...Or getting an expert to do it for you. Many models such as the Les Paul, Strat, Tele, SG etc. are proving to be classic survivors. even the rigors of touring have been surmounted with the help of a good flight case and a little loving care. Clearly few of us would risk taking a 58-60 Les Paul burst on the road, but barring abuse and a few careful tweaks it would undoubtedly acquit itself well.
If your lucky enough to own a vintage Gibson or fender, then what you have in your possession is not just a good instrument but a piece of popular music history. Given its rarity you must regard the guitar as you would any other valuable antique. whilst such guitars are considered a valuable investment i personally share the view of many antique furniture collectors that design and function are part of the charm of such items and therefore are best kept in use. I hold no truck with the investor who thinks the guitar is best cosigned to a bank vault. For me, this is missing the point, like the owner who never actually drives his Ferrari. If you check the worlds museums you will see that un-played instruments merely wilt and die. So i recommend you enjoy your guitar whilst observing a few precautions:
Never Subject your guitar to extremes in temperature and humidity.
The chief victim here is the finish, which can crack or pave as the underlying wood shrinks or expands. Vintage Gibson's are more prone to this as their paints and glazes were pervious. "which may contribute to the character of their sound as the wood continues to 'breathe'.
Give the Guitar a good Clean
Give the guitar a good clean with a lint free cloth after playing. This will reduce any damage to metal parts and finish caused by perspiration - the main cause of rust to the bridge and machine heads. This, of course, will also preserve the strings, often doubling their useful life.
Use a good stable guitar stand.
This sounds so obvious but many once fabulous instruments turn up on the repair bench having been accidentally knocked off some precocious perch. This, as you know, particularly applies to that of a Les Paul which is most vulnerable at the head-stock joint. Combined with the dense mass of its body, this guitar is an accident waiting to happen.
Keep the original Parts
These old parts are an important piece of what antiquarians like to call 'provenance'. A dealer may spot the new saddle pieces i obtained with great difficulty in 1966 and wonder if the Guitar really is a 1962 fiesta red, but if the present owner had the old parts it completes a part of that story which completes the authenticity of the overall instrument. So put those old parts in a safe place and label them with any information you have.
*My old 1969 Gibson 335 in walnut!
Whatever you decide to do, enjoy that special piece of popular music history by playing it everyday and trying very hard to wear it out! Great Vintage Guitars still have a certain mystery about them - long may it remain.