Pancake bodies mystery

Progrocker111

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As i am familiar with the accepted theory that pancake bodies were introduced because of possibility to use smaller pieces of woods, i must contradict a bit. Why is there another piece of maple layer between upper mahogany piece and maple top (not only the center piece of maple)? If they wanted only to use smaller pieces of mahogany, wouldnt be much simpler just to glue 2 or more pieces of mahogany? Why another extra 2 pieces of maple in center and under maple top? What was the purpose? :hmm:

I have any better photo, but there is still good visible that another upper piece of maple...

IMG_0262.jpg
 

acstorfer

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Don't know what the real reason was with the pancaking or with adding the maple. Although that other piece of maple is a revelation to me, but personally I love it. I have had a Studio, a vintage mahagony Studio, a smart wood Studio, a Classic Antique and an Axcess, in addition I tried out Historics, Traditionals, pre and post 2008 Standards and my two Deluxes just killed em on tone. Well that is kinda subjective, I guess to be politically correct, it just gave me the tone I most prefer.

Good catch on that second maple layer, I am going to have to have a better look at mine to see if it is there.
 

Csharp

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That's part of the top, that the binding didn't cover unless they made the binding wider in the cutout, which they did as well.

images


It depends on whether the binding channel was cut before the top carve (wide binding), or after the top carve (narrow binding with part of top visible).
 

Oranjeaap

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Interesting picture. Dont know whats up with that. Havent seen it before
 

Progrocker111

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That's the maple cap. It goes like this:

Maple cap
Mahogany
Maple "pancake" layer
Mahogany back

This is called "crossbanding" and I've read it was done to increase the stability of the body.

It goes like this :), the red one is interesting:

maple cap
maple pancake layer
mahogany
maple pancake layer
mahogany back
 

Inside Guy

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The reasoning for using pancake bodies was not to use "smaller" pieces of wood. I'm not sure where you heard that. The reasoning was to eliminate warped and cupped mahogany bodies. Instead of properly treating the wood, or propery kiln drying, which takes time, Norlin used the simplier and less costly fix to their wood problem by crossbanding multiple pieces of wood. when you have multiple grain patterns glued together, they halp keep each other stable. Whereas a one piece body can cup and warp. check out a Thunderbird Neck. It's 9 pieces of wood glued together in order to help keep the neck straight. It's the same principle.

If Norlin wanted to use "smaller" pieces of wood they would have used wood that was smaller in width dinemsionally. Sourcing mahogany in the width needed for a Les Paul body is not easy. There are very few clients looking for mahogany in that width, and Gibson pays a premium for that lumber. Length is not the problem, it's the width. So, if Norling were looking for a way to save money on Lumber they would not have cross-banded the bodies the way they did.
 

YourBurgerMan

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It goes like this :), the red one is interesting:

maple cap
maple pancake layer
mahogany
maple pancake layer
mahogany back

The part you circled is the maple cap, NOT the pancake layer, if I understand their construction correctly. What would the point be in adding a 1/16" layer of maple and then gluing and 1/2" or so on top of that?
 

YourBurgerMan

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The reasoning for using pancake bodies was not to use "smaller" pieces of wood. I'm not sure where you heard that. The reasoning was to eliminate warped and cupped mahogany bodies. Instead of properly treating the wood, or propery kiln drying, which takes time, Norlin used the simplier and less costly fix to their wood problem by crossbanding multiple pieces of wood. when you have multiple grain patterns glued together, they halp keep each other stable. Whereas a one piece body can cup and warp. check out a Thunderbird Neck. It's 9 pieces of wood glued together in order to help keep the neck straight. It's the same principle.

If Norlin wanted to use "smaller" pieces of wood they would have used wood that was smaller in width dinemsionally. Sourcing mahogany in the width needed for a Les Paul body is not easy. There are very few clients looking for mahogany in that width, and Gibson pays a premium for that lumber. Length is not the problem, it's the width. So, if Norling were looking for a way to save money on Lumber they would not have cross-banded the bodies the way they did.

Finally, this seems like a plausible explanation from a production perspective. Where did you get this information?
 

Thumpalumpacus

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There is clearly a maple laminate immediately underneath of, and separate from, the maple cap.

I'm clueless regarding why pancaking was done.
 

Progrocker111

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The part you circled is the maple cap, NOT the pancake layer, if I understand their construction correctly. What would the point be in adding a 1/16" layer of maple and then gluing and 1/2" or so on top of that?

Its really separate layer like in the center of body, its very visible from close sight. I really dont know whats the point, why they constructed it so... Obviously it was much more difficult and tome consuming to construct bodies this way...
 

Inside Guy

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Finally, this seems like a plausible explanation from a production perspective. Where did you get this information?

My user name says alot. 15 years with the company. Plus I have spoken with many folks who worked in the plant during the Norlin years. I have heard a few sad stories about how Norlin operated.
 
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Its really separate layer like in the center of body, its very visible from close sight. I really dont know whats the point, why they constructed it so... Obviously it was much more difficult and tome consuming to construct bodies this way...

Sorry, but Your Burger Man is right, that is the maple cap. Vintage '50's Les Pauls are the same way, the binding does not cover that portion of the maple in the cutaway.
 

zontar

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Yep--it's the maple top--because it has appeared on non pancake bodies, as mentioned--read any decent book on Les Pauls and their construction--they will mention this is the maple top.

There is no way it's not the top--because that's where the top is.

If there was an additional maple layer between the top and the mahogany you should be able to see it in the pickup cavity--
But on my Norlin era pancake Les Paul you see the maple cap, then the mahogany--no additional maple layer.

So maple top
then mahogany--nothing in between.

Maybe they did it differently on fakes & copies, but not on the real thing.
 

Progrocker111

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So maple top
then mahogany--nothing in between.

Maybe they did it differently on fakes & copies, but not on the real thing.

So why i had it on all Norlins? :) Even its visible in pickup cavity, take a close look. I will make some more detailed photo. Its really not maple cap, there is another thin layer in between. :)
 

Progrocker111

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Here is the detailed photo. There is clearly visible another layer under maple cap. :) Historics dont have it, even any other LPs.

IMG_4540.jpg
 

zontar

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So why i had it on all Norlins? :) Even its visible in pickup cavity, take a close look. I will make some more detailed photo. Its really not maple cap, there is another thin layer in between. :)

I've had my pickups changed in my Les Paul, so I've seen it before, I've also had to some work on the pickup cavities--the previous owner cut out some of the wood, so I had to glue new wood in to hold the pickup rings on.

I've seen the inside of the pickup cavities on several occasions--and a friend of mine had two Les Paul Customs, so he added a third pickup to one, and I've seen the top that way--there was no extra pancake layer under his tops or mine.
 

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