My First 59 Les Paul Builds

Shea

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So after a bunch of research, abandoning the idea once, and coming back to it, I have started building a 59 Les Paul--- or 4 of them... I was discouraged a couple years ago when my guitar teacher and good friend said, "wow, that's ballsy." After looking back on all the threads I had studied thru I decided I've got this! Huge thanks to all the other builders out there that have posted steps and spent hrs on the forum here showing their process. Much respect!

It took a while for my materials to show up. They got lost in the mail and sent back. I book-matched a piece of maple after re sawing it. I got 4 tops out of it. only have 3 cut out so far.
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I cut out all my body blanks with a Jig saw. IMG_1275.JPG

Removed material with drill press and Forster bit. Then routed out control cavities and wire channel.
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I then glued on my tops with hot hide glue. This was my second attempt at hide glue. I failed the first time trying to book match the maple tops, wussed out and used titebond. I got it together for the tops tho... I want to be as authentic as possible. I'm trying to make some nice guitars. Got out the ol' heat gun and some help from my brother. I used dowels to locate my tops, learned from Nuance. It worked perfect, except I made a mistake and will now see the dowel in the back pickup route... not the end of the world. Live and learn.

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I then routed the top flush to the body and used ExNihilo's Carve templates to get to carving.

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Next to the angle box. So cool. 4.2 for the neck, 1.5 for the pickup plane

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Next I used my templates to route the pickup area. At one point the clamp on the back got loose, fortunately I caught it before it hosed me.
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I then used a 6 inch orbital sander to carve with. This thing was awesome, I got my rough carve done in 20 min.
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I still have some finessing to do on my carve in the switch area and horn area. The gauges are close... I may have flattened the belly at the back of the guitar a tad bit much. DANG IT! I'm going to try and round it a bit, but will do better on the next 3. I am still going to spray bomb it too, to fine tune. What do you think?

This thread is no Nuance, ExNihilo, Fletch, Bartlett, or many the others that I have learned tremendous amounts from, but I figure I better share, maybe someone can learn something to do or not do.:) Ill Keep posting here with my progress.
 

Tweaker

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I don't know man, the pictures look just as good as any other build I've seen! Very clean work, keep it up!
 

pshupe

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Looks great. A question about glue used for the top. Didn't they us UF glue for the top to body join? Can anyone confirm this and what was used for the 2 piece top join? Also were they book matched? I thought most were slip matched or at least not bookmatched.

I always think of HHG being used for pieces that may need to come apart at some point. Also it could cause a problem using this type of glue on joints you never want to come apart. For instance, if the guitar comes in contact with very high humidity and high heat. Like if left in the trunk of a car in the summer.

I see people using HHG a lot and wonder whether it really is the best glue. I mean this last statement related to non-vintage / replica guitar building. Frankly for non-replica I would use Fish Glue or similar for removeable joints and titebond II or III for non-removeable. Thoughts? TBH I use titebond I the most for both kinds of glue ups.

Cheers Peter.
 

titi twister

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it seems that you have nice mahogany!!
if i can, dont rout the pickup before finishing carving the top its much more easyer ;)

great build so far!!

peter yes UF glue for the top (radio curing) and i glue myself the 2 pieces join with UF too (just my 2cent :) )
 

WhiteEpiLP

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I've read from a few pretty reputable sources that it was phenol formaldehyde for the top to body, not urea formaldehyde. But if is still far closer then hide glue to vintage spec.
 

titi twister

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i always say UF but you right about that i've read the same ,PF with radio curing, thanks whiteEpiLP :thumb:
 

pinefd

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Very nice job so far! One word of advice I have is with regard to your top carve. I know you said that you still have more finessing to do, but I want to make sure that you're aware of something when you're doing your finessing...and it's very much reminiscent of many other first time builds I've seen here, and the following one, in particular.

The advice I would have is to make sure that you smooth out any sharp cliffs or recesses on the top. Here's the area in particular that I'm referring to (as seen on someone else's build):





On real 'bursts, and modern day Les Pauls, for that matter, those transitions are very smooth. Compare yours and the above to the following examples, where the transitions between the waist carves and the "flat" pickup plane is very smooth:





You want to make sure that you don't "feel" any sharpness on that upper ridge (nor any concave "ridge" on the bottom of the recurve area), and that the transition is very smooth. By looking at your photos, it is very clear that those ridges on yours are too sharp. But again, it may be something you were already planning on fixing anyway, and if so, I apologize for jumping the gun.

Keep up the good work!


Frank
 

nuance97

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I was gonna say what Frank said above as well...unless that’s the look you’re going for.
 

fatdaddypreacher

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don't sell yourself too short, young grasshopper. you are doing great. I too, would suggest easing over the hard lines on the carve. while, no two of mine turn out exactly the same, i try to be mindful more of a violin top when doing mine. i'm not shooting for vintage, but when the clear is put on and polished, i like a smooth belly top where the reflection just rolls across the top. nice work indeed.
 

pinefd

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I was gonna say what Frank said above as well...unless that’s the look you’re going for.
Daniel is absolutely right...and I meant to say this myself, that my comment was only meant for you if you were hoping to replicate a vintage stye top carve. By all means, if you were trying to inject your own style into this, and you intentionally left those sharp ridges in there, then more power to you. There is no right or wrong way to do a personal build.


