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Well here goes...

Through lots of consideration, and toying with the idea it is now time to build my first guitar! Over the past month or so i must have looked at every single site available, and i have also read through most of this forum, so now i am here on my knees asking for help! This is my first time....so anything will be appreciated, youll probably see me here asking for help for almost every stage that i go, and you might have to bear with me as i doubt ill be able to be very technical! Ive decided to take each part step by step, and buy what i need for each step as i come to it! Most of the tools it looks like ill need i have available...except specalist tools which i will aquire when i need them:

So i know this topic will have come up probably about a 1000 times....but this is how i intent to start....Im going to build 'almost' a copy of a Les Paul studio, which ive seen in a gorgeous platinum finish which i will probably steal, but will make my own adjustments as i go!

Im playing on starting with the body first of all, then on to the neck as step one! so here are a few questions to start with

1. Firstly does anyone to hand any plans of Les Pauls...i know its been asked before, but i cant easily order them from the net....so if anybody has any to hand they could email, or send for a price that would be amazing

2. Ive been studying the Gibson site for a while now getting some specs and stuff, but they seem very basic on what they tell you about the woods....now does anyone know what exact wood Gibson use for the body and neck....im not bothered about the fingerboard yet.....On the Gibson site, it says there are a front species which is carved maple....and a back species which is mahogany! Now im not an expert on wood at all....is there any specific type of mahogany and maple used.....or if i went into any shop and said i wanted mahogany, would i get the same thing everywhere?

3. From what i have seen on most sites...there is normally a piece of wood used for the body of the guitar, which im guessing is the mahogany....then a top piece, kinda used for the effects, which is glued ontop.....but for the kind of model im making.....lpplatinumcombo.jpg

It doesnt look like there are two pieces of wood in the body...and just one....the effect im going for is the same as that, so i dont need fancy maple do i? Or do i......All im asking is that one piece of wood for the body...or is it two as on normal guitars

4. Is there anyone out there with any type of Les Paul and a camera who could possible take a lot of close up pictures of certain areas of the guitar that they could send me....just so i suppose as i go along i have something to refer too as i dotn have a les paul to hand?

I think that is it for today, any help is muchly welcomed, and any advice to as i start

Thanks

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I might add a cap because it would be hard to find a peice of mahogany thick enough for all the electronics, then the carved top also. I'd use an ebony fretboard also, just cause it looks awesome with the platinum finish though. And all of the studio's that are out now have a maple cap. With the exception of the smartwood and swamp ash.

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Yeah, the LP Studio has the same construction as most LPs. Mahogany body + neck, carved maple top. The fingerboard on the Platinum finish [as well as Alpine and Classic White] is ebony, though it's rosewood on the other finishes.

The reason the body looks like one chunk of a single type of wood is because the finish is solid. Were it a translucent finish, you could tell where the maple and mahogany are joined.

I happen to have a Studio model [that's soon to become quite a bit more than stock] that I could take some pictures/measurements of for you when the time comes.

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I might add a cap because it would be hard to find a peice of mahogany thick enough for all the electronics, then the carved top also. I'd use an ebony fretboard also, just cause it looks awesome with the platinum finish though. And all of the studio's that are out now have a maple cap. With the exception of the smartwood and swamp ash.

all you need is a 2" piece

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all you need is a 2" piece

Yeah, Wes is right, a 2" deep piece would work fine. The problem runs into locating the pickup selector switch. From what I can tell, there's a channel cut into the mahogany that goes from the pickup selector switch to the pickup cavities, to the control cavity. This channel is then covered by the maple top. This sort of construction could cause some problems if using a one species body. However, if one were to locate the pickup selector switch near the volume and tone controls, it wouldn't be as big of a problem.

Of course, even in that case, care would have to be taken to avoid the studs for the bridge and tailpiece when drilling a hole from the pickup cavities to the control cavity.

All in all, sounds a lot easier to use a maple top, at least IMHO. :D

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Wow guys thanks for all that....well it looks like the way ill be going is this....brazilian mahogany for the body.....and ill add a maple cap, as it was pointed out, it does make life easier...plus everywhere i have read this maple cap does add something to the tone which is recognised as a les paul 'tone'.

As was also mentioned which this effect over the top...ill be able to go for any sort of maple....is there any specific maple which would give me that les paul tone...or is it all much of a muchness?

