• We invite you to join UKWorkshop.
    Members can turn off viewing Ads!

Les Paul Style Guitar Build

UKworkshop.co.uk

Help Support UKworkshop.co.uk:

D_W

Established Member
Joined
24 Aug 2015
Messages
9,517
Reaction score
1,903
Location
PA, US
I have just one thing to rout yet - the backplate of the pickup switch needs a step. I'll get to it. I don't have a proper size template for this so I freehanded it and then cut to the edge on the other cavity with chisels.

Then, roundover rout on the back and copious sanding, which is something I never do outside of guitars. The interesting thing is limba planes cleanly, but 120 grit paper on a festool 125 and the wood is all hairy and torn. It's so soft.
20220126_180103.jpg
20220126_180112.jpg
20220126_180125.jpg


The neck is getting closer to full size - I will install some kind of design at the top of the peghead other than just being round, but haven't decided yet. I need to thickness the peghead a bit further and install a rosewood overlay to match the guitar top. to do that accurately, I think I will need to install the fingerboard first, and that's OK as I'd prefer to finish the rest of the neck shaving and measurements with the fingerboard installed, too. So it'll be a little bit before I get the fingerboard installed and back on this.

I turned the edges of the peghead template in toward the center a little and reset the gibson-ish lines so that the third and fourth strings will be just a little closer to a straight string pull. I think I will make an inlay in the peghead with my initials, but in celluloid, and will do that I don't know when - probably before the neck is installed would be smart.
 

the great waldo

Established Member
Joined
2 Aug 2021
Messages
89
Reaction score
34
Location
Vienna
Inlay before fitting the neck, it makes it much more handleable. Youv'e got some nice curly maple there, it costs an arm and a leg to get American maple shipped to Europe Spiral cutters work much better with figured woods as they reduce splintering. That won't be seen under the fingerboard anyway. Good job so far.
Cheers
Andrew
 

D_W

Established Member
Joined
24 Aug 2015
Messages
9,517
Reaction score
1,903
Location
PA, US
Inlay before fitting the neck, it makes it much more handleable. Youv'e got some nice curly maple there, it costs an arm and a leg to get American maple shipped to Europe Spiral cutters work much better with figured woods as they reduce splintering. That won't be seen under the fingerboard anyway. Good job so far.
Cheers
Andrew

Oh, that's not a spiral cutter issue, the truss rod groove is mortised with a chisel and gouge. But you're right. Id never have left it that way if it were to show. If doing it by hand, I'd have been forced to saw the sides of the groove first.

Curly soft maple is cheap here. Getting good curly hard maple can be harder, but the neck in this case probably doesn't have more than about $25 worth of wood. It's a local wood here, though.

Thanks for the suggestion on the bit, though. It's a sign that I'm very lazy on non show items.
 

D_W

Established Member
Joined
24 Aug 2015
Messages
9,517
Reaction score
1,903
Location
PA, US
Fingerboard with inlays -admittedly, I have done nothing in researching how inlays are bedded and won't cut the cavities deep next time. I used contact cement here to build a bed and these are basically flush (i'm lacking a good enough bit at this point - need to get a dremel bit of decent quality rather than a rotary bit that came wiht my chinese dremel tool).

It'll be OK, I think, and if it isn't, I'll just make another one. While Phil-a luthier supply has such nice celluloid, I bought three more sheets.

Started cutting these inlays with the ridgid OSS and a super shear at first, and realized by the end that they're far faster to cut in this style with an incannel patternmaker gouge on the side and a coarse sandpaper lap for the sides. Tried pulling the celluloid over a plane, also - it just gets a little fiddly with the smaller inlays.

Reason for the copious glue bed is that these are now along for the ride profiling.

Cut the fret slots with a dovetail saw that I'd made that is about right for fretwire no set on a .018 plate - the fuzz around the teeth from sharpening brings the slot up to a good size for the frets. If one or two is ever so slightly loose, CA when placing frets will take care of it.

one light stray cut above the fourth inlay - not deep enough that it'll remain after profiling the neck, I often have a headache and focus issues and really cutting these carefully freehand is getting a bit old. I'll make up a small miter box dedicated to this before making the next fingerboard, and slot the fingerboard while it's still square.

