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Prs/les Paul Hybrid:


Dave I
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I have in my mind a sort of hybrid between a PRS double-cut, a Les Paul, and a Washburn Pilsen XL Idol. As it stands I do not believe this guitar exists, unless somebody else has built it in their garage or basement or something, and I am wondering how difficult or advisable this will be for a first project.

Concept Overview: Double-cut PRS shaped archtop body with a contoured set-neck (just means it has a smooth neck-to-body transition, no awkward heel), extra thick body, and an HSH design, or (more likely) an HH design with the four-knob setup. Ultimately I am looking for a thick, warm sound, pretty much a Gibson Les Paul sound (maybe even thicker) with a PRS' looks and a neck-through playability.

Body: Mahogany with Maple Cap, around 2" thick at rim or thicker with a carved top. I am also curious, as an alternate, of the prospect of a solid Mahogany archtop, without Maple, but my first choice is the mahogany w/ maple cap because, honestly, I love the look of some of the flamed or tightly-quilted green PRS double cuts. I would like roughly the mass or a Les Paul only with a PRS shape, so maybe a bit thicker or wider. Considering tone chambers for weight reduction and (mainly) resonance, but will probably leave it solid unless there is a good reason to chamber it. There would be a contoured bellycut as well for comfort. Would also like to do through-body string setup, ala. a Carvin CT3M, for sustain.

Neck: I think I would like to do a 22-fret neck, but would definitely like to do a set-neck. I am thinking Mahogany neck. The main thing I would like is for it to be a heel-less neck, something contoured like the Washburn Idol so it looks and feels like a neck-through, but is a set-neck. Would like it kind of chunky, but playable so not really a baseball bat (I have medium or small-to-medium hands). I am not sure about what scale to use either at this point.

Specific questions:

1) Anything I am planning that is really unreasonable or a flat out bad idea?

2) Any specific pearls of wisdom for doing this? I have looked through most of the tutorials (the relevant ones) a while back, and am just reviewing them to get the general battle plan in my mind. But anything specific for making this run smoother than going into it blindly would be nice to know ahead of time.

3) How likely am I to get a decent looking, workable guitar with a really nice sound on my first time building a guitar?

4) Anything that might be particularly troublesome and worth outsourcing for a first-time project?

I am planning on getting Melvyn Hiscock's book Make Your Own Electric Guitar and taking my time with this project. But this WILL be my first such project. So advise/critique away.

-Cheers

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1) Anything I am planning that is really unreasonable or a flat out bad idea?

There is nothing wrong with your idea. The cool thing about building guitars is that you can make them exactly how you want them. Your plans really don't seem that out of the ordinary either.

2) Any specific pearls of wisdom for doing this?

Draw detailed plans of everything before you start any of the actual work.

3) How likely am I to get a decent looking, workable guitar with a really nice sound on my first time building a guitar?

If you take your time you can definitely make a decent looking, workable guitar. If it's your first project, it may not be perfect, but it should be something you will be proud of.

4) Anything that might be particularly troublesome and worth outsourcing for a first-time project?

Many people (including me) feel daunted by making necks and buy a premade neck for their first projects. But if you take your time, you can do it. :D

Overall, it sounds like you know what you want. A thick mahogany body with a carved maple top should help with that LP tone. I would also go with a 24.75" scale. If you have any woodworking experience, that is a plus. If not, do some research on the required tools and how to use them. Good luck!

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>snip<

4) Anything that might be particularly troublesome and worth outsourcing for a first-time project?

Many people (including me) feel daunted by making necks and buy a premade neck for their first projects. But if you take your time, you can do it. :D

>snip<

Your plan is sound and doable, follow what Inisheer said and ask questions after searching and seek local help if needed,

I used to feel the same way about necks, now I find them the most enjoyable part . As the neck is what the player uses to make the guitar purrr!!! . It's like the feel of a woman and the purrr to touch. they just move you. Like FRIGGING SEXY!!!!!!!!!! Man what a feeling!!!!! It's just !!!!!!!!!!!!! When it's right it's right.

