1959 Les Paul Build

Discussion in 'Tele Home Depot' started by preeb, Jan 14, 2010.

  1. BlueEbenzer

    BlueEbenzer TDPRI Member

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    Wow, this thread has been inactive for a pretty long time!
    So I am about to start with an amateur build of a '59 LP, and I reached the dilemma of African or Honduran. I'm just sharing what I think in case it would help others. So here are my reasons:
    1.) A specifics freak like Preeb has thumbs-up'ed it
    2.) I've seen those order papers of African Mahog somewhere on the internet myself.
    3.) From what I've gathered, Honduran Mahogany's grain is strictly striped in straight lines as a rule, while African comes in patterns, which sets it apart from Honduran Mahogany. You can see patterned Mahogany in all '59 LPs (maybe save one or two, because Gibson), which IMO confirms that it'd be the African kind and ONLY '50s Reissues have those Honduran straight striped grain on them (maybe except for the late 90s-2007 because apparently it got out that Gibson used African Mahogany during those years).

    Any thoughts are welcome, but please no wars :p

    Thanks,
    R.
     
  2. guitarbuilder

    guitarbuilder Telefied Ad Free Member

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    I don't have one blank of Honduran that exhibits straight stripes, as it is all flatsawn. Any LP's over the years that I've owned, have exhibited flatsawn grain on the back. I myself don't care for the effect of straight grain in Epiphone LP's so I'd be more interested in anything but that. More importantly, I'd be more concerned with the weight and lean towards what you prefer it look like.


    I'm not a fan of this kind of look:

    https://www.guitarandbassbuild.co.uk/collections/b-tone-woods/sapele-tone-wood-bass/

    I'm a fan of this:

    https://www.stewmac.com/Materials_a...MI3NTGuP_H4QIVw5CfCh3TdQvMEAQYASABEgII6fD_BwE
     
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  3. BlueEbenzer

    BlueEbenzer TDPRI Member

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    Yeah, okay I agree on that, the first link sucks.
    Second one is awesome and those are some amazing patterns on it. Which is weird because most of the places I've read say that African has designs which set it apart, as I said before. Maybe it depends on how it's cut? :thinking:
    But tbh that first one is a bad example because African can also look like this: https://www.hardwood-lumber.com/african-mahogany-wide-plank-butcher-block-countertop/ , and this is more of what is seen in the '50s LPs: https://www.frettedamericana.com/sites/default/files/00645_back_detail.jpg , http://www.pinrepair.com/vgi/gibson/56_lespaul_4.jpg.

    Maybe we'll never know. But I trust Gil's quote : "African can get lighter than the lightest Honduran." And they didn't have any funky stuff going on inside the body back then.
     
  4. BlueEbenzer

    BlueEbenzer TDPRI Member

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    @preeb Did the guitar you refret by any chance happen to be a stripped burst? :eek:
    I was reading up on Paul Kossoff's stripped burst and this is what I found:

    The frets were changed again in 2009, and the job was very well done with nicely rounded fret ends. The binding is original. When the fret ends were dressed and polished, some lacquer would naturally be lost, so the binding was masked off from the neck in the process and had some touch-up lacquer applied, which was very well done.

    Two '59s refretted in the same year?
     
  5. preeb

    preeb Poster Extraordinaire Vendor Member

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    No. original finish.
    The Kossoff burst was done by someone else and I did get the full specs and drawings from that guitar as well BTW. Not that it matters these days anyway (-;
     
    Last edited: Jun 4, 2019
  6. BlueEbenzer

    BlueEbenzer TDPRI Member

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    Wooaaahh. That's absolutely cool. I'm jealous :p xD
    Koss' burst is holy to me
     
    Last edited: May 23, 2019
  7. preeb

    preeb Poster Extraordinaire Vendor Member

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    Funny to mention.. some asked me why the horns on some of those old builds were skinny/pointier than the average and the reason was the Kossoff blueprints.
    I had 4 full blueprints of 59 LP's and 2 of them came from rather famous bursts, one being the Kossoff which had that pointy horn and somewhat off control drills by about 2-3mm, so all the ones made from that template are exact copies of the Kossoff.

    here it is with its large cutaway..

    [​IMG]
     
  8. BlueEbenzer

    BlueEbenzer TDPRI Member

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    That is sooo so coool. I discovered TDPRI way too late, if you know what I mean. :))
    Also yeah I always did notice something strange going on with Koss' bursts but I couldn't place my finger on it. Looked like the image was laterally stretched but everything else looked normal... that must've helped him a lot for the vibrato that high up. Maybe. In the videos I've seen, the only movement is from his fingers bending. Wrist doesn't move, neck doesn't move. Magical.
     
  9. gtrmaker

    gtrmaker TDPRI Member

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    Hi Gil,

    Since moving to the U.S. have you had any luck sourcing a low or no plasticizer Nitrocellulose lacquer?
     
