Making a Body with Maple Top

Discussion in 'Other T-Types and Partscasters' started by danadig, Sep 5, 2019.

  1. danadig

    danadig TDPRI Member

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    Hey everyone,

    I'm putting together a mustang project for my first project and have been doing a lot of research. I plan on making my own body, and was considering a mahogany body with a spalted maple top.

    Just wanted to ask: How difficult is putting a top on the guitar? Whats the right thickness of the top and is it glued to the base of the body before or after cutting out the shape with a band saw?

    Thanks!!!
     
  2. Down and Outman

    Down and Outman TDPRI Member

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    I like doing a nice thick top, but 1/8 to 1/4 is good. I glue it together first before bandsawing it. It's not difficult to glue together. Have plenty of clamps. Is it going to be book-matched or do you have a top that's large enough to cover the top? if book-matched, take your time and get the center good and straight so there's no gap. Enjoy!
     
  3. danadig

    danadig TDPRI Member

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    Thanks so much! It really depends on what I find. If I find a piece that's wide enough, I'm okay with it not being book-matched. But I'll keep that in mind!
     
  4. danadig

    danadig TDPRI Member

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    Thanks so much! It really depends on what I find. If I find a piece that's wide enough, I'm okay with it not being book-matched. But I'll keep that in mind!
     
  5. Preacher

    Preacher Friend of Leo's

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    I have a little experience so I will share what I would do.

    First the thickness is up to you, I have seen maple tops as shallow as 1/4" and as thick as 3/4". Being that you are using spralted maple I think I would not go too thin. I would use 1/2" as long as there are not any defects of that depth.
    I would shape my mahogany body to the final shape. Then apply the maple top using lots of glue and then either ROSS or route off the maple overhang. This will get you a good body shape even with a short router bit.

    After that I would treat it as a typical body with pup routes and such.

    The next question would be how you want to finish it. Do you paint the mahogany? Do you clear everything? Do you do a Maple binding and stain the top. There are a lot of options at that point.
     
  6. Macrogats

    Macrogats Friend of Leo's

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    Head over to the Tele Home Depot and ask some questions in there, as well as reading through some of the multitude of build threads. You’ll glean a ton of information. And the general rule of thumb for most standard drop tops is 1/4 inch, but there are no hard and fast rules.

    Also consider overall body weight - you may want/need to chamber your mahogany blank for weight relief.
     
  7. Jim_in_PA

    Jim_in_PA Tele-Afflicted Silver Supporter

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    Ditto. The Home Depot forum is a cornucopia of builds and ideas for "from scratch".

    That said, one advantage to an applied top is that you can take advantage of doing some hollowing for weight reduction before you apply the top layer as well as embed your wiring channels for a cleaner look...a nice thing if you have a top with outstanding figure that you don't want to cover 35% of with a big pick guard. :)
     
  8. rangercaster

    rangercaster Poster Extraordinaire

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    I think a maple cap Les Paul vid or build thread would hold relevant info ...
     
  9. guitarbuilder

    guitarbuilder Telefied Ad Free Member

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    Putting a top on a substrate involves having enough clamps to do the job...or a vacuum or veneer press. You have to ensure that both glue surfaces are as flat as possible. Most tops on a thinline type build are about 1/4" thick but some do like to thin out the area under the F hole to make it look more delicate. If you aren't doing a thinline type than you can go as thin as a piece of veneer, assuming that the veneer doesn't have to support anything like pickups. Early Hamers were maple veneer over mahogany.
     
  10. jvin248

    jvin248 Poster Extraordinaire

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    .

    1/4 inch is kind of the industry standard for maple tops. A 1-3/4 inch body board and a 1/4 inch maple cap gets you the premium guitar thickness of two inches.

    Look into the PRS trick for taping off the maple top when staining the rest of the guitar and you'll get a natural 'binding'.

    I would suggest however, if this is your first project, that you focus on using pine with a poplar cap. The first few guitars are always firewood after you've built more and look back at the first attempts. So don't try to use dream lumber on the first one. Get some experience. Inexpensive wood can still look great and hold all the parts ... and you may find you have no need for exotic wood anyway which is a great learning experience.

    Hints I learned: spend time testing and measuring pots and caps as they can push your tone around as much as the pickups, or as much as people rely on wood theory...

    .
     
  11. bullfrogblues

    bullfrogblues Friend of Leo's

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    If you don't have a lot of clamps, something I do before cutting out the body shape is draw the design of the body and drill holes for screws 1/2" outside the lines about 2" apart all the way around. Apply glue liberally, put the pieces together and screw it together. when the glue is dry/cured cut out the body. you can save the screws for the next time.
     
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