:D

MK

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Good to see you here. :D

Go for it!

Thanks, both for the words of encouragement and earlier advice! I will be doing a lot of reading soon (probably getting Hiscock's book for my birthday in a couple of weeks) and then creating a work schedule, acquiring materials & tools, and practicing on scrap wood. But yeah, I think I want to give this a whirl. There are a few guitars I would like to add to my collection, and if I can build them to my specs then that would be ideal.

-Cheers

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Out of curiosity:

1) Anybody have any good advice on whether or not to keep this solid or chamber it out? I know it is probably all subjective and opinion-based, but any rules of thumb or great threads that talk about this would be welcome. Keep in mind I have a lot of time before that is even an issue or a decision I have to make, just trying to wrap my head around what all this will entail.

2) What thickness should I go with the Mahogany and the Maple cap? I would like a nice, warm, thick, syrupy sort of sound, but I am not sure how thick I can go without making a guitar that sounds too muddy, crappy, or unbearably heavy, although tone is my main concern.

-Cheers

Edited by Dave I
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Out of curiosity:

1) Anybody have any good advice on whether or not to keep this solid or chamber it out? I know it is probably all subjective and opinion-based, but any rules of thumb or great threads that talk about this would be welcome. Keep in mind I have a lot of time before that is even an issue or a decision I have to make, just trying to wrap my head around what all this will entail.

2) What thickness should I go with the Mahogany and the Maple cap? I would like a nice, warm, thick, syrupy sort of sound, but I am not sure how thick I can go without making a guitar that sounds too muddy, crappy, or unbearably heavy, although tone is my main concern.

-Cheers

If you chamber it, you can make it thicker without it getting so heavy. If you stick to tried-and-true dimensions (maybe Les Paul thickness, since it's one of your inspirations) you'll probably end up with a good guitar.

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The one I did is close to what you want. PRS SC style, smooth heel transition, 1 3/4 limba back and 3/4 maple top. I wanted a 3 knob lay out so I went with the traditional PRS set up to include the rotary control.

Here are some pics.

http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v195/Maiden69/DSC03384.jpg

http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v195/Maiden69/DSC03380.jpg

http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v195/Maiden69/DSC03312.jpg

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The one I did is close to what you want. PRS SC style, smooth heel transition, 1 3/4 limba back and 3/4 maple top. I wanted a 3 knob lay out so I went with the traditional PRS set up to include the rotary control.

Here are some pics.

http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v195/Maiden69/DSC03384.jpg

http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v195/Maiden69/DSC03380.jpg

http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v195/Maiden69/DSC03312.jpg

VERY nice!!!!! Thank you for sharing the pictures. Any words of advice, especially on the neck?

-Cheers

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If you chamber it, you can make it thicker without it getting so heavy. If you stick to tried-and-true dimensions (maybe Les Paul thickness, since it's one of your inspirations) you'll probably end up with a good guitar.

I guess kind of what I am looking for is the thickest guitar body I can go (if others have experience with this) before it gets muddy or dull sounding, or any other difficulties or undesirable effects, and maybe what the difference in sound would be once you go thicker than a Les Paul. I am not sure what a thicker (than a Les Paul, for instance) guitar with tone chambers would sound like, relative to a more traditional Les Paul dimension guitar (or in this case, a solid-body Les Paul double cut design).

That being said, there is nothing stopping me from doing this as a solid-body and doing a similar design as a hollow or semi-hollow.

-Cheers

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I guess kind of what I am looking for is the thickest guitar body I can go (if others have experience with this) before it gets muddy or dull sounding, or any other difficulties or undesirable effects, and maybe what the difference in sound would be once you go thicker than a Les Paul. I am not sure what a thicker (than a Les Paul, for instance) guitar with tone chambers would sound like, relative to a more traditional Les Paul dimension guitar (or in this case, a solid-body Les Paul double cut design).

