Help me think through my Les-PRS(ish) design

Discussion in 'Luthier's Corner' started by Robert Parker, May 16, 2018.

  1. Robert Parker

    Robert Parker Senior Member

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    I know this is not a new concept, but this will be my first shot at a LP-based build altered to meet some of my preferences. Specifically, I need a mostly flat-topped body (they work better for my right hand technique than the traditional LP carve). I do want a slight carve that will probably be closer to a bevel than a true carve, just to give the top some visual "pop" and comfort. Lastly, I plan too put a Bigsby B7 on it.

    My biggest question is what the most appropriate bridge would be for this set up? One that will provide plenty of tuning stability for a Bigsby and has a low enough profile that it will work well on a flat-top. Will a typical ABR or Nashville be sufficient or am i likely to bottom out too soon?

    Along those lines, the second question is what amount of neck angle should I be thinking? I play mostly Teles right now, but LP Specials and Juniors feel fine, too. Knowing that bridge height determines neck angle, and I tend to do better with a neck angle less than 3 degrees (i.e., LP Special or less), am I missing something important?

    FYI, I play lots of slide where I need a higher action. I set up all my guitars with a nut slot depth of .020" at the first fret the actuon at .080" at the 12th fret. I play .011-.049" strings with a 12" on all but my Strat.
     

  2. Chakalawaka

    Chakalawaka Senior Member

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    I reckon the ABR would be okay with a Bigsby?
    Otherwise I heard the Schaller STM bridge is a nice option as well, you're more likely to stay in tune with the rolling system.
    98___SP_STM.jpg

    For the neck angle I'm not sure as it can vary between 3º and 5º depending on the bridge you're gonna go for, but another detail to think about would be the headstock angle, it's best to copy the PRS with a reduced headstock angle (compared to the crazy Gibson 14º or 17º angle) so something like 10º and also the tuners needs to be set the same way as PRS otherwise you're gonna have lots of tuning problems...
    2dc117f34bfe07222c5b2075a4490c51.jpg

    Sorry if you know all of this already! Hope this helps!
     

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    Last edited: May 16, 2018

  3. fatdaddypreacher

    fatdaddypreacher V.I.P. Member

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    just a novice here, but what i gather the general concensus to be, is since this is a new build, you can set your neck angle at whatever it takes to work with whatever your bridge choice is. it's not a matter of what is the correct bridge, so much as getting the bridge you desire and work around it. that is the great thing of building your own, or having it built. and to expound a bit it's not so much angle degree, so much as it is proper clearance at bridge for proper string clearance over frets.
     

  4. fatdaddypreacher

    fatdaddypreacher V.I.P. Member

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    wait for the real builders, though, cause i may take my medication and come up with a completely different response.
     

  5. Ripthorn

    Ripthorn Senior Member

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    There are a lot of things to consider when taking something like an LP and trying to change major aspects of it, like making it mostly flat topped. No problem in doing it, just several things to think through. Are you going to put a top wood on it? Do you want there to be any kind of top carve, or just a bevel? For the neck angle, what kind of bridge do you want to use? How high above the body do you want the strings at the bridge? What pickups will you use and will they have enough upward adjustment to get close enough to the strings with your bridge height? What style of Bigsby are you using?

    There are dozens more questions that could be asked and should be answered before you cut anything, but keep in mind that, if this is your first instrument, it's not going to be your dream guitar. You might be thrilled with it, and I hope you are, but you keep learning. I try at least 3 or 4 new things with each build, and 22+ builds in I keep learning and improving and finding out things I had messed up in the past. That's why we're here, is to share what we have learned. One of my favorite quotes is "Good judgment comes from experience, and experience comes from poor judgment"
     

  6. Greco

    Greco Senior Member

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    For a flat top you probably will be fine with about 2.5 degrees or so like a Special or Junior and an ABR-1. If you must have a bigsby B7 for more than just looking cool, then I would probably recommend some sort of roller bridge. However one thing I'd suggest is making sure you leave more than enough body room to fit the whole B7 behind the bridge and quite a bit of space for the strings to angle behind. Otherwise the break angle might be too sharp going into the bigsby if you don't account for that in your body design. ..and really consider why you want a bigsby over say, any other trem system. They don't really work the best, and weigh half a ton.
     
