-Gibson Les Paul Finish Repair and Strap Button Repair-

June 15, 2013


A customer brought me this awesome 60's reissue Gibson Les Paul to work on.. It unfortunately took a hit and it caused some of the finish to pop off. There were also problems when someone tried to install strap locks, but didn't quite do it right. So in this article I will show a few photos of the process to repair these things.

Here is the finish that took some damage. It was right in the edge of the guitar which makes it a little more difficult to repair. The finish can be very thin right on the edges, so when sanding and leveling there is a better chance of going through the finish and exposing the wood. This guitar also has a semi gloss finish. So it's not completely shiny, nor is it satiny either. So that was another challenge I was faced with. It just meant really taking my time and not rushing any of the process. 

Gibson uses a laquer finish which requires my to drop a small amount of finish a few times a day over a couple day period. This allows the new finish to somewhat "melt" into the old. After letting it all cure, then I will come back and level the finish and try to match the sheen so it's as invisible as possible.

Here is the finished result. It still can be seen a little, but the important thing is it's now taken care of and it won't continue to chip out.


Here's a pic of the top strap button when it arrived in the shop. It was installed without a felt pad and was screwed tight into the finish resulting in a bubble in the finish.

This kind of bubble could get a lot worse real quick. It barely holding on and was it starts to come off, it could really start chipping out. The cure was to poke a small hole in the bubble and run some VERY thin glue under it and adhere it back to itself. I unfortunately could not get much of a picture was it was done.

Here is a pic of the bottom strap button hole. It was completely stripped out and would not hold the strap button. When I examined the hole I found some sort of blue plastic in there like someone had tried to repair it before, but it didn't help at all. In the picture you can barely see the plastic down in the hole.

The fix was to drill out all the bad stuff from the hole, glue a hardwood plug in it and drill a new hole to accept the new strap button. I did forget to take pics after this point, but what I did from here was cut the plug flush with the body, then drill the new hole and install the buttons. It all turned out great and the customer shouldn't have problems for a long time to come. 

This is another example of someone trying to do the right thing and get these strap buttons installed, but clearly did not know what to do. If you are questioning any sort of repair on your instrument, I would suggest taking it in to a qualified tech and get it done right. It's all too common for me to be fixing problems from the last guy that worked on a guitar, but I guess it does keep it interesting.......