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les paul build

Discussion in 'Luthier's Corner' started by pie_man_25, Jan 1, 2013.

  1. I dearly hope I'm not stepping on any toes with this one, if I am, mods, take it away or move it wherever.

    So, I have the best girlfriend on the planet, 'cause I got one of these for christmas:



    I'm going to start construction perhaps next week, and the three biggest questions I have are:

    1) the neck joint is a bit loose, how exactly should I make it snug before I glue it, particularly so that the neck will be in line with the body?

    2) what colour should it be, white or black?

    3) should I attach the neck to teh body before, or after applying a finish?
  2. slappa_dat_bass


    Nov 10, 2012
    White with natural sides and back with black binding...... just sayin :)
  3. gold all around!
  4. Nice... what is that "cutaway" neck heel?

    If it is loose, I would use some shimmy wood slices, glue to the neck, and shave down to fit snug, while keeping it centered. I don't know how loose it is.

    Burgundy color (or gold all around)

    I would attach before finish
  5. hover


    Oct 4, 2008
    It's the way they are getting around the dovetail joint and bringing the edge of the neck to the edge of the cutaway, which the fretboard obviously hides, but still...the shoulder-point past that inset rout appears to be a positive "stop" at the body joint. I would snug the joint to favor one side to keep it all aligned, and shim where necessary. Use two good long straight edges against the sides of the fretboard to align everything after you glue but before you clamp. Measure the gap between the straight edge and the bridge post holes for final alignment and then clamp in place to commit. You have to trim that binding at the sides of the neck joint before you do though, to ensure proper, intonate-able scale length. That's a GFS kit, yes?
  6. ... oh and get some trapezoid fretboard stickers!

    Thanks hover!

  7. It's not a GFS kit, if you look closely the neck is maple and the body is Pauwlonia - the GFS les paul kit is mahogany body and neck with a maple top. This being said though, I couldn't really care much less about the non-authentic woods, the body is relatively lightweight and it'll make a great guitar. Also, if you haven't noticed yet, the body doesn't have holes for the bridge post yet, I'm thinking of putting some painter's tape on the top and drawing a centre-line for alignment though, then once the neck is set drilling the holes for the bridge. Of course, I'm not sure if I should drill those holes before or after the neck is attached though.

    The neck joint isn't too loose, there's just a little bit of play. I just put a piece of cardboard from a cereal box into the neck joint to see if it would snug up the joint enough, and it did. Would it be too much of a crime if I used that piece of cardboard, or should I just wait until I can get a small scrap of veneer for the joint? I don't think it would be too big of a deal, but I'm going to wait until I can get to a hardware store or lumber mill. Partly because I want to get some tightbond glue instead of the no-name stuff that we have right now. I know it's not quite as good as hide glue, but I'm currently on break from any scratch-built projects until I'm done school, so I'm really not going to invest too much time/equipment into my projects right now. Anyways, hopefully I'll have some more pics up later today or possibly tomorrow.

    That is also a good idea, but why don't I just install some actual trapezoid inlays? I've got a router, a dremel, and a good deal of spare time in the mornings.
  8. Gold top! That is my single favorite color for a les paul. It's sophisticated and if somebody walks through the door with a gold top les paul, you know he's serious (And you try to pry that guitar out of his hands :p).
  9. hover


    Oct 4, 2008
    Ah, whoops, my bad on the bridge hole alignment thing, but the same process can apply to the pickup openings as well.

    Cool kit, regardless....I agree, GOLD TOP. Or Tobacco Burst.
  10. Hopkins

    Hopkins Supporting Member Commercial User

    Nov 17, 2010
    Houston Tx
    Owner/Builder @Hopkins Guitars
    Wait until you can get a veneer for the shim, the cardboard would make for a weaker glue joint. Titebond is every bit as good as hide glue, so don't worry to much about that.

    As for mounting the bridge, wait until you have your neck set in place, then install both E tuners. Measure your scale length from the inside of the nut and mark the distance on the body. Do this from the treble and bass side of the the nut, then get a straight edge and draw a line between the two marks.

    Now get two scrap strings, or some fishing string, and string one through each tuner and over each E string bridge saddle. Use the strings as a guide to center your bridge. Mark your hole your high E side of the bridge with the high E saddle at 24 3/4" from the inside of the nut. Mark the low E side at about 25". A straight edge on either side of the neck wouldn't work so well, because there are no flat surfaces.

    Its not very difficult, just take your time and double check your measurements before drilling.

    As for color, I would go with an off white, black pick guard, gold hardware, and a Bigsby would be absolutely killer.
  11. The 3 guitars on the left are all my own builds, the 12 string Les Paul is the only one I have built from a kit, very similar to yours. Mine has a flame maple top so my choice was to dye it honey amber and let the wood shine through.


    As your kit has different wood grains on the top I would make it a solid colour, my own preference would be a tobacco sunburst, or a Diamond white.


    Definetly paint the body before fitting the neck, (are you doing matching headstock?) then once your colour of choice is on you can play it either way I presume you are going to clear coat the whole thing? so you can do clear coat then fit the neck with a few follow on coats (mask the fretboard and the trim) or you can fit the neck and clear coat it all together. I think I would do option 1 myself.

    I would get some wood veneer to tighten the fit of the neck pocket.


    Anyway good luck with the build take some photos and show us your progress. Remember take your time measure three times glue or drill once.

