The Reverend – Goldtop with one P90

“The Reverend” was inspired by a video clip of ZZ-Top playing live at the Jools Holland show:

Billy Gibbons plays a single P90 Gibson Gold Top. At least, that’s what it looks like. There is some strange writing on the headstock, I could never figure out what it said. Anyway, I found the guitar looking really cool and decided to built one myself.

So I got myself this Les Paul guitar kit, plus some spray cans……

The guitar kit itself was less then 100 euro’s. I think it was a 2nd choice item, I got it via am Ebay auction. I can even remember that I got the body and neck separate.

The body has some blemishes, especially around the binding. The maple top was very thin, around the edges there was hardly any maple left. For a sunburst that isn’t that important but I don’t think the maple contributes anything to the sonic character of the guitar.
The neck was a paddle neck with a very light colored fretboard. The binding was also a bit sloppy but I found that out later.

I filled the neck PU position and a part of the bridge neck position with mahogany left from my Billy Bo guitar. Any gaps were filled with two-component wood filling material.
For the switch hole an the volume/tone holes, I glued a piece of laminate under the hole and filled the top with filling material.
Since I wanted to use a wrap-around bridge, I had to fill the holes for the tail and bridge as well. I used some cheap round wood for that. The top was filled with filling material.

After that I painted the guitar with primer. Sanded it and first gave it a green top and after that a gold-top.
The back and the body were originally planned to be dyed mahogany brown but I made a mistake in that. There was still glue left on parts of the body which I could have sanded away. This is easily checked with naphta. Anyway, I was to late and decided to paint the body and neck chocolate brown.

After many efforts I got myself a decent gold-top. Drilled the holes for the bridge and found out that the neck was tilted in the body. So I had to remove the neck again, sand the heel and reinstall the neck. In that process I chipped some gold paint from the body which was a disaster to fix.

Anyway, after over a year of messing around, I got a very decent guitar. The costs are low, the effort was enormous. But I learned a lot!


P90 Goldtop - "The Reverend"
P90 Goldtop – “The Reverend”

My mistakes and tips:
1. Before you spray paint a body with a binding, make sure that any gaps between body and binding are filed with a filler that react the same to a dye as the wood. You can buy ‘mahogany’ fillers or

2. Sand a body very well before you dye it. I didn’t. It turned out that in the binding glue process, glue was spilled on parts of the body. Dye won’t ‘catch’ those areas. With sanding you can prevent this. Check your body by using naphta. If you can’t sand those areas away, use a solid color.

3. With these cheap kits, first put your guitar together to see if everything fits (make it playable). After you’re sure everything fits, start painting.

4. Don’t use tape to mask binding. Just spray over the binding and scrape it away with a paint scraping tool. Gives you the best results!

5. When you fill e.g. a pick-up hole in a body with wood, you will always see where you filled a gap.
This is because of the different expand factors of the wood types. When there is a change in temperature, the woods will differently expand causing little. You can prevent this by using two-component wood filler on top of the wood (you must use a lot).

6. Why did I use the green paint as some kind of primer? I had so much trouble getting that green from the binding (especially the little gaps between binding and body). So only use a primer that looks like your binding (white!) and the top color.


Things that went OK

1. Leveling the frets! The guitar plays like a dream. Lowest action I have on any guitar.

2. Keeping the contour of the body. By always using a piece of trespa to wrap my sanding paper around I was sure not to sand any ‘holes’ in the body. This will happen when you just sand by hand. Especialy with the low grids (i.e. 240 and 600) use a piece of trespa when sanding. Also for the edges.

3. Dying the fretboard with black leather paint. Since the fretboard had a very light color, I decided to make it look more like ebony by dyeing the fretboard with black leather paint. This is an old trick used by many pro’s. Don’t forget to mask the inlays since it’s quite hard to scrape the leather paint away. I would also recommend to mask the binding of the neck as good as possible. The black leather paint will find it’s ways into little cracks in the binding resulting in nasty black lines in your beautiful white binding. You can’t always scrape/sand that away. I had to paint some of these cracks with white paint.

4. The headstock. I really like the shape, perfectly symmetrical.
I used a paper template for only the right part but turned the paper around for the left part. By doing this you’re absolutely sure your headstock is symmetrical.
So use a fine pencil to make the outlines of the headstock. Then with a jigsaw saw the rough contours. With a sanding cylinder mounted into a drill I was able to make the contours perfectly.
The logo didn’t turn out that well. I printed the logo with a laser printer on white logo paper. Cut the logo very near to the lines and put it on the black painted headstock. With some black paint and a fine brush I concealed some of the lines you could still see.
Sadly my laser printer didn’t print pitch black otherwise it would have been perfect.

5. Filling some of the holes with filling material, you can’t see anything when you use two component wood filler. For big holes you can use a piece of wood but make sure that on top of the wood there is a lot of wood filler.

6. The overall guitar, it sounds excellent

Most of the hardware (tuners, bridge, pick-up and built-in booster) is from
Straplocks are Schaller’s. Nut is real bone I made myself. Guitar is equipped with 009 D’addario strings. In combination with the low action it’s so easy to play.

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