JW Guitar Restoration, Inc.
Setup Repair Restore Custom Contact  

Our restoration services cover every aspect of the guitar, from finishes, to electronics and hardware, being sensitive to keep as much of a vintage guitar original as is possible.

Curious what the restoration process is like?
What do we do and how do we do it? We've taken
a series of photos so you can follow the restoration
of this 1953 Les Paul from beginning to end.

1953 Gibson Les Paul Restoration

1963 Fender Jazzmaster

1966 Gibson SG Special
Fender Starcaster - Before
Fender Starcaster - Before
Fender Starcaster - After
Paul Reed Smith - Before
Paul Reed Smith - Before
Paul Reed Smith - After
Fender Mustang - Before
Fender Mustang - Before
Fender Mustang - After
1968 Les Paul Standard - Before
1968 Les Paul Standard - After  
All pictures, text and information ©1996-2008 JW Guitar Restoration, Inc. 1 2 3 4 5 - text-only

Our restoration services cover every aspect of the guitar, from finishes, to electronics and hardware, being sensitive to keep as much of a vintage guitar original as is possible. We offer complete restoration services, taking your guitar from any state of disrepair and returning it to as new, well used, or any condition in-between. Finish chips and cracks can detract from an otherwise excellent looking guitar. We can fill and blend most imperfections to be unnoticeable, though certain finishes (metallic, etc) can be very difficult to match. There is also a threshold at which it becomes more economical to refinish the guitar that to try and repair many chips and scratches. We can repair nearly any electrical item commonly found in a guitar. Potentiometers, switches and wiring can usually be repaired without replacement – which is vital to maintaining the value of a vintage or collector instrument. We repair or rewind dead pickups, again, depending on the clients need to maintain originality. Repair of valuable pickups may involve unwinding the original coil until the break or short is found, fixing the issue, and then rewinding the pickup with the original wire. This type of repair leaves a vintage instrument sounding exactly the way it did prior to the problem while maintaining the value of the guitar. When restoring or refinishing a vintage instrument, we are often asked to produce a NOS (New Old Stock) finish. This replicates a vintage guitar that has never been played, showing only slight signs of aging to the lacquer, but no playing wear. This is often a very good compromise for a vintage, refinished instrument, where the appearance of a brand new finish would look out of place. Some individuals want their damaged instruments to continue to look vintage after repair, with all the wear, chips, cracking and dirt that comes with age and use. We can distress an instrument to look as used and played as you wish. As you can see, this Starcaster was in horrible shape. Someone had dropped the guitar breaking one of the sides. With the piece missing, we had to fabricate a new laminated side as a replacement. The top had been modified many times. Both original pickup holes had been enlarged along with several of the original pot and switch holes. An additional pickup hole had been carved in the middle of the guitar in as well as an extra potentiometer mounting hole. At some point in the history of this guitar, it had been spray painted bright red. Considering the amount of damage to the top, along with the client we decided to carve a new top as opposed to trying to repair something this damaged. With the original top as a template for both size and arch contour, reproducing a new top was fairly straight-forward. Here is the finished guitar which ended up looking as good as new. We were fortunate that the owner had much of the original hardware and electronics, limiting the amount of vintage parts we had to find. This McCarty 10 Top saw several hard years of touring. The owner gave it to his regular luthier to repair the many chips and dings the guitar had suffered. Unfortunately, the luthier in question started off by adding automotive body filler to the guitar. Fortunately, at some point during the original luthier's attempts to repair the guitar, the owner caught sight of what was going on and took the guitar home with him. This picture shows just a little of how wrong the attempted repairs were going and the condition we received the guitar in. With several layers of body filler and some sort of enamel paint (incompatible with the acrylic urethane finish PRS uses), the only option was to strip the guitar back down to wood. Refinishing the guitar in its original whale-blue color with a thin lacquer finish brought the guitar back to life, with more sustain than it had originally we’re told by the owner. The owner of this guitar brought it to us with some embarrassment over the modifications he had done as a teen in the eighties. Un-played for the past 15 or so years, the owner could never bring himself to get rid of his first guitar… the instrument that had led him into a successful music career. Note the 15-year old duct tape still holding the pickguard on. You can see the amount of routing damage done to the body and the original Daphne Blue paint in the untouched routes. We repaired the original body, at the owner’s request, filling the various holes with poplar of matching grain and density. We were able to obtain all vintage parts for the pieces that were missing, including pickups, switches, and pots. The finish is a match to the original Daphne Blue which we then lightly aged. You can see the majority of the body has a slightly dull, dirty tint, while the areas that are commonly contacted by the body show the brighter blue color. The chrome components also show appropriate age. This unfortunate Les Paul had its pickup routes enlarged, a Floyd Rose tremolo installed, missing fingerboard binding, and a brushed-on gold finish which was mostly gone by the time it reached us. The holes in the top were cleaned up and filled with maple at which time the pickup routes and bridge and tailpiece holes were re-drilled. The fingerboard was cleaned, radiused, refretted, and rebound. After sourcing original P-90 pickups, bridge and tailpiece, the guitar was refinished to look like new.