1959 ES-335TD proto build

Discussion in 'Tele Home Depot' started by preeb, May 3, 2011.

  1. Fred_Garvin

    Fred_Garvin Tele-Holic

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    Ken and Gil, I mentioned it the LP thread I have access to a friend's 59 ES-355, basically the same thing with more binding, MOP block inlays, gold plating and such (that extra $20 bought a lot bling in '59).

    If any measurements or non-destructive disassembly would be at all helpful, I'd love to try and repay you for generously sharing all this expertise with us.
     
  2. RyanC

    RyanC TDPRI Member

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    Finally! Thank you Ken and Gil!
     
  3. Nick JD

    Nick JD Doctor of Teleocity Ad Free Member

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    Awesome. I use a couple of tricks to stabilize the plates ... but they are far from vintage correct :D. Great to see variations on plate construction. I guess the centerblock has more to do with the tone of a 335, than the plates, though?
     
  4. exluthier

    exluthier Tele-Meister

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    This is going to be fantastic! I used to have a '60 345 that belonged to my grandfather (sadly it was stolen), but I've loved these guitars ever since.
     
  5. Bonneybear

    Bonneybear Tele-Meister

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    Wow, a great collaboration. I love es-335 's cant wait. plenty of pics please.
     
  6. szechuanking

    szechuanking Tele-Holic

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    i dont see what you mean by prototype... just looks like a copy to me.
     
  7. telemcCaster

    telemcCaster Tele-Holic

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    This is my opinion as follows and is subject to change whenever I chose to change my mind. :lol: I am going to call this the blackboard and put it in a special color. I make no claim to be the sole authority on the subject and anyone is welcome to have some input where I can update this post if I am convinced.


    THE BLACKBOARD​
    The general feature of the golden period top and back plates are as follows. The golden age ES 3xx plates were made by laminating radial sliced maple veneers on the top and underside to a core of 2 poplar type wood veneers that were oriented 90 degrees using a mechanical press to comform them to shape and heat them to rapidly cure a phenyl formadehyde glue, thus fixing their shape. My preliminary research points towards two distinct styles of plates. The early example where the core two cross pieces are about on third of the total thickness and the other where the core two pieces are thicker than the outer pieces. I have seen no evidence for a 3 ply example from this period. I have adopted the theory of Bharat Khandekar's that the supposed 3-ply early examples were really 4 ply, with the two core pieces being mistaken for a single ply.

    The sides for these guitars were also laminated by loading the veneer layup into a mechanical press which bends them to shape rapidly without the use of heat and then rapidly cures the adhesive, with heat, fixing them to shape.

    The veneer supply came from local suppliers and Gibson was a relatively small user of this product which was used to make furniture and plywood at the time. Radial cutting veneer yeilded wide pieces and was perfect for the size needed for guitar plates. These veneers were sorted from the supplier and catagorized for the style of guitar to be produced and the finish to be applied. ES 335 guitars were a lower catagory and their veneers were plain and regular, generally, with some having curly figuring. Bodies that had no flaws, or dark specs in the show veneer might have been deemed worthy of a blond finish. This was probably difficulty to achieve and was discontunued as a finish option.

    The veneer thickness in the laminated plates varied. I have determined this by analyzing both destroyed plates, pickup cavities and f-hole views of this period of guitars, The overall plate thickness appears to have varied a bit also. The 1959 ES 335 that I copied measured 0.160 inches thick at the f hole opening and another measured 0.170 inch. Some plates had the crosswise core woods being thicker than the outer layers while some, including the 1959 ES 335 showed the two cross wise inner veneers being thinner than the outer layers. Perhaps if there were more photographs to examine, a pattern would emerge such as veneer thickness per serial number, indicating a thickness of a given stack of veneer on the shelf or even a random non-pattern that might point toward a method of processing the veneer or guitar at the gibson factory.

    These guitars, after being assembled, were sanded on the "slack-belt" sander by eye and a few extra seconds in one spot could surely result in a significant thinning of the outer veneer. However, since the inside veneer was never slack belt sanded, the descrepancy would become visable by viewing the cross section. With this in mind, comparing the underside, non-sanded veneer to the core veneers, should give a fair example of the thickness of the original top veneer before laminating. It could be though that the veneers were processed by sanding them before pressing, rendering the top and underside different thicknesses although this seems unlikely to me since they were going to be slack belt sanded afterwords anyway.

