Building an 1899 SG guitar

Discussion in 'Tele Home Depot' started by RodeoTex, Aug 15, 2019.

  1. RodeoTex

    RodeoTex Poster Extraordinaire

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    Ok, well maybe not exactly 1899, but the materials are from a piano of that period.
    Wing &Son, New York. The most recent patent date I could find on it anywhere is 1899, and the company halted production in 1928, so it's in there somewhere.

    I've never owned an SG, and not sure if I ever even played one, but the old piano is mahogany and mahogany veneer so this is finally the time...
    20190811_095835.jpg
    Sadly, I don't think any of the spruce will be usable for anything.
     

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  2. RodeoTex

    RodeoTex Poster Extraordinaire

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    I've done a couple of Les Paul knockoffs in the past, but mostly I'm a novice when it comes to Gibsons.

    I watched Ebay for SG templates forever hoping to find a set routed for P-90s. Never happened, so I finally contacted one seller and he said "sure, just order a regular and send a note reminding me that you want P90s".
    Well that was easy enough...
    20190815_101524.jpg
     
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  3. RodeoTex

    RodeoTex Poster Extraordinaire

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    Making working templates:
    I used the body template to route out the same thing from 3/4" plywood.
    The mdf template came with all the holes cut out to fill size, which may make it hard to accurately find the center later. The center transfer punches really help to find the perfect center of each hole (~$10 on Amazon, and worth it).
    20190815_104308.jpg
    This guitar type is going to require a lot of different templates. Much more complex than a Tele or Strat.
    I'm trying real hard to not get in a rush and plow straight thru. Rather develop all the accurate templates for each step.
    This 1/4" template is just to trace out the bevel on the front and back if the body. As far as I can tell, both sides of an SG look to be beveled the same.
    20190815_105340.jpg
     
  4. RodeoTex

    RodeoTex Poster Extraordinaire

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    20190815_110624.jpg
    Body routed out and all the holes marked and drilled with a 3/32" bit (from those center transfer punches, remember them?)
    This wood is a glue-up of the sides of the piano.
    Fairly thick mahogany veneer over poplar. The poplar is very green colored. I guess I'll address that later with wood stain or tinted lacquer.
    20190815_110635.jpg
     
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  5. Freeman Keller

    Freeman Keller Tele-Afflicted

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    I'm watching to see how you are going to do the angle to the edge of the body. I've tried to think of ways to jig that up but nothing really inspiring came to me.
     
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  6. RodeoTex

    RodeoTex Poster Extraordinaire

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    I've seen that @1bad914 is doing a very similar build right now and has already helped me out with a couple of questions. He seems to really know what he's doing, me not so much...
    20190813_200604.jpg
    The bevel around the edge is 30 degrees. Digital angle finder about $20 on Amazon. Thanks 1bad.

    Almost time for the pickup routes, though I still don't know how deep they should be..
    Anyway, I like to make a template for the cavities that just snaps over the body snugly.
    Ugly, but effective:
    20190815_112422.jpg

    Looks like this from the top when routing
    20190815_112450.jpg
     
  7. idjster

    idjster VERY grateful member Ad Free Member

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    I admire people who take their time, do it right the first time and then show those of us unable to do that (like me in this case) how they're doing it. My woodworking days are over, so I can live on vicariously through good builds like yours. Great start - I'll be following the thread!
     
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  8. RodeoTex

    RodeoTex Poster Extraordinaire

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    I can already tell that the neck pocket route and the neck pickup route intersect and may make an awkward routing process. I'll make another snap-on template just for the neck pocket and route that first (about 1" deep I suppose, don't really know).
    Then route for the P90s after that (about 1/2", also don't really know)
    Anyway, the neck pocket template:
    20190815_113933.jpg
    Note the laser line down the middle. DeWalt DW08801 Amazon ~$55. (Noticing a pattern here?)
     
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  9. Freeman Keller

    Freeman Keller Tele-Afflicted

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    So you are doing the bevel with hand tools. I approve.
     
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  10. Freeman Keller

    Freeman Keller Tele-Afflicted

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    When I build a LP or 335 style guitar I route the neck pocket before I do the pickups or locate the bridge (in fact my neck pocket template screws into the p/u area). I build and set the neck before I do any other routs, then clamp it in place while I do the neck pickup. That way it seamlessly goes from neck to p/u. I've only done this with humbuckers and the ring does cover the transition - not sure how it will work for P-90's.
     
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  11. RodeoTex

    RodeoTex Poster Extraordinaire

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    I'd like to find a 60 degree router bit to do it with but I doubt that exists, plus might be a dangerous bear to hang onto. Yes I'll probably end up doing it with a rasp and continually checking with that digital angle finder.
     
  12. Freeman Keller

    Freeman Keller Tele-Afflicted

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    I tried to envision some sort of sled with one piece around the rim of the guitar and one on the top. It looked like it would be scary. I can also imagine a 30 degree wedge on a router table and something for the edge of the guitar to ride against (possibly the fence but that would seem to be very awkward.

