The Restoration of a beloved 1954 Gibson ES-125

Vintage Gibson guitars are stunning. I had this '54 ES-125 in this week and it is now back up and running. My approach was to repair the electrics without you ever knowing I’d been in there! Such a job is about respecting the historical elements of the guitar, with close attention to detail and thought processes.


The main issue was there was there being no output. The jack socket was disconnected and needed re-soldering. The setup was tweaked to optimise its playability and the flatwound strings sound stunning!

The cause of the problem:

The issue was the tone knob had previously been glued onto the potentiometer shaft and the strap pin has been glued in, both with super glue, so I couldn't fully access the wiring.

The jack was taken out of the guitar and it was apparent why the wire snapped. If you look at the picture below you can see a lot of solder was used in a repair, and it had been twisted and caused the wire to break.

The tailpiece had a lot of solder too to hold the ground wire, and this was restricting access as the tone pot couldn't be removed.

The original P90 pickup, when isolated, worked perfectly. So it was all down to the wiring harness and making sure this would be more durable in the long term.

Fixing the issues:

The tailpiece was removed to allow access to the ground wire. Once this was disconnected, the output wire to the jack socket could be brought out of the F hole near the controls. This allowed me to see there was enough length to still use this wire. The ground wire was too short and putting excessive strain on the jack socket connection causing a higher chance of breakage.

The ground wire was removed and a longer one installed to stop putting excessive strain on the jack output wire and allow more tolerance in future potential repairs so the same issue of removing components is out of the equation.

To make this guitar the best it can be, the excess solder on the tailpiece and the Jack socket was removed. The ground wire would rest against the tailpiece and should the jack socket need work in future it would be easily accessible.

The output wire now had a better connection so not only would it work again and last longer, but sound even more crisp and make the P90 pickup sing!

After the components had been serviced, it was about putting them all back together, from all this work only the ground wire had been changed!

The Review:

‘Adam’s gone from being a guitar tech to a friend within one job. Currently recommending him to all my other player friends!’ - W. Stout (ES-125 Owner)

I've heard the guitar in the hands of the owner and it sounds stunning. He loves the restoration and I love that I shall get to see this beauty once again but only for a tweak and not a full overhaul.

As a player myself I fully understand what it means to have a nice playing and reliable piece of kit. The Gibson here is certainly that!

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