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Narcissism

Les Paul Style Build

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I started working on this in February. I knew I wanted to build a les paul shape, but as far as colors and hardware go, I'm stumped. There's lots of things I want to do: maple top, chambered body, carved top, recessed controls, binding, natural binding, natural control plates, etc. Can't do em' all.

But here's what I got for specs so far:

Black Limba body

Black Limba neck (quartersawn, reinforced with carbon fiber rods)

I have bloodwood that I can use as a fretboard, but I'm not too sure how I feel about it.

I also have some bookmatched flamed maple that I can use as a top, but I don't know how i feel about it. I'm a metal guitarist, and I'd like this guitar to have a sort of darker personality to it. I'm just having a hard time giving it that with the materials given. I do like black Limba for the weight and sound. It has a pretty neat grain to it as well, so I'm not sure if i want to paint it. I could just go ahead and carve it up, not put a top on it or anything and have it with a natural finish... but I'm not sure.

All I know for sure is that I want the les paul shape, and the entire guitar is going to be made from the same plank of wood. Here's where I'm at

P3070232.jpg

Blank

P3100236.jpg

body cut & glued

FILE0457.jpg

The line is a pencle line, not a glue line. The glue line is invisible!

Oh, and please excuse the junk. We were in the process of moving in when these pics were taken!

Any ideas for the build are completely welcome and encouraged! I'm not too terribly interested in the top. I am very interested in the back and sides though! I'll update with some pictures of that once I have the basic outline shape sanded out.

Edited by Narcissism

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Having owned a Gibson version and made one of my own with some modifications, I'll give this advice: smooth out the neck heel. That's my least favorite part of the Les Paul, too clunky.

Lots of people tend to get tired of the sunburst maple top but not me. I think it's a great look on LPs and decades of this treatment prove I'm not alone. Mine has a darker burst with amber in the middle and I love it.

I don't know what your finishing preferences are but I would also give this advice: if you're like me and don't have spraying equipment, go with Tru-oil. It's incredibly easy and forgiving and the quality is not second rate to nitro lacquer imo. I've tried spraying nitro and it never worked out well at all. But you could be great at it just as many here are. I think Tru-oil would look great on that limba body. I stained my mahogany body with some dark brown stain just to darken it up and it looks good.

Since you're a metal guy, you may want to study the ESP Eclipse II. It's a little thinner and lighter I believe and looks more "metal" to me.

Good luck with the build. Do your thing and you'll be happy with it.

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Lovely piece of timber, great grain pattern join, what will you use to clean up the shape? rasp and spokeshave or router and template? All the best with it.

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Try wetting the top and make sure you don't like it, that lower part looks like it could show some potential with clear. Also, a tobacco burst looks sweet with black limba, warmoth does limba lp bodies with it in the showcase pretty often and they always look sweet.

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Muzz, I would have used a router & template to clean up the edges, but I tried that with an SG, and got a lot of tear out... Mostly because my hands are unsteady and the router kept tipping. I suppose a piece of wood of the same thickness next to the stock I was cutting would have prevented that... Luckily, the natural carved edges of the SG took away any of that, but I really didn't want to have that happen with the LP. I really want this to be a clean build with no mistakes.

I started carving the edges up with a mini handplane. Then I went with my "sandpaper wrapped around a drumstick" method to clear up any unevenness or spots missed by the plane. Its a little more difficult to get the perfect roundness that I was going for, but with attention to detail (and glasses) it works out pretty well!

P5160104.jpg

Somehow, my remote always manages to bomb my photos...

P5160103.jpg

P5160102.jpg

P5160101.jpg

I'm not too worried about that rough edge, because I'm pretty sure its going to get routed off with the set neck pocket. I'm going to try to get the grain to match up with the neck as best as possible with this.

As you can see, there's some very interesting grain on the sides here. The back has quite a bit going on with it as far as contrast between white and dark. I am still undecided on the top, so I'll get some mineral spirits out and see what happens!