Also as i have no plans at the hand at the moment....if i was going to go out and buy me some brazilian mohogany, and some maple....could someone give me the rough dimensions i would need to order the two pieces without worrying they will be too small when i get the plans through, or i will have spent more money than needed on a huge piece? Just length, width and depth would be absolutly perfect for both :D

And finally to Zandro...thanks for the offers of the studio pictures....when you have the time, would it be possible to get a few side profiles of the les paul sent....i mean looking directly from the side so i can kind of see the carved maple top and see just how raised and cut away the whole top is, cause at the moment i have no idea....just so i can see what im going for type of thing....that would be excellent...... im at: unromantic_me@hotmail.com

Thanks for all the help yet again

Jay B)

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The body on my LP is about 17" long [measuring from butt to neck] and about 13" wide at the widest point. At the edge, it's about 1 3/4" thick. It's hard for me to measure the thickness at the highest point of the carved top with the little tape measure I'm using, but I believe [and please someone correct me if I'm wrong] that the maple cap is 1/4" thick [so that total thickness of the maple + mahogany before carving is 2"]. If that is the case, looks like the maple gets carved down to a negligible thickness at the edges of the body.

The neck is about 21 1/2" long, but that's not a very accurate measurement, just a rough one.

So, I'd just make sure that you add 1-2" to those measurements to have plenty of wood to work with.

As far as pictures go, I'll try to get some this week for you.

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There are two good reasons Gibson uses maple tops even on guitars that aren't transparent.

1. Easier to carve.

2. Give a little highs to balance out the natural darker tone of an all mahogany body.

I also think they use Honduras Mahogany. And the Ebony fretboards are nice.

I know you don't want to waste money.. but , I think it would be alot better to buy you some full size plans if you really want to get an exact copy, since they'll have exact dimensions for you. LES PAUL PLANS!!!! But my friend Rick, took a picture of a guitar, made a transparency of it, and since he knew the scale length.. he made an exact drawing from it.. lol.. So just be creative if you don't want to shell out the cash to get the good ones.

Good Luck on your project!!

Matt

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There are two good reasons Gibson uses maple tops even on guitars that aren't transparent. 

1. Easier to carve.

2. Give a little highs to balance out the natural darker tone of an all mahogany body.

That is definately the voice of somebody who hasn't tried carving maple! Mahogany is infinitely easier to carve, because maple is *HARD*. The maple cap does affect tone, but a number of LP's have featured solid mahogany construction, and by all accounts they sound great too.

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There are two good reasons Gibson uses maple tops even on guitars that aren't transparent. 

1. Easier to carve.

2. Give a little highs to balance out the natural darker tone of an all mahogany body.

That is definately the voice of somebody who hasn't tried carving maple! Mahogany is infinitely easier to carve, because maple is *HARD*. The maple cap does affect tone, but a number of LP's have featured solid mahogany construction, and by all accounts they sound great too.

No, but your talking to someone who hasn't tried to carve mahogany. I just remember reading that somewhere, but I might be wrong on that. Anyway, I'd still use maple top simply for the tone factor. So, I stand corrected on reason number 1.. I see what assuming does.... makes an a** out of ya.. lol..

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Well the way ive decided to do it for now, is to go with the maple cap...i understand its obviously much harder to carve.....My dad likes to tell people he is an experienced carpenter....lets put that to the test!! :D

Im gonna head to the local wood stockist come the middle of this week sometime, and see what he can do for me....ive read somewhere that the length of the les paul is 17 1/4".....so im gonna go for some mahogany at about:

Length: 20"

Width: 16"

Depth: 2"

Ive gone for the two inches of depth so basically i can cut it down to the required depth, rather than find i have a piece that isnt deep enough! Sound Good?

Just one thing with the mahogany...ive now heard Brazilian, and Honduras Mahogany.....so lets have a show of hands....which one should i go for? If anyone knows exactly which one is used on the les paul would be a bonus....but if no one is sure well go with the majority!!!

Whilst there ill also collect a a piece of maple for the cap with the same dimensions...excpet a depth of 1/2" for the same reason i can cut it down! Two things with this maple cap....when you say the cap is 1/4" thick to make the whole body 2" thick.....is the 1/4" from the very base of the maple cap to the bottom line of where the 'bowl' type of carving starts......or does the 1/4" measure from the bottom of the maple cap, to the very top of the 'bowl' dome carving?

And finally what type of maple shall i go for....again if we have a show of hands ill go with the majority, unless anyone knows the exact maple that would be used on the studio version les paul?

