Hi,1st post here...!


I have been struggling w/ this for some time now, so  I hope to get your thoughts on this fix?


I presently have an '85 Gisbson ES-335 Dot Neck RI that came w /Grover Rotomatics installed. I refitted those w/ Gibson Modern style tuners (the bolt-on type), that was an easy retro-fit due to the already existing 3/8" Hdstk bores. When I did this change-out, I saw that a previous owner had really cranked down on the Grover's hex-nuts, leaving some fairly deep impressions on the hdstk face where the washer's mount. When I did the tuner exchange, the impressions were so big, that I had to use the larger Grover washers that came w/ guitar & Gibson's bolt-on hide the Raccoon Eyes!


What I'd like to do is: Repair the indentations left behind by the washers & then the refit the guitar w/ Vintage-Style tuners w/ press-in bushings so I can then use vintage style tuners. If possible, I would like to fore-go redowelling the holes & use 'Conversion Bushings'. What would be the process to bring these indentations back up level, so I won't see any 'Raccoon Eyes, when press-in bushes are used w/ vintage tuners? I want the headstk to have that 'clean look' to it since it's in already great for those rings. I have lacquering experience & I can add additional pics if needed? Ultimately, I'd like it to look like the Pic w/ the vintage tuners


Coincidentally, I purchased this 335 from Frank at Gryphon in '94...& it's a fablulous sounding Gibson.


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I encountered a completely different, yet similar situation recently with a 100 year+ old British banjo. The tuners had some parts turned around, and steel strings were put on, causing the friction pegs to burrow into the wood pretty deep, to the point that the tuners didn;t work anymore.

I used a mill bit to take an even amount of wood out at a 1/2 inch diameter, turned some ebony fills on my lathe, and filled the holes in. If you can't steam the wood out, this may be what you need to do. Nice thing is, ebony is REAL easy to turn.

Pen makers use mill bits that are pretty slick, that might help. They also stay square with a sleeve around the end, so that you would just insert the mill in the hole and turn it to create a flat bottomed space.

An example...

Thx Mark, I was just watching some of your YT vids. Great stuff!

On my guitar: For clarification, I don't know that it's so much the headplate wood that has the indents, more than it appears to be the Lacquer finish that's suffered? Would stripping the existing finish off the face & refinishing be an alternative, or more like opening...a can o' worms?

I'm not THAT Mark Pollock - I'm a different one!! Less authoritative, and less experienced for sure!!

I think I misunderstood the problem, perhaps a drop fill is in order? I'm not a finish expert, or even a finish journeyman.
Does this Gibson have a fiber peghead facing (check by looking at the Gibson inlay -see if it is an inlay) - if it has a fiber facing you can strip the peghead finish back to the fibre, flatten the surface further (most of the original dents will be in the lacquer finish) and refinish in accordance with a Gibson style refinish schedule (which I can provide if you wish to proceed).
Hi Russ, Yes it does have pearl inlayed in some type of black facing that's fairly thick. I'm not sure if it's ebony or fiber though? I've been a little leary of stripping the finish off because I didn't want to possibly wreck any of the pearl inlay if I did have to sand some.

A finish schedule would be great. Thx! I'm hot on it while the weather's still good.


My bad Mark...apologies! It was a whole different person (Chris Paulick) who's YT vids I was referring to. Too much sawdust...
Probably fiber, although Gibson have used cherry and I guess other wood for facings as well. the pearl is usually sunk in a bit and will probably have a lacquer "fill" on the front face - just lightly sand the front face and the inlay area and observe whether you are sanding lacquer or pearl - if you're sanding lacquer -continue until all is flat and the facing fiber or wood is flat and clear of dents (but, go easy - if the dents are significant you may need to drop fill them or spray the facing with some sanding sealer to 'size' the whole area - don't go too hard on the facing material).
Our refinish schedule is to size the peghead with sanding sealer, spray a light, black pigment based coat to give a consistent black finish, scrub the lacquer and paint off the "Gibson" inlay (judicious use of steel wool is a good start) - hit the area over the inlay with a clear coat and then a paint coat again and repeat until the inlay has relatively clean and consistent edges with the black coat, spray a couple of clear coats, drop fill around the inlay (which always sucks a little lacquer into the gaps), sand flat, leave a couple of days, sand again and then spray a 'faint' black shader (lacquer plus a touch of stain), scrub the inlay area lightly with steel wool again to pick up the pearl brightness and then finish with a couple of more clear coats. That's about it - Rusty.
Thank you Rusty. Your schedule looks a bit intimidating. I do have all the materials to do the refin. Not sure I quite understand the..."then spray a 'faint' black shader (lacquer plus a touch of stain) part. What is the purpose of mixing stain w/ the Lacquer? Is it just to keep the black color consistant over the entire face of the Hdstk?
Yep, all blacks aren't the same shade - blending in black stains/paint with existing shades of black or different tones of black within the same repair schedule can be tricky and exposure to stage lighting or bright light in general often reveals this difference. The black shader 'nornalizes' the finish shade overall the peghead.
This shader is just a faint hint of black stain and can go over the inlays without being noticeable (Gibson appears to have used this technique) and provides a belt and braces approach to getting everything even. Hope this clears it up. It, s not the simplest schedule but it works. Good luck, Rusty.
..."hit the area over the inlay with a clear coat and then a paint coat".

