Gibson ES335…

Ben brought his Gibson ES335 to me early March last year. The guitar was fine when it was put on the plane but when he got home and opened the case- this had happened!

I did the usual repair and retouched the paint. I’d said to Ben that I couldn’t make the repair disappear and he felt this would be ok because he didn’t have the money for a neck respray as well.

All was good for four or five months and he texted me in late June to tell me that the same thing had happened again!! He had played a gig in Brisbane and all was well with the guitar. When he opened the case when he got home- the neck had split in almost the same position but the break was probably worse this time.

We discussed what should be done and I suggested that making a second repair might perhaps not be as simple as it was the first time around…

After giving the guitar a lot of thought and knowing that Gibsons have a propensity for snapping headstocks, I suggested to Ben that perhaps he should consider acquiring a guitar that might withstand the airlines’ less than careful handling of guitars. Ben gave this some thought and said felt that the 335 was very much a part of his band’s sound.

My response was to suggest that we purpose-build him a new guitar with a laminated neck and that we get Mick Brierley to replicate the pickups in the 335 for the new guitar…

Ben thought that it would be worth thinking about and I offered to buy the broken 335 and that I’d build him a new guitar for a reasonable change-over cost.

When I was about to start, Ben contacted me to explain that there was a forthcoming UK gig but the band had to pay their airfares over and so we put the project on hold for the time being.

Over Christmas, I decided to make another repair on the 335 and this time, I decided to refinish the neck.

The neck repair looked ok, but the cracks were still visible, which is , I suppose not all that surprising considering that the neck had been broken twice and repaired twice.

With the neck stripped, I carefully removed the lacquer back to the body-neck joint.

Then I thought that no, I’m not working to a budget and because the guitar has a few dings, dents and scratches, I should consider stripping the whole body as well…

The guitar industry has used two pack polyurethane as a finish for many years now but the 335 is finished in the enthusiast-preferred nitro-cellulose lacquer. Two pack can be readily sanded back because it is a hard finish but not so nitro which is nowhere as hard. Try to sand off nitro and the finish just softens and clogs up the sandpaper.

So the solution to removing nitro is paint stripper-undesireable- or scraper which is very labour-intensive and slow…

When the old paint was gone, the 335 was sanded, masked and then sanding sealer is sprayed.

What to do in terms of finish was pondered on for a couple of weeks. I thought that perhaps a finish that complemented the really nice maple of the body but it is a 335DOT and it really should be red.

The original red was a dullish cherry red that wasn’t completely transparent and I opted for a really bright, clear red and that should look spectacular.

When the paint had hardened appropriately, the guitar was rubbed back…

…and polished.

That figured maple is just fabulous…

The plating on the hardware is nickel and it tends to deteriorate more quickly than perhaps it should and it took over half a day to clean up the bridge, tail piece, machine heads and pickups…

And tomorrow, I’ll re-assemble the ES335DOT…