JW Guitar Restoration, Inc.
Setup Repair Restore Custom Contact  

We hope that the majority of the repairs over the life of your guitar will be minor in nature, but we want you to know that virtually any problem you encounter with your instrument can be remedied.


Paul Reed Smith Hollowbody

1981 Gibson Les Paul Custom
Les Paul 68 Reissue Before
Les Paul 68 Reissue Before
Les Paul 68 Reissue After
Les Paul MOP Inlay
Les Paul Refret
L. R.Baggs Installation
Les Paul Elegant - Before
Les Paul Elegant - Before
Les Paul Elegant - After
All pictures, text and information ©1996-2008 JW Guitar Restoration, Inc. 1 2 3 4 5 - text-only

Most luthiers take the easy way out when refretting a Les Paul or similar guitar that has a bound fingerboard, the type with small nubs covering the end of the frets, by simply filing them off. Other luthiers, after filing them off, may make replacement nubs and glue them to the existing binding. While inexpensive to have done, either approach devalues the guitar and should never be considered on a high quality or collector instrument. It is more expensive and a lot of work to properly size and fit each fret between these binding nubs, but it is the only proper way to refret one of these fine instruments. Headstock and neck repairs are a specialty of ours. We can often produce a completely invisible headstock or neck repair to that Les Paul or Paul Reed Smith which has taken an unfortunate tumble. We understand that it is not always economically viable to spend the amount of time necessary to achieve an undetectable repair on a lower cost guitar. We are frequently asked to return a damaged guitar to a fully functioning and playable condition without too much regard to aesthetics. In those instances, the damage is repaired and the finish is color filled and polished smooth. These repairs are frequently subtle in appearance and return the guitar to its original feel and playability. Frets inevitably wear out over time. Replacing worn frets or a complete refret is a generally a straight-forward task that will enable your guitar to play properly again. Sometimes a neck will bow or twist in such a way that the fretboard needs to be planed and radiused to achieve a straight, playable neck. On rare occasions we come across a guitar that has had the nut slot modified, improperly cut fret slots, or age and damage which require the replacement of the fretboard. Worn or grooved fretboards can typically be planed and radiused to look like new. Whether you guitar finish is old and worn or you simply want a new look, we can refinish your guitar to look like new or as you have always dreamed it to be. If you want a custom design, we can even help you with that. All of our refinishing is done with pure nitrocellulose lacquer unless the existing guitar finish is not being removed and is an enamel or urethane. We have many customers who simply want the thick, factory, plastic-like finish removed from their instrument and refinished with a thin lacquer finish that will not dampen the true sound of the guitar. We can reproduce and replace virtually any inlay that is damaged or missing whether it is made of white, gold or black mother of pearl, abalone, wood, silver, or gold. We also have a stock of current and vintage plastics used for fret position markers by Gibson. We can also replace your existing plastic inlays with any natural material to enhance the look of your guitar. Loose or cracked binding is typically a result of shrinkage, either that of the binding itself, or that of the wood it is glued to. The ease of repair is completely dependent on the overall condition of the binding, the finish, and how much shrinkage has occurred. Repaired binding will always need to be clear coated and often tinted to match the rest of the guitar. We repair celluloid, plastic and wood bindings. An acoustic guitar with loose or cracked braces will not sound correct and often produces a buzz when played. This defect to the bracing can cause further damage to the guitar as braces counteract the tension of the strings. Without the structural support of even one brace the top of the guitar can begin to warp and crack. If you are unaware of any brace damage to your guitar but the bridge area of the top has begun to rotate, you should have your guitar thoroughly inspected for brace damage. Once a bridge starts to lift or show cracks, it needs to be addressed immediately. The acoustic guitar bridge is a structural part of the instrument and any issues there can cause warping or cracking elsewhere. In order to do a proper repair the bridge often needs to be removed completely, the top thoroughly cleaned, and then the bridge re-glued to a clean and level surface. Bridges which are cracked or those with an improperly cut saddle slot are candidates for replacement, though on less expensive instruments the saddle slot can be filled and re-cut. We can custom make bridges to match the existing bridge if no factory replacement is available. We can address cracks on virtually any part of a guitar, be it acoustic or electric. Splits to the top of an acoustic generally occur as a result of dehumidification or stress from a loose or broken brace, situations that must be dealt with before attempting to repair the top. Damaged sides or back on an acoustic can be tricky to invisibly repair depending on the damage and will always require some amount of refinishing. Once a truss rod becomes stripped or broken the neck will cease to be adjustable and may exhibit serious bow. Repairing a non-functioning truss rod can be a very involved task often requiring the removal of the fretboard and replacement of any damage inlays, fretwork, binding and finish. The task can be even more challenging on a one-piece maple neck where the fretboard is not a separate piece of wood. Any repair is possible, however, the value of the instrument should be considered before undertaking such a repair. A