Acoustic Build - J-45ish

Discussion in 'Tele Home Depot' started by buffalohunt, Sep 4, 2020.

  1. buffalohunt

    buffalohunt Tele-Meister

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    Hey folks, I've posted a few of my builds in the past, but nothing in the last couple years.

    I've done a few Telecasters, a plastic National hollowbody, a Gibson ES-225 style hollowbody and now I am attempting my first acoustic.

    I'm going for a Gibson J-45 style build. I guess it is more of a J-50 as I'll be doing a natural top instead of a sunburst. But I will also be doing rosewood back and sides, so it is more of a J-29 I guess. hahahah.

    Woods:
    - Torrefied Sitka Spruce top
    - East Indian Rosewood back and sides
    - Mahogany neck
    - Rosewood fretboard and bridge

    IMG_5725.JPG
    A friend let me borrow his thickness sander to bring everything to thickness. 0.110" for the top, 0.095" for the back and 0.085" for the sides.

    IMG_9440.JPG
    Used a palm router and DIY jig to cut the sound hole and slot for the rosette

    Also rough cut my bridge.
     
    Last edited: Sep 4, 2020
  2. buffalohunt

    buffalohunt Tele-Meister

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    Screen Shot 2020-09-04 at 6.05.21 PM.png
    I'm lucky to have a CNC router at work (I'm a middle school wood shop teacher)
    Here I cut out some radius dishes (28' radius for the top and 15' for the back)

    Screen Shot 2020-09-04 at 6.05.01 PM.png
    Glued in the centre seam and fit the braces for the back. Haven't glued them down yet.
     
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  3. crazydave911

    crazydave911 Poster Extraordinaire

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    Very nice! And my last favorite Gibson. I'll be watching :)

    Dave
     
  4. buffalohunt

    buffalohunt Tele-Meister

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    Last favorite? or Least?
     
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  5. telepraise

    telepraise Tele-Afflicted

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    You've got some great looking wood there. Are you going to make a go bar deck for the bracing? Haven't gotten up the nerve to try a flattop yet, watching this thread.
     
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  6. buffalohunt

    buffalohunt Tele-Meister

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    I'm thinking that might be the best option.
     
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  7. rangercaster

    rangercaster Poster Extraordinaire

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    I admire your work ethic and energy ... !!!:
     
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  8. Freeman Keller

    Freeman Keller Friend of Leo's

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    I've had a set of J-45 plans in a drawer for years, just never got around to putting one together. I'll enjoy watching yours, there was a pretty good article on them in American Lutherie not to long ago. Lots of different variations thru the years, particularly just before and after the war.

    If you are going to build many acoustics a go-bar deck is definitely the way to go but you can get by with curved cauls and some deep clamps. I made my deck so it disassembles and I can put it away in the attic when I don't need it.

    When you say Vancouver, is that BC or WA (since you were talking decimal inches I assume WA)?
     
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  9. buffalohunt

    buffalohunt Tele-Meister

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    BC. I use inches for most things. I worked many years as a carpenter, so that's what I'm used to.

    I'm not sure what J-45 plans you have, but the ones that I bought have inaccuracies all over the place. 9.5" fretboard radius, 25.5" scale length, no radius on the top, wrong neck heel. I ended up importing the PDF into AutoCad and editing them to make my own plans and adjusted the top bracing pattern to match a 1940's J-45.
     
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  10. Freeman Keller

    Freeman Keller Friend of Leo's

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    My plans are by Michael Collin of a 1957 J45. They were purchased from LMII and I'm guessing are pretty accurate. Kerry Char, who wrote the article for American Lutherie also did some plans of a 1947 J45 that are available thru the Guild, plan #78. I would be very safe is assuming these are accurate.

    It would be worth you reading the Char article (American Lutherie 139, Spring 2020). He talks about the various years of J45's and the changes - he feels that the best years were 42 to 49, good from 50 to 55 but now with the reverse belly bridge and that changes in bracing after 55 have a negative effect on sound. He says that necks did change is shape and width during these times and during the war many of them did not have metal truss rods.

    He also makes an interesting comment about how Gibson did their braces that might be worth considering. Char says that as far as he can tell, Gibson never notched the X braces - they simply glued one down, cut the other in half and butted it up against the first one. He also notes that they did not let the ends of braces into the linings but merely feathered them down to nothing. If you want to build a historically correct J45 you can follow Gibson's lead but most contemporary builders would notch the X and let it into the linings.

    My question about location was that I have family in Vancouver WA and get there fairly often, plus there is a thriving lutherie community in the Portland area. Many great builders on your side of the line too.

    Good luck with the build, let me know if I can help.

    Edit to add, you do know also that during the pre and post war years Gibson changed their scale lengths at least 3 times. There have been several reasons given for this - recalculating the scale going from the "rule of 18" to 12th root of 2, possibly changes in a gang saw that they used to cut fretboards, several other explanations. It doesn't matter of course, but be sure to stay true to the one you choose. Also, Ghar shows a J45 where the bridge had been moved to better intonate it - don't just trust your plans for its location.
     
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  11. buffalohunt

    buffalohunt Tele-Meister

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    Awesome. Do you know if there is a place online to read that article?