Not sure when I thicknessed this fingerboard but realized i never checked to see if it's uniformly thick and sure enough, it varies about a hundredth in thickness from the thinnest to the thickest. Will address that after the inlays dry. - it's going to end up being about .23" at the center, which should be fine.

12" radius is the target - not into compound radius, but did do a fender neck with a 10-14 setup years ago and it turned out OK., Technically, it's a good idea. Practically, it doesn't really result in lower action unless you really do everything perfect from one fingerboard to the next. The lowest action I ever see on any guitar is always on a collings (at least of this style) and they're just a simple 12" radius. Unlike most other guitars, they're made stable enough to hold it, too.

20220128_135411.jpg


will pore fill this thing with linseed oil and dust after profiling.

the clamp is on the only inlay that needs a little persuasion to stay flush. If the glue dries and pulls the inlays in a little bit, I'll just do whatever is needed - the neck of the guitar itself has five hundredths of extra room (thickness) at this point.
 

the great waldo

Established Member
Joined
2 Aug 2021
Messages
89
Reaction score
34
Location
Vienna
Watch out using too much glue as it will soften the celluloid and then shrink it as it dries below the fb level if your'e unluky, and this could take a week or so to happen !! One hundredth of an inch is not much and a bit of sanding should level things up. Whats the point of the pore filler? or is it just for around the inlays, in which case I would just put a drop of super glue in any gaps,sand and the dust should fill it, you might need to do it a couple of times.
Cheers
Andrew
 

D_W

Established Member
Joined
24 Aug 2015
Messages
9,517
Reaction score
1,903
Location
PA, US
that around the inlays, but also on the fingerboard - when the pores are filled with linseed oil and sanding dust (which slowly dries to hard), the color matches a little better than I've had with CA (though hopefully the whole fingerboard will get dark enough to hide that) and if some gets in a fret groove, it's easy to get out.
 

John Brown

Social media influenza
Joined
25 Sep 2008
Messages
2,473
Reaction score
508
Location
Stinchcombe, Gloucestershire
I am in awe of your work rate.
Genuine question...
What is the motivation for making a Les Paul copy? I can see why a manufacturer might want to, for selling to the impecunious, but if you're building from scratch, for your own use, why not build something to your own design?
 

baldkev

Established Member
Joined
29 Apr 2020
Messages
1,489
Reaction score
660
Location
devon
Cut the fret slots with a dovetail saw that I'd made that is about right for fretwire no set on a .018 plate
Cool, any photos of the saw?
I am in awe of your work rate.
Genuine question...
What is the motivation for making a Les Paul copy? I can see why a manufacturer might want to, for selling to the impecunious, but if you're building from scratch, for your own use, why not build something to your own design?
I once sat down and tried to sketch out a few different bodies, but weirdly they ended up resembling existing guitars.... maybe thats my subconscious getting the better of me, but if you end up with something tesembling a strat, that isnt a strat, it might look like you failed miserably to copy a strat 😆
Theres a lot of body shapes out there, would be difficult to come up with something unique
 

D_W

Established Member
Joined
24 Aug 2015
Messages
9,517
Reaction score
1,903
Location
PA, US
I am in awe of your work rate.
Genuine question...
What is the motivation for making a Les Paul copy? I can see why a manufacturer might want to, for selling to the impecunious, but if you're building from scratch, for your own use, why not build something to your own design?

I will eventually work out some designs where the body of the guitar isn't so obviously made to be machine made and duplicated (for example, the sides of the body are 90 degrees, but there's no reason they can't be compound curves). I don't want to make mistakes on those guitars, though, so working through some established patterns to get the hang of things that I want to do well later). Making copies (for me) is a little bit harder, too, so it presents a challenge to try to do all of the elements (and learn something while doing them) and not leave out stuff that I think doesn't matter. I don't think binding on the neck is very useful, but in a manufacturing setup like gibson has where everything is the same size, you can make the necks and fingerboards separately and it's not such a nuisance as it's proving to be.

the smart way to do this stuff is to follow either original process, or go find the copious videos where people are using the templates directly with routers, or using tools designed to do the binding (like the expensive stew mac tool). To find a way around it is kind of a nice challenge. When I start making bodies with hand tools only, there will be fewer straight lines and 90 degree areas on them - with hand tools, there's no great reason to bother with that stuff.