    I think what I would probably do, however is to cut a ledge the depth of your angle but very shallow - it would be kind of like a very deep binding channel. Somewhat like 1bad914's contours for his 335 build - just route a line all the way around the body at nearly the depth you want. Make your line on the tip the correct distance from the edge and connect it to the route. Basically I'm just trying to establish that depth all the way around the guitar and then plane down to it.
     
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  13. guitarbuilder

    guitarbuilder Telefied Silver Supporter

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  14. bender66

    bender66 Poster Extraordinaire

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    Having just fallen in lust with SG's I'm watching. I cant think of a more difficult body shape to recreate. All my copies are different to 1 another with a kit purportedly being accurate to an original.

    Love that you're repurposing that old piano wood. i'd try to find a way to use that old stamped/branded "Wing And Son" piece into a cabinet or something to match the SG.
     
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  15. RodeoTex

    RodeoTex Poster Extraordinaire

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    An aside:

    I've never really been an SG fan, never coveted one at all. As a preteen I had a really crappy Teisco but really wanted a real Gibson or Fender.
    I got all those music magazines in the early '70s and still remember seeing a black and white picture with some band of long haired, bearded, shirtless guys sitting in a field and one of them had an SG. I remembering wondering at the time how a holy grail guitar would find its way into a field of kudzu, yet I don't have one.
    I really don't remember the details of that guitar but in the following years - in my mind- the specs have become:
    Natural mahogany color
    2 P90s
    Half guard
    Fretboard binding
    Toilet bowl markers

    I don't remember who the original photo was. I don't know that these specs are correct to any SG ever made.
    I really don't know what the color of the guitar was.

    This guitar in my head represents the ideal of Southern rock to me. I also realize now that that photo was probably the Allman Brothers.

    TMI I know, sorry, but this is where this one is coming from.
     
    Last edited: Aug 15, 2019
  16. RodeoTex

    RodeoTex Poster Extraordinaire

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    Thanks Bender.
    That Wing & Son thing is thick cast steel and part of the harp. I'll save it, but as a wall hanger.
    I'm going to try to honor the piano a bit with all the info I could find from the piano.
    I'm not going to attempt the little vase thing on the headstock, rather some of the fake ivory veneer will become a diamond on the headstock - close enough.
    I haven't figured out a way to integrate any of the ebony from the black keys.
    The s/n of the guitar will be the same as that of the piano.
    This will be engraved into the rear control cover.
    20190815_124831.jpg
     
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  17. RiversQC

    RiversQC Tele-Meister

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    I really like this (and the other SG builds unfolding! I am watching with interest). Finding a way to bring the piano origins through is cool...

    Last winter I started tinkering with an SG - I had a thin pine blank and I guess I can't sit idle, even without a running workshop! I'd like to do a Jr, but dont have neck plans; deferred for now.

    Anyway, my plan for the curves was to do it freehand, based on a two-layer drawing. Luckily I have an epi elitist sg from which to copy the three dimensions of the bevel. Not much progress but this is where I am slowly headed - I've got the top carved but no photos.

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    I will watch your build, and especially will be watching how that neck comes together!
     
  18. RodeoTex

    RodeoTex Poster Extraordinaire

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    Very nice work @RiversQC . I think you're ahead of me, but then, it's not a race.
    I've dreaded the idea of the neck but we'll work it out when we get there.


    I'm doing a dedicated template just for the neck pocket. I know I could just whip something out instead of making all these templates but I just keep telling myself how easy the next one is going to be.

    The center line is everything at this point.
    20190815_141523.jpg
     
  19. Freeman Keller

    Freeman Keller Tele-Afflicted

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    Tex, a couple of random thoughts. There seems to be a lot of variation in SG's over the years - Hiscock shows one with no neck angle and a lot of overstand. Others are talking about 2 degrees of angle. My thought is that before you start routing your neck pocket be sure to have the exact geometry that you want to use dialed.

    One thing that might affect that is your choice of bridge - at least some SG's used wrap around bridges and at least some of those tend to be pretty tall. I make a point of always having the bridge that I'm going to use in my hands when I'm laying this stuff out.

    I have always found it easier when making a Gibson style M&T joint to be doing the body and neck in parallel - that way you can keep fitting one to the other as work goes on. I also have found it much easier to route the channel after setting the angle of the top (if any). I try to establish what would be the top of binding at the neck before I do any routing (what would be the green tape in RiversQC photo at neck.

    I also would suggest making the tenon as deep as possible into the body - at least go part way into the p/u cavity. These guitars have a reputation for week neck joints because of the extreme cuts and short tenon - do yourself a favor and make it as strong as you can.

    Hiscock does have some pictures and diagrams of SG style joints, it might be worth checking them out.
     
    Last edited: Aug 15, 2019
  20. Freeman Keller

    Freeman Keller Tele-Afflicted

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    The other thing that I will add about a Gibson style double cutaway is that you need to very carefully calculate your neck width at the body joint (probably 18th fret). You need to carve the body to meet the neck heel perfectly at that width, whatever it is. It looks like the pocket is full width which is probably why they are so weak there - I guess that is necessary to get the overstand. Think that thru very carefully.
     
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