Chambering A Les Paul, A Different Approach

kakerlak

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If you were brave enough and had some sort of horizontal brace, I wonder how much you could clear away with a long forstner or flat wood bit.
 

ARandall

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I had my own brick and mortar guitar repair business for many years, trained under Erlewine in the 80s, God only knows how many broken pegheads and pulled up bridges I have fixed, nevermind the neck resets and the dozens and dozens of refrets and bone nuts, it goes on and on. So not like this is a Boy Scouts project.
If you really have had this experience, you'd know straight away that a hand saw would give you neither surface ready for gluing. So it would be about the worst way for prep, convenience and end result.....darkback or not. Pro's for example doing burst conversions with a replaced maple top never try and saw the top off........and thats with the glue join being hidden by the binding too.

You'd also know that setting up a router jig and sled simply routing the back off the guitar, and once the weight relief is in there, re-gluing a 1/4" planed board back on is the easiest, and with a quality fitment and position might even allow you to go lighter back.

Someone who has been in the trade is most likely to have kept a garage full of the big tools for such a job.....or indeed had their hand in with woodworking even if its not related to guitars.
Even with the saw method of removal you'd need them in the first place to do the weight relief - the large throat drill press to hog out the bulk.....the 1/2" router to do the edges neatly......not to mention all the jointing tools required to be able to re attach the back.
So why go the long way about it given you'd need this level anyhow??


So it comes as a surprise that, with all this claimed experience that you'd propose the worst possible way to attempt such a job - given its next stop is a high-end makeover.
 

nitrodave08

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Wouldn't popping the top off and routing like the factory(same/diff pattern) be best and easiest? They do top replacements, don't they?
 

dancsgrv

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Good luck with that project! Don't think doing an acceptable job by hand is possible. Seems like you'd need a really large band saw with some kind of fence but I don't have a clue where you could find one. Love to see it when it's done. The link is what Gibson has done for chambering.

 

dju

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I don't like the top, I plan on sending it to Kim at Historic Makeovers for an exact copy of this one, along with the refin I will have the top carved to exact 1959 specs which they knock out of the park. In addition to the recarve, the refin itself will take the thick plasticized finish off and should be more resonant once the lacquer is applied, plus weight relieving it with long channels should give it more volume acoustically as well. There is no collector value in a Lester that has been broken as badly as this one was, and repaired, but if it turns it into a really really standout guitar it will be worth the investment. I refretted it with stainless Jescar wire set in epoxy, it got a real nice hollow vowel tone after the fret work, I was quite surprised at the difference. I knew it would wake it up to refret it, but it seems to have accented the upper mids and brought them remarkably closer to the sound of the best bursts that I have heard.

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Wouldn't popping the top off and routing like the factory(same/diff pattern) be best and easiest? They do top replacements, don't they?
Dougie, if I am understanding you correctly you are saying that you want to have the top replaced with a copy of the one you have pictured.
so while the top is off why not do what NitroDave mentioned and have it chambered while the top is off. seems to me to be the best option if you really want to chamber the guitar. I'm curious what that would cost.

dj
 

Dougie

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I had a nice pin router mounted on a table with an enclosure over it and a 6" dust collector, I still have the dust collector and a different pin router but haven't set it up on a table. I have a typical vintage bandsaw, but afaik it doesn't have enough throat in it to slab off a cut from a LP body. I have a large drill press but I woudn't use a drill press I would use a router sled which I could build to rout the lightening channels in the body.

I built a strat body from scratch in Dan's shop and routed it all using a drill press and a cross slide vise, it was tedious and time consuming but it came out beautiful. Lipstick tube pickups and bound with mother of pearl around both contours. I had to build a hand held base for a laminate trimmer to do the binding routs, and to this day have not seen one bound around both contours as a production guitar. I have purposely kept photos of this one off the internet to keep the Asians from copying it.

If I lost 1/8" off the thickness by cleaning up the saw cuts on both pieces, it wouldn't be a terminal blow, Gibson made thinner LPs I think.

In my mind I have turned over about every way conceivable to lighten this body. I thought about routing off the back, then I would have to redo the switch and control cavity cover routs, very time consuming but likely the most professional looking results of all methods.
 

Big John

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... I thought about routing off the back, then I would have to redo the switch and control cavity cover routs, very time consuming but likely the most professional looking results of all methods.
There's your answer right there. Leave the top alone. Chamber from the back, plane it down, and veneer it.
 

theusualdan

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I've seen something really similar to what you're wanting to do... but now of course I can't find the site. It was a German site is all I remember. But they did essentially what you're talking about. Sawed about 1/4" off the back of the guitar, chambered it, then glued the wood back on, and refinished the guitar. I'll keep having a look around, but it was in one of those threads of people asking how to remove weight from their Les Pauls.
 

Dougie

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I've seen something really similar to what you're wanting to do... but now of course I can't find the site. It was a German site is all I remember. But they did essentially what you're talking about. Sawed about 1/4" off the back of the guitar, chambered it, then glued the wood back on, and refinished the guitar. I'll keep having a look around, but it was in one of those threads of people asking how to remove weight from their Les Pauls.
I had a thread here from 2013 about lightening a LP, maybe it was in that thread let me go find it. Guess you can tell I haven't given up on doing this if I am still wishing it to be done 7yrs later.
 

comcf

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I've seen something really similar to what you're wanting to do... but now of course I can't find the site. It was a German site is all I remember. But they did essentially what you're talking about. Sawed about 1/4" off the back of the guitar, chambered it, then glued the wood back on, and refinished the guitar. I'll keep having a look around, but it was in one of those threads of people asking how to remove weight from their Les Pauls.
This is exactly what I was thinking. The German site that had the same exact thing done. They had a really elaborate pattern though; almost star like shape. But otherwise, perfectly doable. Sorry, I can't tell a band saw from a marching band, but salute you for the effort.
 

Knoby

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Dougie. When they said they were going send a man to the moon, everybody thought it couldn't be done.
Prove this lot wrong and show us what can be done with a hand saw. I'd love to see the end result.
 

Freddy G

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If I had to cut the back off a Les Paul, I would take the guitar to the place where I buy my tonewood (Exotic Woods in Burlington ON)
The have a huge bandsaw there set up for precision resawing. I waited once and watched while they did a piece for me. First, the machine is set up so precisely, they only allow one guy to operate it.....the resulting cut was so amazing....like it came out of a planer.
 

XpensiveWino

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@Dougie I too don't really have much insight other than to go for it once you've thought it through and come up with a workable path for *you*. I get it.

It doesn't have to be done. You want it to be.

A year ago I wanted to add wood to the neck of a 60's standard that was likewise broken, beat, etc... but such a fantastic player. I just couldn't quite get on with the neck as it was. I wanted a 50's profile neck. Some of the very *same* naysayers, (and frankly, perpetually unwelcoming and patronizing) folks chimed in on my thoughts.

Anyhow, I did add the wood, mirrored the contour from a neck I loved, and now have the guitar *I* want. Go after it once you sort it out in your mind how to do it.
 


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