On these early guitars, if I do just OK, but with good hardware and wood (and don't copy gibson's peghead scroll), I think it'll be easy to sell anything I don't want to keep, though. Original design guitars, even when really great, sell horribly.
 

D_W

Established Member
Joined
24 Aug 2015
Messages
9,517
Reaction score
1,903
Location
PA, US
Cool, any photos of the saw?

I once sat down and tried to sketch out a few different bodies, but weirdly they ended up resembling existing guitars.... maybe thats my subconscious getting the better of me, but if you end up with something tesembling a strat, that isnt a strat, it might look like you failed miserably to copy a strat 😆
Theres a lot of body shapes out there, would be difficult to come up with something unique


20220129_103634.jpg


Just a typical dovetail saw pattern with high hang. I made this as a saw with a tall plate and finally ground off most of it a few weeks ago and filed teeth into it. with a tall plate, it was beyond useless. You can't tell quite so easily from the picture, but the teeth are a little sloppy - it seems to be no hindrance - it's blazing fast cutting (they're a little sloppy, but the height is pretty even). Out of laziness if it's necessary, I'll correct the teeth with subsequent sharpenings.

I made this saw with the tall plate long ago as I'd already bought a saw with a short plate (chris schwarz used to talk about the virtue of a tall saw with a thin plate - I'll bet there are a lot of people with 16" tall plated Lie nielsen saws who don't find them very useful). The apple from the handle came from a fantastic blank that someone sold me (it's dead quartered). I've never been able to find good clear big quartered turning blanks of apple since then.

Mike Wenzloff used to sell folded backs - this is one of them (the ones that didn't have his brand on are crude with a lot of cracks, though - I think someone else was bending the backs for him and they didn't anneal the brass enough - it's fine, just unsightly and makes the spine look dull, but the saw has been dropped numerous times (I had no regard for it and wasn't careful with it when the plate was tall). the opposite side is chopped off on the top horn - I'll reshape it. I see some lines that could be a little better on the horn, anyway).
...........


As far as the design goes, once bound by functionality, it does start to seem really like every guitar is some combination of les paul, SG, telecaster or stratocaster.

PRS? SG with an arch top or les paul with SG horns, however you'd like to view it.

All of the HH guitars from the 80s like van halen used, and the Ibanez Jem/RG pattern? stratocaster. guild bluesbird - les paul.

Point being that it becomes pretty hard to have a comfortable bout shape, good access to the neck, and a decent look without stepping on the established designs. The minor things, though, like more sculptural designs not quite so bound to being flat on the body with 90 degree sides, though - that's definitely fair game. I like the idea of a guitar with a carved top that has crisp lines like an F style mandolin.
 

baldkev

Established Member
Joined
29 Apr 2020
Messages
1,489
Reaction score
660
Location
devon
Thats cool 🙃
Ive got a brass backed tenon saw that i bought second hand ( ebay, a tenner ) but although it looked virtually unused, it pulls to one side. I need to look into resharpening and setting teeth ( never done it, disposables had arrived when i started my apprenticeship, i dont recall anyone having a disston etc in the 90s, it was all the orange jack disposables! )
 

D_W

Established Member
Joined
24 Aug 2015
Messages
9,517
Reaction score
1,903
Location
PA, US
I've babbled on at various points about it getting easier at some point to just make your own tools. I think that's the case - but there's a learning curve to get over. I'm glad to have this saw (it works better than most vintage saws strictly because most vintage saws aren't in great shape and they are stepped up to new-ish performance by replating).