replacement neck is often a more affordable option. Neck resets are generally performed either as a result of a neck separating from the body or action that is too high to be properly compensated for by lowering the saddle. The neck has to be completely removed from the guitar to clean the neck tenon and the mortise in the body. If high action is the reason for the neck reset, the heel of the neck is then carved to produce the correct angle for proper action and the body of the guitar is shimmed inside the mortise to produce a tight, gap-free fit. Some finish work may be needed at the neck joint and on the guitar top, as an acoustic guitar fretboard is glued to the top of the guitar and must be separated to remove the neck. A bowed or warped neck can result from any number of issues. After determining the cause of the condition and fixing that underlying problem if necessary, necks are generally straightened through planing the fingerboard. Please see the Fingerboard Radiusing section. Neck bows can also be a result of a non-functioning truss rod. Please see the section which addresses truss rod issues. Finish damage can often be fixed with little to no evidence of the repair. The level of difficulty in repairing a damaged finish varies widely depending on the amount and type of damage, the original finish type and the age of the guitar. Matching an aged or worn finish adds extra steps to the process. Nut replacement is a straight-forward procedure as long as care is taken in the removal of the original nut. We install nuts made of bone, corian, graphite, Tusq, ebony, and occasionally even brass. The installation of a nut by Earvana or Buzz Feiten is also available. We do have keytop ivory that can be fashioned into nuts as well. Many of these materials can also be fashioned into a new acoustic saddle. We find that most guitars benefit from mild to moderate compensation of the saddle for proper intonation. Pickguards that are damaged or cracked can be removed and replaced. If a factory or aftermarket replacement is available, this is a very simple repair once the original pickguard has been removed (in the instance of an acoustic pickguard). We can replicate most pickguards that are no longer available, either acoustic or electric. For acoustic guitars, we can install any type of pickup you desire: undersaddle, contact, internal microphone and soundhole magnetic pickups, plus whatever preamplifier or blending system you might need. Many of these pickup solutions can be installed with no damaging modifications to the instrument. The key to making these systems sound their best is proper installation and positioning. We can repair or replace any item commonly found in an electric guitar. Potentiometers, switches and wiring can usually be repaired without replacement which is vital to maintaining the value of a vintage or collector instrument. If originality is not an issue, replacing these components is very simple. We repair or rewind dead pickups, again, depending on the clients need to maintain originality. Of course, we also will install any type or make of pickup into an existing guitar and make the necessary modifications to make the new setup function properly. Currently, we only custom wind new pickups for our own hand-made guitars. For gigging musicians, we can also install a small circuit to help limit the danger from AC and DC shock from improperly grounded or faulty equipment. Properly shielding a guitar can significantly reduce the amount of hum an instrument exhibits. We use copper foil (as opposed to shielding paint), for its superior shielding capability. On single coil guitars we can shield all cavities, pickups, and pickguard, replace non-shielded wire runs, and remove all potential ground loops through proper wiring (often rewiring!) techniques. We follow all the same steps with a humbucker setup, with the exception of shielding the pickups themselves. There is gain to be had even on a humbucking equipped guitar blocking radio interference and fluorescent light hum from the rest of the electronics. Buzzing can be difficult to track down at times. Buzzes typically occur as a result of one of the following: low or worn frets, improper setup of the action or nut, loose hardware, and on acoustic guitars, loose braces. The repair is dependent on the problem, but finding the culprit is the first step. Les Paul 68 Custom Reissue 1: This Gibson suffered a severe neck break. Les Paul 68 Custom Reissue 2: The only thing holding the top half of the neck to the bottom half was the headstock veneer. Les Paul 68 Custom Reissue 3: This is the neck after being properly set, glued and refinished. The owner was astonished that there were no signs that the neck had ever been damaged. This Les Paul suffered through a fire, leaving all of the plastic melted and most of the guitar lightly charred. Here you can see the binding has been removed, the fretboard planed and radiused and, at the request of the owner, real mother of pearl position markers have been installed to replace the melted originals. This is a photo of a vintage Les Paul which was just refretted. Note that the binding nubs are still intact and the frets fit perfectly up to the binding . We regularly install new acoustic guitar pickup systems, and are frequently asked to upgrade older factory systems. A properly fitted L.R. Baggs system replaced a factory preamp and pickup in an older Takamine guitar. Les Paul Elegant 1: After several years of serious touring and a near-fatal drop on stage, this Les Paul Elegant was in need of major repairs. Les Paul Elegant 2: The neck break had a poor repair which was coming apart and strange red paint had been applied, seemingly at random. Les Paul Elegant 3: Here the neck has been properly fixed leaving no signs of the original break or the prior guitar-shop's repair. The top was also refinished in a darker cherryburst finish which you can see on the front page.