Rusty, When you say to hit the area w/ a clear coat, do you mean Sand 'n Seal or clear lacquer? I'm having a problem hiding the unevenness of the underlying grays/black of the fiberboard. The black nitro spray I have is a gloss black from Stew-Mac. I shot that on and it scrubbed it off the pearl ok, but in doing that I think I scrubbed down to the fiber again, yielding that unevenness of blacks. When I first began I don't think I sanded the fiber completely all the way down, so it all looked totally gray, which might have caused the uneven color tones...?

I stripped it all down & started from scratch again. The rings were so deeply inbedded in the hdstk, that partial sanding & drop-filling would not of worked! The outside edge of the large washers had bit into the fiber so hard that the lacquer was cracked all around in a circle. It was plain to see that the lacquer had lost it's adhesion. Not much choice, but to 'take it all the way down'. Rings are gone, now to get it back to looking good! One other question! Do you sand between coats of clear & color?
Yep, the gray fiber is the culprit and that's the reason to spray the peghead with at least one coat of black 'paint' before embarking on a refinish - spray the pigmented coat on then scrub around the inlay to reveal it again and then spray a clear coat over the exposed inlay area and then another black pigment coat again, repeat the reveal of the inlay again until it looks even and does not show any of the fiber - clear coat with a couple of coats so you don't sand through the pigment coats when flattening it all out, sand it flat, spray a black shader coat, steel wool the inlay area to get some of the shader off it and then a couple of clearcoats , wet sand and buff.

Do not sand between color coats and the clears and you do not sand the shader coats - you cover it with a number of clears and then sand it flat to avoid breaking through the color/shader coats. I always clearcoat color coats before sanding to prevent changing the tone of the color by sanding it unevenly.

Sanding sealer is only used on the initial 'size' of the bare fiber. Sorry this stuff can get a little confusing but the main issue is to get the peghead a consistent black color rather than a patchy fiber color and then get enough clear over it to allow a sanding and buff without breaking through the underlying color. Rusty.
Yup, at 63... everything's a little confusing!

I've got it all sanded smooth (very smooth) w/ no shiny spots showing & there are no gaps (sinking), where the pearl inlay edges join the fiber. It looks ok, except I still have a gray cast to the face & not a jet black! I wiped it down w/ Naphtha to see what it might look like 'wet', but it still stays grey looking?

The black rattle nitro can I'm using, leaves a whole lot of 'orange peel'. I'm going to let it be overnite & see if it sprays better tomorrow after drying all nite. Me thinks, I'm spraying too soon between coats & it's causing the nitro to react & wander into islands...if that makes any sense? I'll move forward as you describe from where I'm at right now, since the hdstk face is void of any pitting/sinking.

Before spraying the final clear coats, I should be looking at ----> a jet black hdstk & no hints of grey coloring? :>)

Thx, Rich
Rich I can assure you at 58 everything is just as confusing (I actually have some of my spray schedules written on the wall in big letters!) Yep, consistent jet black is the look, and, I use a commercial spray rig which is a little easier to control, but when using a rattle can I would be inclined to spray a number of very light dust coats (just a couple of passes) to gradually build up the color coat - the clear coats on top of this will smooth out the dusty look of thin coats and give a good build up for subsequent sanding - that way the color coats are not interfered with. Also with the cans give them a vigorous shake for as long as you can stand it and keep em warm (not hot) for an hour or two before use.


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