I can see why saws like this wouldn't be that great on a site, though. One of my favorite little junk saws for outside work is a short black plastic handled tool box saw with really big impulse hardened teeth. It's murder on fine work, but it's a dandy pruning saw and would be great for blasting through cuts on plastic pipe or 2x4s. And if you bend a tooth on it, you can just get another one for $15.

it's absolutely not necessary to make saws to cut with, though - there's a gaggle of gents saws that are probably fine for frets, and stew mac- at least at one point, seemed to double the price of one an call it a fret saw. At the time, I just went through my saws (which aren't that many, but I knew the plate thicknesses) and cut a few grooves and found one that frets fit in tight without being too tight (too tight, and the little bit of extra tension from each fret can put tension over the entire fretboard and bow it.
 

D_W

Established Member
Joined
24 Aug 2015
Messages
9,517
Reaction score
1,903
Location
PA, US
Everything together may be "too much brown now with the peghead overlay roughed out and glued on (some refinement will be done, and then tuner holes drilled - there's space at the top of the peghead for inlay and some design at the tip (yet to be decided) that isn't just ripping off another peghead design.

But it may have been more interesting to make the fingerboard out of castelo box for contrast - all of the brown is starting to look a bit 70s - as if maybe the body should be stained avocado green to go along with it, or harvest gold or some 70s fridge combination.
20220130_082646.jpg
 

thetyreman

Established Member
Joined
4 Mar 2016
Messages
3,669
Reaction score
771
Location
North West
make it a gold top? lol that would be painful to watch, I like the natural colours...
 
  • Like
Reactions: D_W

D_W

Established Member
Joined
24 Aug 2015
Messages
9,517
Reaction score
1,903
Location
PA, US
The gold top would also expose the kind of funky contour, too. I'm hoping the darkness of the rosewood will hide that a bit. I'll let it be what it'll be - it's more or less a learning tool on the first one, and life would be tough if someone wanted to make something completely new and not learn something.

So, while I've made a bunch of other guitars, they're a completely different style and the differences in the details on this guitar all the way down to simple things like work holding and marking and measuring, just totally different.

I'll learn in this case that it's like shoes, shirt and pants. If you wear two that are the same color and something else, it looks normal. If you wear pants and a shirt with the same color/pattern and then shoes that look identical ...kind of weird. But shoes matching a coat with different pants between wouldn't be so odd.
 

D_W

Established Member
Joined
24 Aug 2015
Messages
9,517
Reaction score
1,903
Location
PA, US
I love the look of the gold tops and black and white customs, though, and all three were probably made to hide wood with visual issues.
 

D_W

Established Member
Joined
24 Aug 2015
Messages
9,517
Reaction score
1,903
Location
PA, US
Those chisels are sitting in a "Safe space" before they get boxed and sent out. There are supposed to be 3, but the third looks like this (I can't remember if I typed it here). You can see the issue from hardening and tempering in the last inch and a half - oops. That's not coming out any way other than grinding, and then it'll be undersized.

paring chisels definitely have a chance of warp, even if you feel like you did everything right, so this one will be a shorter version that stays in my rack.

20220125_204150_copy_787x1483.jpg


My shop is a disaster from all of the guitar stuff sitting on the bench and those two chisels have both been dropped (the bigger one twice) resulting in tiny dents on the handle, so they're just waiting there to have the measurements taken off of them so they can be shipped (I want thickness measurements, etc, so that when I make the third, it is similar in thickness and feel and the handle is between those two (since its size is).

I wish I had enough time to make guitars 3 hours a day and chisels 3 a day. Maybe in 10 years or so.
 

D_W

Established Member
Joined
24 Aug 2015
Messages
9,517
Reaction score
1,903
Location
PA, US
neck is bound and little things that need to be fixed (aesthetics) are just mounting up. I didn't check this binding and at the far end, the first inch of length is thinner than the rest of the binding, so ...oops.

I've not seen that before (a fat end, I've seen, but thin, no), so it's one more learning experience.

Fortunately, so far, nothing is a matter of structural issues, but the little aesthetic nits are everywhere. Hopefully the rest of the neck shaping and finishing goes OK and the frets don't bow the neck (I use the modern two way truss rod, though- it already had a tiny bit of back bow after gluing on the fingerboard - it's nice to not plane all of that out as it was more than I'd expect. ).
20220130_173208.jpg
 
Top