Removing weight from my Les Paul

Discussion in 'The Custom Shop' started by viking20, Feb 11, 2017.

  1. viking20

    viking20 Senior Member

    Messages:
    288
    Likes Received:
    107
    Joined:
    Aug 25, 2015
    This is a thread about removing weight from my Les Paul. Didnt take any pictures along the way , as I didnt plan to write about it.

    But , there are many threads different places on the web where people ask about putting a Les Paul on a diet. Most of the threads gets filled up with the usual " not worth it " , " man up !" , " use helium in the control cavity " etc...
    Also , the threads quickly starts being more about tone changes.

    Its also very hard to find out about the weight of individual parts , even from vendors. I will list all the weights I measured along the way.....

    I could easily play the guitar as it was , but , we mod stuff , dont we ?
    The mods I did were all done with the weight in mind ,not tone , you decide if you want to do something like it to your guitar.


    The Guitar : A 2005 Les Paul Studio , in a wonderful yellow color , was originally white , with ebony fretboard. Not used much , did the usual setup to my liking , levelled the frets etc. It was a bit heavier than my other Studios at 9.3 pounds , or 4255 grams.

    Removing weight takes a lot of work , but I guess I have a bit of experience from racing vehicles where you are used to getting rather big results from all the different small things you can do.

    The parts , and some of the work , hardware :

    Removing the pickguard and pu covers is a no brainer. Apart from that , an alu tailpiece , lighter bridge and studs can be bought. The 2005 model uses a grounding/assembly plate in the control cavity , this was removed , and new CTS pots were mounted directly , as in the old days.

    I used a Pinnacle Aluminum Nashville bridge , couldnt find many bridges in Alu out there. It cost a bit of money , but the one on the guitar was one of the rattly ones , didnt feel solid.

    I used locking studs for both bridge and tailpiece , like Faber. Extra locking collars are provided with the locking ABR bridge I used on a different guitar.I needed metric they were inch.

    No biggie to run a 4 mm tap through there , free locking collars. I used the Faber threaded studs , these are sold seperately. You tap the old holes from the Nashville studs with an 8 mm tap.

    On the tailpiece , I used alu bolts , and removed the usual ring , so that I could lock the tailpiece. I already had some of the rings in different heights laying around from earlier , these are also sold seperately. Since I topwrap , not that important anyway.

    My goal was to remove half a pound ( 222 grams ) just taking away stuff , or use lighter parts.
     
    Mr. Beef, rlefty and Who like this.
  2. viking20

    viking20 Senior Member

    Messages:
    288
    Likes Received:
    107
    Joined:
    Aug 25, 2015
    Weights , and comments : ( BTW , 1 pound is 454 gr , one ounce is 28.375 gr )


    Pickguard : 29 grams , with bracket and screw
    Tailpiece : 90 grams , Faber alu tailpiece 28 grams.
    Tailpice studs : 30 grams , alu studs from Crazyparts Germany , 9 grams
    Nasville bridge : 53 grams , Pinnacle alu 21 grams
    Nashville studs :18 grams , Faber 8mm/4mm studs 20 grams
    Jackplate : Steel 9 grams , plastic 1 gram
    Grounding/assembly plate pots : 37 grams
    4 Stock pots , incl a ****load of nuts/washers : 107 grams
    4 CTS brass pots with long threads , star and normal washer/nut : 80 grams
    Switch : 27 grams
    Neck 490 r , 160 grams , without cover and a few holes drilled in the baseplate feet , rounding of corners etc : minus 25 grams
    Bridge 498 : 155 grams , wo cover and same surgery as above :127 grammes , removed 33 grams
    Covers alone : neck 20 grammes , bridge 22 grammes
    Pu magnets : 18 grammes ( too bad we kinda need them , LOL )
    Knobs : Speed knobs : 21 grams , Top Hat 10 grams

    I was surprised that the stock plate in the control cavity weighed 37 grams , and that the stock pots and all the nuts/washers came in at 107 grams.

    Some material removed on both pu´s , holes drilled in the part leading down to the feet , corners rounded off. The lip along the maple spacers were halved with a metal scissor.

    I changed magnets to a4/a8 at the same time.No big job on the pu baseplates , pretended to listen to the Wife while doing this , and sipping red wine , LOL..

    Didnt shorten the adjustment screws , or the pole piece screws. They are rather heavy , and extend far below the baseplate so a few grammes could be saved. Experts say it has an impact on the magnetic field ( good or bad ) , so maybe at a later time.

    Note that the Pinnacle bridge comes with 5 mm holes for the posts , and you have to use the supplied brass studs , your oem studs are only 4 mm. The supplied ones screw into your oem Nashville bushings in the guitar. As I used Faber studs and locking collars , it fit my purpose perfectly. The Faber studs are meant for an ABR bridge , and the lockers are 5 mm od.

