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Blackdog

Oh No, Not Les Pauls Again....

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Hi guys ! What can I say, I love LPs. :blush

I haven't posted around here in some time and I thought you might be interested in seeing these builds I'm getting close to complete.

After the P90 Les Paul I finished in last December (which resulted in an amazing instrument) I decided to try my hand at an even closer (as close as I could get) vintage LP replica. Compiled all the info I had collected on vintage LPs together, drew my own set of plans and made all new templates.

I started three Les Pauls builds in January:

Two replica '59 Standards: Very light and resonant Khaya bodies, mildly flamed hard maple tops, brazilian RW fretboards. One with a traditional Honduras Mahogany neck, the other with a Spanish Cedar neck. Traditional hardware and electronics.

A slightly more creative '56(1/2) Custom: Reasonably light Honduras mahogany body, curly redwood top, ebony fretboard and Spanish Cedar neck. All the usual LP Custom appointments but hybrid pickup configuration: SD Staple single coil on neck (as a '56 LPC) and a humbucker at bridge (as a '57 LPC).

All the usual Gibson malpractices and oddities that make the delight of some of the local members, and the old school building approach, this time also using the proper glues (UF, Fish and Hide glues).

These are mockup pictures after the tops were sealed with a bit of clear, the headstocks picture is a bit more recent (click to enlarge).

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Right now the three guitars have been finished and are curing. In a few weeks I should be able to show you some finished guitars.

I have taken more than 300 pictures along the build, so if you feel interested I could put a build thread together, say something with mostly pics keeping the comments to a minimum.

After these builds I will go back to my own designs, I have a couple of new things I want to try, but I am happy to say that I have learned more than a good trick or two making these replicas. :)

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Les Pauls or not: Workmanship is top notch as always! I love your threads. How's that staple single sound? Know yet, or just playin' around?

Chris

Hi Chris !

I have a Gibson LPC '54 reissue with the staple, and a P90. I like the sound of the Gibson one a lot. Think of a very clean and loud P90 type of sound. They would be the perfect pickups for a jazz box.

The thing with this pickups is that they are very hard to come by. Today only Gibson and SD Custom Shop make them, and Gibson is not selling them. The SD seems to be identical in construction to the Gibson, let's see how it sounds. It's the single most expensive pickup I have ever bought !

Thanks for the nice words !

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BD, I could happily watch you build LP's for the next decade or so before I got tired of it......I'm looking forward to more of your new designs too.

SR

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SWEET! Especially nice job on that binding on the redwood one. I am about to do a ES-355 (white with multi-ply binding) and I know I have to sit down and figure out how to make that. Nice work as always- hoping more pictures/details will follow

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SWEET! Especially nice job on that binding on the redwood one. I am about to do a ES-355 (white with multi-ply binding) and I know I have to sit down and figure out how to make that. Nice work as always- hoping more pictures/details will follow

A 355 is an amazing instrument, you may find this thread useful.

I'll start with some more pictures soon.

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BD, I could happily watch you build LP's for the next decade or so before I got tired of it......I'm looking forward to more of your new designs too.

SR

Thanks Scott !

I hope I will not be building Les Pauls for the rest of the decade... That would be extremely boring... Unless there's good money in that. So far I have found lots of interest from the wrong kind of customers (the broke ones)... <_<

Regarding my new designs I was rather enthusiastic, until I saw that latest build of yours (that I will definitely vote for GOTM) B-) That thing is a beauty ! The things I wanted to build look too conventional to me now ! :blink:

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OK, let's get started...

In the beginning there was only wood... (and some templates).

I found some very nice and light Khaya blanks. And some Spanish cedar neck blanks.

As you can see the maple tops are less spectacular than on previous builds, but have a lot of character and look a lot more vintage.

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How did you like the Spanish cedar as a neck blank? I used it for the body of my last build and found it very light and easy to work......and very easy to dent and ding. I was canstantly sanding dings out even while being as careful as I could. That build is the lightest I've done so far and I credit the cedar for most of it, but I'll think on it a bit before I use it again.

