Scott's Guitar Blog: January 25, 2006

Don’t Modify Your guitar

In my guitar repair shop, I’m constantly being asked to do something that I rarely ever do…Modify a guitar from its original condition. It is not a good idea to change your guitar for several reasons. Mainly, if it is a quality instrument, it’s the way it is for a reason. Vintage instruments can be devalued seriously if the slightest thing is changed. This includes pickups, finish touch-ups, refinishing, adding or replacing parts even original solder points are important to keep when possible.
A bunch of years ago a collector brought me a 1959 Les Paul Sunburst that had at one point belonged to Jimi Hendrix. The renowned Christies Auctions was interested in it and it was my job to clean it up. It was all original and worn and torn, which was wonderful. A simple set-up, a light cleaning and I was done. It would have been very sad had anyone replaced any of its parts along the way! Another customer brought in his late 50’s Telecaster which he had stripped down and refinished in polyurethane! I was sick at the sight of it. Despite doing a clean job, he had ruined the spirit and value of the guitar forever by making it all shiny and new looking.

I have seen so many valuable guitars that were injured by careless mods and replacement parts. It may be hard to believe, but that new guitar you own will one day be a vintage instrument. If you need to replace the tuning machines do it with exact replacements so there will be no new screw holes in the headstock. If there are dings and scratches in the finish, leave them alone…The guitar will be worth more if left completely original. When you have no choice but to replace parts keep all the originals in a safe place and make sure the instrument will not need any new holes drilled, cavities re-routed, etc…That way, all the original parts will still fit and the guitar won’t be compromised!

It is also important when restoring a vintage guitar that all phases of the process respect the original spirit of the instrument.

All the best, please feel free to e-mail me with questions

Feel free to leave comments as well! All the best, Scott