Les Paul Custom Fretboard Binding

What glue is used for the fretboard binding? How can the binding removed/replaced?

The problem is that a hack "luthier" rounded the top of the binding during a re-fret 30 years ago. I think this occurred while he was file dressing the fret ends. He also cut fret slots in the binding for specific reasons only he knows. Yes, I paid him to do this.

 Anyway the "rounding" causes string vibrato to slide off the fretboard on the high E. My other Les Pauls (Recording, Artisan) don't do this. This guitar sounds great and I'd like to enjoy playing it again. Is there hope? Thanks for sharing your wisdom.

Re: 70 Les Paul Custom fretboard binding

I use Duco for binding...get it at Wal-Mart in the paint section. It comes in a green tube. It works great. Get replacement binding from  Make sure you order the correct size.

As far as removal, there are several options. You can grind it off with a Dremel -- very risky. You can heat it and pry it off -- less risky, but can hurt the paint on the neck. I've removed the entire fingerboard to rebind, and that seems to produce the best, cleanest result. I hope the "luthier" that fixed your guitar didn't ruin the fingerboard. Is the radius (normally 12") really that screwed up? You may need a new fingerboard as well.

I recommend letting a pro work on this -- it is a pretty big job.

Good Luck

Re: 70 Les Paul Custom fretboard binding

Thanks for your response, John. The ebony looks like original contour. Though there are a couple of file marks, they appear to be errant attempts at fret dressing. I think it possible to save the fretboard.

I did, recently, take the guitar to a pro in Palo Alto, CA. Their estimate for the refret and binding replacement was nearly the value of the guitar as if it were original and unbuggered. They also warned that not only would the binding color not match that of the body, but there would likely be finish chips in the neck and guitar body near the new binding.  So, it seems I have little to lose by learning luthier chops on this example. I've been a modeler and craftsman for many years.  So, the skills needed, though not practiced, aren't beyond my reach. And, if I screw it up, what have I lost? I can't imagine it being worse than what the "pro" in Oakland did to it 30 years ago.

Thanks for the Duco tip. Sounds like the heat needed to have it release its bond is higher than what the lacquer finish can tolerate. Since the neck finish is pretty darned good now, I think mechanical removal is likely the best route. Are there any fixtures that can take some of the risk out of the procedure?

Thanks for any input you can provide.

Re: 70 Les Paul Custom fretboard binding

Lloyd --

Here is a link for fretboard removal. The article features a rosewood fingerboard on a bolt-on maple neck, but the thought process is the same. Make sure you cut through the finish at the seam between the binding and the neck so there are no big chunks of finish removed.

 Here's another good one:

Removing the fingerboard will also allow you to refret the guitar and get the binding right before you reglue the fingerboard to the guitar.

Please be careful, and if you don't feel comfortable, search out another luthier (repairman?).

Good Luck,

 Humbucker on a Saga T-Style

 I've just started building custom guitars and your site has been very informative. I see you have worked with the saga T-Style kit quite a bit and I was wondering if you could give me some insight. I'd like to add a humbucker to the back pick up and was wondering how I should go about doing this and how difficult it be?

 Re: saga T-style

I recommend getting a humbucker bridge on eBay...guitarfetish is one seller who has some good stuff. Get it positioned on the guitar and trace where the humbucker should go. Get your router going and route a cavity big enough for the pickup. This is actually pretty easy if you have some woodworking skills because the bridge will probably cover any screwups. Do so at your own risk -- a router is a pretty dangerous piece of equipment! Follow the steps shown under the Black T-style in the Builder's Gallery.

Good Luck,

Re: saga T-Style

Thanks a lot for your response. I've got one more question for you before I begin making this thing. Will the toggle switch given to me in the saga kit work well with the humbucker? I've never put a different kind of pick up in a guitar like this before so I'd just like to figure out as much as I can before I start screwing things up The few Teles I have seen with a humbucker like this have toggle switches like those found on Les Pauls so it got me wondering.

Re: saga telecaster

The switch on the T-style should work fine. You just have to think about the visual effect you are looking for. I had thought of getting the drill and router out and putting a switch in the upper bout of the T-style like a Les Paul. I think that would be pretty cool, but it would also be a great deal of work.