    Since everything, no matter how trivial, seems to matter in reproducing a golden age guitar, a systematic approach might pinpoint the important sonic properties of the laminated plates and assembly of the ES bodies. Esthetic properties also are essential and if original materials and similar methods are employed, this will be a starting point to achieveing the sonic properties of the original examples. In other words, build it like they did and they will sound like they did. But did they all sound alike? How does the laminate layup effect the sound? With this in mind, some specific material testing coupled with whole body testing and final product testing might help. Measurement of free plate characteristics including resonant peaks, damping of the resonances, weight, etc... will be utilized until the material selection is deemed predictable. The finished bodies will also be tested as well as the contour braces, and center blocks.
     
  8. telemcCaster

    telemcCaster Tele-Holic

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    This is the photo of the cast of the original from which the master plate mold was made and then the working molds.

    This plate was one of the first ones pressed that turned out looking right. You can see the registration pins in place.
     

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  9. telemcCaster

    telemcCaster Tele-Holic

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    I promise to show some photos of the pressing process although it is hard to get interesting photos of this. But first here is the reason that the original plate mold needed to have bondo added. You can see the first plate has flatter horns whereas the other one is nicely arched.
     

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  10. telemcCaster

    telemcCaster Tele-Holic

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    In my research I have discovered how modern plates are made. I have samples of broken plates from a 2010 Gibson ES that reveals clearly the laminates that are now being used. I also have first hand infromation from my veneer supplier. The modern plates are made 3-ply with the center layer being basswood. The outer layers are fairly similar to the four ply style that I am using on the 59 tribute bodies.
    I have modern veneer core material and made a test plate which exhibited different sonic properties (tap tone). I am not saying one is better although it's not called the golden period for nothing.
     

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  11. telemcCaster

    telemcCaster Tele-Holic

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    Sonic testing
    I tested both of these plates and compared them.
    The 3 ply was maple/poplar/maple and weighed 1lb 4.2oz and was 0.234" thick.
    The 4 ply was maple/maple/maple/maple and weighed 1lb 1.8oz at 0.172" thick.

    Note: Impulse testing is a simple tool, no more important than setting a tuning fork on an object and listening or tapping and listening to the percieved spectrum of tones. It is a simple way to visualize the sound spectrum. It is well known that free plate sonic properties might not have much to do with how the instrument will eventuall sound when assemble from it and its other parts. Furthermore, if the free plate does correlate in some way to the resonace of the guitar body, it is not clear how that would effect the sound of the amplified instrument. It is entirely possible that a strong body resonance might lead to a strong effect on the vibrating string thus having an opposite effect when the strings are amplified. So complex stuff here and I make no claim to have it figured out. Careful measurements can however help in the long run.
     

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    Last edited: May 4, 2011
  12. Nick JD

    Nick JD Doctor of Teleocity Ad Free Member

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    How do Gibson press the plates in their 2011 ES335s?

    Do they still use the "vintage" technique?
     
  13. telemcCaster

    telemcCaster Tele-Holic

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    On another note each of those peaks in the sound spectrum relate to the physical strength and stiffness characteristics of the plate. Engineers use this type of testing to determine longitudinal and crosswise stiffness of timbers and other materials.
     
    Last edited: May 4, 2011
  14. telemcCaster

    telemcCaster Tele-Holic

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    I-G-N-O-R-E
     
  15. preeb

    preeb Poster Extraordinaire Vendor Member

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    The glue itself is water based and the thin veneers suck a lot of moisture in the process both ways. It takes a couple of days for the wood to acclimate because it's very thin.
    Another thing is the fact that the inner side of the body laminations is un finished and will allow the wood to further "breath".
    Like on acoustic instruments, you can notice tonality change on humid periods and it will be wise to never expose those to extreme elements.
    A little climate control pack is also recommended in the HSC and they are available today and come in a very small and cheap packages.
    Bottom line, TMHO, is that both methods result with the same outcome.
     
  16. Nick JD

    Nick JD Doctor of Teleocity Ad Free Member

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    WTF?
     
  17. Nick JD

    Nick JD Doctor of Teleocity Ad Free Member

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    Thanks, Gil.
     
  18. preeb

    preeb Poster Extraordinaire Vendor Member

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    Thanks Fred. Thank you for your kind offer. I'd definitely contact you.
    Interesting enough, I have examined and measured three early 33x guitars (one was an EB2) and The variations are many and not subtle to say the least(-;
    It would be great having more specs measured.
     
  19. preeb

    preeb Poster Extraordinaire Vendor Member

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    You hit the nail right on its head Nick. That is still the biggest enigma I'm facing but I'll be able to have a solid answer only after experimenting with the mentioned variables in the future. For now, my instincts are telling me to go with a light core (soft or silver maple) and dense (all maple) laminations.
    I think Ken can input more on that subject.
     
  20. preeb

    preeb Poster Extraordinaire Vendor Member

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    LOL... yes... you are correct of course. But even a copy needs a proto.
     
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