Les Paul Style Guitar Build

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D_W

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Theres different 'raw power' versions.... just to be complicated. I think it was 2013? They did it again, but this time with maple neck and top cap instead of all maple. And ive got a feeling there was a different one before the 2009 ones

Yeah, this caused me some confusion yesterday, but I expect it of gibson. One model one year will have no weight relief, the next year, it will have their most drastic version. One year it'll be maple top, the next year mahogany, and then one year, it'll have some hand time on the neck, and the next, it'll be like the two later fadeds that I got and the tribute les paul (which looked OK from about 10 feet or further away, but looked like someone painted it with liquified sugar close up and had the same mis-fitting fingerboard that the last two fadeds did.

I looked the raw power studios up yesterday and saw listed models from 10 pounds 2 oz down to 7 pounds 5 oz.

And then as you mention, one of the versions was just a natural topped les paul with a mahogany neck and rosewood fingerboard (like a les paul classic spec guitar), but it was listed as "raw power" and I thought it was mis-listed. Nope, it wasn't.
 

D_W

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For any viewers who might not see the point in the discussion about instrument weight, let me assure you that it is important!
My Gibson is (reputedly) the heaviest Les Paul ever made, weighing in at a massive 14lbs.
(When I say 'my', I don't mean just my particular beast! I mean the model range of that year!)
I've had her since '76, and it is - was? - my "go to" gigging and recording machine for many years, but as I got older, and my straps got wider to spread the load, I found that I was developing a really painful neck during and after any performance. Not just the odd twinge, but a constant stiff and painful neck that would last days.
I'd liken it to having to stretch my head/neck a la Del Boy, and even then It didn't solve the problem!
Four years ago I started gigging with my ash Strat instead - it's like a feather in comparison - before switching again to a slightly weightier Dean Soltero. The neck profile, and the fact that it's humbuckered suited my purpose better.
Another aspect of weight to consider - and is often overlooked - is balance. I once owned a guitar that was so "neck heavy" it meant that my left arm ached for hours after playing, just for having to constantly lift it up!

it's a whole lot like tools - when I make rosewood necks for teles that are in the 8 pound range, I use necks that come from a guy here in illinois. They look fine (once they're covered in buttonlac, you can't see the wide rings that easily) but they're only a 5% more dense than maple, so the guitar isn't out of whack.

In the 70s, gibson must've been winding through mahogany heart boards that hadn't been used for carvings or something. I'm wary when someone lists mahogany blanks and says it's too much work to calculate density (some listers in the US do that). It's almost without exception just because the blanks are heavy. There was a vendor on the west coast here selling one piece mahogany blanks that were overly dense for $30, but they wised up and now they just list them as heavy now. At the time those were 30, I could find quartered khaya all day for $90-$100, so I didn't even think about it. Things change!!
 

baldkev

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Yeah, this caused me some confusion yesterday, but I expect it of gibson. One model one year will have no weight relief, the next year, it will have their most drastic version. One year it'll be maple top, the next year mahogany, and then one year, it'll have some hand time on the neck, and the next, it'll be like the two later fadeds that I got and the tribute les paul (which looked OK from about 10 feet or further away, but looked like someone painted it with liquified sugar close up and had the same mis-fitting fingerboard that the last two fadeds did.

I looked the raw power studios up yesterday and saw listed models from 10 pounds 2 oz down to 7 pounds 5 oz.

And then as you mention, one of the versions was just a natural topped les paul with a mahogany neck and rosewood fingerboard (like a les paul classic spec guitar), but it was listed as "raw power" and I thought it was mis-listed. Nope, it wasn't.

I'll weight it later 🙂
 

D_W

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If the back is hard maple and it's regular thickness with an arch top, with no weight relief, I'd ballpark it around 11 pounds.

So, 8.5 pounds is some weight relief. I don't know for sure what maple is on the back of the guitars, though. Maple types that are common here:

* hard maple (acer saccharum) - SG 0.71
* silver maple (acer saccharinum)
* red maple (acer rubrum)
* bigleaf (Acer macrophylla)

The first three are common on the east coast and north central US. Bigleaf is a west coast wood (it may be sold here, but one would wonder why).

High loose figure tops (quilts, big huge even curl) are usually bigleaf.

I didn't mention SG of the last three because they're all about the same hardness - like cherry or a little softer. I think they're all around the same density - similar to second growth mahogany.

Long story short, I don't know which gibson uses and without getting a chance to put a dent in something, I can't always tell wood with finish on it hard vs. soft.

(the less vivid figure or tight disorganized figure like the neck on the rosewood topped paul is usually hard maple - soft maple might have that, too, but I can't imagine anything other than hard and bigleaf being used for guitar tops).
 

D_W

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(gibson did so many weight relief types, too, that 8.5 could be one of the soft types with a little weight relief, or it could be hard maple with a greater level of it. They mostly look like drilled holes to me in their stock photos so some CNC machine probably just goes through and drills them all identically).

8.5 is a nice weight for a les paul that will be played unplugged - nice weight in general, I'd say - it's about what collings nails for their CL deluxe (which doesn't necessarily sound better than any other les paul, but they make one after another near identical in weight, feel and acoustic tonal qualities and resonance - something they actually do on purpose).

One other comment about hard maple - I don't know that I've ever noticed any difference in density with any that I've bought. It's heavy for a guitar wood. It's all seemingly similar. Mahogany is so all over the board it's hard to tell what you have sometimes. One sample can have specific gravity <0.5 and another of the same type (whether it's cuban or honduran) can be heavier than maple. I don't know enough about it to know why, but it's not just ring size - as I have a billet with large rings that's still really heavy.
 

baldkev

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I read that the natural finished raw power guitars have very good tops, but the painted ones dont ( as it wont be seen )
Timber density is funny, some lumps of oak can be pretty heavy and some quite light
 

D_W

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I read that the natural finished raw power guitars have very good tops, but the painted ones dont ( as it wont be seen )
Timber density is funny, some lumps of oak can be pretty heavy and some quite light

Rule of thumb with guitar finishes is the nicer the wood, and more even it is, the less tint. Wood that is missing figure at the edges or has something to hide gets a burst finish, and so on. The customs were apparently started to get rid of wood with flaws (the early ones were all mahogany).

Same with back wood - dark tone paired with tobaccoburst can hide a subpar top or a top with knots or color issues at the edges as well as dealing with bad back wood.
 
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