Please be careful with the power tools.

Good Luck

Routing slot for 5-way switch

I am building a few guitars and I/m at the point of cutting(routing?) the slot for the 5 way switch. How should I go about this the best and safest way. It is a rear routed body with a figured maple top. The top is 1/8" thick where the slot will be. The slot is 1/16" x 1 1/8 long. Dremel? Rout? Saw? File? How? I appreciate any comments that anybody has since this part is holding me up from finishing the guitars. THANKS!! SEAN

Re: Routing slot for 5-way switch

Sean -- Thanks for the post. I've done several of these on wood and plastic, and I use a Dremel with a small bit. I set up the router with a piece of 2x4 on each side as "fences", and slowly route to depth.

The fences will keep you straight, and most of us can't "free hand" route that precisely, anyway!

Good luck,

Fixing a Poly Chip

Shipping damage. Shattered POLY. I am total noob at repairs!

Well, just spent $$$$ on what was to be my Dream guitar... 6.4 pound ASH wood tobacco sunburst. I got insurance filed and they let me keep the guitar as this was international shipping. Ok, I got info for repairing poly. I know I should use thin black super glue. When I lifted the crack to get glue in there the chip just broke off.

So I gave up. Do I attach the chip back on, drop the black glue in there, sand with a fret sanding tool, shape it nice then use the special sanding pads? If its poly, and now its black glue.. I don't get it! How and what products do I buy? *No repair shops in my area, one I visited was scary!* Below is an email I got, however I really don't understand it and how the glue fills in the cracks? I don't mind the color being different, (Black) but still very confused!

Attached photo, the chip has become separated on repair attempt.

Note:  Below is an email from Stew-Mac Re: Shipping damage. shattered POLY. I am total noob at repairs!

Jay,  Thank you for contacting us. If you have a Nitrocellulose finish, you can spray our black lacquer  into a cup, drop fill and then sand and buff. If it's a different finish, we would recommend filling in the crack with either the black epoxy  or the black super glue . You can then level it with the dressing stick and buff it out with the Micro Mesh Soft Touch pads . You can read more about chip repair in the Guitar Player Repair Guide Feel free to contact me if you have any more questions.

Re: Shipping damage. shattered POLY. I am total noob at repairs!

I forgot to mention, my friend has a spray gun and paints cars for a living. Should I just refinish this sucker lake placid blue?

And here is what we said.... 

Re: Shipping damage. shattered POLY. I am total noob at repairs!

If you've got poly, trying to get the paint off will be a major struggle. I would try to fix it first. If you do paint it, I would paint over the poly just like painting a car -- scuff and spray.

First -- is the wood dented? If so, you need to steam out the dent. Here is a link:

What I would do with the dent:

1. Steam out any crushed wood to try to get it as level as possible.
2. Glue the errant chip back on with super glue.
3. Consider getting some black poly touchup paint from Because it is black, it will be pretty easy to match. I've touched-up poly with nitro lacquer before, and it wound up pretty good, but I would try poly. You might also try auto body paint shops in your area. Tell them you need some black poly for touchup. I like Ford's black the best.
4. Slowly build up the black on the cracks with a good brush until the cracks are level with the rest of the finish. Let it dry completely.
5. Start with 400 grit wet/dry paper and sand the touchup paint level with the rest of the finish. You'll find some low places -- touch them up and let them dry.
6. Go in thin coats...they dry faster.
7. Once the damage is level, go to finer grades of sandpaper. I recommend wet sanding with mineral spirits. Do this outside or in a well ventilated area.
8. Once you get up to 2000, switch to compound. I use 3m FinesseItII with a 100% cotton rag.

Jay...if you have any doubts about this, don't try it. If you want to experiment, you've got a good "canvas". If you really screw it up you can always get your buddy to spray it Ford Sonic Blue or other Dupont color...but you'll still have to level out the damage first.

Remember, this is my opinion not having seen the guitar.

Lesson Learned For all -- you don't need to lift chips...they will break off. You can glue it down with some water thin super glue and it will hold tight.

