal choice, if you take a look at vintage goldtops they vary from a light gold all the way to a copper colour, it all depends how the guitar has aged. Spraying the gold is not for the novice it has to be perfect straight from the gun, any mistake and you have to start again, runs or other defects can't be sanded out as the gold loses its lustre.
And the finished job....
I'm not really prepared to reveal how I aged the paintwork as it took so long with extensive experimentation, it is all of course vintage accurate nitro cellulose. The hardware and plastic have been aged with varying techniques, the pickup covers are typically warped, all adding up to a convincing 1956 guitar.
Tone! Acoustically this guitar rings forever, a reflection on the quality of the wood and plugged in it sounds great, you can never go wrong with P90s, I'm addicted to their sound.
All the parts on this guitar are top quality, the cost of the kit and parts exceeds a thousand so the asking price of £1900 puts me on about one pound an hour I think!
Woodwork :- Precision guitar kits, Canada, African Mahogany body with Eastern maple top. Neck, Brazillian Mahogany, rosewood fretboard.
Hardware is a mixture from various suppliers to get the best historically accurate parts.
Finish is nitro cellulose and Crescent gold metal powder.
Pickups are Iron Gear platinum P90s.