Mahogany Lp cap weight

Discussion in 'Luthier's Corner' started by valvetoneman, Sep 10, 2017.

  1. valvetoneman

    valvetoneman Senior Member

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    Hi has anyone got a rough idea the difference in weight between 2 same thickness caps for a les paul

    One mahogany cap for a custom one maple for a standard

    It all adds up when you stick a bigsby on a 3 pickup custom, I'd like to get around 9lb fully built if possible
     
  2. Flynman

    Flynman Senior Member

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    I believe that Freddy has a formula for figuring the weight in per board foot for a block of wood or something like that....might be in his youtube build video.
    and then i would assume you can weight the weight of the parts to get in the ball park.
     
  3. pshupe

    pshupe Senior Member

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    < 3lbs /b.f. for Honduran mahogany is a rule of thumb for body wood for a Les Paul

    I have done 3d modeling for a Les Paul Standard and the top after carve is about 60 cu in in volume, which is about 0.035 cu ft. The wood database says that the avg dry weight of hard maple is 44 lbs/cu ft and Honduran mahogany is 37 lbs/ cu ft. So a maple cap would be 1.54 lbs, and a mahogany one would be 1.30 lbs. Only about 1/4 of a pound difference.

    If I were you I would be looking for a nice light piece of mahogany, if you are trying to save weight. You could also save some weight by weight relieving the body. I weigh any of the mahogany I buy at the wood place I purchase. Most places should have a scale for you to weigh the wood. I'm not too concerned about the weight of the maple because as noted above the amount of wood in the top isn't significant. Also Honduran has become very expensive and I'm not paying 4x the price of maple for heavy mahogany.

    You may also want to consider the "tone" you get. A maple cap provides a brighter sound.

    Cheers Peter.
     
  4. valvetoneman

    valvetoneman Senior Member

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    Thanks Peter I have already put aside a few light blanks of mahogany, I'm also with you on paying for wood that is a suitable weight, something I have alot of trouble finding over here

    Last time I went looking in 2 tone wood suppliers I came away with 1 blank the rest all too heavy

    It's for replica custom builds so maple is definitely out, I also think some of the best clean tones come out of a custom, they're just different and very good looking, 56 and 59 are my favorites

    I'm trying to get non weight relieved guitars too, 1/4 lb might not sound much but it'll make a difference to a 3/4lb bigsby
     
  5. Flynman

    Flynman Senior Member

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    I have shaped a few belly cuts into the body and that took off almost 5 ounces...
     
  6. pshupe

    pshupe Senior Member

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    Yeah I've been looking all over the internet and local for decent weight mahogany. It's only gonna get more expensive. I bought a really nice 20" wide piece yesterday. It wasn't cheap but no shipping or import charges and I weighed the board before I cut a chunk off of it. I'm gonna check around for some other boards and I may slip back and buy the other 6 feet of that 20" wide board. It was pricey at $24 /b.f. which worked out to Can$180 for the one blank, but for that width probably worth it. That's less than US$150 all inclusive.

    If I buy the rest of the board I can probably get 3 bodies and 2 necks out of the rest, which would be much more reasonable.


    Cheers Peter.
     
  7. valvetoneman

    valvetoneman Senior Member

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    Over here a one piece body blank is £120, I can't even find any planks of the stuff now

    I just bought 4 honduran body's and necks from a forum guy plus all his eastern maple

    Tbh the old African I've got came from really old big trees, the planks were massive and i really like the tone

    I'm doing a 56 goldtop with bigsby which will weigh 9lb so it's fairly light weight, the tone is fantastic unplugged

    What's interesting is I've seen 2 vintage 56 demos with dealers and both say African mahogany, never heard anyone say that about an original they're selling
     
  8. pshupe

    pshupe Senior Member

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    Yeah - I picked up some light, both colour and weight, African lately. I'll be on the look out for that as well to keep as stock for non-replica builds. I'm thinking I might as well buy that whole plank as I look around more. It seems quite expensive to me but still cheaper than online and any other places. I'm glad I do not build a lot of guitars requiring genuine mahogany, although I guess you just pass along the price.

