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

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

  1. Hey Indie

    I found these later on, and I think I actually prefer them and I can still use the same type of treatments. The six slots on the "radiator" style pickups just scream GUITAR to me - rather than bass, so I think I prefer these:

    s-l1600.jpg Dual Pickup With Ring Web.png

    Of course, as we all know - the most important part is what is UNDER these covers....
  2. Wow Bruce

    It does sound like a real distraction for you folks. I hope this a one-off and that it is not going to become a regular thing. It's starting to get back to being a little chilly here in New York just tonight - but we are setting new records for nice weather here every day. When I got up around 6AM my outside thermometer register 62 degrees. Pretty rare for mid-December!
  3. fjadams


    Jun 7, 2011
    Danbury, CT
    I used a set of these on the Les Paul to LP bass conversion I did.
    BassHappy likes this.
  4. Hey Blast

    Yeah, Andrew is one talented dude and that Nancy Lou bass is a real honey. As I think you might know, I am a huge fan of Andrew's work and I am in love with my "Wilma", one of his earlier creations.


    I love the tribute to Nancy Lou - it's a fantastic bass! Glad to hear she is living up to gig expectations and that your gas is in the past. Thanks for posting!
    Immigrant likes this.
  5. Indiedog


    Aug 23, 2012
    Tucson, AZ
    Wilma is stunning! I love quilted maple.
    Old Blastard likes this.
  6. Indiedog


    Aug 23, 2012
    Tucson, AZ
    I agree...the 6-slot units plainly said "geetar." I like these two-slots. Having some wood grain show through would be lovely.

  7. OMG!
  8. UPDATE:

    Keith emailed me and asked me for the exact dimensions of the neck on PRS #11. Apparently, I told him a long time ago when we were first exploring this build that I would love to get close to the PRS neck. I had forgotten about it, but happily he did not! So, now that he has the dimensions, he is starting on the inlays. Here they are laid on on the fingerboard and ready for some elbow grease. As previously mentioned, I am forgoing the first fret inlay:

    Indiedog and fjadams like this.
  9. Indiedog


    Aug 23, 2012
    Tucson, AZ
    It looks great, B-H! This is going to be a beautiful bass! I look forward to seeing that neck complete; I know that grain will really stand out.
    I find myself wanting to see the inlays in the first position but I will go back in the thread to review your decision to leave it off...I think you had mock-ups of it both ways.

    I bet you are anxious to have this in your hands!
    BassHappy likes this.
  10. Basshappi


    Feb 12, 2007
    Looks like it is coming along nicely!
    I agree that the "toaster" covers look more bass-like than the six slot models.
    BassHappy likes this.
  11. Hey, thanks guys!

    Really appreciate the feedback.
  12. Still really wondering if maybe FJ wasn't onto something with his pickup idea using the wheat motif:

    LP Wheat.png

    I found a number of pre-etched humbucker covers for a reasonable price, but they are all on the busy side:
    3076-PU-M-C-P-MI_LRG1.jpg 3102-PU-M-C-P-MI_LRG1.jpg
    3119-PU-M-C-P-MI_LRG1.jpg 3077-PU-M-C-P-MI_LRG1.jpg


    Unfortunately, not sure I like any of them more than the subtleness of the wheat.
    Indiedog likes this.

    I can't believe I never knew these existed, but I think they make the custom idea really easy!


    I can go to Crown Trophy next door to my office and have them made custom plates which are very simple to etch and just pop right into these frames. The inserts could be black, brushed nickel or chrome. It pays to stay with an idea and to keep pushing even when you think you are stuck!

    In addition to chrome, they also make them in raw nickel, black and gold:

    Screen shot 2016-01-01 at 2.05.53 PM.png

    Screen shot 2016-01-01 at 2.04.57 PM.png

    Last edited: Jan 1, 2016
    Indiedog and AGH like this.
  14. Here are some of the things a pickup shop called "The Creamery" did with the concept, even using fabric, tooled metal and leather:


    I like where this is headed.
    Indiedog, AGH and ctmullins like this.
  15. dedpool1052


    Jan 10, 2011
    Seattle, WA
    I like the top one to the far right and the one in the middle of the lower row.
  16. So boy, based on how busy this has actually become, i worked on a few ideas:


    These are just the metal patterns I have found, haven't even thought about the idea of leather or fabric. The idea here is YES, I am trying to come up with my own pickup cover design for the Les Paul bass project, but while I am at it, I would like to come up with kind of a signature pick up design that I can also use on the prototypes of my own bass designs moving forward.

    I like two - any idea which ones? I won't be using gold on this build with all the chrome already on the bridge and the tuners, but I wanted to see how a few of them looked rimmed in gold.
    Last edited: Jan 1, 2016
    Indiedog likes this.
  17. And some gold foils spinoffs I put together:

    Indiedog likes this.
  18. jd56hawk

    jd56hawk Supporting Member

    Sep 12, 2011
    The Garden State
    Bottom right corner and the one above, hands down!
  19. Indiedog


    Aug 23, 2012
    Tucson, AZ
    What wonderful ideas there! My head is swimming!
    BeeTL likes this.
  20. Hey Bruce

    I don't know if Keith has mentioned this to you or not. I am finally at least a qualified beginner in the realm of putter togethering! My lovely wife Leah, found a local school/woodshop called Bentwood in my own home town. Funny we lived here since 2004 but never knew it existed. In my Christmas stocking was a gift certificate to the courses/woodshop from her. I went in and met Glenn and his dad Ernie and we really clicked. It's a couple of old world craftsmen who specialize in building beautiful furniture and in the dying art of steam bending wood - hence the name of the company. They always advise against using screws or nails in anything they build, they teach dovetail and other old world furniture techniques. Glenn even made a chair for the Pope.

