Mike Lipe Virtuoso- the road to my first Custom

'Hege

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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

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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.
 

guidothepimmp

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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

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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!
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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!
 

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'Hege

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Details details
He was right about that neck wood. Wow.
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Black Hipshots
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White Korina Body
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As she arrived
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Headstock
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Little detail
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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.
Enjoy!
 




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