Are you sure you want a really thick guitar? I find that the smaller a guitar is, the more comfortable it is to play. You gotta remember too... have you ever played a Les Paul sitting down w/out strap (i.e. at music store)... of course... it wants to slide off your leg! Part of that might be the weight and thickness of the body. But if you like that, go with it.

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Am I the only person who thinks this sounds like... a PRS, rather than a hybrid? :D In a nutshell, what's the differentiating factor? I can't seem to focus on the description and replies for some reason.

Greg

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Am I the only person who thinks this sounds like... a PRS, rather than a hybrid? In a nutshell, what's the differentiating factor? I can't seem to focus on the description and replies for some reason.

I agree, this does seem pretty standard, not really some new type of hybrid guitar, which is why I said in the first reply that his plans don't seem that out of the ordinary. As for the thickness, I agree about the weight issue. If you make it too thick, chambering it would be a great idea. If you want a thick carved top guitar, I would recommend around 1.75-2" at the edges and up to 2.5" in the center...but it really is up to you (I am no expert on the topic, just sharing ideas).

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Are you sure you want a really thick guitar

It is the only way I can think of to get the thicker, bassier sound of a Les Paul style. I have a Hamer Studio, amazing guitar, but the sound does not seem quite as round and syrupy or as bassy and thick (or whatever adjectives you would use to describe the difference) as a Les Paul. That being said, if there is some way to get the same sound out of a thinner or lighter guitar, I am all ears. But from what I have gathered, you really need the extra mass to get that thicker, rounder, fatter sound with the amazing low-end of the spectrum.

I find that the smaller a guitar is, the more comfortable it is to play. You gotta remember too... have you ever played a Les Paul sitting down w/out strap (i.e. at music store)... of course... it wants to slide off your leg! Part of that might be the weight and thickness of the body. But if you like that, go with it.

Yeah, I remember that. I usually play with a strap, either way, when I play, just so the guitar does not slip off. For this guitar, I really just want a thicker, warmer, rounder, etc., tone monster (if you can forgive the cliches :D ). I can build a light-weight Strat or contoured Tele for a comfort guitar when I just want to fart around in comfort. But I am really looking at this for the tone I think I will get.

-Cheers

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Am I the only person who thinks this sounds like... a PRS, rather than a hybrid? :D In a nutshell, what's the differentiating factor?

Three things:

1) 24.75" scale;

2) Four knobs (two volume, two tone);

3) Thicker body for more mass and a thicker, bass heavier, fatter tone.

4) String-through design for better sustain. Not really a Gibson or PRS feature, but it seems like a good idea.

Cosmetically, it will be more of a PRS than anything (assuming I do this right and do not screw up too badly :D), but it is basically a Les Paul-inspired guitar with (hopefully) the looks of a PRS double-cut and the smooth neck of a neck-through or a Washburn Idol. Probably nothing all that revolutionary, just looking for Les Paul tone with better upper-fret access.

-Cheers

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OK, judging by what you want the guitar to sound, why don't you just make a baritone SC, or just use darker woods, all mahogany, black limba, etc. instead of a maple cap, get a figured mahogany, crotch or any other figured wood. Limba can be found with a nice flame figure to it. Mine had a little, but I have seen highly figured ones out here! Also strings, pups and style of playing makes more of an impact than what the wood will do...

I'll wait for a post from fryovanni about the woods, since he is one of the few wood expert residents here!

About the neck on mine, what you want to know about it? specifics?

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Am I the only person who thinks this sounds like... a PRS, rather than a hybrid? :D In a nutshell, what's the differentiating factor?

Three things:

1) 24.75" scale;

2) Four knobs (two volume, two tone);

3) Thicker body for more mass and a thicker, bass heavier, fatter tone.

4) String-through design for better sustain. Not really a Gibson or PRS feature, but it seems like a good idea.

Cosmetically, it will be more of a PRS than anything (assuming I do this right and do not screw up too badly :D), but it is basically a Les Paul-inspired guitar with (hopefully) the looks of a PRS double-cut and the smooth neck of a neck-through or a Washburn Idol. Probably nothing all that revolutionary, just looking for Les Paul tone with better upper-fret access.