Let us know how it turns out.

Good luck,


Masking binding for Refin

hi- I am refinishing a semi in gold. Any suggestions on accurately masking the curves in f-holes and the edge on top and back so you end up with a nice clean curve?

Re: masking binding for refin

I discuss binding in the FM3 Goldtop section of the Builder's Gallery. Gibson doesn't mask binding -- they just scrape it after painting...supposedly less labor cost!

Make sure you put a lot of newspaper in those f-holes to keep the paint from getting inside the guitar. Don't use paper-towels...too much lint.

Good luck,

Floyd install on a Strat... Intonation issue...

Just received a guitar from a gent. He slapped a Floyd in it (stock fender body with stock fender trem). Trying to intonate the guitar shows that it is flat on the G B and E strings. I have the saddles moved as far forward as possible. The EAD are in but at the end of the move also. I am on the first set screw on the Floyd saddle and hence, no more room to move.

What can be done here? The nut to 12th fret scale is dead perfect, the 12th fret to the Floyd is what's off...

Re: Floyd install on a Strat... Intonation issue...

I got one of those one time....the guy who slapped the bridge slapped it in the wrong place. When you are dealing with millimeters, and there is only so much adjustment in the saddles, you may be out of luck.

I recommend considering removing the post, gluing in a dowel, and redrilling the offending post hole closer to the neck. This is just my opinion, but you will probably never get that rig playing properly without moving the bridge.

Good luck

Repairing chipped off paintwork for explorer

Over the past couple of months, my ESP explorer has suffered a bit of a battering and one of the corners has had quite a bit of paint chipped off. I'm wondering what the best way is to repair it - varnish, spray paint.. etc? The body is mahogany I think.


Re: Repairing chipped off paintwork for explorer

Since the ESPs are painted with poly, I would just touch it up with some poly intended for cars. You can find some matching paint at or at a local auto store.

I wouldn't start spraying until there is significant damage.

Just my opinion,

How to fill in screw holes?

Hi, I have a new neck plate and the holes on the plate don't match up with those on the guitar body and neck. What should I use to fill in the holes that would allow me to re-drill over part of the old hole?

Re: How to fill in screw holes?

I fill neck and body holes with dowels prior to redrilling. I use hardwood dowels -- get them at Lowe's or Home Depot. I use regular Titebond glue.

This is a critical operation, and if you feel the least bit apprehensive you should take your guitar to a luthier to have it done. You could cause irreparable damage to your guitar.

Good luck,

Saga Headstock Problem


I cut my headstock of my saga kit and to my surprise the cut wood did not match to the color of the rest of the neck, I think I have to sand off the whole neck from its sealer or whatever is on it or should stain over everything? Because I am going to have it in another color should I just stain over it? but wont that make the lighter part still lighter in the stain?---but can this be fixed by giving a second coat of stain in the lighter area? fill me in on what you would think is best

Re: Discoloration

Darkmarko -- Thanks for the note. That is why I usually strip the finish from Saga necks before I cut the headstock. It prevents stripper from getting into the end grain of the cut, and makes the entire color look more balanced. You may consider stripping the entire neck, or use some sealer on the "cut". However, the color will probably be a little different.

Good luck,

Re: Discoloration

hmmm ok ill just sand off the sealer because of done it to some parts of the neck will be a long job but sanding it of is ok right? so as long as I donít sand the wood underneath......what grit would be good for the job?


Note:  We never put anything coarser than 220 on a guitar! 

Remagnetizing pickups

I have a pair of Bill Lawrence L500 humbuckers. One reads 12k resistance and the other about 8.7k, so the DC resistance seems okay.  The 8.7k neck humbucker has no output. I'm wondering whether the magnet has been demagnetized and whether or not anyone has experience remagnetizing.

Re: Remagnetizing pickups

Warren -- It is pretty rare that a pickup goes completely dead, especially a Bill Lawrence L500.

Make sure you have it connected properly. If you determine the magnet is bad, you can see a little photo essay on remagnetizing (or magnetizing, for that matter), on the website. Go to the T-style pickup kit page and click on information. He has some big magnets in a vise.

Check it out, and good luck.

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