  10. preeb

    preeb Poster Extraordinaire Vendor Member

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    Only way is to find pure nitrocellulose resin and mix with proper thinners. You can then add as much oil as you like or none at all.
    Note that the resin is highly flameable and illegal in some states.
     
  11. musikus70

    musikus70 NEW MEMBER!

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    365 pages full of knowledge! That's fantastic!
    But no single word about setting up the pickups!
    I'm tinkering every day with the pickups on my Les Paul to find the perfect tone.
    When I looked at the photos on Gil's guitars I noticed that he set the screws really low. Is it to make the neckpickup less muddy and the bridge pickup fatter?
     
  12. preeb

    preeb Poster Extraordinaire Vendor Member

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    Tinkering every day may indicate that this is not the instrument and/or pickups for you.
    It is hard to get a good guitar with a good matched set of pu's to sound bad, just as it is impossible to make the wrong guitar sound great by messing with the pu's...

    My PAF's are wound and designed to sound very clear and articulated, almost like a fat p90 which is the way i like them and also the prefered 50's tone on the old LP's. If otherwise, where PAF's are somewhat muddy or "modern" sounding, raising the poles will get them closer to a single coil and may help to clear them a little.
    On my PAF's I set the poles low to maximize the humbucking character which doesn't make them muddy or boomy due to their basic clear nature.
     
  13. musikus70

    musikus70 NEW MEMBER!

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    At first: Merry Christmas to you and your family!

    Thanks for your reply, Gil. For me you are the guitar builder hero. The guitar building process of your guitars is just unbelievable. Never heard of another guitarbuilder that goes so deep into detail as you. Just fantastic!

    Back to the topic:
    I'm using the "spirit of 59s" from Amber Pickups. These are paf'ish pickups. Low output, clear sound. I don't like the sound of hot humbucker pickups.
    My experience of lowering the screws of the bridge pickup will make the sound fatter and for the neck position it will make the sound clearer. That makes physically sense because in both cases the slug coil comes more into play.
    For neck position: slug coil is nearer the bridge. The sound gets tighter and clearer
    For bridge position: slug coil is nearer the 12th fret. The sound gets fuller.
    After looking at photos of your 59 Bursts I've noticed that you setup the screws exact this way.
    After setting the screws on my humbuckers this way now I'm very pleased with the sound and I don't think I need the screwdriver anymore

    Greetings from Germany
    Markus
     
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  14. Fred_Garvin

    Fred_Garvin Tele-Holic

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    I know I'm a couple days late but happy Hanukkah, Gil. Thanks for all your posts especially this thread. I make better guitars because of you and the others here.
     
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  15. preeb

    preeb Poster Extraordinaire Vendor Member

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    Early LP top carving is one of the major tasks one has to figure out when trying to recreate it.
    I've seen many different ways to produce a somewhat accurate copy of those illusive old tops but there's more to it than the eye can see..

    The 50's Les Paul models (Standard and Custom) shared the same top shape at a given time but Gibson did make a few changes to the model between 1952 and 1960.
    Those changes also forced a change to the top shape to accommodate for the raising neck angle but I will not get into detail about the early changes since this is burst thread.

    There are a few factors that determine the final top shape of a 58-60 LP, some are fixed and some vary due to tooling and hand operations:

    Innitial top roughing

    Same carving cutter machine was used to rough carve the tops . It was a simple auto duplicarver with a following wheel connected on axis to a round cutter of the same diameter.
    The following wheel would follow a wooden dummy template and the cutter roughed the maple top.
    The Dummy template was copied from a stored master template and whenever the dummy got deformed they would either patch it for reuse or create a new dummy from the master template using the same duplicarver.
    The Dummy used on the first Bursts in 1958 was already in use for the 1957 gold tops but I could not get any info as far as when it was first used.
    The one thing I do know is that in very early 1960 (or even very late 1959) the dummy was so badly patched that they cut a fresh one from the master. This was also a part of other changes that happened at that period as part of the move to the new building. This bit of information is crucial for understanding some of the variances seen on burst tops over the 58-60 period,

    [​IMG] [​IMG]


    Slack Belt Sanding


    Next step that affected the shape of the tops was sanding.
    Sanding was needed to remove the rough cutting marks left by the Duplicarver disc and Gibson used the Slack Belt Sander (still in the old Kalamazoo Factory) across the production line for most models.
    Some models needed just a gentle pass (like pressed top/back 33x models) but the LP had to be aggressively smoothed due to the extremely roughed ridges of the top.
    The job was to press the sanding belt down as it was spinning against the maple top and move it in a certain way to remove the cutting marks completely without changing the carving shape much. The body could also slide left and right to allow the belt to cover the whole top area.
    This job was very aggressive and a few of the workers performed it depending their availability as they were performing a few jobs at the factory.. so it is only natural to figure out that every top would come out of this process a little different.
    Generally speaking, yes, the tops are all different, but they still share the same basic shape that is so unique to the old LP's.