I'm pretty rough with my instruments, as far as travel and touring goes. A good case will probably prevent any of that kind of damage though. I still need to make cases for the bass, and the RG-RR... Better cases will allow me to expand my finishing options.

Anyway, I was thinking of grainfilling with epoxy, and then clearing with poly... I might go with something other than poly this time though... I really like killemall's clear finishes...

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Now that's what I like to see, smooth sides and sharp edges :D

That timber looks so good I wouldn't be putting a cap on it, but I won't get upset if you don't take my advice, because only

2vk12qs.jpg

do that

:D

Lookin forward to seeing more of your build.

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I can see why your wife said she'd shoot you if you painted that. That's a killer piece of wood. I'll be following this one closely.

SR

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I decided to take a pic with the bloodwood fretboard blank layed on it and some scrap limba where the headstock might be.

P5180101.jpg

Hmm

Edited by Narcissism

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I've put white paper inlays, and fake fretwire on this to get an idea of what the final product is gonna look like, and the bloodwood is just not going to work with this build. The bloodwood needs a darker wood to work with, and the limba needs a darker wood to work with.

I'm going to do the right thing and get an ebony/darker fretboard.

I'm probably going to end up using gold hardware, as I like that the most with natural finishes. You've all convinced me to keep the natural top!

Now I just have to figure out what to bind with... or if I'm going to bind...

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I comepletely agree with your assesment concerning the darker fretboard. I was thinking the exact same thing whilst looking at the pic of the bloodwood with the limba and breathed a sigh of relief while reading your next post. Black binding would look great and help the black/dark patterns in the limba stand out...which is what makes that wood look so cool. Black hardware would do the same thing.

And yeah, ziricote would rock as a fretboard.

Ziricote always rocks!

SR

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Here's the neck blank. This side will be the headstock, and the back side.

P5190109.jpg

On the other side, its a lot lighter and a lot more like the back of the guitar. If i plan things out right, I can get the grain to match almost seemlessly

P5190112.jpg

But I'm caught in a bit of a trap right now. The darker side goes more with the body, so it should be the side with the headstock. However, once I turn it around and the dark side becomes the back of the neck (because i'm scarfing it), the side that matches up with the body will end up under the fingerboard. Also, the dark part of the grain is pretty thin, as you can see in the following picture:

P5190107.jpg

So, if i carve correctly, I can get the grain to match up anyway... maybe...

I'm gonna play around and see what I come up with.

Ooten, I checked out Ziricote. it looks pretty sweet! Unfortunately, the hardwood supplier in my area doesn't stock it... I'll have to try my hand at Evil-Bay I guess.

ScottR, I'm glad you agree. That raises my confidence a lot, as I'm not usually good with anything besides black & white as far as patterns and colors go! I'm not too crazy about black binding & hardware though... But hey, I'll give it a shot, and if you're right, then that's what I'll go with! Otherwise, I'll have some new hardware for my renovation of the RG-RR (I'm gonna remake it, neck and all.)

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Here's the neck blank. This side will be the headstock, and the back side.

On the other side, its a lot lighter and a lot more like the back of the guitar. If i plan things out right, I can get the grain to match almost seemlessly

But I'm caught in a bit of a trap right now. The darker side goes more with the body, so it should be the side with the headstock. However, once I turn it around and the dark side becomes the back of the neck (because i'm scarfing it), the side that matches up with the body will end up under the fingerboard. Also, the dark part of the grain is pretty thin, as you can see in the following picture:

So, if i carve correctly, I can get the grain to match up anyway... maybe...

I'm gonna play around and see what I come up with.

Ooten, I checked out Ziricote. it looks pretty sweet! Unfortunately, the hardwood supplier in my area doesn't stock it... I'll have to try my hand at Evil-Bay I guess.

ScottR, I'm glad you agree. That raises my confidence a lot, as I'm not usually good with anything besides black & white as far as patterns and colors go! I'm not too crazy about black binding & hardware though... But hey, I'll give it a shot, and if you're right, then that's what I'll go with! Otherwise, I'll have some new hardware for my renovation of the RG-RR (I'm gonna remake it, neck and all.)