SR

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How did you like the Spanish cedar as a neck blank? I used it for the body of my last build and found it very light and easy to work......and very easy to dent and ding. I was canstantly sanding dings out even while being as careful as I could. That build is the lightest I've done so far and I credit the cedar for most of it, but I'll think on it a bit before I use it again.

SR

I have mixed feelings, pretty much like you. I found it rather difficult to shape with the rasps because it will not produce fine dust like the mahogany. It gets very hairy and has a tendency to loose long threads of wood fiber. Sanding is more benign, but to get rid of the hairiness takes some work. Pore filling is also problematic because the pores are very large and long. I carved the neck for the Custom and it took me a long time to gather the nerve and patience to carve the Standard neck.

All in all, depending on how it sounds I may use it again, but I strongly prefer mahogany to work with.

What you said about constantly sanding dings and scratches happened to me with the korina body of the second SC I built. A major nightmare until I got some finish on it !

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Hmm, now you've got me second guessing my plans for my next build. I have some ziricote for a top and thought some black limba would make a good looking body to pair with it. If limba acted like the Spanish cedar, I'm going to think a bit more about it. My cedar didn't have the hair problems but it did have the same pores you found. I ended up filling them with Z-poxy and built up a shell of it to help protect the wood rather than sanding flush to the wood surface. Between that and the nitro, I feel a lot more comfortable handling it. It does sound good as a body wood. I'm looking forward to hearing your opinion of how it sounds in the neck. My research said it has been used quite a bit as neck wood for clasical guitars.

Oh and thanks for your comments on my build--somehow I missed that reply--I'm still looking forward to seeing your new designs. I love the classic looking guitars, but I really like to see original designs, as long as they work. It is pretty hard to find something original, nearly everything has been done already.

SR

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Hmm, now you've got me second guessing my plans for my next build. I have some ziricote for a top and thought some black limba would make a good looking body to pair with it. If limba acted like the Spanish cedar, I'm going to think a bit more about it.

It's not necessarily going to be like that. I think that, at least with limba, it depends on the specific piece. I had the problems I mentioned with my second limba build. Did not have any significant issues with the first one (it behaved pretty much like mahogany), not even with the neck of the second one which was a different limba piece. Just test the piece to see what you can expect.

I decided to try cedar (cedrela odorata) for the necks because is the same family of the mahoganies (Meliaceae) and it is indeed the "official" wood for the classic guitar necks. At the very least it smells great while you work on it. We'll have to see how it sounds for electrics.

I'm more worried about the redwood of the Custom top. That wood is really too light and soft. I'll make sure to sink the bridge posts all the way through the top and into the back to get the most out of the honduras mahogany natural sound and avoid bad surprises.

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More pics.

Some basic body shaping. Using templates for everything, down to the wiring channel. At this stage this is just the primary route of the control cavities, not through the mahogany but leaving some 1/8". Two more routing operations will be necessary to get to the final cavities.

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The last two pictures are the LP Custom body. See that I did not route any roundover, as it was going to have binding. I did not route the cavity cover recess at this stage to leave as much flat surface as possible for the binding channel routing operation.

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And a bit on necks.

The back profile was adjusted on the robosander using a template too, after carefully planning the fretboard surface and the headstock face (at 16 degrees). The neck blanks are 2.25" wide.

The truss rod channel is straight and slanted, 1/2" deep at the nut and 5/8" deep at the body end. I used the traditional truss rod kit from Stewmac. The access for the TR adjustment nut was cut using a 3/4" spotfacer.

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I'm more worried about the redwood of the Custom top. That wood is really too light and soft. I'll make sure to sink the bridge posts all the way through the top and into the back to get the most out of the honduras mahogany natural sound and avoid bad surprises.

I'm very interested in your input on this as you work it. My feelings are the same about it but I've surely seen some beautiful tops done with it.

SR

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SWEET! Especially nice job on that binding on the redwood one. I am about to do a ES-355 (white with multi-ply binding) and I know I have to sit down and figure out how to make that. Nice work as always- hoping more pictures/details will follow

Just a short one !

I realized that in my reply to you before I gave you the wrong link. Copy&Paste error, sorry.

This is he thread I was referring to, that you might find interesting as it is about an ES-355TD I built last year.

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Pictorial tour continued.