-Cheers

Cool, I see now. I still don't think it makes it a PRS/Gibson hybrid, but I can see more of where you're coming from. Thanks for clarifying!

1 - OK, that's def. a Gibson thing. But then, PRS was originally trying to do a "hybrid" with their 25" scale, so what you're doing is UN-hybridyzing it. B)

2 - The layout of your electronics will have no bearing on tone, but you're right-- this IS a Les-Paul thing rather than a PRS thing

3 - Hrm. That's starting to sound like tone voodoo. People think "physically fatter" will equate to "sonically fatter", but that's not always the case. It's intuitive to think so, and we often just follow intuition, but honestly... there are lots of guitars with "fat" tone that don't weight a tonne. And some guitars that weigh a tonne are not resonant. Low resonance = wimpy tone.

4 - Again, that's kinda voodoo. Do whatever you prefer the look of. If you like the look of string-through, that's the reason to do it. If you prefer the look of stop tailpiece + TOM or one-piece bridges, go for those instead. The whole "sustain" thing makes me grind my teeth. Nothing personal. :D

But yeah. Now that you've clarified, I see more what you mean by it being a "hybrid", so thanks for clearing it up!

Greg

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OK, judging by what you want the guitar to sound, why don't you just make a baritone SC

THAT has some real potential! I have never played a baritone guitar, but doing a little bit of quick research they sound interesting. I might have to try one of those. I would still like a thicker sounding PRS-shaped single-cut 24.75" scale as I DO like the upper notes, just a bit darker and more bass sounding. But that does sound intriguing. With your SC Les Paul-style, is the upper fret access at all deterred by the single-cut design? I am not sure that on a baritone it would matter as much.

or just use darker woods, all mahogany, black limba, etc. instead of a maple cap, get a figured mahogany, crotch or any other figured wood. Limba can be found with a nice flame figure to it. Mine had a little, but I have seen highly figured ones out here! Also strings, pups and style of playing makes more of an impact than what the wood will do...

That has some possibilities as well. The Maple was largely for cosmetics, but also for a bit of complexity in tone. If an all-mahogany, black limba, or some combo of those or other darker (but not flat and lifeless) sounding woods can be used, while still getting a nice bit of figured flame, count me in!

I'll wait for a post from fryovanni about the woods, since he is one of the few wood expert residents here!

About the neck on mine, what you want to know about it? specifics?

I guess mainly, are there any tricks or things about doing a contoured neck heel to know about that are not obvious, or is it as simple as just carving a smooth transition? I know that probably sounds stupid, but if it is that easy, why do most companies not bother when it seems like it would be a fairly simple way to make guitars a bit more comfortable? But if there is anything important to know about making a seamless, or at least smooth and comfortable, transition from guitar neck to body, I am definitely interested in finding that out.

-Cheers

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Cool, I see now. I still don't think it makes it a PRS/Gibson hybrid, but I can see more of where you're coming from. Thanks for clarifying!

2 - The layout of your electronics will have no bearing on tone, but you're right-- this IS a Les-Paul thing rather than a PRS thing

That is more for being able to create a greater difference in tone when switching between pickups, should I want to switch between sounds mid-song, as well as just for more control over the sound in general. Probably not ESSENTIAL, but I think it is nice.

3 - Hrm. That's starting to sound like tone voodoo. People think "physically fatter" will equate to "sonically fatter", but that's not always the case. It's intuitive to think so, and we often just follow intuition, but honestly... there are lots of guitars with "fat" tone that don't weight a tonne. And some guitars that weigh a tonne are not resonant. Low resonance = wimpy tone.

I am just basing it on my experience and what I have heard. If I am wrong, feel free to let me know or where to look. But it makes sense that a guitar with greater mass will have a greater displacement and a more bass-driven sound just from the body's vibrations. I know strings, scale, pickups, materials, and other things factor in, but I also believe mass should have SOME contribution, all else being equal.

