1959 ES-335TD proto build

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

  1. telemcCaster

    telemcCaster Tele-Holic

    Age:
    61
    Posts:
    637
    Joined:
    Jun 5, 2010
    Location:
    Michigan
    Thanks for the kind words everyone.

    The ES guitar is made of wood just like any other guitar of that period. Plywood gets a bad rap, you won't read that phrase again here. The Kalamazoo factory on Parsons Street did not use it (the evil p word) to make their laminated guitars, they pressed wood laminates to the shape of a guitar. After WWII there was much R&D that went into making structures of laminated wood and Kalamazoo was right in the middle of this.

    Parson's Street employed many skilled luthiers who could carve a fantastic archtop plate before lunch so they had the skill to carve a mold. The original pattern was then used to make a veneer press. The technology utilized thin veneers that were pressed to shape inside a mold and then held in place while heat was applied to set the glue. This took just a few minutes using the Phenyl formaldehyde glue.

    I am not going to discuss much of this now and will go on to more interesting things but will gladly return if there is further interest.

    I had much difficulty finding the correct veneer thickness and size to make lam plates. I searched high and low and finally found a custom veneer slicer right here in Michigan where the original stuff came from. He now supplies me with my custom cut veneer and even delivers it right to my shop.

    And here is an original ES 345 TD of a friend comparing to one of my bodies on my bench.
     

    Attached Files:

  2. preeb

    preeb Poster Extraordinaire Vendor Member

    Age:
    53
    Posts:
    6,630
    Joined:
    Sep 10, 2008
    Location:
    Sonoran Desert
    Thank you, but for now you should address this to Ken.
    In any case... the prize should go to a small group of people working in the Gibson plant back in 1958... we are still walking in their shadows trying to figure out how they did what they did from scratch.
     
    boredguy6060 likes this.
  3. LC100

    LC100 Tele-Meister

    Posts:
    184
    Joined:
    Dec 8, 2010
    Location:
    florida
    Questions:

    What thickness are the veneer layers?

    What is finished veneer thickness and is there a difference between front and back plate?

    Why PF glue (I know but think it should be stated)?
     
  4. telemcCaster

    telemcCaster Tele-Holic

    Age:
    61
    Posts:
    637
    Joined:
    Jun 5, 2010
    Location:
    Michigan
    To make the first prototype body I needed to decide how I would press the plates. There were several choices. I had been pressing laminated plates for years but always used thinner veneer. This thick stuff was going to be a challenge, I thought. Using a vacuum press sounds elaborate but is really pretty simple technology. I will show some photos later in the tread. But first I need to make a mold for the veneers to conform to while glue is set.

    I have been using a formaldehyde glue called urea formaldehyde which is similar to PF glue and the glue line has proved to be unmeasurable. I am satisfied with how it works and have guitars that are several years old which are fine. This glue will set without added heat but takes hours and hours instead of minutes. In a production situation this would be impractical but for a small shop it works fine. To make a set of plates, I can have the vacuum run over night and take them out in the morning.

    There is a photo above that shows the cast of the original's back. The back and front plates are identical in this type of guitar so luckily one mold will be sufficient. This cast was used to make a mold. To do this I simply put it face down and covered it with a square of plywood about 24X18 inches with large 3/4 inch holes drilled to squirt in some plaster of paris. The cast was covered with plastic wrap to preserve it and allow removal of the mold.

    Veneer bends and conforms to very radius depending on its strength properties and thickness. Veneer laminates will then spring back to a flatter shape depending on these properties and the number of layers glued together. I am going to discuss the veneer thickness later and how they relate to the historic example that I copied as well as some other years. I had to compensate for the inevitable sprint-back by applying some additional material to the mold. It is really just trial and error and I had to do several tests to get this right.

    Here you can see me adding auto body bondo to the mold in strategic places. I did this and sanded it until the pressed plates came out right.

    like this...Hah hah a Gil copycat.
     

    Attached Files:

    Last edited: May 3, 2011
  5. clarksguitars

    clarksguitars TDPRI Member

    Posts:
    12
    Joined:
    Sep 9, 2008
    Location:
    West Lorne, Ontario Canada
    I too received quality products from Ken - specifically the top / bottom plates and ribs. This was before he was doing the bodies but I think the results speak for themselves. Without Ken this wouldn't have been at all possible. Thanks again Ken!

    [​IMG]
     
  6. telemcCaster

    telemcCaster Tele-Holic

    Age:
    61
    Posts:
    637
    Joined:
    Jun 5, 2010
    Location:
    Michigan
    Hey Austin, thanks. That is a beauty for sure. Got any sound clips of that.

    By the way, that beautiful whitey is a different shape in the horns and different laminates which will be discussed in this thread.
     
  7. junk mutt

    junk mutt Tele-Meister

    Age:
    50
    Posts:
    412
    Joined:
    May 12, 2008
    Location:
    Englandland
    I am not going to discuss much of this now and will go on to more interesting things but will gladly return if there is further interest.

    Any further interest ?? Are you kidding ?? :eek:

    Ken, with all due respect, we need to know everything.
    I mean EVERYTHING. :lol:
    This is the highlight for me so far this year !!
    In my humble opinion the 335 is one of the most beautiful guitars in the world.
     
    boredguy6060 likes this.
  8. Sterling Indigo

    Sterling Indigo Friend of Leo's

    Posts:
    2,402
    Joined:
    Sep 4, 2008
    Location:
    East Lansing
    WOWZ, another impeccable Preeb build, 335 no less! With Michigan representin'... Welcome Ken, I'm very excited to subscribe this thread.
     
