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Need drop top guidance


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Here's the dealio...

Bought a "1 piece" mahogany Tele body on Ebay a while back. When I got it, the body was 2 piece split down the center of the sides, separating top and back (like a thick mahogany drop top). The edges were a little jagged and the two Nashville style strat routs were oversized and offcenter. My thoughts (especially after no emails for 2 weeks) were that the guy was sketchy and sold me a lemon. After much consideration about cost of shipping back and forth and what it cost me I kept it to use for a project one day (or to sell on ebay).

Well I got a guitar-building hair up my butt and that day is now (or soon). But I need some help deciding what to do as this is my first guitar build (that involves sanding and glueing). I recently bought a decent looking, moderately inexpensive, glued bookmatched piece of curly maple the other day on ebay and I want to attached to the top of the body. I read some of the tutorials and they helped but wanted to get all of your opinions.

Here's are considerations and issues I have:

--body is shaped but maple is not. Preshape (oversize) the maple then glue or attach the entire rectangular piece and then cut/sand edges?

--neck/mid pickup routs suck. Considering filling in with a square (see trem to hardtail tutorial) and later re-routing for either p-90s or no pickups (Esquire).

--body thickness is made to specs (I think) and maple is 2/16" (1/8"). Should I shave off 1/8" (which will flatten the square mentioned above) or make the body 1/8" fatter? I do have access to a mill for this purpose (or I could buy a cheap electric planer).

--the body is heavy by itself and I am already doing a solid tele project currently. I really wanted a thinline tele (with custom f-hole)--is this gonna be difficult to do with this thin of a piece of maple? What if I just chambered it, without the f-hole--would it be strong enough? The control area is top routed right now--will this be a problem?

Also I read Titebond is good for this glueing--right? How much weight is needed to secure this maple to the mahogany?

--James

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body is shaped but maple is not. Preshape (oversize) the maple then glue or attach the entire rectangular piece and then cut/sand edges?

Yes - I actually cut within 1/16 to 1/8" of the body outline before gluing it on. If you are going to do a contoured arm rest, leave some extra maple around that area. (I don't remember if the Tele has one or not).

body thickness is made to specs (I think) and maple is 2/16" (1/8"). Should I shave off 1/8" (which will flatten the square mentioned above) or make the body 1/8" fatter? I do have access to a mill for this purpose (or I could buy a cheap electric planer).

That's a tough one. If you are re-using a neck then you don't have much choice. If you are building your own - I guess you could make the heel a bit taller. If it were me, I would try to shave off 1/8" from the top. Glue the top on, then use a flush trim bit to rout the neck pocket (use some tape around the edges to help prevent chip-out). Without access to a planer, I don't know how you are going to do this. Here's a long-shot possibility if you are really stuck - think about using a Safe-T-Planer in a drill press (if you have access to one of those). It's not ideal, but would get that wood removed for you. You would need to be careful around the thin pieces near the neck pocket though.

Titebond is fine for gluing the top on. Use spool clamps along with some pieces of wood clamped across the body (using normal clamps). The spool clamps are needed to hide the glue line around the edges - I use about 12 of them. You can buy them from stewmac or make them yourself.

I know I didn't answer all of your questions - I tried to pick the ones I felt confident / experienced enough to help with. Good luck.

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hey thanks Dave, your insight is greatly appreciated. I'll probably end up getting the tools/spools after the holidays. The body is gonna be a flat top, and likely I'll have to plane off 1/8" since I'll be using a aftermarket neck (building guitar first, then later a neck).

Also I did some research to my other questions/concerns and I thought you might wanna know for any of the readers...

Stew Mac and Warmoth sell Thinline Teles that has a top routed control area, so this is not a problem.

1/8" = .125. Stew mac spruce/cedar soundboards have thicknesses of .125-.130. If an acoustic can handle it, so can an electric. Altho Warmoth uses 1/4" for their thinlines.

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