    [​IMG]



    Binding and Final Sanding

    Once the top came out smooth from the slack belt sanding it would receive the side smoothing sanding and the binding channel would be cut following the top smooth edge.
    This ensured a fixed depth/width binding channel and the ABS binding were glued.
    The binding strip was a little proud above the maple and needed to be sanded down which created the last stage of the top shaping. The binding were sanded down manually and there will always be a flat section between the recurve and the edge of the body.. the width and roundness of this outer sanded area can change between the different guitars. Some were done delicately and have very little maple removed and some have a wider area that can even drop lower at the edge of the body... like any manual operation, it all depends on who did the job and what was his mood at that moment (-;


    Knowing the above three stages is the root to understanding a 50's LP top and the different variants we see.
    I had a dummy made from a 1957 GT and even though it was pretty nice and well defined it had very shallow recurve and a drop on the edge. Not exactly my favorite...
    I personally love the overly sanded deep recurve tops with a sharper edge so when I slack belt sanded those tops at the time I changed the initial design to my preference.




    The Fresh Dummy Project


    Since starting the proto project I had 3 more scans done on another 57 and two 59's but they all looked a bit overly sanded or maybe cut on a worn dummy missing the correct sharp original shape of a fresh dummy (or the master template for that matter). My goal was to hunt down a very early 1960 that still has all the 59 specs but a "NEW" fresh top that is well defined, knowing that those must have had a fresh dummy as mentioned above. Obviously... it is not easy to get an original clean old LP for scanning and I wouldn't even ask most people that have them because I don't want to put them in an uncomfortable situation... LOL
    But I got lucky a couple of years ago when a close friend bought one and was very happy to trust me with it.
    This very early 1960 is a super clean guitar but the most important thing about it is the crisp and super well defined top. The wait was worth it and the info I got from the old guys in Kalamazoo was correct.

    [​IMG]



    Here she is on the right along side another very famous 60... (-;

    [​IMG]



    Next part will show how I do an accurate scanning without damaging or risking the guitar...
     
    Last edited: Feb 19, 2021
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  16. E-miel

    E-miel Tele-Meister

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    Read the whole thread a few years ago. Nice to see it gets more valuable information! Thank you @preeb!
     
  17. preeb

    preeb Poster Extraordinaire Vendor Member

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    Before I start with the scanning I wanted to show what I have been looking for in a "fresh" top.
    Look at the sharply defined edges, the straight drop from edge to recurve and the location of the recurve being closer to the edges compared to a worn out, patched and sanded dummy.
    Hard to see if you don't know what you are looking for but for those who need this information I assume you follow (-;

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]


    [​IMG]
     
    Last edited: Feb 19, 2021
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  18. moosie

    moosie Doctor of Teleocity Silver Supporter

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    Interesting, Gil. My Collings CL has a very well-defined recurve. I wonder if Bill had the same idea as you: liked the original sharp-edge top.


    Collings CL.png
     
  19. old wrench

    old wrench Friend of Leo's

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    This is the first time I've seen those factory pictures, along with the explanation.

    Very informative, Thanks Gil !!!

    .
     
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  20. preeb

    preeb Poster Extraordinaire Vendor Member

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    For digital scanning I use my trusted MicroScribe 6MX which is a 4 axis scanning arm.
    This tool allows me to locate points down to 2 thousands of an inch accuracy which is required in this case because I will scan the entire guitar and all its parts, but lets concentrate on the top here.

    This is the arm, attached to a thick solid base plate that holds the scanned object. I used table cookies to protect the valuable.... object (-;
    The arm is connected directly to my laptop via USB and through a driver into the Rhino software. Every point is manually scanned by gently and slowly placing the ruby point on the top and recording its location into Rhino. I later process the input points to compensate for the ruby ball radius of coarse.

    [​IMG]


    After many hours and a painful arm and shoulder I get the raw point cloud.
    The PU and fretboard sections will be patched later..

    [​IMG]



    Note that I have collected more points in the more crucial locations

    [​IMG]



    As I scan I do a quick rendering just to verify all went ok. I create a surface and body layout and render the raw top (pre processing).


    [​IMG]




    [​IMG]



    I also scanned the entire guitar and parts to add and compare with the existing scans data... can't have enough of it I guess (-;

    Plastics

    [​IMG]


    Cavities (all levels 3d)

    [​IMG]


    [​IMG]


    Frets, inlay corners, nut, Headstock...

    [​IMG] [​IMG]


    Once done I upload all the data to the server, thank the owner and head back home for a llllllong drive...
    Next is post processing..
     
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