The Definitive Top Carve Thread

red_house356

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Now I can already hear people screaming at their screens “BUT THE TOPCARVES WERE ALL SO DIFFERENT!!!” Let’s talk about that.
I already mentioned having the ‘56, but I also had a ‘53 on-hand as well. How and why you may wonder? Well I am kind of a psycho, and I literally bought a 1953 Les Paul for the express purpose of having one to reference for builds. That’s the level of extremes I tend to take things to.

*Edit*
I have some more contours to show for comparison
View attachment 443311
View attachment 443312
These are contours from two 1959s, a ‘55, and on the very bottom a ‘53 (not my ‘53, but a separate one). Pretty darn similar

View attachment 443313
These demonstrate the amount of variation a ‘59 on the top and a ‘53 under. The ‘53 had a much deeper recarve at the widest point of the lower bout, but the centerline at the tail end was practically identical

Wow, I’m glad I stumbled upon this. I have a ‘53 Les Paul that’s being stripped as we speak. It was refin’d and had some work done on the top by the bridge pickup. It looks intact, but I am by no means, an expert.

Hope to compare your ‘53 measurements to mine.

Edit: Found and ordered a contour gauge. Should be here soon.

C0A84FB6-E6A1-4B4F-9EB1-C2DC29406318.jpeg
 
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nuance97

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Wow, I’m glad I stumbled upon this. I have a ‘53 Les Paul that’s being stripped as we speak. It was refin’d and had some work done on the top by the bridge pickup. It looks intact, but I am by no means, an expert.

Hope to compare your ‘53 measurements to mine.

Edit: Found and ordered a contour gauge. Should be here soon.
Nice looking guitar man!
 

red_house356

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A note concerning recurve. There are 2 kinds of recurve present on these old tops that I have observed. There is flat recurve (essentially 90* to the sides), and there is concave recurve that subtly dips below the binding height. The pic below will try to visually describe what I’m saying.

in blue - flat recurve
In red - concave recurve
View attachment 434337

I received the contour gauge. I can confirm the the concave recurve. My ‘53 Les Paul is an early to mid 1953 due to the grounding cavity for the trapeze tailpiece. It has that distinct recurve up to the binding.

Thankfully like the carvetop was preserved :slash:

7FBAF63F-479D-4ECC-B5B7-CA01529C893D.jpeg
 

nuance97

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I received the contour gauge. I can confirm the the concave recurve. My ‘53 Les Paul is an early to mid 1953 due to the grounding cavity for the trapeze tailpiece. It has that distinct recurve up to the binding.

Thankfully like the carvetop was preserved :slash:

View attachment 505901
I’m guessing you took that contour from just below the the bridge pickup cavity...between there and the bridge anyway
EF143630-7842-4858-88E5-840D9FC9FDD8.jpeg
 

red_house356

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Yes I did, right between the bridge and bridge. My bad, should’ve specified. Contours throughout your thread match my ‘53 Les Paul. Will take other photos soon. Have finals for Grad School and I’m pretty swamped.
 

LtDave32

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*Mod Edit*

Negative commentary of previous poster removed


That is all fine, but I (and I know I’m not alone) joined this - a Les Paul forum - for the sole purpose of learning to build Les Pauls. This thread is for them.


And thank you Daniel, for all your hard work and efforts.

Hopefully, those others who seem to throw monkey wrenches in the works around here will catch on and take the hint. Or they will no longer be welcome in this community.
 

jiveturkey1

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Screenshot_20210222-211601.png


Would it be possible to re-carve a completed modern Gibson Les Paul's top? I'd like to get a Studio 50's tribute (any color) and strip the paint, carve the top to get close to a real 50's then repaint it with correct gold paint and lacquer, front and back to make an all gold 50s Tribute Studio with a killer carve. I don't see how it could be done with a router because the top isn't flat to start with. Probably be hand work with contour gages. Is there enough "meat" to start with or has the factory already taken too much off the top. Obviously you'd be dishing it out more along the edges. Anyway, just an idea but kinda serious about trying it. Thanks!
 

nuance97

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View attachment 521309

Would it be possible to re-carve a completed modern Gibson Les Paul's top? I'd like to get a Studio 50's tribute (any color) and strip the paint, carve the top to get close to a real 50's then repaint it with correct gold paint and lacquer, front and back to make an all gold 50s Tribute Studio with a killer carve. I don't see how it could be done with a router because the top isn't flat to start with. Probably be hand work with contour gages. Is there enough "meat" to start with or has the factory already taken too much off the top. Obviously you'd be dishing it out more along the edges. Anyway, just an idea but kinda serious about trying it. Thanks!
It would definitely be hand work with contour gauges. No router. I’m sure it could be done...or at least something close
 

Duane.S

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This is taken directly from the amazing plans you guys did. Thanks for all the great info. Just a hobbist keeping busy during covid... lol

Very nice! What cad program did you use?
 

tonyflies

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A few shots of the body and the process to get to the final body. Prob some inaccuracies but hey ho!
I've tried to show this as a mix of traditional techniques and cnc combined.

The Mahogany Base
LP Bottom.png


Rear Route
rear LP.png


Straight Routes
LPtop route1.png


Body Angled on a GIG at 4 deg then cut the rest!

4deg cuts.png


The body

final.png
 

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