    Result : Minus 262 grammes , or 9.2 ounces , by swapping or removing parts.
     
  3. viking20

    viking20 Senior Member

    Messages:
    288
    Likes Received:
    107
    Joined:
    Aug 25, 2015
    Wood removal :

    Its not easy to remove wood , without doing serious wood work and/or doing paint.
    I put a lot of thought into this , and knew from the start that the results would be modest.

    There are probably many people as well who wouldnt dream of attempting this , either because of the value of the instrument , or fear of screwing up.

    But , my guitar arent worth much , and me no scared , LOL :

    There arent that many choices , the only acces for drilling straight in to the body is the output jack hole. This is where pics would be really helpfull , but if you look at the x ray pics of Les Pauls with weight relieve holes ( this is a 2005 ) you will probably get it.

    Dremel work was done in the control cavity , mostly to blend the shape from the jack hole into the cavity. This is nesseccary to get an angle on the drill.

    In the cavity , a 22 mm hole was drilled through the jackhole , behind the Gibson holes furthest back in the body , 5 centimeters in at the most.

    22 mm hole was drilled along the cable channel near the outside of the body.
    3 19 mm holes were drilled about 20 mm into the body at an angle from outside the cavity , towards the bridge/tailpiece.
    In the pickup cavities , two 22 mm holes drilled in the floor , to about half the depth of the holes for the pu feet.

    In each pu rout , you have the cable channel at one of the ends. In the other end of the cavity , 19 mm holes were drilled at an angle towards the outside.
    In the neck pickup rout , one 10 mm hole drilled at an angle towards the neck , in the bridge pu rout 3 holes were drilled at an angle towards the rear , between the bridge posts.

    Result : nearly 3 ounces removed ( 83 grams ). If you want to go north of 100 grams , it takes some serious effort , and some rather special drilling equipment.

    You could also go further than I did with the depth of holes towards outer edges etc , but it isnt easy work , for SURE !

    End result :Guitar now weighs 3910 grammes or 8.6 pounds. Started out at 4255 grams , or 9.3 pounds.

    Worth it ?

    Some will think the result is laughable , some will find the result is decent.

    Anyway , it was fun !

    Tone ?

    Tone is fine , its a Les Paul. Its got a lot of Zing , and feels really alive !!
     
  4. truckermde

    truckermde Senior Member

    Messages:
    13,312
    Likes Received:
    14,599
    Joined:
    Oct 21, 2012
    That's a pretty substantial result.

    Well done.
     
  5. Riffster

    Riffster Senior Member

    Messages:
    279
    Likes Received:
    138
    Joined:
    Apr 9, 2010
    That's a very good result. I just bought a 3" wide strap and that made a nice difference in the way the weight of my Les Paul feels. The guitar feels lighter.

    I have an Epiphone ES335 copy that is heavy and I have been thinking of how to reduce the weight on it. The neck is beefy and could use a shaving and the pickup cavity routes could be drilled deeper. An aluminum tailpiece would also help.
     
  6. viking20

    viking20 Senior Member

    Messages:
    288
    Likes Received:
    107
    Joined:
    Aug 25, 2015
    Sure , its important to have a good strap , bass players also know this. A lot of basses are really heavy....
    What surprised me the most was that the pots and plate added up to over two ounces of weight. It could be even more , if converted to short pots. Gradually shaving the cavity from the inside should also allow you to eliminate the extra , heavy brass nut underneath , plus brass threads reduced from 3/4 inch length to 3/8 should save a bit as well........I thought about it , but didnt have any on hand.....there are also some excellent mini pots available. Also more modern sealed types , rather expensive , but I couldnt find any with decent values......Every saving here is multiplied by 4 , so it adds up...
     
  7. ARandall

    ARandall Senior Member

    Messages:
    10,838
    Likes Received:
    6,035
    Joined:
    Apr 16, 2012
    Funny.

    As in I was just last week watching a Joe Bonamassa video where he talks about his 59 'skinnerburst'. It weighs 9lbs 2 oz.
     
  8. RayTorvalds

    RayTorvalds Senior Member

    Messages:
    814
    Likes Received:
    487
    Joined:
    Apr 29, 2015
    I would say, if the result is pleasing to you, all that work makes it even more your guitar. That is a win in my book. :thumb:
     
  9. viking20

    viking20 Senior Member

    Messages:
    288
    Likes Received:
    107
    Joined:
    Aug 25, 2015
    Sure it is .....Funny , I mean :)

    I have a few other things I could try , and maybe I will later. There is no real reason for me not to play a guitar that weighs 9.3 pounds , as I said from the beginning .

    Its just that my other two Les Pauls weigh 8 pounds each , then there is a difference to be felt.

    I wouldnt dream of looking at light hardware for any of them. I certainly dont need a Les Paul that weighs 7 pounds , some might like that , though...