  9. clarksguitars

    clarksguitars TDPRI Member

    Posts:
    12
    Joined:
    Sep 9, 2008
    Location:
    West Lorne, Ontario Canada
  10. preeb

    preeb Poster Extraordinaire Vendor Member

    Age:
    53
    Posts:
    6,630
    Joined:
    Sep 10, 2008
    Location:
    Sonoran Desert
    Here's a nice video showing the use of the old press machines



    Gibson used many different ways to shorten glue curing time to cut production time including Heat over PF glue like we see in the video and microwave ("Radio") to cure UF and PF in smaller gluing jobs such as maple top jointing, neck ears...etc...
    Another design aspect of the laminate body of the 335 was to reduce feedback and not only to save time and $$$.
     
  11. alexands

    alexands TDPRI Member

    Age:
    49
    Posts:
    69
    Joined:
    Apr 20, 2010
    Location:
    Kingston, Canada
    telemcCaster and Preeb - thank you both for your willingness to share your knowledge and skill.

    I am really looking forward to watching this!
     
  12. Paradoxo

    Paradoxo TDPRI Member

    Posts:
    49
    Joined:
    Jan 27, 2010
    Location:
    Europe
    Awesome Guys!!! Thanks a lot - this will be a killer Thread!! ;)

    bye a very curious
    Paradoxo
     
  13. Shepherd

    Shepherd Friend of Leo's

    Posts:
    4,113
    Joined:
    Jan 17, 2008
    Location:
    Maple Ridge, Canada
    Nice work Ken. I've been planning on getting one of your top sets for a couple of years now but something always comes up and back to my dream list it goes.
     
    Last edited: May 4, 2011
  14. telemcCaster

    telemcCaster Tele-Holic

    Age:
    61
    Posts:
    637
    Joined:
    Jun 5, 2010
    Location:
    Michigan
    Here is the mold ready to be duplicated. This will serve as a master that can be changed if necessary. I can then make 2 more working molds to press the plates. My vacuum bag allows 2 plates to be pressed.

    You can see the master plate mold with a mock up of the outline and controls. Please notice the locating holes to and fro. These are critical in locating the plates to each and every subsequent jig so everything lines up correctly.

    Thanks Gil for posting the vids.

    Austin, that fiddle sounds good. Nice cutting ability above the band. Those are Gibson pups as I recall.
     

    Attached Files:

  15. telemcCaster

    telemcCaster Tele-Holic

    Age:
    61
    Posts:
    637
    Joined:
    Jun 5, 2010
    Location:
    Michigan
    ***
    dupicate
     
  16. preeb

    preeb Poster Extraordinaire Vendor Member

    Age:
    53
    Posts:
    6,630
    Joined:
    Sep 10, 2008
    Location:
    Sonoran Desert
    Here's the actual oven/press from the old Kalamazoo factory.
    All the original 50's laminate body plates were made with this very tool.
    I believe Gibson still keeps it in working condition.
    It's worth mentioning that heat, although normally used to keep wood flexible as it bends, has been applied here for a another reason, to cure the glue almost instantly. Therefore, the use of overnight vacuum VS heat press is perfectly fine as long as the glue film has a "zero" thickness and the target plate shape is achieved with no voids between the veneer layers. I find this bit of info important since not all the original factory methods are available to us and finding the right workaround is crucial to achieving the same results in a reasonable way + understanding the original methods is important in order to determine if the workaround is acceptable.
    The only concern I presented to Ken regarding this stage was the "zero" glue film and Ken measured the total thickness to verify it was indeed the exact sum of the pre glued veneers.

    [​IMG]
     
  17. tangelolemon

    tangelolemon Tele-Meister

    Posts:
    164
    Joined:
    Dec 19, 2009
    Location:
    Brooklyn, NY
    yesssss at last!
     
  18. Nick JD

    Nick JD Doctor of Teleocity Ad Free Member

    Posts:
    17,552
    Joined:
    May 12, 2007
    Location:
    Queensland, Australia
    I wonder if there will be much tonal variation between a vacuum bagged and a heat pressed 335 - especially with the heat acting on the veneer's moisture content? I wouldn't think so, but it's a big part of the "vintage correctness", isn't it?
     
  19. telemcCaster

    telemcCaster Tele-Holic

    Age:
    61
    Posts:
    637
    Joined:
    Jun 5, 2010
    Location:
    Michigan
    Nah,

    I now press my sides with heat similarly to the old Gibby press, only a manual type, and having done it cold with a vacuum previously, I am convinced there is no difference in the wood properties. I do have a hot plate press in the works so this will be a good way to confirm. I only expect it to speed up the glue cure and make no other difference.

    There is other things to worry about like getting the plates to behave after pressing as moisture from the glue and wood evaporates. I will be discussing this.
     
  20. zook

    zook Friend of Leo's

    Posts:
    2,419
    Joined:
    Aug 6, 2003
    Location:
    Cochise, AZ
    I am in Awe! I love 335's

    Winnie
     
IMPORTANT: Treat everyone here with respect, no matter how difficult!
No sex, drug, political, religion or hate discussion permitted here.


  1. This site uses cookies to help personalise content, tailor your experience and to keep you logged in if you register.
    By continuing to use this site, you are consenting to our use of cookies.