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Authentic Burst- inlays?

crlong

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Nov 21, 2002
Messages
59
I have what is probably a stupid question but here it goes anyway...

Whenever people are discussing the authenticity of a vintage burst on this forum, it seems like the inlays are always mentioned as a sign of a real/fake vintage LP. What is it about the inlays specifically that provide a sign of a real burst?
Also, what are the other tell-tale signs (besides the flame)? I know that the tailpiece is often mentioned.
I am not even close to being in the market to buy a real burst- I am just curious and trying to expand my knowledge on the subject!
 

58burst

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May 11, 2002
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2,174
The plastic material that was used for the inlays for 50's les pauls through '60 (?) is unique, and quite different from other modern plastics, and more or less immediately identifiable even in a mediocre photo in most cases.
The plastic has pronounced up and down (along the neck) striping, varying in pattern from piece to piece, and a generally distinctive greyish coloring, with some greening from UV etc.

http://peeceebee.lvha.net/58inlays.jpg

Here's a pic of the inlays on my '58 LP.

-Pete
 

John Catto

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Jul 15, 2001
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The inlay material used on 50's Gibsons is single layer nitrate celluloid. It's identifiable by the fact it was made up of large (around 1.5") square chunks which were then mushed together in solvent into large blocks which was then cut into sheets. It's probably Italian in origin. When Gibson cut their inlays from sheet they usually (but not always) seemed to use a cutting pattern that laid them out on the sheet emphasising the vertical patterns, this is particularly obvious on the narrower higher inlays. The real trick is that the material is translucent so the dark rosewood of the board shows through the inlay making the figuring stand out and darkening the apparent colour. As sheet material it's sort of a creamy white but changes on the surface due to UV just like nitro lacquer, if a 50's guitar gets it's board sanded the inlays will go back to looking like they did new. Also Gibson glued them in with a solvent based glue and you often see a bit of colour from the board bleeding into the edges of the inlay. As well as discolouring they also shrink somewhat with time and the glue/filler disintegrates leaving gaps. In general the colour tends more towards an amberish gray with brown patches from the board bleed. Gibson actually used this same material well into the 60's but later seemed to cut the inlay recess shallower leading to a thinner, more translucent hence darker looking inlay. Those thin 60's inlays really tend to curl up and fall out too.
 

BostonPops

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Apr 28, 2002
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Thanks, guys. I had always wondered the same thing, but never thought to ask. Great info! The LPF comes through yet again. :dude
 

Joe Ganzler

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Jul 18, 2001
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In adding to John's fine post above, it's my understanding that Gibson bought 1 or more of the aforementioned "blocks" of nitrate material used for inlays right after WWII; as indicated, their origin was Italy. This original block(s) was the "inlay donor" until sometime in the '60's - perhaps as they neared "the bottom of the well" in cutting off the block, the inlays got "busier" due to the change in the swirls of the material in the block (60's SG's come immediately to mind) - when the well finally ran dry, they were not able to reorder the same material. Perhaps the company went out of business, or changed their manufacturing techniques/materials. . .

This is a good example of yet another detail of the original Bursts that gives them their specific "character", and by default, one of the ways to spot a Fugazy, even if said Fugazy has a '60's SG 'board/inlays. . . ;)
 

Dave Paetow

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The early-mid '60's stuff looked more transluscent and 'silvery'. I noticed companies like Kay used very similar inlay material around the same time.
 

58burst

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Interesting... The inlays in my '62 LP are quite different from my '58, MUCH more swirly, pearly, and sparkley- not appearing like a variation of the 50's stuff, but like a whole different order of material-
I thought they must've switched material somewhere in there...

???
 

John Catto

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You know I stood , stared at and handled 3 345's today, a 59, a 63 and a 66, all standing next to each other and they ALL had the same inlay material though the 60's ones had thinner inlays (ever noticed they cut those inlays "sideways" to the Les Paul ones?). I do agree that the inlay material starts changing in the 60's but still I've seen SG standards with inlays that would not be out of place on a 50's Les Paul all the way up to 64 or 5. The point is of course that these changes for Gibson (like all others really) had nothing to do with design and everything to do with supply. They just used stuff up until it ran out or disappeared into a drawer or under one of the machines.

I will comment that no Gibson from the 60's or for that matter the 70's has "swirly" inlays. They all have nitrate celluloid inlays (even say a 74 Les Paul deluxe) but the later ones are made up of much smaller "blocks" than the earlier stuff rendering the material "busier" and more opaque. These days of course swirly is the order of the day since all the inlays now are some sort of "pearl dust" stirred into a polyester base like this stuff http://www.kovalknives.com/Handle03.htm
 

58burst

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Upon closer examination, I can see they're the same stuff- the '62 inlays have a much more complex pattern, and seem a bit more "pearly" (maybe more opaque? they're thicker?) than the '58-

Here's a pic, the '62 is on top, the '58 below...

http://peeceebee.lvha.net/inlays.jpg

-Pete
 

Rich R

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Jun 4, 2002
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4,998
VERY intersting discussion--I've learned a ton about inlays here! :dude

The funny thing for me, is that, back in '73, when the vintage sap was just beginning to rise, I just thought the SHAPE of LP Standard inlays was cool as hell--and I wanted a guitar like that! :lol2
 

RickN

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Feb 12, 2002
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Just a point of reference for early-60s stuff, these are on my '61

sglp_inlay2.JPG
 

Joe Ganzler

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Jul 18, 2001
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Check the UPPERMOST (nearest the body) 3 inlays on your SG's boys, and THEN get back to me. . . ;)
 

Dave Paetow

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Jul 15, 2001
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I've got some inlays from the early 60's material pulled from a old Kay, they are more transluscent but not any thinner, .050" thick. Looks like the more silvery, sparkly, transluscent looking stuff as used in the early-mid 60's SG's.
41_p29367.jpg


64 SG inlays
41_p29368.jpg
 
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