1959 Les Paul Build

preeb

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This is interesting Gil, Thanks for posting it. I love the sound of P90's, it is probably my favorite pickup.

Let me know if you run out of that soft maple, a sawyer just came over to show me some and claims to have a barn full of it.

Sure...How old is it?
Michigan maple?
I'd love to see a sample.
BTW, when you say soft maple do you mean real soft or just a less dense hard Eastern?
 

telemcCaster

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I don't know the age but I believe it is air dried. Basically my supplier said he has whatever I need. He brought samples of birds eye maple which is hard and some curly hard maple and gave me a sample of his Red Maple which is soft but not soft as Silver Maple.

He is real knowledgeable regarding the areas of Michigan where he can harvest old growth timber and has done so for years and also his father before him.

Look for an email.
 

telemcCaster

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Oh what the heck, why not post it here...one more post won't hurt anything. Let me know if I overstepped my bounds and I will remove it.
 

telemcCaster

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Carl gave me a board to check out, he doesn't have a website or anything like that, just a truck a barn and a list of local luthiers and cabinet makers.

I was curious what is in here after mentioning this to Gil so I will mill it and show here.

First I cross cut it to 30 inches since I don't have a LP template. :?:

The shorter lengths will be easier to plane flat and I wanted to preserve as much thickness as possible. Then I jointed one edge.

Next I skim planed one side to almost perfectly flat.
 

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telemcCaster

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Freeze...I'm holding this tread hostage.

Then I flipped the jointer bed out of the way and rolled up the planer bed and thicknesed it in a few passes.

Then back to the saw where I run a couple of kerfs down the center...

and off to the bandsaw to saw it in half.

Like this. :lol:
 

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telemcCaster

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And then back to the planer to thickness the books and smooth the rough sawn surface.

Here are the photos I was going to email Gil. I doubt he is up now it is 5:15 PM in Michigan and 1:15 AM in Israel.
 

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telemcCaster

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...back to the regularly scheduled episode...

This board was quartersawn so it might not be the correct orientation for LP caps, I haven't looked at enough of them, nor have I made one. This is just one example of the some of the wood Carl has in his barn and again he knows where the trees are here and in the Upper Peninsula.

Here are two other boards, one a birdseye maple which is a hard, heavy maple and the other is hard curly maple. I am not a wood expert by any means but notice the short curls and swirly circular grain lines evident on the hard maple board where the curls of the soft maple board run parallel to each other and are long.
 

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Scooby Snax

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And I use a very thin kerfed blade. Everything I know is stolen from somewhere else.

I'ts pretty rare to innovate... we pinch things from here and there, and make them our own. I do this all the time at work. makes the day easier when you can work more efficiently or without having to have EVERY tool ever made in your tool box.

When I was an apprentice, it was called the "dirty lesson of the day", those little tricks to get by without having to walk 10 block back to the truck or job box.
 

preeb

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Thank you Ken.

Did a thin nitro sanding sealer coat. Sanding sealer is somewhat less clear than lacquer due to the high solids and it adds a slight golden tint and depth to the bare mahogany which I like a lot. I'll continue with the finishing including the GT and do the P90's while the finish cures soon enough. Stay tuned (-;

IMG_1631-1.jpg
 

neighbour

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This board was quartersawn so it might not be the correct orientation for LP caps, I haven't looked at enough of them, nor have I made one. This is just one example of the some of the wood Carl has in his barn and again he knows where the trees are here and in the Upper Peninsula.

Here are two other boards, one a birdseye maple which is a hard, heavy maple and the other is hard curly maple. I am not a wood expert by any means but notice the short curls and swirly circular grain lines evident on the hard maple board where the curls of the soft maple board run parallel to each other and are long.

Hey Ken!
you have some nice info overthere regarding that maple, why don't you open a new dedicated thread for that stuff?
 

preeb

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The 56 GT bronze spray coat will be done last because I don't wish to contaminate the other instruments on the current spraying batch. One of those other builds is a Brock burst. I don't think I ever posted that vivid color scheme so here it is. This is only the sealed color coat and the binding hasn't been scraped yet. It will get an old golden lacquer clear coat but it already looks very nice. Most like their builds finished with the classic faded 58-59 sunburst and I rarely do a NOS Cherry, so here it is with a non faded back as well.