    Normally I would want to build historically accurate guitars but there seems to be a lack of information on Gibson acoustics. A lot of videos and articles I've read are doing Martin D-28/18 or OM acoustics. I am thinking that this guitar might be more aligned with a Martin D-28, just with sloped shoulders. It seems that the plans that I got have most of the information aligning with a Martin guitar, and they just changed the body shape to match a J-45.
     
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  12. Freeman Keller

    Freeman Keller Friend of Leo's

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    I build acoustic guitars that are heavily influenced by various models, mostly Martins, but I also make changes for various reasons. For example, even tho I've build dovetail neck joints (and I will in the future when they are needed), all of my necks now are bolted M&T's. I can't see any reason to use a compression truss rod like Gibson did, mine are all double acting. And I vary tone woods and bracing as I see fit.

    One thing I did learn is to build guitars to fit available cases. Custom cases are very expensive and very long delivery. I've made that mistake three times, you would think I would learn.

    I bought my plans quite a few years ago when a friend asked me to build him a J45 replica. The build fell thru, I put the wood in the basement and ended up using it on an OM which I documented here. The plans went into a desk drawer and I sort of forgot about them until your thread came along.

    As far as reading the article on line, I don't think the GAL does that. I'll PM you a thought.
     
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  13. rangercaster

    rangercaster Poster Extraordinaire

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    I'm lucky to get out of bed, much less, build a guitar..
     
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  14. crazydave911

    crazydave911 Poster Extraordinaire

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    Well a little explanation is in order I suppose. I have a longtime love/hate relationship with Gibson products. Loved my grandfather's Byrdland and 1920 L4, hated (even despised) some workmanship I've seen. Too small bridge plates inside,sloppy and badly glued bracing and for God's sake screws in acoustic bridges? Upside down bridge tonekillers, mustache bridges on J200s, sheesh and don't EVEN get me started on electrics of massive tonnage with brittle necks. And last but not least the disrespect shown for Bill Lawrence creations, especially my beloved L6.
    Off my pedastal but I will suggest the 24.625 scale length, VERY comfortable to me at least

    Dave
     
  15. buffalohunt

    buffalohunt Tele-Meister

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    Printed out a layout for bracing. I uploaded my plans to AutoCAD and redrew the braces to be accurate to a banner era J-45. Thanks to Freeman Keller for the help and sending me some great info.
    IMG_1350.jpg
    IMG_1351.jpg

    I was eager to start gluing, so I didn't want to spend time making a go-bar deck. I used my radius dish, some cauls and ratchet-straps to apply even pressure. Everything is sitting down nicely. I glued it up and left it. I will check on it when I get back to work in the morning. Just the x-braces for now.

    IMG_1352.jpg
     
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  16. crazydave911

    crazydave911 Poster Extraordinaire

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    Nice! :)
     
  17. buffalohunt

    buffalohunt Tele-Meister

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    I finished gluing all of the bracing the last two days. Without a go-bar deck, I've had to do each brace in different steps, so the glue up took a while.

    Here I am using a caul to glue down the 2 tone bars.
    IMG_1354.jpg

    A couple weeks ago I made a couple wooden cam clamps that I will eventually need to have a deep enough reach to glue on the bridge once the body is finished.
    IMG_1355.jpg

    So I tried one of them out on the braces as well.
    IMG_1356.jpg

    Finished bracing! The wood is all Sitka spruce, except the maple bridge plate. The top is tempered Sitka, so it is considerably darker than the braces. The tap tones are already really resonant and full sounding even without shaving or scalloping the braces.
    IMG_1357.jpg

    I'm not totally sure if I want to do straight braces (like the originals were) or scalloped braces. I guess I could always start with straight and decide if I want to scallop them after the fact.
     
  18. Freeman Keller

    Freeman Keller Friend of Leo's

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    Thats a tough call and there are lots of different options. My 1957 plans show unscalloped braces 1/4 across the base and approximately 1/2 inch tall. The sides are tapered to 3/32 on the top. The plans also state that "pre 1955 models featured braces that are scalloped and higher".

    Remember that these were production guitars, there wasn't someone individually tapping and shaving and trying to optimize each guitar. These were braces that worked, didn't blow up and were fairly easy to do. I typically use that as my starting point, then try to figure how if I can make it better (and how to do that).

    There are some folks who can reach inside the soundhole and modify the braces, Bryan Kimsey did it to my old D18 and it made a big difference. I can't, the best I can do is sand a little on the sides or the tops of the main braces and that doesn't make much of a difference. My suggestion it to tap and flex and shave until you think its time to stop, you probably won't do any damage and probably your guitar will still be on the stiff side.

    Carry on, its looking good.
     
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  19. buffalohunt

    buffalohunt Tele-Meister

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    That’s some good advice. Thanks. Being my first guitar, I’m not expecting a perfectly tuned sound. But it eases my mind to remember that the majority of guitars in the store are mass produced and still sound pretty great.
     
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  20. guitarbuilder

    guitarbuilder Telefied Ad Free Member

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    You can take a small plane and taper all those braces from high to a low point at the sides. That will make the top flexible and lighter. It'll sound good, like a guitar...


    taper.jpg
     
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