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MassimoPL77    28

Hi! I'm an italian amateur guitar builder. I started this hobby three years ago and I recently finished my 8th build. As I posted the pictures of the guitar on the "guitar of the month" contest, I decided to open a thread here to publish all the photos taken during the building process.

For this Les Paul build I followed the plans made by John Catto, but I didn't want to build a real replica: I respected all the original sizes and the top carving, but woods and some building choices were customized. 

To start I prepared all the templates

 ASMbicj.jpg

Then I glued two pieces of ash from the same board, and i cut the body leaving some space  for refinishing it with a router.

9OnbGKk.jpg

Next step was to route the channel for the wiring and, on the other side, the cavities for the pots and the toggle switch

B8JumI0.jpg

 

ACm5zAN.jpg

Now it's time to see how much this piece of ash weights

46edy7K.jpg?1

This is really too much! A finished guitar would be near to 6kgs! So I decided to route a large weight relief chamber.

This is the template

5QBKMuU.jpg

And this is the result after the shock diet! :D

cUMt07L.jpg

Near to 1kg less!

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MassimoPL77    28

I wanted a dark wood for the top, because I like the contrast between the top and the body, so I found this asian ebony, really similar to Makassar, which was very figured and enough thick to be a Les Paul top (16mm). 

SGWVdsg.jpg

Firstly I glued the two parts together:

hDreRBU.jpg

Then I glued together top and body using my vacuum pump. To be sure that the wood doesn't move I tightened two screws on the pickup positions.

5UyGApS.jpg

I've bought this pump to glue veneers, but I had really good results also with thicker woods and now I wouldn't go back for clamps!

Here is the result after routing the sides: the glue line is almost invisible.

yxt9IcX.jpg

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MassimoPL77    28

Before starting to carve the top I routed the back contour with a 5mm concave bit.pql7A3q.jpg

Now I'm ready to start with the top. Firstly, using seven templates I route the lines on the top. I work with an arm router, so I have to doubletape the templates on the back of the guitar.

eFuqkeF.jpg

Then I had to route the neck plane and the pickups plane. To do it I made a simple jig: an MDF board with two screws, which gives a great control of the angle.

JQHcLq2.jpg

 

RkpkMma.jpg

Using this it was easy to set up the right angle.

4.2° for the neck plane:

H2QrO1x.jpg

1.4° for the pickup plane

Fa5RA4v.jpg

In this last photo you can see the three different angles on the top

FqyEkY1.jpg

Now it was time to start carving the top. My tools were a sander, some small scrapers and a lot of sandpaper. This ebony is really tough, so I needed some hours of hard work to reach this result:

RQeufJz.jpg

After another session of carving and sanding i was really near to the final result. I also made the covers with the same wood of the body. I was lucky enough to find some pieces of wood which match the grain of the body. :)

CyQQvdX.jpg

The top is not perfectly book matched, but the most different part near the neck pocket will be covered by the fretboard and the neck pickup.

I don't like to see screws on wood covers, so I opted for some small but powerful neodymium magnets to keep all the covers in their positions.

PPnfQI8.jpg

 

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MassimoPL77    28
6 hours ago, Norris said:

Welcome and thanks for posting. That's some beautiful work and an excellent result!

Thanks Norris! I'm a member of this community since 2014, but up to now I was only lurking for infos and admiring the work of others. Only now I've found courage to contribute.

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MassimoPL77    28

The neck is the part of the guitar that differs the most from the traditional Les Paul: I made a 5 parts laminated neck with a 15°scarf joint and a volute. To start I glued together the sandwich: ebony /maple/ebony/maple/ebony. The ebony is the same asian wood used for the top.

(Sorry for the low quality of the next photos :(: I don't have pictures of the building process of the neck for this guitar, so I'm using some pictures of an older build made with the same woods)

 

SoJQ8dF.jpg

This is the result after planing:

cUYUcsf.jpg

To cut the scarf joint I used the table saw with this jig: I clamped the neck blank to the jig which is 15° angled to the blade:

DGwzQo8.jpg

nrn8IhJ.jpg

After planing it was time to glue the two parts together. Between the two parts of the neck I glued a thin board of maple; once carved, this board will take the look of an arrow.

e7TEsvR.jpg

To glue everything together I used five clamps: two clamps to keep in position the two parts of the neck, the others to put pressure on the joint.5SlN469.jpg

This is the result after planing:

FIp5Cuy.jpg

And this is the "arrow":

zMzVKF3.jpg

Now let's go back to the photos of the Les Paul! :) 

To make the heel I cut a portion of the neck and I glued on it, then I cut the tenon. With my equipment it was easier for me to make an angled tenon, while the neck pocket is flat.

v6AKwXD.jpg

0FbRyyS.jpg

I think I nailed the neck and body joint :)

AArQZya.jpg

And this is the joint after trimming the neck: 

 JjZuN5u.jpg

Here is a photo of the routed headstock. Later I will glue a 2mm ebony head plate on it.

c6wXGni.jpg

And finally two shots of the guitar:

bA2ajkz.jpg

dQkbqYN.jpg

 

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ScottR    1,355

That much inlay makes my fingers hurt and my eyes twitch just thinking about it. You are a patient man. And a gifted one as well. Beautiful work!

