Would you add a Bigsby, stop tailpiece studs, and a modified fretboard inlay to a nearly perfect 1967 Gibson ES345?

Of course not, right! So where's the dilemma? 

Well here's the story. The owner wants very much to do these mods to this guitar because he is part of a community of fans - very serious fans - of the movie Back To The Future. So serious that he's spent over $26k restoring and modifying a Delorean to look like the car in the film. And in that scene where Michael J Fox plays Johnny B Goode for Chuck Berry himself, he plays a cherry red 60's ES345 with Bigsby, stop tailpiece studs, and an unusual looking solid block inlay at the 12th fret. 

The argument for doing work like this is: 1) It's his guitar 2) he's going to find someone who will do it 3) These are not uncommon modifications to this guitar and Gibson themselves did some of them 4) This work may actually enhance its value within the film fan base and 5) Why is the vintage guitar community more correct or less crazy/silly than the BTTF fan community?

And yes, we do know the correct answer here, but I'm interested in the reasoning we all have. Discuss!

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It does seem ridiculous, especially those studs. but I think I would go with argument number one - It's his!  As you stated those are pretty common player mods. That inlay job looks fairly easy to do / undo.

Seems to me the decision would be a ratio of what the owner wants vs. what the repairperson's willing to do. I'll always remember turning-down a job on a '62 D-18, where the guy wanted volume & tone controls mounted on the soundboard. 

He said "there's no shortage of repair guys and I'll find someone to do it, so why not you?" Didn't have a good answer at the time, but later I realized that the other "someone" can forever has his/her name associated with a massacre, but not me. Why, I can do my own inadvertent massacres, thankew! 

I'd turn it down, but to each his own.  BTW, it sounds like this owner has way too much disposable income. 

I'd do it, and do it happily and well. He's obviously going to get it done and he came to you for the work. If it makes the customer happy, why not? It might be a nice example of a 345 but there are many of them around. The volume knob in the Martin top, well, that's another kettle o' fish.

BTW, nothing wrong with too much disposable income!

...unless it's you without it and everyone else with it.

Tell him that the ES-345 wasn't actually introduced until 1959, and you couldn't in good conscience play any part in embarrassing him with such a monumental historical error. It's bad enough that they made this mistake in the movie, don't let the customer make Hollywood's shame in to his. 

David. That's priceless. LOL!

I put humbuckers and Floyds into late 70's Fenders all through the 80's, and made good money doing it. The late 70's Fenders IMHO are the worst guitars Fender ever made and they deserved it. When Fender reissued the late 70's Strats I felt that the Vintage world had lost it's collective mind. Do it for the money or do it because the vintage guitar community is just as wacko as the BTTF fan community. Or do it because doing it is a way better story than not doing it. To be fair I did turn down a mod on a 335 a few years ago easily the most bizarre request I've ever had in over 30yrs of doing mods and repairs on guitars, but a guy has to draw a line somewhere.

Here's what I'd offer him if it were me. In exchange for the real guitar as payment, build him an exact copy, with the setup and inlays he desires. He gets the movie trophy, and you save an innocent ES from the butcher shop. I'd sleep better with that arrangement.

That guitar is stunning btw.

I just wanted to add a little story to give context to my post, show it's inherited for me. My father was asked to make a replica of a flintlock Kentucky Long Rifle for the movie "The Last of the Mohicans" with Daniel Day Lewis, for the scene where they throw him a gun. The reason was twofold, first the didn't want their star injured, but second because the real originals can't be replaced if they're damaged. You couldn't tell the fake from the real until you picked it up, 100% balsa. Movies.................

 Steve, this Forum's opinions be damned, you are a gonna do the work aren't ya!?  Go Steve Go... Go Steve Go... Go Steve Go... 

Hey Steve - here is my two cents for what ever it's worth---

I would leave the guitar pictured here alone for its collector value and fine one on line (ebay maby)

and modify that one--

Peace, Donald


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