    Screen shot 2016-02-20 at 12.48.39 PM.png

    So I have had my own designs and templates made up for prototyping my own bass designs for a while now - a basic solid body and a basic semi-hollow or chambered acoustic model. After meeting them, they were very excited about working on the project with me, and we cut a deal to work on some bodies together. I know it's not a lot but it's a start. They turned me on to a local lumber place that I have to say is simply fantastic. They had some really nice 15" wide X 9' Honduras mahogany boards (yes, it's pink and authentic) laying around, which they have had for years - and I managed to find a really nice 9' board of flamed maple there too. They sliced both boards into 20" sections at no charge, and I managed to get them into my car. Altogether, I got five bodies out of it. Surprisingly, this place is completely "pre-guitar" and they don't charge a cent extra for highly figured wood. Maple is maple, mahogany is mahogany, and if you want to take the time to sort through the stacks and find some incredible stuff - the price is still the price.

    So initially, we laminated four bodies, two solid and two acoustic - using the 7/8" mahogany laminated to the 7/8" maple. I also found a deal on some nice 1/16" walnut that we laminated between them for a nice subtle pin stripe. So these past weekends for me have been a wonderful magical mystery tour - learning the ins and outs of proper gluing and clamping techniques for starters. Then it was off to the table saw, radial arm saw, thickness planer, jointer, band saw, scroll saw and two different sanders. My, my what a time. I can see why this work is so addictive. Below pictured is Glenn teaching me the glue up - first the glue on the mahogany. It looks like a lot of glue, but after Glenn squeegees it off with a piece of cardboard, it turns into a layer that is just thin enough that you can still see the woodgrain through it. Apparently, if you use too much glue, the bond can suffer:

    Glue 1.jpg

    Then the walnut laid on top:

    Glue 2.jpg

    Then the glue and the maple laid on top of that:

    Glue 3.jpg

    And the clamping:

    Glue 4.jpg

    Glue 5.jpg

    After the bodies were cut out, we had to carve and shape the outside of the bodies and chamber/hollow out the inside of the acoustics, so I learned a lot about using various grinders and even more sanders - and the science of routing out to different depth levels was interesting as well. We then carved and shaped the inside of the routed chambers to smooth them out - and there was some hand chiseling and gouging involved. What fun!

    I am not prepared for a reveal or anything - I don't know if these designs will be successful or not. I am pouring my heart and soul into them - but I have tried some things that are a little bit radical and they may or may not succeed. I could find myself with a little of the proverbial egg on the face. As always, I have documented everything with way too many photos, so if things go well, there will be a detailed build thread on these.

    What I will say is that last weekend - the wood for the fifth body was burning a hole in my pocket so I went over this morning and we finished a version with a mahogany "frame" with both a maple top and back. I am a little disappointed - when we bookmatched the back last weekend we found an unwelcome ambrosia sprouting through. It is on both sides and is several inches long and goes probably 4.5" in from the bottom of the body. On one side it looked like it was pretty close to the surface, but with the usual amount of sanding it is still there in all of it's glory. I am tempted to use the nice Tiger Ash piece Keith is holding for me for the top and turn the maple top that is already glued to the frame as the back. It's one of those things that is hard for me to live with. Keith is also holding another nice flamed top for me, but I am not sure I want to use it on these "protos". After all, isn't the purpose to experiment with these? When I have a chance I will send a photo of the ambrosia on the back off to Paul Slagle and see if there is anything he can do when he finishes it, to hide it. It goes up too high to just blacken it for a burst.

    So I have the three clamshell/acoustics which will need to be glued together eventually - but altogether five prototype bodies basically ready for neck pocket, bridge/pickup routing and final sanding. I have some ideas on how to go without control cavities on these, but we will see. I will say that the designs are symmetrical, the body shapes pretty conventional but with a bit of a twist. I hope Keith isn't kidding me or just being kind when he tells me he likes them. His opinion means a lot.

    So, hopefully getting the Fender Performer and the Fender twin hollows soon, then it's finishing up this Les Paul build - that Bruce, you so kindly made the neck for. Next, it's off and running to get the five prototypes shaped up. I have been talking to a bunch of folks and I will have some surprises up my sleeve on the electronics for both of these models. In my estimation, we tried a few innovations in these four "replica" builds that I need to put through their paces. Only then can I decide the direction that I want to head in - with respect to at least some of the details on the prototypes.

    So sorry for the diversion, but I thought I would let Bruce know - thanks to Leah, I have followed his advice. Uh, I don't think I will be installing truss rods into any necks any time soon, but I think I "get" the basic body concept now and how to build one and how to operate the most basic of wood shop machinery. I am proud to say that at least so far, all of my digits are still intact.

    Thanks Bruce, you and Keith have been a huge inspiration to me!
    Last edited: Feb 22, 2016
    Indiedog, AGH, BeeTL and 2 others like this.
  21. Primary

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    Here are some related products that TB members are talking about. Clicking on a product will take you to TB’s partner, Primary, where you can find links to TB discussions about these products.

    Sep 25, 2021

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