Is the neck blank thick enough for you to cut a thin laminant for the headstock?

Edited by masterblastor

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Is the neck blank thick enough for you to cut a thin laminant for the headstock?

Well, there's 37" of neck blank, and I only need 25... 28 if I want to have extra room in each direction for error.

Are you suggesting that I cut off the extra 9-12", save it as a headstock blank, and then just cut an angle into whatever side I want on the remaining body blank, and then cut an angle into whatever side of the headstock blank I want, and paste them together accordingly?

*adds to notes*

Extra wood = options

This is really good news, because now I can even match up all of my joins so that the grain flows perfectly from end pin to headstock tip! The only out of place wood will be the fretboard and the TR cover, which will probably be made out of a bookmatched cutoff from the fretboard!

Thanks for the ideas, masterblastor!

And thank you for the link, ooten!

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If the blank's 2" thick (or even a little under) and 37" long, and you have a decent bandsaw, you can get two necks out of there if you scarf joint the headstock. Chris (Verhoeven) made a video of this not too long ago.

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And it's in his signature!!!

Chris

I know! I'm actually using a lot of your build methods, Chris. I'm totally buying a copy of your instructional when you're done with it!

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Buy? The plan's for it to be free man hahahaha. That's kinda it's point. I'm making it so that there IS a free version out there so it's easier to learn than when I started.

But not to hijack the thread! I think that limba is SMASHING!

Chris

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I know! I'm actually using a lot of your build methods, Chris. I'm totally buying a copy of your instructional when you're done with it!

And I'm using his method for carving the top with a Saf-T-Planer. I tried his method for gluing the scarf, but my table isn't stable enough for that.

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Hey guys, hijack away! I like coming back and reading stuff. I can't think of a time where I didn't learn anything from someone's o/t ramblings lol.

Speaking of which,

TwentyDual240410.gif

Thank you psw in the "misc" thread!

I may have to try this! I'll have to buy a bunch of capaciters (which for some reason are on the volume pots... whatever I don't know anything about electronics) but it looks like a fun little soldering job to try out! If you can post some sound clips of this once you're done, please do!

One thing I noticed is that there's a wire soldered to ground... I haven't used passive pickups in such a long time, and I've never built a guitar with the need to put a channel from the rear cavity to the bridge. Something new to learn I guess.

I seem to recall Jimi Page having slider switches on his pickup rings...

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That schematic is for a version of "jimi page" wiring on his #1 guitar. Gibson released a #2 reciently. I've never really been a page fan myself, but I'm interested in checking out the tonal possibilities. I'll probably bring it back to normal wiring sometime, as I don't like having to work too hard to get the tone I want. But you know, curiosity... I've never had a tonally diverse guitar to that wiring's extent.

How do you guys feel about tonal options? Are you a minimalist like EVH or a tone-aholic like Page/Brian May?

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How do you guys feel about tonal options? Are you a minimalist like EVH or a tone-aholic like Page/Brian May?

I USED to want as many possibilities as possible. That was back when I had two guitars, one of which I never played. I wanted that one to be able to do everything. It's has 2HBs with a 3-way, 2 series/parallel, a phase switch, 1V, 1T. IIRC I can have 12 different sounds. After a few years of dorking around with it, I found that I had the neck series, bridge parallel, and only used the phase occasionally.

Well, now that I have more than a dozen with more on the way, I'm less concerned with versatility because all of them sound different and have different pups/configurations. 11 are standard wiring. The mini-Ric600 has 2HB, a joint coil tap, and a phase. The Dynasty has HSH and an all-on p/p pot. The mirrored Iceman has SSS, an all-on switch, and a phase on the middle.

I don't see the all-on jumper on a 3-pup ax as a tone mod, but just another pup combination.

I think the only reason I put the extra switches on the Ric600 & the Iceman is because I have them lying around.

At this point, I think the only thing I'd intentionally set out to do is some of the odd 2HB wiring you can do with a 5-way selector.

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