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Reducing Weight


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Hi all.

I finished my first project, a guitar similar to the LP. It has a maple top, and mahogany body, which is laminated from strips 1" wide and the height of the body. (Lots of thin strips). Turns out that the plans I have call for a thick body, I thinned it a bit when I built it, because it was heavy, but after playing it a while, it's still way too heavy. It sounds great, sustains forever, but it's a sholder breaker.

Because it's winter, I just have a coat of paint on the body, without any finish work. It will have to be sanded and finished this spring when I can spray with the garage door open.

My question: As I see it, I have two choices.

1. (My second Choice), is to thin the body, using the jointer and handplane. I could take 1/4 inch off the thickness of the body. That would put my jack plate and strap buttons off center. I would also have to reroute my cavity covers. Lots of work here.

2. Drill or route some large holes in the upper section of the guitar from the back, and put a wooden cover flush with the outside and finish it smooth.

So, if I do #2, how will that affect the sound? It's an easy fix, but I'm sort of making a hollowbody in a small way. Note that the wood on this guitar is very very hard and dense. It was leftover mahogany decking. Heavy stuff. Taking some body away won't affect the strength of the guitar.

Thanks in advance.

_john

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Damn.. You don't need that much glue. Suggestion; Unglue the top and route some cavities. :D

Just kiddin'. Seriously, I wouldn't change anything. If you're satisfied with your work, try to deal with the weight issue. Imagine you screw up badly by routing some cavities? Instead, built another one. And route some cavities this time.

If you absolutely want to reduce the weight, you can remove the bindings and carved the top. Anyway, anything you try to remove some weight will be a medium-heavy task...

Edited by MescaBug
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This guitar was the result of many builds... One of them started as a Swamp Ash body that we gradually replaced the center with thicker and thicker pieces of maple until it was a maple center and ash sides. Several designs later, we ended up with this. What is not shown in the pictures is that we actually "tuned" it by drilling holes in the back. This was for sound purposes rather than weight purposes.

What I am trying to say is: get a big ol' drill and go to work until you are happy :-)

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So, if I do #2, how will that affect the sound? It's an easy fix, but I'm sort of making a hollowbody in a small way. Note that the wood on this guitar is very very hard and dense. It was leftover mahogany decking. Heavy stuff. Taking some body away won't affect the strength of the guitar.

Thanks in advance.

_john

John,

Sound.... No idea. Not sure how thick the body is at this point, not really sure what wood you actually used (Genuine Mahogany decking?, I am assuming this is a generic name for the wood and is not really a true mahogany).

It looks like you have made your job challenging if you have attached the neck, and of course now you have to remove all that paint and prep the body for finishing. As far as removing wood. Depending on how thick the body is you may want to take some thickness off. You could add some carves to the back (tummy cut and what have ya), If you are going to drill holes and chambers. It may be worth while to add a back plate or a clean look (say 1/8-3/16" thick, figured wood or a plain wood if your painting it a solid color). If you are concerned about the jack you could fill and re-drill(if it will be a solid color) or skip removing thickness to the overall body(don't really know what thickness you are at?). The strap buttons are the same situation. No matter what yo are going to need to contend with the neck during whatever you do. Don't take shortcuts in protecting it, while you go about your fixes.

Fixes are tuff, so lessons learned will help you on the next build. Planning well, and choosing materials/ design elements are really going to help a lot on the next build.

P.S. wow that is a lot of glue, but I guess you have heard that. Don't forget to scrape those sides to level out the side to the binding, looks like you have a bit of a lip there.

Peace,Rich

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Yup.. Too bad I couldn't get more glue on there to hold it better!

The glue was cold, it came out real thick. I was using binding, didn't worry about it too much. Look at it this way, I don't worry about dry spots...

The pics are early progress pictures. It's pretty well finished and set up now. It just had a rough coat of paint on the body. So it will need sanded, and recoated. The paint I used in the garage smelled up the house. It has a very strong odor to the propellant. (Hobby paint in small spray cans). I can't even consider repainting until it's warm enough to open the garage door.

I think I'm going to drill a couple of 1 1/2 inch holes in the body from the back, through the body to the top, then put a thin cap on it. I'll be sure to use enough glue to keep it in place. Sand it flush and respray this spring. Very little risk to that, and it should drop the weight considerably.

The other thing I was thinking about doing to take a little weight off, is to use a slot cutter and undercut the pickup cavities. take 3/4 inch out from around the pickup cavity, say leaving 3/8 material at the surface. Plenty strong, but removing some weight.

-John

So, if I do #2, how will that affect the sound? It's an easy fix, but I'm sort of making a hollowbody in a small way. Note that the wood on this guitar is very very hard and dense. It was leftover mahogany decking. Heavy stuff. Taking some body away won't affect the strength of the guitar.

Thanks in advance.

_john

John,

Sound.... No idea. Not sure how thick the body is at this point, not really sure what wood you actually used (Genuine Mahogany decking?, I am assuming this is a generic name for the wood and is not really a true mahogany).

