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1959 replica Les Paul build - my take with modern engineering

Discussion in 'Tele Home Depot' started by Woodworm_Dan, Jan 1, 2021.

  1. Woodworm_Dan

    Woodworm_Dan TDPRI Member

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    More info on that later, but that's exactly it!
     
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  2. GunsOfBrixton

    GunsOfBrixton Tele-Afflicted

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    Are you only making the one copy? Or are all of those necks for more builds?
    In your initial post you mentioned that the Gibson logo was only for historical accuracy . Does that mean you are putting a Gibson logo on it? Are you going to mark the body or neck in some other way to denote it is a copy? I know you stated that none of this was sale and I applaud that. But as we know, guitars outlive their owners.

    As a CNC user, I am enjoying your detailed work process.
     
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  3. Woodworm_Dan

    Woodworm_Dan TDPRI Member

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    Ah I see what you mean. That’s a good point you highlight. I haven’t decided yet about the Gibson logo, but we will find a way to ID it in a way that clearly states it’s a replica. Probably a weird serial number. Not sure yet.

    About the neck stock, we did a few of them for the following reasons : first, mistakes happen with cnc, and we scrapped one in the process. Also, if you watch carefully some are slightly different, because the luthier i’m doing this with, has his own models and the neck stocks are for both the replicas and his own models. During the stock preparation and simulation on the 3D I made sure the 59 neck would fit in his neck stocks.



    We did a prototype with Poplar too, so... will see how many we’re doing as close as the real deal : 1 for sure, maybe 2. Not more.
     
    Last edited: Jan 5, 2021
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  4. Freeman Keller

    Freeman Keller Poster Extraordinaire

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    Dan, you might want to have your legal council review this

    https://www.reddit.com/link/c1p9kc/video/zhucj5uxvx431/player
     
  5. Woodworm_Dan

    Woodworm_Dan TDPRI Member

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    Thanks for that.

    I agree with everything he said. This endeavour of mine is in fact a ode to what Gibson did and still does. I am not - and won’t - make any money from this under any circumstances. The amount of people around the world that have been inspired to become guitar builders after doing replicas is proof of the genius of Gibson I think.

    They invented it and they deserve the praise - and money - that comes with it. Me doing a replica and share it with the world won’t hinder that one bit. In fact I think it will be quite the opposite. In my case it made me appreciate even more the amount of work that went into these instruments.

    So that being said...I will make sure that if ever someone looks at the instrument I did...they will know for sure it’s not trying to be the real deal.
     
  6. Woodworm_Dan

    Woodworm_Dan TDPRI Member

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    Hello everyone, thank you for all your comments.

    So, are you ready to start making some wood chips?

    Before we go any further, another important disclaimer:
    The CNC was used because it's the tool we have available that offers the most "ease of use" in our context.
    It has nothing to do with mass production, profit or anything like that. It does allow for consistency and accuracy.
    It's kind of weird to talk about "ease of use" after sharing such an intricate engineering process.
    But for me, it's what I do for a living. My brain is hardwired to think in 3D and toolpaths and such. I guess i've been doing this far too long.
    I am a CAD/CAM specialist, not a luthier. If you ask me to use a hand router, a shaper and chisels...I'm going to get a couple of fingers chopped off really fast.
    The approach was to try and be as close as possible to the CAD files using modern tools - and without me getting killed in the process.

    So...here we go, chapter 5: the Fingerboard.

    As I said previously, scale length was 24-3/4 inches, calculated with the Rule of 18.
    That gave a "wrong" fret spacing, but in the end the important thing is that the guitar plays in tune.

    A 59 Burst required 5 things in order to make a fretboard:
    1. Wood
    2. Inlays
    3. Binding
    4. Frets
    5. Glue

    Wood used back then was Brazilian rosewood - Dalbergia nigra. Luckily, we had some of this "gold" in stock.

    Here it is right out of the CNC:

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]


    As you can see, there's still some hand work involved.
    Wood moves and "breathes" after it was cut, even if properly dried and seasoned. So if we want to get things done the right way, we need to give it some space.
    Then, start the sanding and finishing process.

    Here we see the inlays being installed. Originaly, the inlay pockets had a curved bottom. We did the same here.
    Then, the inlays would be glued using somekind of curved block, pressed into place.


    [​IMG]

    Talking about inlays. Back in the 50's, inlay material for this particular instrument came from an italian company called Mazzucchelli.
    They supplied the raw material, something called cellulose nitrate. I guess one of the reasons was that it looked like Mother of pearl, but much cheaper and easier to work with.
    The guys at Kalamazoo probably didn't know back then, but this material shrinks over time, giving a "sloppy" look. A very distinctive aged look.
    But even if some of the inlay pockets could've been routed with a certain "looseness", they wouldn't have huge gaps like we see on the vintage instruments today.
    That came from the material shrinking over time - decades actually.

    Here are a few pictures of the process.

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]


    So, once the inlays are done and glued in place, we sand whatever is popping out to its final radius.

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

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    Then, we install the frets. We cut them as close as possible to the final contour, and using a dead head sander we sand all of the fret ends down.
    The sides of the freboard are pretty sharp and perpendicular.

    [​IMG]


    Next, the side binding is installed, using acetone glue. As you can see in the pictures, there is quite a bit of extra material.

    [​IMG]


    This needs to be filed down, leaving a tiny bit of plastic that is slightly higher than the rest at each of the fret ends.
    These are called "nibs" and they are present on all vintage instruments like this one. It's also one way to tell if an instrument as been refreted or not.
    So if you see shiny fret ends on a vintage instrument, and someone claims it's all original - even the frets - that's a big red light right there.