    Maple is not an issue here. I just picked up enough plain and some light curly for about 15 tops for free. If I want some really nice curly I can buy it for about Can$30 a top.

    Cheers Peter.
     
  9. Bill Hicklin

    Bill Hicklin Senior Member

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    IIRC, vintage Customs were one-piece, they didn't have separate caps. One marker is the round (drilled) wiring channel where it enters the control cavity, as opposed to the square (routed) channel in a Standard.
     
  10. valvetoneman

    valvetoneman Senior Member

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    Thanks for the maple offer Peter, I got absolutely hammered on import tax last time I got some from curly maple

    I don't have a problem using any old good mahogany on replicas, I don't subscribe to honduran is the best, tonally speaking that is
     
  11. pshupe

    pshupe Senior Member

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    Really? I'm no vintage guitar aficionado but why would they build a Les Paul Custom so radically different from the Les Paul. I've probably only read the WIKI and what is on Gibson's website but they all mention a mahogany or maple top cap. They also mention that they just took a Les Paul and made it higher end and classy. Les Paul apparently wanted it to look like a tuxedo and it was named the Black Beauty.

    Bill do you any links or literature that you can share?

    Cheers Peter.
     
  12. Bill Hicklin

    Bill Hicklin Senior Member

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    From a construction standpoint it wasn't much different at all: thicknessing and bandsawing one thick body blank saved a couple of steps (= time = money) over doing two and then gluing them together; from that point the construction process was exactly the same.

    In the 50s, remember, mahogany was dirt cheap (way cheaper than figured maple) and plentiful in huge slabs. Standing behind me is a lamp made from a mahogany aircraft propeller that was originally 9 feet long by a foot wide and eight inches thick.

    I'll dig some stuff up and get back to you.
     
  13. Joth

    Joth Senior Member

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    I have a few comments, mahogany is grown locally and I regularly get sapele(the heavier african mahog), honduran mahog, and spanish cedar.
    You are NOT going to get a mahogany lighter than 2lbs per bdft, the lightest i've had is about 2.2lb/bdft (yielded an 8lb completed replica LPS), and the heavy stuff is at 3lbs. The african sapele can cross well over 3lbs and i'm pretty sure that is what the 70's and early 80s LPs are made from.
    The spanish cedar, which I mention just because of its alleged use in earlier goldtops, exists in a lighter range, and its densest pieces are low 2lb like the light mahogany, and it can get very very light, i'm sure less than 1.5lbs per bdft but some ridculously light pieces I wouldn't dare use for a guitar as being too soft of a surface, i've not measured their density. With that said I've built a few non LP style guitars with the denser SC over the last couple years and they all came out fantastic, huge open clear sound.
    Anyways, from my experience with these few woods and LPS copies, you want the lightest honduran you can get your hands on, and it needs to be very low 2lbs per bdft to get into the 8-8.5lb completed guitar weight range, if you use a blank that is 3lbs per bdft you are going to have a 10lb guitar unless you do some chambering, I have done a few where it used exactly 3lb/bf blanks with weight relief holes, and they yielded 9.5lb completed guitar.
    If you really want a light one and you are against chambering/weight releif and you're willing to experiment, try spanish cedar that's on its denser side around 2lb/bdft or more.
     
  14. valvetoneman

    valvetoneman Senior Member

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    The mahogany cap is my only deviation as getting a one piece blank light enough at that thickness is pretty much impossible over here

    I'd still do the wiring channel the original way and it moves the jack hole slightly further round I think

    I don't use sepele although I would for a chambered guitar as it sounds good

    I've got some Spanish cedar blanks already and one body is pretty much done, it is a really nice weight too, can't wait to get that together to compare

    I was talking with a vintage guy on Facebook and he reckons he had a custom that was 5lb, I also questioned it, that does not seem even remotely possible unless it was made with something different or chambered, it was an original 59 3 pickup I think

    My last 2 made from my old mahogany were 8.8 and 8.9 finished, the wood came from a boat builders and sat for over 30 years before I got it

    I think the maple caps came in 68 when they started making them again
     

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