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Epiphone Les Paul refinish

budget bassist

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Hi guys, some of you may remember me - looks like this is my first post since 2015 so it's been a while. I pretty much haven't touched a bass or guitar since then but I'm hoping to make a triumphant return. Hopefully my bass will get shipped to me in Canada, but this thread is about my guitar project (feel free to move it if it's in the wrong place).


I felt like getting back into guitar and have always loved Les Pauls. Everything is expensive here in Canada, including guitars, but I stumbled across an Epiphone Les Paul Studio Goth for sale relatively cheap, presumably due to the less than desirable finish. Despite that, the specs are basically identical to a normal Studio with mahogany body and neck, set neck construction etc. so my plan is to strip the paint and refinish it - it's in slightly rough shape and I love a good project.


I'm thinking a dark walnut type stain with a satin finish - maybe laquered, maybe oiled. Not sure yet, but I'd appreciate any input on the pros/cons of those.


So without delay, here's what $170 worth of Epiphone Les Paul Goth looks like (hint: dusty/rusty AF)




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I think much will depend on what you find under the finish. If it’s reasonably attractive, I’d go lighter, like Mick Ronson’s LP, but if it’s a bit of a dog’s dinner, darker would certainly be the way forward, perhaps echoing the LP junior, mahogany vibe (think Bob Marley’s LP junior). 

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8 hours ago, ezbass said:

I think much will depend on what you find under the finish. If it’s reasonably attractive, I’d go lighter, like Mick Ronson’s LP, but if it’s a bit of a dog’s dinner, darker would certainly be the way forward, perhaps echoing the LP junior, mahogany vibe (think Bob Marley’s LP junior). 

Having spent some time removing hardware last night it looks like there’s a maple top same as the regular studio and I think that’ll likely be two-piece, and it looks like the facing wood on the back might be relatively okay too, but the rest of the body looks to be made of three different layers sandwiched together, so the sides could be a bit of a dogs dinner in which case I’ll definitely want to go darker. Take a look at the control cavity to see what I mean… 


part of me was thinking about just stripping the top and the neck, but I’m going to hunt around a couple of music shops today to see if I can find another studio and see how it looks in comparison. If it’s glued fairly well then it may even be difficult to tell??


I attached a couple of photos of bare patches of wood just to show the colour. For sure is maple top and mahogany body/neck. No weird poplar or anything in there.




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Plain mattish to satin Danish oil finish...

Wood is what it is and can be enjoyed as such... charm of its own...

Never really seen a plain and light colored LP, always burst or blush... dont need to be coffee table!

Lets see what ga get!

Or, go Mad Hydro Dip!..

Edited by PaulThePlug
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Well, I was curious too. I only had some 220 grit to start off with but I wanted to see what was under there so I sanded back a few sections - first impression is that this is going to take me a while.


looks like there’s some nice wood under there and I didn’t give epiphone enough credit for their construction - what I could see in the control cavity was obviously just each router pass. So far I’m pretty happy - I can’t wait to see how this turns out. 
Also the neck seems to have a TON of sanding sealer on it - that’s going to take a while to shift.







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Spent the afternoon stripping paint, this is where I got to. 
borrowed a friend’s orbital sander and got the back down to bare wood and got rid of most of the black paint on the sides and top but can’t go through the sanding sealer with the sander as it creates flat spots. You can see where I’ve accidentally gone through the sealer with the sander by accident - I should be able to smooth that off by hand though. Hopefully a few evenings of this and I’ll have it fully stripped and prepped. Just ordered my stain and some new screws this morning from stewmac 


The back looks nice, looks like the body is 4(?) pieces of mahogany and the top is a (nice looking) maple veneer. Unfortunately a piece lifted up and came off by the pickups while I was sanding - should I just glue this back in??


neck is very light coloured with a tight grain - specs say it should be mahogany but looks a lot more like maple to me.











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The top looks great, some lovely quilting on that upper bout. 

Seems odd to put a lovely veneer on and then paint it. 


I've probably misunderstood but you are planning on taking all the sanding sealer off aren't you? You'll need to so the stain can soak into the wood. 


Also the four ferrules that the bridge and tailpiece screw into, if you find a longish bolt or screw with the correct thread you can screw it straight through the ferrule until it bottoms out on the wood inside the hole, then carefully keep tightening and the ferrule should lift itself out by winding up the thread of the bolt/screw. They shouldn't be excessively tight but be aware that some folks glue them in so just watch the wood doesn't start to lift around it. 

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I assume it must be cheaper to build all the bodies the same than to purposefully produce a run of lesser quality for paint as the majority of the studio guitars would have had a clear satin finish on them. Either way, I'm happy - it looks great.


Yep I'm taking it down to bare wood so that I can stain it as you mention.


Thanks for the tip regarding the bridge studs - I was wondering what I was supposed to do with those. I'll give that a go!

Edited by budget bassist
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Well, after a few sessions (several hours) of sanding, I pretty much have fully stripped the top, the top of the neck/headstock and the bottom half of the sides. 

Unfortunately the nicely figured maple on the top is a very thin veneer (VERY thin) and I managed to sand through in a few spots but I think it should look fine once stained, I hope… 


Hopefully the stain and hardware I have on order isn’t held up by the highway closures and flooding around here as I’m hoping it will be ready by Christmas, for no other reason than as a Christmas gift to myself.


Here’s a big photo dump from the last week with a couple of mock ups with hardware.












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Last nights progress - got the last of the old finish off with the exception of some tiny parts around the heel that are impossible to get into. Started sanding everything else to a finer grit ready for stain. Aiming to do the stain over the next few days.


I think the parts on the neck that I couldn’t quite get some of the black out of are that way because they’re end grain and I’m anticipating that they’ll soak up the stain well enough that it’s not noticeable. That’s my hope at least.





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