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]


    [​IMG]

    Once all of this is done, there will be more steps to age the fingerboard. I couldn't find much information about this.
    If anyone wants to share, by all means do!

    I've seen people using shoe polish, wire brushes, coffee... some say Gibson used fish glue all over the fretboard and then buffed it.
    We will do some test and see how it looks in the end.

    One things is for sure. As-is it looks already pretty old. I like it.

    And so a fretboard is born.

    [​IMG]
     
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  7. BigToe

    BigToe TDPRI Member

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    a question about the neck pocket angle: I am a hobbyist and making something that resembles a LP Special and just laid the stock flat while my CNC cut the bottom of the pocket at the required angle. Why do some feel it necessary to angle the stock for this operation?
     
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  8. pavel

    pavel Tele-Meister Ad Free Member

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    These look awesome. Are you going to fill the inlay gaps or are you going for a "shrunken over decades" look.
     
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  9. Woodworm_Dan

    Woodworm_Dan TDPRI Member

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    Shrunken over decades :) Looks cool I think. Kind of gives it that mojo look.
     
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  10. Woodworm_Dan

    Woodworm_Dan TDPRI Member

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    EDIT: I think I missed your point.

    I will discuss this later, but it has to do with pickups more than neck pocket.
    If you lay the stock flat and cut the angled pocket on the cnc it will still work. You'll have some extra hand work to do though.
     
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  11. pavel

    pavel Tele-Meister Ad Free Member

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    Very nice! If I may ask, where did you get your sheet of inlay material?
     
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  12. Woodworm_Dan

    Woodworm_Dan TDPRI Member

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  13. old wrench

    old wrench Friend of Leo's

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    This is the part I like, the hands-on stuff :).

    Great looking project Dan!

    .
     
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  14. Engraver-60

    Engraver-60 Friend of Leo's

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    Great looking stuff going on here. The fretboard pictures are exquisite. The inlay material is exactly what I got 4 pieces from China that took 6 months to get to me (free shipping, and $9). I went for the cheap stuff, and it'll be fine. The headstock inlay I did says "Greene" and for some reason it's changed color more to look green (cocobolo pigments probably leaching into it).
     
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  15. Woodworm_Dan

    Woodworm_Dan TDPRI Member

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    Here we go for chapter 6: Neck construction - Part 1

    As I discussed earlier, mahogany was the wood used for the neck.

    Usually a large plank of mahogany was used, from what is called 10/4 in wood terms - which is roughly 2.5 inches thick.
    The pattern is drawn on the surface after the wood is planed and thicknessed to around 2 1/4 inch thick.
    Then, one would draw as many neck patterns as will fit on the plank and bandsaw it out.
    It would be important to orient the template so that the grain helps with the strength.

    Once the pattern is sawn slightly oversized it is then placed on a template that will be used on a shaper to trim it to the exact dimension.

    This is exactly what you can see here.

    [​IMG]


    The important part is to get the front of neck really precise, where we will then glue the fretboard. Headstock angle is also done on the shaper, during the same operation.
    You can see here the profile template used and the jig to route the front.

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]


    [​IMG]


    Once that's done, we route the truss rod channel using a router, and drill the hole for the truss rod anchor.

    [​IMG]

    Now, under normal circumstances, these operations don't have much importance and are not precise at all.

    In our case, they will be used as locating features as you can see here. So the dimensions and position are critical to have a proper machining setup.

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]


    After that, we glue the ears and to another pass on the shaper to trim everything properly on the front of the headstock.

    [​IMG]


    Notice the grain orientation of the ears - or wings - before glueing.

    [​IMG]


    One thing that's really important with the CNC operations is that your stock on the machine, must match perfectly the CAD design.
    If not, you risk not having enough material to machine, or worst - machine collisions. And also you have to risk to machine some things out of place.

    Here you can see the stock positioned for the machining operations:

    1. Shaft
    2. Transitions to heel
    3. tenon
    4. headstock thickness - don't forget LP is taper from the nut to the headstock tip
    5. final contour of the sides of the headstock.

    [​IMG]


    Here it is, ready (almost) to press play. We need to add the toggle clamps like shown below.

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]


    Headstock angle must match exactly our machining fixture.

    [​IMG]

    (cont.)
     
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  16. Woodworm_Dan

    Woodworm_Dan TDPRI Member

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    (cont) Chapter 6 part 2


    And......here we go:

    [​IMG]


    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    CNC is not plug and play. Sometimes things can happen like shown here.

    These are DIY CNC machines. Even though most of of the times everything runs smoothly, there is the odd hic-cup here and there.
    In this case, the machine lost some steps and the Z axis decided to plunge.
    So... one nice mahogany neck....scrap.
    And....Back to square one to get a new neck stock ready.

    Eventually, we did get it right. Straight from the machine, no sanding.

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]


    [​IMG]


    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]


    As you can see, we have a very good starting point for hand finishing...all done in about 1 hour and a half. But, we are still VERY far from a finished neck.

    On the next installement, we will discuss about final neck shaping and the tools used for that.

    Thanks for reading!
     
  17. Macrogats

    Macrogats Friend of Leo's

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    This is one very cool and interesting thread. As I said, all the high tech stuff is way over my head, but watching the process is fascinating. FB looks great, as does the first stage of that neck.
     
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  18. Danb541

    Danb541 Friend of Leo's

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    Just when I start to think I know a little bit about guitar building a thread like this comes along. :(
     
  19. adjason

    adjason Poster Extraordinaire Silver Supporter

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    most impressive!
     
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  20. BigToe

    BigToe TDPRI Member

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    I’ve never used one but I’ve heard 3D scanners don’t like reflective surfaces. Was that an issue when scanning your models?
     
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