weight relieving an old guitar

J-Dizzle

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Is there anything that can be done to make an old guitar a little bit lighter?

I've got an old LP that I love and I spent a fair bit of time fixing up. I bought it as a disused body/neck and gradually made it playable again.

Its an outstanding guitar and even my local guitar techs love it.

One problem, its a bit too heavy for my liking. I'm not sure of the exact weight but its between 4.5-5kg, so about 10-11 pounds.

Is there anything I can do to reduce the weight a bit? I really love how this guitar plays and I don't want to sell it and just buy another.

I've had a crazy idea to drill/bore into the body via the jack hole and control cavity and basically bore some wood out of the body. I'd obviously be using a fairly long drill bit for this.

I'd drill holes similar to the red lines on the photo below (not my actual guitar)

CopyofDSC_0044_zps78263a1e.jpg



Is this feasible or ridiculous? How much weight could potentially be removed?
 

Blackdog

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I made a model of the LP body that I use to estimate the weight of the final guitar based on the density of the mahogany and maple used.
And I had a little math fun with this question of yours.

A very dense piece of mahogany of 700 Kg/m3 will produce a finished guitar around 5.75Kg (10.5lbs).

So if you were to drill in that mahogany body with a 12.7mm (1/2"bit) the holes you drew in that picture (estimated at 250, 230, 220, 210, 220 and 140mm) you would be removing a volume of 160900 mm3, which will remove a grand total of 113g (1/4 lbs).

In conclusion, +1 to what Hot-Brit said: get a wide strap.

The only reasonable way to reduce the weight significantly is shaving 4-5mm off the back, chamber or swiss-cheese to your heart's content and then cover with a mahogany plate of 4-5mm and refinish.
Chambering will likely alter the sound significantly, swiss-cheesing possibly less if done properly.
 

schaapie

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+1 on what Brit said! A wide strap makes it a lot better.
 

bruce bennett

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without having a horizontal boring machine.. the risk of drilling right out of your guitar is extremely high.

Drill Bit flex is a very serious problem with drilling like this.. I've wrecked more than one guitar this way. and I have years of expereince with "angle drilling".

Also, in order to relieve any real amount of weight, the size of the holes will need to be at least 3/4" and up. otherwise you'll only remove just a few oz.
also when you get up into those higher bit sizes.. you find that you wont' be able to get them through the jackhole at those angles, without severely damageing the jackhole.
 

Blackdog

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Apart from being extremely difficult and risky as Bruce pointed out, it's hardly worth it. Even using a 3/4" drill bit you would remove something like 6oz (170g).

I once tried to reduce the weight of a Heritage 80 (10.8lbs) by removing all the shielding that Gibson put in the cavities in those years. The weight reduction was about 5oz (140g), and I couldn't feel much of a difference. The guitar was still too heavy. To the point that I eventually put everything back in: if it is still going to be heavy, at least it is also stock.

My point is that you would need a weight reduction of close to a pound to notice any improvement on a 10.5lbs guitar.
 

michaelinokc

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Even if you can do some weight relieving, you may not like the results. Weight relief might change the tone of a guitar you really like. I like Hot Brit's suggestions.
 

bruce bennett

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My point is that you would need a weight reduction of close to a pound to notice any improvement on a 10.5lbs guitar.

personally.. I say closer to 3.5 lbs.. at least to make me happy with it.:D

I hate heavy guitars. even though I will build them if the customer asks for them.
 

J-Dizzle

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thanks for the responses guys and for taking the time to explain your reasoning and lend your experience.

What you've said makes a lot of sense.
 

joesatch

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i'm going to attempt this method of weigh relief drilling out through the output jack. I will drill several deep holes at angles which will eventually meet and create a cavern in the rear area where most of the weigh is concentrated. wish me luck
 
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joesatch

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Good luck. Flexible dremel tool attachment?
yes after i get enough holes in there i'll carefully hog it all out with a flexible attachment. I really like this LP but it's just too weighty. It's not a weight relieved from the factory it's solid
 

moreles

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I'd sell it and buy a lighter one. Actually, I'd keep it because half a pound is insignificant. You could always go full John Mayall and just band-saw off huge chunks of the body. The idea of a guitar with a cavity hacked into it at an odd location is not a plus for me. If you're going that route, you can also gain entry at the switch. Why not just toss in some termites and reinstall the cover?
 

ehb

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Wide leather skrap (I still have my vintage Dr Song Pickpocket heavy leather from decades back). ;)
Wide because of weight distribution over more unit area.
Leather because the underside is usually suede which is not slick so holds guitar in place better.
Raise the guitar button a skrap tail hole and see if the combination of wide leather and one hole higher helps. If so, unthread skrap tail, move it up a whole slot and re-thread it back though empty slots. I play Lesters higher than others. I don't have weight issues or instability of guitar...

If you wear a Lester low slung and on a thin strap, you're just plain gonna hurt until you change......
 

lowatter

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Are we talking about a true USA Gibson Les Paul here? If so please just sell it and find something lighter you enjoy playing. If it's an Epiphone that's a different story. Still, I would try a wider strap like the others suggested. JMHOYMMV

The early 90's Gibson Studio Lites are a great choice for weight and options. They have ebony fretboards, one piece mahogany backs. trapazoid inlays and 2 piece solid tops. They are weight relieved and most weigh in at 8#s.
 

J-Dizzle

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i'm going to attempt this method of weigh relief drilling out through the output jack. I will drill several deep holes at angles which will eventually meet and create a cavern in the rear area where most of the weigh is concentrated. wish me luck

How did you go?

I'm really interested to find out.

After all these years it would be interesting to see if it worked!
 

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