After fitting the TRs and filling the slots with maple strips the necks were shaped a bit further. The TRs are 3/16" steel rods in a 3/16" square channel. They fit very tightly. With the maple strip holding the rod against the bottom there's hardly any room for rattling.

The tenon is narrower than the neck (1.5", 38.1mm), the resulting shoulders need to sit well against the top side of the body, which is flat in that region. Since the neck joins the body at approx. 4.3* angle, the shoulders need to be cut at that same angle.

This time around I made a jig for that.

First the rough cut on the bandsaw.

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Then the neck was put in the jig I mentioned and ran through the table router with a template straight bit.

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Now with the shoulders cleanly cut at the proper angle, the overall taper of the neck and the remainder of the tenon were cut using a template in the usual manner.

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Next step was to add ears at the sides of the headstocks to achieve the required width and shape them with the appropriate templates. I used the robosander for this shaping. In the past I used the router, but the risk of a major tear out is too big. The tuners' pilot holes got drilled too.

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thanks for the corrected link Blackdog. I forgot in your previous build thread you included the binding specs. (and many thanks for the efforts of your research!)

I am digging that jig for the neck angle. I have seen a somewhat similiar one for a handsaw/flushsaw but not one like this for a router. very cool. as always I am loving these threads you put out.

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thanks for the corrected link Blackdog. I forgot in your previous build thread you included the binding specs. (and many thanks for the efforts of your research!)

I am digging that jig for the neck angle. I have seen a somewhat similiar one for a handsaw/flushsaw but not one like this for a router. very cool. as always I am loving these threads you put out.

Welcome and thanks !

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Let's continue with the tour.

Preparing the maple tops required some work. They were too thick, had cupped and even one side was thicker than the other.

After planing down to 5/8" I joined them using hide glue and rough cut the outline.

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The redwood top was easier because it was already planed to the right thickness and was perfectly flat.

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After that, the usual gluing to the backs, using UF glue. This glue dries harder than Titebond. It is very water resistant (another used option was PF glue, which is pretty much waterproof). They have a much longer open time than hide, so Gibson used them for those junctions that involved large areas but would not likely require any future disassembly: lamination of the tops.

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During the drying times I got the three fretboards ready for processing. A chocolate dark Brazilian, a lighter and more figured brazilian and the classic ebony. The thickness of the three is 5.3mm according to vintage specs.

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The carving process for the tops starts with the topographical routing using a set of templates. The steps are all 1/16" high, leaving 3/16" of maple at the bottom. This method is really practical and promotes a reasonably consistent carve from one guitar to the next. I am already working on a similar set of templates for use with my own designs.

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Too bad you have that feeling about spanish cedar. I am also building a les paul with spanish cedar, and the piece i got it's really high quality stuff. It is just like mahogany except with a wonderful smell.

I have worked a lot with spanish cedar, and only lesser quality stuff is hairy.

Anyways, your guitars look fantastic!!

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It is just like mahogany except with a wonderful smell.

I have worked a lot with spanish cedar, and only lesser quality stuff is hairy.

Hi Eddie,

Interesting info. This is my first time with spanish cedar. I will have to start looking for better quality pieces then.

Thanks for your kind words !

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A few more of the build pictures.

Next step was to route the neck and pickup planes on the tops.

The neck plane is routed first, as it was mentioned before it is 4.3*. The pickup plane starts at the end of the fretboard and extends to the bridge position, where the top keeps it's full 5/8" thickness. I route this angle empirically and results in something around 1.2*.

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The last operation on the tenons was to adjust the thickness. It should be 1.5" (38.1mm), the tenon has a square section.

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Using the actual tenons to ensure a good fit I made the mortise template. The mortise was routed following the neck angle.

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The depth of the mortise has to be precise, so that the top of the neck sits flush with the top of the body.

And the necks could now be matched to the bodies.

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If you look closely you'll probably notice that the treble side of the necks do not flow seamlessly into the bodies cutaway area. The distance of the cutaway edge to the centerline is is the only critical dimension in the LP body outline, so it was purposely cut slightly oversized. The necks tapers are also just slightly oversized. These dimensions got adjusted for a perfectly flush matching when the fretboards were already attached to the necks.

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