SR

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Zoltar    30

Wow, and to think I've been worried about inlaying dots neatly :blink:

That's stunning Massimo, I'm not surprised it took a while. I often look at guitar makers' work and think that they'd be excellent furniture makers. I reckon that you'd be great at silversmithing too!

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Skyjerk    62

WOW!

 

Massimo, I am speechless. Your work is awesome!

Your inlays are absolutely beautiful. I do my own inlaying, but have chickened out and paid someone else to actually cut the shell for me (except for some more simple pieces). I wish I had your patience :) 

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MassimoPL77    28
On 18 ottobre 2017 at 8:00 PM, ScottR said:

That much inlay makes my fingers hurt and my eyes twitch just thinking about it. You are a patient man. And a gifted one as well. Beautiful work!

SR

Thank you Scott! But, as you can imagine, the real patient in the house is my wife! :D

23 hours ago, Zoltar said:

Wow, and to think I've been worried about inlaying dots neatly :blink:

That's stunning Massimo, I'm not surprised it took a while. I often look at guitar makers' work and think that they'd be excellent furniture makers. I reckon that you'd be great at silversmithing too!

Thanks Zoltar! My father is a furniture maker. I followed a different path in life (I'm a teacher) but I've inherited the passion for woodworking.

8 hours ago, Norris said:

Wow! That's a fabulous inlay and a great demonstration of patience

Thank you Norris!

3 hours ago, Skyjerk said:

WOW!

 

Massimo, I am speechless. Your work is awesome!

Your inlays are absolutely beautiful. I do my own inlaying, but have chickened out and paid someone else to actually cut the shell for me (except for some more simple pieces). I wish I had your patience :) 

Thanks Skyjerk. As I started inlaying I felt immediately in love with this technique. For me it's so satisfying to work  with mother of pearl and I'm always surprised by its changing colours and the different effects that you can achieve!

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Andyjr1515    528

I'm not sure I've ever seen inlay of this quality on a guitar before...

Last time I saw anything close, it was on a priceless cupboard made in the 18th Century and now pride of place in an English Country Manor House that tourists flock to see....

How will you prevent chipping when you drill out the 5th string tuner hole?

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MassimoPL77    28
19 minutes ago, Andyjr1515 said:

I'm not sure I've ever seen inlay of this quality on a guitar before...

Last time I saw anything close, it was on a priceless cupboard made in the 18th Century and now pride of place in an English Country Manor House that tourists flock to see....

How will you prevent chipping when you drill out the 5th string tuner hole?

Thank you Andy, I'm really flattered for this comment :blush

To cut the hole I used a drill press drilling the headstock from the back and going really slowly. It was stressful!

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Prostheta    1,254

Absolutely excellent, @MassimoPL77! I couldn't agree more with the comment already made. This is a stunning display of precise controlled work, which is exactly what a Les Paul benefits from. Hold up, let me ask my wife what she thinks....

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Prostheta    1,254

As I took Nina through each of the pictures, she said "huh!" in surprise more and more....hahaha....Nina is also a woodworker, but unlike me, not by trade.

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MassimoPL77    28
On 21 ottobre 2017 at 3:16 AM, Mr Natural said:

really impressive work @MassimoPL77. You obviously love inlay- I can't even imagine cutting that much pearl. Well done and it looks incredible. 

Thank you!

On 21 ottobre 2017 at 10:48 AM, Prostheta said:

As I took Nina through each of the pictures, she said "huh!" in surprise more and more....hahaha....Nina is also a woodworker, but unlike me, not by trade.

Thank you Prostheta! I'm glad that Nina liked it!

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MassimoPL77    28

Now the guitar is almost finished so I took a photo with the hardware. I choose golden hardware, because I think that it matches better with the wood and complements the golden mop purfling.

PcenHhz.jpg

I f I could go back, maybe I would also put EVO gold frets...

Now it's time to varnish. I didn't want to dye the wood, so to get an hi gloss finish i decided to use polyurethane and acrylic 2k finish. This combination is really easy to sand and you can get a mirror surface with no need of wet sanding.

This is the guitar after clear coat. The mop stands out a lot under lacquer!

Dy1rrrG.jpg

nVRctlW.jpg

And this is there result after finishing and buffing. I couldn't be more happy! :)

T848Nai.jpg

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MassimoPL77    28

Here are some pics of the assembled guitar:

8YFIxLv.jpg

1UETIEu.jpg

xJehFGu.jpg In addition to standard three wires, I had to use other two for the split coils, so, all in all, there are five shielded wires running through the body. I was a little worrying about noise, but luckily the guitar is not noisy at all!:happy:

The sound of the guitar surprised me: having used really dense woods like ebony and ash for the body, I was waiting for a more trebly, sharp sound, while I think that the guitar sounds equilibrated. I wonder if this depends on the large chamber routed in the body.

Edited by MassimoPL77
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meatloaf    39

Wow what a stunning guitar, you must have the patience of an angel, that inlay work is absolutely awesome and the best I have seen, Beautiful work. absolutely  love it.

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Woden    10

The talent on here blows my mind sometimes.

Obviously your inlay work is incredible, but the overall package is extremely classy in every regard. As you said, the only improvement you might have made is using the EVO gold fretwire, but you can always upgrade them one day if you wanted to.

I'm definitely not entering GOTM this month now, haha!

Honestly, this may be the nicest Les Paul I've ever seen. Would hate to try and value it but surely we're talking many thousands.

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