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Es-355 construction


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Can anyone give me a rundown on how an es-355 type guitar is put together, particularly the top/back? In my understanding it consists of a mildly arched center block with two thin sides attached. I guess my real question is weather the top/bottom is a flat piece curved/bent over the center block and glued to the sides via kerfing or if it's a carved piece. Has anyone made a similar style guitar? Any help would be greatly appreciated. Thanks in advance!

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Gibson use a laminated top and back on the es-335 style guitars, Maple/polar/maple according to their specs. As far as I know they make up the back and top on a form so that it is pre-formed, before gluing it to the sides. The sides are assembled as you described, like an acoustic with kerfed linings on the top and bottom edge.

In Martin Koch's book he describes using the assembled sides and centre block as the mould to clamp the top and back to thereby giving it the arch. Donald Brosnac also describes a similar method.

I intend to use the Koch/Brosnac method when I get to building my 335, after I get my son's requirements out of the way, Ive drawn the plans and got most of the hardware and wood so hopefully I can start building soon.

Keith

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Keith, I also have the Koch book and his method makes the most sense to me. Are you planning on laminating all three pieces of the top and then glueing them to the middle piece/sides or glueing each layer individually? I would imagine that doing each layer seperately would allow you to mold the top/back easier. What do you think?

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I've thought about both methods. I think if you're going to laminate up each layer individually it would probably be better to make a mould out of some cheap wood like pine and glue up the layers on that. It will certainly relieve any interlayer stress which the Koch method would induce.

The vacuum bag method of laminating lends itself to this.

Keith

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I figured that gluing each piece up one at a time ould like you said reduce as much stress as possible. I would be worrid about my ability to create an accurate mold that would be identical to my center block and sides. Somthing to think about! Thanks again

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I've been thinking about making a mould to laminate the top and back, how about this:

Shape a piece of cheap wood to the top profile of the centre block, the bottom flat. Make sure the thickness is equal to standard board thickness (16 mm for chipboard around here) plus the top profile (ie the bit that sticks out above the sides)

Fix the block down onto a piece of board and on either side of the block fix another piece of board such that it's top surface is the same height as the 335's sides with respect to your shaped block.

Take a piece of thin ply and cut it to the exact (plan) shape of the 335's top. Place it over your block and screw the edges down to the board. Following the line of the inside of your curfed lining which is on the sides. I reckon by careful placement of screws you could tweek the profile pretty much to what you want.

You can now laminate up your veneer on top of the ply using vacuum bag methods etc

You could also use the surface of the mould as a template for a copy router to shape the centre block for the guitar.

What comments?

Keith

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Thats an interesting idea Keith. I would feel more comfortable trying to curve the top over a stable mold than the actual sides of the guitar. I think I might explore this option. thanks! Keep us up to date on your progress. :D

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I realised that I don't think you will need to cut the ply to the exact shape of the top. A rectangular piece with the top's edge and the inside edge of your lining accurately marked on it as a guide for your screws should be sufficient.

Keith

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