It looks like you have made your job challenging if you have attached the neck, and of course now you have to remove all that paint and prep the body for finishing. As far as removing wood. Depending on how thick the body is you may want to take some thickness off. You could add some carves to the back (tummy cut and what have ya), If you are going to drill holes and chambers. It may be worth while to add a back plate or a clean look (say 1/8-3/16" thick, figured wood or a plain wood if your painting it a solid color). If you are concerned about the jack you could fill and re-drill(if it will be a solid color) or skip removing thickness to the overall body(don't really know what thickness you are at?). The strap buttons are the same situation. No matter what yo are going to need to contend with the neck during whatever you do. Don't take shortcuts in protecting it, while you go about your fixes.

Fixes are tuff, so lessons learned will help you on the next build. Planning well, and choosing materials/ design elements are really going to help a lot on the next build.

P.S. wow that is a lot of glue, but I guess you have heard that. Don't forget to scrape those sides to level out the side to the binding, looks like you have a bit of a lip there.

Peace,Rich

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Man, I know you have heard the glue thing to much, but Thanks Man ,that pic made my day.Wish there was a easy solution to your problem, maybe sell it and start over.Someone mite like the weight and style, and you get to do it again.

You can't sell your first build can you? In 20 years, it would be nice to look back at that one and say - that's what my first build looked like.. I'm halfway through my second build now. Ready to install the frets. I bet I can get a lot of glue in those little slots. (Just kiddiing).

I think that first builds have more value to the builder then any buyer. It took more hours then the guitar is worth to anyone else. I think I'll keep it.

Have you guys sold your guitars? I mean, those of you who build one or two here and there for enjoyment?

-John

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Man, I know you have heard the glue thing to much, but Thanks Man ,that pic made my day.Wish there was a easy solution to your problem, maybe sell it and start over.Someone mite like the weight and style, and you get to do it again.

You can't sell your first build can you? In 20 years, it would be nice to look back at that one and say - that's what my first build looked like.. I'm halfway through my second build now. Ready to install the frets. I bet I can get a lot of glue in those little slots. (Just kiddiing).

I think that first builds have more value to the builder then any buyer. It took more hours then the guitar is worth to anyone else. I think I'll keep it.

Have you guys sold your guitars? I mean, those of you who build one or two here and there for enjoyment?

-John

Here is some picks of my second build

http://abbett2.blogspot.com/search/label/guitar%20building

Scroll down a bit.

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Man, I know you have heard the glue thing to much, but Thanks Man ,that pic made my day.Wish there was a easy solution to your problem, maybe sell it and start over.Someone mite like the weight and style, and you get to do it again.

You can't sell your first build can you? In 20 years, it would be nice to look back at that one and say - that's what my first build looked like.. I'm halfway through my second build now. Ready to install the frets. I bet I can get a lot of glue in those little slots. (Just kiddiing).

I think that first builds have more value to the builder then any buyer. It took more hours then the guitar is worth to anyone else. I think I'll keep it.

Have you guys sold your guitars? I mean, those of you who build one or two here and there for enjoyment?

-John

I would not sell any of my guitars ,much less my first build....totally agree...just a suggestion.Sounds like your fixing the problem in your second build.Good luck with your build,and I like your first one ,too.

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Thanks. The first build I purchased the neck, I'm finding out it was a great deal. It was 89 bucks inlaid and fretted with the nut. It was is a great neck. I'm building up the neck in my second build, finding out that by the time you buy all the parts, not to mention all the tools, building necks is not a inexpensive propostion. When done though, I'll be the only one on my block with a black walnut SG with a black walnut neck, ebony fretboard. All gold hardware, including the frets. It should look great. We'll see how it sounds. Black walnut neck and ebony fretboard will be pretty dense.

I thought that this one was going to be heavy, but by the time I carved the edges, it's ended up perfect. Substantial, but not heavy.

-John

Man, I know you have heard the glue thing to much, but Thanks Man ,that pic made my day.Wish there was a easy solution to your problem, maybe sell it and start over.Someone mite like the weight and style, and you get to do it again.

You can't sell your first build can you? In 20 years, it would be nice to look back at that one and say - that's what my first build looked like.. I'm halfway through my second build now. Ready to install the frets. I bet I can get a lot of glue in those little slots. (Just kiddiing).

I think that first builds have more value to the builder then any buyer. It took more hours then the guitar is worth to anyone else. I think I'll keep it.

Have you guys sold your guitars? I mean, those of you who build one or two here and there for enjoyment?

-John

I would not sell any of my guitars ,much less my first build....totally agree...just a suggestion.Sounds like your fixing the problem in your second build.Good luck with your build,and I like your first one ,too.

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I like fryovanni's advice about carving up the back a bit --a nice big belly carve, maybe another near the leg.

Another thing you can try is to hog out the insides of the control cavity--use an oversize bit with a small bearing. You can also take out a lot with chisels. And you won't be able to see that with the cover on (did that on one of my guitars last year).

Between the belly carve and the cavity, it might end up being where you want it. And the belly carve might make it more comfortable anyway --shift the weight closer to the body, it won't feel as heavy.

Another option would be to plane off a couple millimeters of the back, hog out the insides, then glue a new back on --get some maple to match the front if you like.

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