4 - Again, that's kinda voodoo. Do whatever you prefer the look of. If you like the look of string-through, that's the reason to do it. If you prefer the look of stop tailpiece + TOM or one-piece bridges, go for those instead. The whole "sustain" thing makes me grind my teeth. Nothing personal. :D

If that IS voodoo, then I like a stop tailpiece or one-piece, cosmetically speaking. But it is all pretty minor either way. My understanding was you lose some sustain with the strings being physically off the body. Not a deal breaker either way, and I do not usually hold notes for minutes at a time without strumming, but like the idea of a slower note-decay based largely on principal. But if I am incorrect, do not be afraid to tell me. I post these things so I can learn, and I will not take criticism or constructive advice personally. Especially not if my end-results and learning curve benefit from it.

So thanks for the advice thus far!

-Cheers

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3 - mass will have some contribution, but it won't necessarily filter out the high frequencies and leave a stronger bass. Mere mass is not the way to achieve the tone you want. More specifically, if you use Les Paul construction, but then add mass, you're not going to have "fatter" (an unquantifiable term anyhow) tone in the way you're probably expecting. Think of the most bass-heavy thumping guitars out there... jazz boxes with 'buckers. You need more resonance, not more mass, in order to maintain bass frequencies.

I have no alternative to suggest... partially because I'm not qualified (since you're new, I'll make it clear that my experience level is the pits... I mostly talk and read, and don't have easy access to a workshop). But more importantly because I think the woods you're leaning toward will be right for the job. So it's not a matter of offering a better idea (though, the other repsonses above all have good info, too!) but a matter of saying there's nothing wrong with standard LP thickness if you want bass frequencies... just choose a particular pickup or use active electronics. Or tell the soundman to add some bass on the PA. :D Many ways to skin the cat, but a heavier guitar isn't going to give you the effect you want. It'll just give you backache.

4 - it's not exactly voodoo as in, "there is absolutely NO difference," it's voodoo in that people attribute a greater effect than what's really there. Especially for sustain. And sustain in general shouldn't be your goal-- what are you planning to do, go onstage and hold a note for 30 seconds in a good chunk of your songs? I can't remember the last time I heard a song by anyone ANYWHERE in which they just held that note and let it sustain. If you need to do that, just find the right spot on stage and mark it with some tape. Feedback will give you better sustain than the 10ms that a different bridge might. :D I mean, I'm sure it's quantifiable. But a stringthrough with the wrong "break angle" across the bridge could potentially perform worse than a stop tailpiece combo, y'know?

What it's more likely to affect is the way bending feels. The stretching of the string is distributed across more material with a Carvin-style string-through, though it's distributed LESS with a tele-style string-through.

In any event, yes, there ARE quantifiable differences in both sustain and string-bending, so it's not "voodoo" in the sense of "completely false". But to me, it's more important to get the one that LOOKS right to you. If you cosmetically prefer stop or one-piece, that's what you should go for. When's the last time you heard someone whining about the crappy lack of sustain in a Les Paul?? B)

Greg

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I confess that I haven't read this whole topic, but something just jumped out at me. If a string-through-body setup were that important to the "holy grail," a Telecaster would be the gold standard for "sustain."

In my humble opinion, the search for sustain is a stinky dead fish that someone forgot to bury back in the 70s.

Now, back to you. :D

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In my humble opinion, the search for sustain is a stinky dead fish that someone forgot to bury back in the 70s.

Well, to be fair, it was only a small part of the design, and an optional one at that. But point taken. And no, I do not usually sit and hold a note for extended periods of time so it is probably a non-factor (which is why I ask these questions on forums like this, so I know that BEFORE I do something unnecessary :D). I appreciate the advice.

-Cheers

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I guess every major company do what is easier for them. It is a lot easier to just rout the shape of the guitar, and just slap the neck on without any additional shaping, than to glue the neck, and then shape it.

On my SC. I have no issues reaching the higher frets. I have a Epi LP, and on mine it is sooo much easier! But mine is a 25 scale, 24 fret, so just a little different!

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