    I have two identical Telecasters , everything is the same , color etc. They where bought at the same time , only difference is 1.2 pounds in weight , 8.0 vs 9.2 pounds.

    Without even thinking about it , I always pick up the lighter one , the other one is hardly ever used.

    BTW , the Studio really performs with the mods that were done , it plays great , and the a4/8 magnet combo feels great in the 490/498 pu´s

    Will update this , if I do other stuff to the guitar
     
  10. Riffster

    Riffster Senior Member

    Messages:
    279
    Likes Received:
    138
    Joined:
    Apr 9, 2010
    I had a Gretsch Double Jet that was super heavy, it was an import. Mahogany with maple cap, bigsby and those metal buttons Gretsch uses, it was ridiculously heavy.

    I ended up routing a huge control cavity and added an additional volume control, to my surprise the guitar had weight relief holes. I gave up and sold it the thing was exactly 10 pounds, I did not like to play it even sitting down.

    I have a P-Bass copy that clocks at 10 pounds 3oz, that's getting sold too. heavy guitars are simply a turn off to me and one pound away from the sweet spot is not worth it to me.
     
  11. nitrodave08

    nitrodave08 Senior Member

    Messages:
    1,701
    Likes Received:
    1,551
    Joined:
    Sep 29, 2013
    Levi Padded strap, even with 3 shoulder surgeries, I can play for hours (4hr longest) with the 8.6# R9 & TradProII. I can't use it on the ESLP because it makes it feel too light. Heck a lot cheaper and easier.

    https://www.amazon.com/dp/B000XPO2R4/?tag=mylespaul04-20

    I got turned onto them when got a M&G with my GitHero's 9#4oz R9
    [​IMG]
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Apr 23, 2017
  12. rlefty

    rlefty Premium Member

    Messages:
    748
    Likes Received:
    449
    Joined:
    Jun 14, 2013
    This is a great thread. Viking20, how much weight difference did the baseplate modifications (not including the covers) make?

    I wonder if someone makes a lighter weight humbucker.
     
  13. rlefty

    rlefty Premium Member

    Messages:
    748
    Likes Received:
    449
    Joined:
    Jun 14, 2013
    So now I'm looking all over the place for lightweight humbuckers. I can't seem to find anyone using aluminum for baseplates. All I can find are the lace alumitones.
     
  14. rlefty

    rlefty Premium Member

    Messages:
    748
    Likes Received:
    449
    Joined:
    Jun 14, 2013
  15. viking20

    viking20 Senior Member

    Messages:
    288
    Likes Received:
    107
    Joined:
    Aug 25, 2015
    Interesting , indeed........I looked in to just making my own baseplates , and even found some alu plate at work. Remember , that alu wont take solder , if you decide to use covers.....I removed 5 and 8 grams from the baseplates BTW
    Havent done anything more to the LP but play it , its a great guitar.......Ive got some new CTS mini pots for it , I have never seen these before. They are equal in quality to the normal diameter 450 series , the ones that people call 550k pots.....These would shave of more than 50 grams , or almost two ounces compared to normal sized long shaft pots
     
  16. Kris Ford

    Kris Ford Senior Member

    Messages:
    4,282
    Likes Received:
    3,137
    Joined:
    Dec 17, 2011
    My '76 Deluxe weighs the EXACT same.
     
  17. rlefty

    rlefty Premium Member

    Messages:
    748
    Likes Received:
    449
    Joined:
    Jun 14, 2013
    Also funny is that there are various videos of Joe B where he states that a guitar is a particularly good one "because it's a light one."
     
  18. staffy

    staffy Senior Member

    Messages:
    287
    Likes Received:
    260
    Joined:
    Jul 16, 2013
    It may be a bit of a stretch but what if you band sawed the back off it then routered the guts out of the body to your hearts content then reglued the back on with a filler piece to make up for the saw cut? Hell you could have that sucker without a single scap of sawdust that didn't need to be there, you could even do the same to the neck ala BFG ! I've actually thought of doing this to an el cheapo.
     
  19. viking20

    viking20 Senior Member

    Messages:
    288
    Likes Received:
    107
    Joined:
    Aug 25, 2015
    Not a stretch as such , but probably a bit radical for most people with a guitar they paid money for.
    I also doubt many would remove wood at all from say , a heavy Norlin Les Paul. On something like my cheap-ish Studio I dont really care about removing some wood , when it cant been seen.
    It would be possible to remove around a pound from a Norlin just by removing/changing hardware , and completely reversible. Many of them have extra shielding in the body , and off course many have heavy tuners as well
     
  20. dspelman

    dspelman Senior Member

    Messages:
    9,471
    Likes Received:
    5,193
    Joined:
    Apr 30, 2009
    I carefully considered this, looked at the number of LPs I have, thought carefully about your work and the expense involved, and decided to order a 6 pound headless Kiesel VM7.
     

Share This Page