    Last edited: May 17, 2018

  7. Robert Parker

    Robert Parker Senior Member

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    Rip, thanks for the thoughtful reply.

    Quickly:
    -It'll be my 3rd or 4th build, so I won't be an expert by any means but I'll have some idea what I'm doing.
    -As far as details go, book-matched burl walnut top over a mahogany body; wenge fretboard on a 25" scale; P90 pickups; mostly flat top with slight carve/bevel at the edges, Bigsby B7 (See original post). I'm thinking a tune-o-matic style bridge to keep with the more traditional LP design but low enough profile to work with a Bigsby on a flat top (which is why I asked for other suggestions in case there's a good option I'm not aware of). I want to keep the string height at the bridge relatively low, as I finger picks and hybrid pick slot, and I prefer doing so with a very solid right-wrist anchor that I can't get on a typical LP carve.

    Greco,
    I've got a Bigsby on one of my Teles and love it. I don't really care too much for the 2-point or vintage 6-point style trems on Strats (though I use the 2-point on my Strat), and I despise Floyd Roses more than I can say (used to own one). So besides looking classy, the Bigsby really is the one I like best for function, despite its drawbacks.
     

  8. pshupe

    pshupe Senior Member

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    As already stated neck angle is all related to bridge height, scale length, and neck body join. You could have a flat neck angle if you want but that would require raising the fret board / neck above the body. Or you could recess the bridge. There are so many options it is difficult to suggest anything on a wide open concept.

    I would recommend laying all aspects out in a CAD program or paper to do the initial design. This is what I do for a living and am amazed at how many people just jump in and start cutting wood before they know what they are building. Partly I am amazed because it is so foreign a concept to the way I build anything and the other amazing part is it usually all works out, for some of the more experienced builders.

    Here is a snipit of one of my last builds, to give you an idea of the planning that, IMO, should be done.
    [​IMG]

    If you wanted some help to design your guitar let me know and we could work something out. Good luck.

    Cheers Peter.
     

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    Last edited: May 18, 2018

  9. Skyjerk

    Skyjerk Meatbomb Silver Supporter

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    100% agree on this.

    Some things you can work out as you go, but neck angle isn't one of them IMO.

    I HAVE seen guys that figure it out after the body is done, so there are ways of doing it. Of course in the case of my own designs, which are all neck-through-body, that's not an option. I have to have it already worked out at the start :)

    I don't go into nearly the detail in CAD as Peter does. Just the basic shapes and angles in 2D from the top and the side in order to make my templates. I use a free, very easy to use program called eMachineshop.

    For the OP, you don't have to be an expert in CAD to do this. I'm definitely not.
     

  10. Robert Parker

    Robert Parker Senior Member

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    Okay, thanks y'all. The video from Crimson Guitars was hugely helpful in seeing how the process can be done. As I suspected, I need to choose a bridge and everything first rather than pick a neck angle and then find a bridge to fit it. I will definitely layout everything and make full scale plans first.
     

  11. WezV

    WezV Senior Member

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    I do full sized drawings from each profile too. But I tend to rely on a pencil and paper.

    From the side profile, draw a line for the string. add the bridge and nut in the relevant place. Add the fretboard, allowing for fret height, but not action at this stage. Now draw a straight line from the end of the fretboard to the bottom of the bridge... you now have the face of the body and the neck angle all sorted.

    You have not allowed for action either end so will have worked out an angle that gives strings flat to the frets on the lowest bridge setting... spot on. But it is worth considering action and bridge adjustment if you are working with hardware that is less adjustable
     

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