I apologise if im repeating everything again...and sorry for all the questions, i really do appreciate you all taking the time to help answer and make this whole first time thing for me much much easier....so to you all a big thank you

Oooo one final thing....im still not sure on whether im gonna go for the plans or not yet...i might go for the improvisation technique and blow a picture up and so forth....but that could prove problems with the neck...as ill be making that from scratch...but thats a whole different topic in a whole...lets concentrate on the body first...so yeah thanks for the les paul plans link...could prove vital B)

Thanks again

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one more tip.do yourself a favor and don't drill holes for the bridge until you get the neck built and set with the nut in place.much easier to measure from the nut than to try and build a set neck to match a already placed bridge.

just the opinion of a guy who makes his fair share of measuring errors :D

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The maple cap is about 12 mm thick in the middle. It brings a lot of highs in the tone. A fully mahogany guitar just sounds too muddy if you use humbuckers. P90 would do, but still you'll miss the highs. An ebony fretboard could bring it up a little. But I sure would use a maple cap, because the overall balance of tone is better IMO... you'll get that real "les paul sound".

The maple top is harder to carve, but then again it's easier to make mistakes with softer woods. You can easily take off too much wood if it's too soft.

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All right,Here we go.Mohogany is used for it's tone but the main reason is it doesn't warp.Wood is like a sponge if it gets wet it gets bigger.When it dries it gets smaller.U need a 17% moister content to work it.I have a 72 Les paul deluxe.It has two 3/4"mahogany layers.The inside one is at a 45 degree angle to the one u see on the back.The reason is if they expand or contract they pull against each other to keep them straight.The neck is mahogany for the same reason ,no warping.So just glue one at a45 to the one u see on the back.Its called a glue up.Just make it big enough for the body pattern to be run thru a band saw.Put a 1/2 cap on that because you will router the edges down to 1/4" giving the width of the body.3/4 if u want it thicker.The binding on them cover up the cap edge.Go to a custom cabinet shop and talk to the guys there. Not only can they get the wood u want very cheap but they may have some type of bit in their shaper to help carve the top.Talk to em about doing glue lay ups.Laminated wood is stronger than a solid board.Consider a wood aiplane prop.It's laminated so it want fly apart.Inside secret.We used to use those beechwood slats on the back off those old upright pianos.Youll be surprised how easy one is to get because people dont want to move them. U got tone and stability.Just got to do a lay up .Exel polyurothan glue is the best or any poly glue because it expands as it dries and fills in any gaps.Just my ideas good luck :D

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Oh My :D Just as i think everything i sorted....i get a reply like that lol! Not that i dont appreciate at...i just dont understand what a glue up...or lay up is, and as great as your excellent explanation is...it confused the living hell outta me lol....is this somethign that has to be done....or could it be pulled off with one sheet of 1 3/4" Mahogany, so therefore it would just be one mahogany base...with a maple cap on top?

Also someone mentioned the maple cap was about 12mm in the middle....do you mean the height from the top edge of the maple...to the highest point of the done of what?

Because im still unsure on what depth maple to buy.....before carving....forgot about carving the dome...if i was glueing the maple cap on....before it was carved....what depth would it need to be?

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i'm not a "seasoned wood veteran" or anything, but i do believe they use honduras mahogany. if i am wrong, someone correct me. the major difference between the two of them (coming from a licensed carpenter that happens to be my uncle) is that honduras mahogany is very slightly lighter and a little less dense, giving the sound of the guitar a little bit more of a crisp, high-mid edge, while brazilian would be more of a warm, bell like tone.

now it can be affected by how the wood is stored and handled, as well, but by nature, the honduras mahogany is also a bit drier than brazilian, making it a little easier to carve, but a little harder to sand (drier wood flakes and scratches a lot easier than an air-conditioned blank).

there's my two cents. hope it can help.

StratMan

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In simple terms:

Maple top 5/8"

Mahogany body 1 3/4"

You can disregard the glue up without any worries, whilst a number of bodies were made this may in the 70's they are widely considered to be inferior, both in terms of wood used and qualtiy of constuction. Mahogany is a very stable timber on it's own, so a 1 or 2 piece body should be pefectly stable - it worked for me, and god knows how many LP's made before the dreaded Norlin era. I'd also stick to regular titebind for all your joints. Whilst poly glue is great for gap filling this shouldn't be an issue if you do your prep correctly, joints shouldn't need any filling unless you're being sloppy.

For timber, you can use african, cuban or honduran mahogany, chances are the timber won't be from where it claims to be anyway, so worrying about the name unduly is wasted effort. Make sure the timber you select is straight grained and free from defects, shakes, knots etc. Take particular care with the neck timber, it should be quarter sawn, or very close. If you're feeling particularly thorough, try knocking on the wood with your knuckles whilst holding it by one corner, It should make a satisfying, clear 'bonk' - If it's muffled or dead sounding it may make a dissapointing guitar.

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