Mike Lipe Virtuoso- the road to my first Custom

Discussion in 'Other Guitars' started by 'Hege, Nov 8, 2018.

  1. 'Hege

    'Hege Senior Member

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    Feb 16, 2015
    The trail to my first custom built instrument began like this…

    Less than a year ago, I purchased a Mike Lipe guitar (sounds like hippy) – A Virtuoso (#004) marked way down due to a slight backbow in the neck, not correctable due to the old style single action truss rod. I purchased the instrument with the intention of having the neck repaired, or having a new neck built for it.

    I then contacted Mike Lipe, who was in fact happy to build a new neck for this instrument, asked me for my own personal specs, and dollarwise for just a bit more than a proper repair to the neck would have cost. My own personal specs (if such a thing existed)? Gosh I am feeling right flattered and fancy now, especially being the hack that I am.

    My best guess spec (based on measurements of my favorite instruments) was quarter sawn roasted maple, with Ebony fretboard, MOP dots, 6105 frets. 12”-14” compound radius, a full C at .850” to .950” 1st and 12th.

    I sent the instrument to him and awaited the return.

    About a month later, what I got back completely blew me out of the water, both in feel and performance, as I got to light it up for the first time.

    Lipe has a special method for the neck attach, and it results in a rock solid connection, creating tons of sustain. The instrument just rings… very thru-neck feel to it. Yet bolted on, looking quite common.

    The neck shape? ...well, it was as though I sat there while he shaped it. He absolutely nailed it.
    IMG_4236 lo res.jpg
    IMG_4237 lo res.jpg
    IMG_4238 lo res.jpg
    I decided that Mike would be the one to bust my cherry and build my first complete Custom build, as it were.

    I’ll post again on that subject, with pics. It turned out to be Virtuoso #181.
    rclausen, THDNUT, danohat and 3 others like this.
  2. JDZ

    JDZ Senior Member

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    Nov 1, 2017
    Great story there
  3. guidothepimmp

    guidothepimmp Senior Member

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    Sep 8, 2012
    Damn.. i very nice.

    Curious thing.. i have a custom build from a local kuthoer with damn near the same specs. I just have a mapke fret board and dont have the middle pup. Even the colour is the same
    'Hege likes this.
  4. 'Hege

    'Hege Senior Member

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    Feb 16, 2015
    Continuing on….

    For my Birthday last year (Merry Christmas 2017) my Daughter gave me a slab of Ancient Kauri wood from New Zealand. Heavy and Hard like Maple, 40,000 year old bog wood! Not to be confused with contemporary or modern Kauri. Enough to make probably 4 tops.

    So scratching my head, I thought it over and decided my first built to order guitar would be something like this.

    Virtuoso Hardtail String through Body, because I just love this particular Strat shape.

    White Korina Body – Natural back

    Ancient Kauri Top – Trans black wash, glossy finish with exposed edge “natural binding” (Kauri Top was supplied by me)

    Quartersawn flame maple neck with light trans black wash, 12-14” Compound, .850” to .950” Full C (same shape as Virtuoso #004) , with dark Ebony fretboard, MOP dots and side markers, 6105 frets, bone nut.

    All Black hardware, Pickups and Surrounds.

    Single Vol and Tone

    3 way switching

    Amalfitano HB at Bridge (no cover, black bobbin)

    Amalfitano P90 at neck.

    Let’s see what happened!
    I received the occasional picture from the Mike as the project moved along.
    Let’s say he’s not a photographer, he’s a Luthier.

    He mentioned that he had a particular piece of wood in mind for the neck, that I would be pretty happy about it when I saw it. Happy I was even with the not great pics. But man! When finished that neck is out of this world nice.

    Kauri Top
    virtuoso Kauri bod ready for paint 1 lo lo res.jpg
    Rough Neck
    virtuoso kauri neck 2 lo lo res.jpg virtuoso kauri neck 1 lo lo res.jpg
    White Korina Body, Ready for Paint
    virtuoso kauri bod ready for paint 2 lo lo res .jpg

    Good stuff coming!

    Attached Files:

    guidothepimmp likes this.
  5. 'Hege

    'Hege Senior Member

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    Feb 16, 2015
    Details details
    He was right about that neck wood. Wow.
    Black Hipshots
    White Korina Body
    As she arrived
    Little detail
    Anyone spending LP type $$ should take a serious look at Mike's work. And the guy ain't getting any younger either. Get one while he's still working! A shameless plug but the guy totally deserves it. Google him. Mike Lipe Guitars. Serious stuff.
    rclausen likes this.

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