My Les Paul Bass Build - I need a Gibby too...

Discussion in 'Luthier's Corner' started by BassHappy, Dec 9, 2014.

  1. You know, it took me forever to find a Gibson bridge for this and I am not sure if the one i ended up with was Gibson or not. Couldn't find a black one - was lucky to find one at all - and that is why I went with chrome for the bridge and the tuners.
  2. Happynoj


    Dec 5, 2006
    I like turtles.
    Ah. I didn't realise that you were using a proper Gibson bridge. I assumed it would be a Hipshot Supertone or something.
  3. Yeah it was a hard puppy to find!

    1219739_3b4a693653d9438c502a795a63d383e2.png 1219740_775ab9cd270d7fb962db9e3856ebdb32.png
  4. NECK ANGLE...

    If we are making a serious run at duplicating that nice neck angle on the Les Paul Florentine, I realized we needed to quantify what angle it is. I found a trusty protractor online and here is what I came up with:

    Thank God, finally got to use something from that high school Geometry class!

    I would call the neck angle 5%..

    And here is the PRS neck angle which I would call 4%:


    So somewhere in the neighborhood of 4 or 5% should do it.
    Last edited: Feb 28, 2015

    OK, OK, as much as I love the blue, Leah was looking over my shoulder last night and said - "That blue IS nice - but is it really you? I would think long and hard about it..."

    So, going back to my other two favorites and letting it ride for a while:

    BlondeLP Final Web.png

    Bourbon Burst Web.png


    Than she said: "The top one really looks like you to me...."

    Stay tuned for more action.... I think either one of these finishes could be in that classic Gibson semi gloss, while the blue would almost have to be gloss to really look good. That is another good reason to move away from it - not really a gloss guy these days.

    Might need those cream rings and gold top hat knobs after all.....
    Last edited: Feb 27, 2015

    Cream rings and gold knobs vs. black:


    Vintage Amber LP CREAM RINGS Web.png

    Yeah, I guess I am so fickle these days - the truth is - Leah's opinion carries a lot of weight. it's like "If you don't like me, just wait five minutes...."
    Last edited: Feb 27, 2015
  7. Happynoj


    Dec 5, 2006
    I like turtles.
    Have you thought about the blue with a maple fingerboard? You could have black or turquoise blocks.
  8. Hey Happynoj

    This is really an interesting point and it is to funny that you brought it up, thanks - I have been thinking about it and researching it too.

    You know the oversize Les Paul basses (the most recent ones) had roasted maple fingerboards and Gibson has been using a lot of roasted maple on the boards for a while. There are rumors that they only used it as a substitute - that they couldn't get rosewood as the article talks about below. On the LP basses - at least the ones I have seen - they roasted them until they became very dark - like what Pat Wilkins did here:


    Here is an article about it, and frankly - I am still deciding what to do about the fingerboard. I really want the dark fingerboard look, so even if I used maple it would be roasted and dark and look pretty much like rosewood. I am hesitant to get anything that is highly figured, as I don't want it to compete with the body wood.


    So, I am still researching it - I am mostly a rosewood kind of guy. I do love the necks on my 54 P bass and Tele bass but they are both old school, with the frets driven right into the maple neck. No fingerboard at all.

    Will post more here as things develop.
  9. dedpool1052


    Jan 10, 2011
    Seattle, WA
    Rick, this might not be your thing and may be a little out of left field regarding finish, but what about a satin trans brown? I think you mentioned that you want this bass to be special and it was partially inspired by PRS #11. What about having finish that matches that? After a quick google search, I found a Gibson in a trans brown to give you an idea.

    1999 Gibson ES-335 Electric Guitar Transparent Brown - Used | The Music Zoo

    another one here with better flame
    Les Paul Supreme -
    it's about half-way down.
  10. Hey thanks, Dedpool

    I like them both for sure - the flamed one looks especially nice. Just soaking it all in right now. At some point you have to let the build come to you - and when we really start getting her glued up I am confident that the wood will begin to speak to me.
  11. jcanderson


    Apr 13, 2013
    Los Altos, CA

    Because of your longer scale length, you may need to dial down the neck angle. Looking at your pictures, it seems that the angle starts somewhere between the 16th and 17th fret. For a 32" scale at 5 degrees, this means that the bridge would be about an inch high (actually higher, because I'm not accounting for string height).

    If the bridge cannot be adjusted to this height, then the angle would need to be smaller to accommodate the bridge adjustment range.

    (P.S. Take the above calculation with a block of salt -- I'm making a number of assumptions. Your luthier should have the actual numbers.)

  12. Hey JC

    Thanks so much for weighing in on this!

    Yes, this type of discussion is probably a bit above my pay grade, but I understand what you are saying. The chances of my drawing being 100% accurate are pretty slim - I just wanted to get Keith the approximate angle. So you are saying that to be more accurate, the center point on the protractor should be shifted towards the body? Maybe to approximately where the neck meets the body? Much of the trick is in the carve. You are looking at the Les Paul guitar carve, and the bass carve will be heavily modified. Probably more like below.