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preeb

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Gibson changed the pickguard templates a few times during the GT period.
The early ones had a 1/8" wider space between the PU's and had their own guard of course but in 1956 there were at least two types of guards. One had a bigger outline and a tight fit under the P90's the other was a bit smaller (and shorter) with a wider gap for the bridge P90 resulting with a loose fit and a 1/8" space in front of the bridge PU.
I made both types for this 56 build.

The old guards were made on a copier machine where the user followed the outline with a guiding stylus on one end of the arm while the other end run the cutting router over the sheet. I don't have a dedicated tool to do that but the result is identical with the same cutting marks on the edge.
I start with a few '58-'59 and two '56 drawing on the sheet

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Rough cut

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Very fast trimming to get the proper chatter marks on the edge

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Guiding drills for the mounting screws in the right places (that too varied between the different guards)

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Chamfering for the screw heads

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A tiny bit of top edge scraping and it's all done

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Here are the two types against each other so you could notice the differences

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This is probably one of the last pickguard batches for me...
I really need to concentrate on core woodworking and outsource most of the parts making jobs. Marc Rutters is already doing some of the metal parts for me and the pickguards from Mojoaxe are fantastic (and match my other plastics in color) + he can do any custom outline to order... I'll definitely keep making my own PU's though (-;
 
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preeb

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Brown back covers cut. Same size as the bursts but a different color and material.

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Here's a couple of close up shots of the tooling marks I mentioned above

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and... the little jack plate. I usually do them slightly thicker than the original spec because I want them to survive in battle but I went with the correct thickness this time (-;

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335 Reasons

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Great work as always Gil! By the way, here's a photo of a 1952 LP GT that was "converted" for ABR, STP and PAF's (not without problems). You can see the 3 piece top. I played this guitar yesterday. Two other pictures of Muddy and Freddie and their LP GT
 

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preeb

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Time to do the gold top or rather... the bronze top (-;
In the past I used the Crescent Bronze company #256 and #255 mix to get a "good enough" GT but it always looked "almost accurate" to me. If you looked at it as it was it looked great but when I inspected it against my original GT it was too flat looking and didn't have that magical depth and grainy look of the real deal original.
After many tests and discussions with experienced luthier friends over the years I came to a couple of conclusions:
1) The current CB #256 and #255 products have smaller size bronze/aluminum particles than the original GT
2) There was more in the powder than just bronze powder...

So... I tried quit a few imported and local bronze/Aluminum powders mostly used in the car paint industries and I finally matched the color and size of the bronze particles alone at a local hobby store... LOL... The seller told me it is mostly used to paint Feng Shui articles (maybe pumpkins or something...) . Since it was pure bronze/aluminum mix I felt comfortable enough to call it "Eureka" and bought the entire can.
The next issue was to find how the old ones got that depth and grainy texture.
A good luthier friend already had the original GT tested in a lab under a microscope and the bottom line was lamp black and raw umber powder.
Once I knew what the ingredients were it was only a matter of mixing ratios and tests.
Main issue was with the commercialy available lamp black powder... it was just too thin, so I scraped some of carbon from my car's (and the neighbour's) exhaust pipe. It's actually the same stuff called "lamp black" but the particles were a little bigger.
I'll save you the rest of the mixing tests, but the final mix is as follows:

bronze powder 85%, 7.5% raw umber, 7.5% mix of small and large black lamp powder.

I can't say that all of the original GTs look the same of course but that mix looks like the GTs I like (-;

Here's the operation.
I'll use a dedicated GT gun for two reasons:
1) it's impossible to 100% clean the powder from the gun after usage
2) I want a little bit of leftover powder in the clear coats to follow

The gun is a cheap one and you'll see why in a minute.

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Before the powder application, the top must be prepared. I start with a 220 and gradually move up to 400. Anything finer than 400 grit will prevent good addhession, especially for metallic layers. I make sure *ALL* the shiny spots are gone and end up with a smooth surface.
I now wipe it with naphtha
and inspect the top against a natural light source. All is well.

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preeb

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I now mix the powder. I use a small mixing cup to create the dry powder mix first.
You can already see the bronze, umber and black in there.

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Now it's added to a 1/2 cup of nitro thinner. The umber and carbon float over the bronze

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but when mixed it turns into that beautiful GT stuff (-;
It's important to use a clear glass mixing container because the color seen from the outside is the actual top color.

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I create a thin lacquer mix by adding the above gold powdered thinner to a 1/2 cup clear Nitro lacquer. A little test on scrap... Beautiful!

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