Ferank
 

Shea

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Looks great. A question about glue used for the top. Didn't they us UF glue for the top to body join? Can anyone confirm this and what was used for the 2 piece top join? Also were they book matched? I thought most were slip matched or at least not bookmatched.

I always think of HHG being used for pieces that may need to come apart at some point. Also it could cause a problem using this type of glue on joints you never want to come apart. For instance, if the guitar comes in contact with very high humidity and high heat. Like if left in the trunk of a car in the summer.

I see people using HHG a lot and wonder whether it really is the best glue. I mean this last statement related to non-vintage / replica guitar building. Frankly for non-replica I would use Fish Glue or similar for removeable joints and titebond II or III for non-removeable. Thoughts? TBH I use titebond I the most for both kinds of glue ups.

Cheers Peter.
I have read about UF glues too, and perhaps just thought it was Hide Glue they used because I'd seen so many others here using it.. I have always used titebond on my wood projects. But I was really worried about sonic qualities..... I've read using titebond is a great way to kill what might have had good tone... I've also read that some people cant tell any difference.... I trust the strength of titebond, and would not trip on leaving it in a hot car... now I'm worried. Has anyone had a top delaminate on them with a hide glue joint? I certainty hope they would not de laminate.... and hoping isn't a good strategy.. As far as bookmatching, you are probably right.... I just guess I wasn't thinking and figuered they may have bookmatched some. Thanks for your input Peter! I'll be ordering up one of your headstock templates pretty quick here. :)
 

Shea

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it seems that you have nice mahogany!!
if i can, dont rout the pickup before finishing carving the top its much more easyer ;)

great build so far!!

peter yes UF glue for the top (radio curing) and i glue myself the 2 pieces join with UF too (just my 2cent :) )
I ended up taping the pickup plane to protect it. The mahogany came from stew mac. I'm very pleased with it! All the mahogany at my local source had big cracks rednering 2 -3 body lengths worthless. Couldnt buy a whole board and waste 150$ worth of it!
 

Shea

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Very nice job so far! One word of advice I have is with regard to your top carve. I know you said that you still have more finessing to do, but I want to make sure that you're aware of something when you're doing your finessing...and it's very much reminiscent of many other first time builds I've seen here, and the following one, in particular.

The advice I would have is to make sure that you smooth out any sharp cliffs or recesses on the top. Here's the area in particular that I'm referring to (as seen on someone else's build):





On real 'bursts, and modern day Les Pauls, for that matter, those transitions are very smooth. Compare yours and the above to the following examples, where the transitions between the waist carves and the "flat" pickup plane is very smooth:





You want to make sure that you don't "feel" any sharpness on that upper ridge (nor any concave "ridge" on the bottom of the recurve area), and that the transition is very smooth. By looking at your photos, it is very clear that those ridges on yours are too sharp. But again, it may be something you were already planning on fixing anyway, and if so, I apologize for jumping the gun.

Keep up the good work!


Frank
Thanks Frank! This helps me a lot. I am definitely going for as vintage correct as possible, even tho I'm finding out that I could have done more homework to help with that. I was looking at the burst serial website and noticed that they all looked more round. I saw a picture of an EMCT somewhere here and in the light it looked more sharp and so I went with that. Fortunately looking at my tops, i have plenty of room to sand over and smooth out those ridges to get the look in these pictures you have here. These look nice! I have to slow myself from jumping the gun, i get o excited to get to work and forget steps, like pre drilling the holes for the switch and pots while the top is flat. I got it it on the third one! haha :applause:
 

Shea

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don't sell yourself too short, young grasshopper. you are doing great. I too, would suggest easing over the hard lines on the carve. while, no two of mine turn out exactly the same, i try to be mindful more of a violin top when doing mine. i'm not shooting for vintage, but when the clear is put on and polished, i like a smooth belly top where the reflection just rolls across the top. nice work indeed.
Thank you sir! That sounds good. I like the good smooth round belly.
 

Shea

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Today I finished routing the neck angle, pickup plane, and pick up cavities. Then I routed the topo map of the carve and rough carved with the sander. I will Def. be sanding out the sharp ridges and get these things looking nice this week. I need to start rough cutting my necks as well. I had rough cut a few out of some old ship mahogany blanks, really nice wood for the price of 6 bucks each, but i cut them all too small and didn't save room for acclimation and cutting them 3 times to final size to prevent movement. I wish vintage correct was a 3 piece laminated neck!!! Here is today's progress.
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nuance97

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now I'm worried. Has anyone had a top delaminate on them with a hide glue joint? I certainty hope they would not de laminate.... and hoping isn't a good strategy..
I wouldn’t sweat it. If it gets hot enough for your top to delaminate then the neck is probably gonna pop out, and the fretboard will also slough off... :D

The only time I can see where there could be an issue is if you ever had to steam out the neck. The steam in the neck joint could cause the top to let go in that area, but why should that be necessary anytime in the next 50, 60, 70 years? I mean barring a severe neck break there are thousands of 50 Gibson (and older) set neck guitars out there played every day that have never had to have a neck pulled out for any reason.
 




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