    I want the angle to be similar to the angle on PRS #11 - and you can see how Paul had to carve this body to get it right. That is what I am shooting for as below and it looks to me like they are pretty close and it shouldn't be a huge deal.


    Wondered what it would look like natural:

    Natural Flame 72.png

    Or more of a Violin Amber:

    Violin Amber WEB.png

    Or a dark amber:

    Dark Amber 72.png

    Still thinking this might win the day though.

  14. jcanderson


    Apr 13, 2013
    Los Altos, CA
    Thanks, great photo. Very informative. Looks like the bridge portion of the body is higher, which would compensate for longer scale length.

    I've been thinking of building a lefty short-scale bass based on a Les Paul body (I recently did a lefty short-scale on a telecaster body). Could I ask you a couple of questions?

    One thing I've been wondering about is the curve profile on the top. Looking at these bodies, the arch doesn't go all the way to the body's edge, but flattens out a little before. Any idea why this is done? I'd figured they did this to make it easier to route/install the binding, but I just noticed that your PRS #11 body doesn't have binding.

    And I was wondering how comfortable this is on your arm, given that the edge has a sharper angle than it would have if the arch was taken all the way to the body's edge (e.g. imagine a Fender with and without forearm relief). Any thoughts?

    (Regarding protractor positioning in your earlier photo, it could be nudged slightly to the left so that it is better centered on the angle's vertex, but for eyeballing purposes it's good enough).
  15. Hey JC

    Sure, sounds like a very interesting project on the shortie LP, don't know how I missed your tele build? Not popping into my brain at the moment - can you send a link or post some photos?

    I can't really speak for Paul or the folks at Gibson about the theory behind the carve/body shapes and how they evolved, but I will tell you this: PRS#11 is the most comfortable bass I have ever played in my life. It's not even close. It's truly a miracle that the neck is angled back a few degrees - it just makes it uber comfortable to play. For me, it puts my shoulders and arm exactly in the proper position. YMMV but I find it to be extremely comfortable.

    Of course, the PRS was the only bass I owned or played exclusively from 1978-1999 so I didn't realize how spoiled I was for twenty years. I still think that psychologically the reason I have 15 other basses with 4 more on the way is that I just can't find that perfect replacement - at least so far. They are all incredible, but there is just nothing like my PRS - but it is so valuable now - I would be a fool to ever let it leave the house.

    Oh, and to be clear, we are not going to carve the LP like the PRS, that pic is just for reference sake to see that it can be done.

    Good luck with your LP build and point me to some of your tele pics. Maybe I saw it and I just don't recall....
    Last edited: Feb 28, 2015
  16. jcanderson


    Apr 13, 2013
    Los Altos, CA
    Many thanks for the info, I'm really looking forward to seeing the final result of your build!

    Here's a link to my lefty-tele-shorty thread: Bass Build: Short-scale lefty tele bass |

    But it's a long thread and full of gruesome details. So I'll skip to the picture at the very end:

  17. Hey, thanks for the link JC!

    I read the entire thread, you had a few issues as you went along but in the end - WOW - nice bass. You kept after it and it looks amazing! Sounds good too.

    Must be really hard being a lefty. I kind equate it to me being a medium scaler. When either of us walks into a music store, we are lucky to find even a few instruments to play. I can relate totally. Very cool that you are now building your own - it is the perfect solution.

    I bought the Squire model and reworked it a bit.

    Had an ETS piezo bridge installed along with moving to all black hardware - and having the top laminated and finished by Pat Wilkins:


    Mine is a bit on the hefty side for me at 8.8 lbs and I have been thinking of replacing the oversize body with a guitar body. But every time I pick it and play it I go: What was I thinking - this bass is awesome exactly the way it is! Additionally, I really like a substantial block of wood under me. I play hard and it I love it when the wood feels rock solid like this one does!

    Thanks for sharing and posting - and no, I had never seen that build thread before - not sure how I missed it! And good luck with the build with the LP body. Keith has been under the weather, so as soon as he is feeling better there will be LOTS to report on my LP build and my other Fender build threads...
    Last edited: Mar 1, 2015
  18. SPEC SHEET...

    Here is what I would consider to be the final spec sheet for the build. Of course, nothing is written in stone and it always pays to keep an open mind, fasten your seatbelt and allow for magic. Everything has been approved by Keith except we need to discuss the lack of a cavity cover replaced with an enlarged jack plate and we need to sort out the details on the neck angle. Also, Pat Wilkins has agreed to help me get my hands on a roasted maple board through his sources - I want to make sure that any grain patterns do not conflict with the body flame. Simple is better on this - I would prefer that it kind of resembles nice rosewood. But, we will see what is available....

    FINAL LP Specs.jpg
    Last edited: Mar 1, 2015
    jcanderson and BeeTL like this.
  19. BeeTL

    BeeTL Commercial User

    Sep 26, 2006
    Oldsmar, FL
    Brad Lowe, Lowe Custom Guitars
    She's gonna' be a beaut'!
    BassHappy likes this.
  20. Thanks Brad!

    I am really getting excited, can you tell?

  21. Primary

    Primary TB Assistant

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