    I loved my kit and it turned into a beast of a guitar that neads a lot of taming. For the keen eyed amongst you yes I only have it fitted as a 6 string at the moment. I always wanted a real one but couldnt afford it so this is as close as I get. The 12 string plays great but I love the way it plays as a 6 string as well.
  12. I'm thinking about paying somebody to do the finishing for me, mostly because I'll have high-standards for this guitar, and I'm already aware that my finishing skills aren't up to par with these standards - I'm somewhat out of practice with my building and such. I think what I'm going to do is shape the headstock tomorrow, and then proceed to glue the neck to the body, hopefully I can get that done, but I think I'll just do this step by step. I'll be hanging out with some friends tomorrow, so I've got limited time to work on it, and I'd like to take some time practicing "dry fitting", and perhaps get some blocks with angles cut into them to help with clamping. Also, I'll definitely try to photograph the whole project, I've got my own digital camera now so I can take them more conveniently than with my laptop's webcam.

    edit: I think I'll wait until next week to do the headstock of the guitar, and the neck as well, this way I've got some time to do some more reading, even with my previous experience - 2 parts made fender style instruments, one bass and one guitar, and nearly ten cigar box ukes made from scratch, and a few heavily modified ukes - I'd like to get some more reading in to make sure that this is done properly.
  13. okay, so, I've got the neck shimmed up with some birch veneer.


    as you can see, it's only on one side, I figure that if I apply it to both sides, I run the risk of throwing the instrument out of alignment, plus the veneer shim would be visible from the outside. With this shim, I can put the neck into the joint, then pick the body up by the neck, or the neck up by the body, without it falling off. Now, I just need to figure out how I can align the neck properly, as well as shape the headstock. I'm thinking of using my father's gibson SG headstock as a template, or rather tracing it onto some cardboard and using that. Any thoughts or ideas as to how to align the neck with the body?
  14. To align the neck to the body you need to find you center lines, measure the fretboard at the 24th 12th and nut, put masking tape over these areas half the measurements and mark the centers.

    Then measure the neck pocket and mark the center. then measure the pickup cavity and mark the center. Draw (a light pencil line) your body center by aligning the neck and PUP centers with a long straight edge through the body (you will need this also for bridge placement).

    Now take your straight edge and lay it along the center line of your fretboard so that it extends over the body. The neck center should line up with the body center, adjust your shims so that it is all aligned.

    This is the way I would do it, others may have better methods. Good luck!
  15. yeah, before work I started on something similar to that. Unfortunately the arch-top makes it a bit more difficult to draw out the centre line, because I can't use much of a straight edge. I'll definitely have a small update coming in on tuesday, nothing tomorrow though, I'll be on the other end of town all day at school.
  16. Now for the next update!

    So I took a cereal box, and tracedd the design of the headstock onto one of the panels, and then cut it to shape, thus making a template. I then traced the template onto the headstock and cut it out with a jigsaw. I didn't take a picture of the result because it was embarassing! I ended up re-doing it with a coping saw, and slowly smoothing it out using some sandpaper, chisels, and my swiss army knife. The result, while not completely finished, looks like this:


    I also checked the alignment of the neck joint, and it's looking great! so I applied some glue to the neck tenon and then clamped the neck in there really tight. I'm waiting for it to dry right now:


    the wet spots are the water from the wet rag I used to clean up the glue. The easiest way to keep glue off of a surface is to clean it before it dries, IME. Also, my camera has limited space right now, so I'm only going to take pictures at the end of a session, as opposed to during.
  17. well, I made a bit of a sneak peak and took the clamps off. I know I should have waited overnight, but meh. The neck joint is looking like it'll hold up against anything. However, the clamps were a bit too tight on the wood, and you can see were the clamps we placed on the body, through the cardboard. First lesson - use thicker cardboard/wooden blocks to prevent it from happening again. I can fix the problem, I'm sure, it'll just have to wait for my next update on thursday, or maybe friday.
  18. well, it's the end of the day on thursday, or technically the beginning of friday. I've managed to make the dents disappear, but no pics. I just didn't really feel like it I suppose, there isn't much to update. What I did to fix up the dents was wet a rag, then apply the rag to the dented area, and iron it with a clothing iron. After about ten minutes, it was more or less better, then I sanded it down with 100- grit sandpaper, and then continued to 220 grit. Like I said, not much to write. I'm also taking a bit of a break over the weekend, my room is a sty and needs cleaning.
  19. Are you suggesting that I offset the bridge saddles by a quarter inch? by having the centre of the high-e side of the bridge at 24 3/4", and the low-e side at 25", that's basically what will happen. Is it supposed to be this way? I don't see too many les pauls, and even my father's SG doesn't have a stop-bar/tuneomatic. I have to agree with you on the bigsby though, it'd be wicked sweet to have, but it'd be primarily for cosmetics as I don't really use a tremolo.
  20. Hopkins

    Hopkins Supporting Member Commercial User

    Nov 17, 2010
    Houston Tx
    Owner/Builder @Hopkins Guitars
    Yes the low E string needs to be longer than the high E for it to intonate correctly. With the bridge being so narrow, they are usually installed at a slight angle to compensate. I took those measurements off of an Epi Les Paul that I am doing some repair work on. I would run the bridges to almost their maximum forward travel and set the high E at 24 3/4 and the low E at about 25. It is very rare that the strings will need to move forward, leave yourself about 2 screw turns forward travel just in case.

    Notice the bridge compared to the pickup.