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Freeman Keller

Home made Les Paul

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Keep the guitars, I'm sure you play better than I do anyway but please... please leave me the keys in the Morgan... Please.

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I am one of the many who are truly impressed with this project. It has been a fun read. At this point I can't help but wonder what your electronic set up might be. What sound are you going for?


I am not attempting to recommend anything, but I'm just sayin' what I like. I love the Pearly Gates Billy Gibbons SD's. I have a set in my 335 clone. They sound amazing! Wonderful blues pickups with a good growl when you push them. My favorite humbuckers for raw meaty rock sound are Rio Grande Muy Grande. Vintage '59s are everything they're cracked up to be as well, just not overwound as hot. I also like P-90's, but I know that is not what you're going for.


I have built two strat's now and a telecaster. I've started on my second tele and it is going to be full vintage blonde ash/maple. All of mine are frankenstein guitars built from parts. No body shaping. I did cut the bone nut for each and for my 335. I've gotten much better at that.


Anyway, I can't wait to hear your sound. Keep up the good work.


RT1

 

Thank RT, I appreciate all the help and advice I can get. In the very first pane I say that I don't know diddly about electric guitars so this is both and adventure and a learning experience. A couple of things that I think I know

 

- I like the vintage sound of people like Allman and Garcia - that why I'm building this instead of a Tele or something.

- I know that you guys are about as anal about pickups as the acoustic folks are about tonewood or strings or bridge pins

- The article I read say the benchmark were the original PAF

- PAF would have been in a '59 burst

- You can't just run down to the local Vintage Pickup Store and buy a pair of PAF. If I could it would cost me the Morgan and the Bimmer and my First Born

- I did the next best and easiest thing. When I was shopping at StewMc for all the other hardware I dropped a pair of the repo-PAFs in my cart.

 

 

I'm assuming they will be alright and probably my old ears won't know the difference. If this is a mistake, please tell me but I'm going to start with these and if something better comes along it is easy to pull them out. Kind of like changing bridge pins.

 

Here is the result of that hardware shopping trip

 

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For tonights adventure, lets bind this thing. There are several ways to approach binding and believe me I laid awake at nights trying to decide. By far the best would be one of those floating router gizmos that moves up and down as it follows the contours of the top. I've considered building one, but never have gotten around to it (they would be very nice for acoustics where top and backs meet the sides at an angle)

 

The next way would be a fixed router jig (called a pin router) from the top. That would work pretty well on this since the body is the same thickness, but any variation in thickness or the recurve would throw the binding off. You want the 1/4 inch binding to be just a hair deeper than the edge of the maple. I downloaded plans for a pin router, but never built it.

 

What I came up with was exactly the same as how I did the recurve in the first place. I made a little support for the top at the correct thickness for my router table. A StewMac stepped router bit (it has a little ball bearing that is slightly smaller than the diameter of the cutter) will cut the depth into the body, the support and height of the table will do the up and down depth.

 

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But first that nasty cutaway horn. The only way I could think of dealing with it was the SM router bit in my laminate trimmer and very carefully doing it by hand.

 

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Once that was done it was pretty simple to run around the side with the table jig thingie

 

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Clean the channel up with a chisel, prebend the binding to fit the cutaway and waist using a heat gun, and get tape, CA and rubber gloves ready

 

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Other than the little pieces on the headstock I had never used CA for binding. Recommendations at MIMF were for the gel kind, I had a tube of that and some thin liquid just in case. I also had my wife standing by to squirt glue, wipe my brow, get a beer or anything else required. Mostly she just handed me tape.

 

First thing I did was glued the rubber gloves to the binding, ripping of nice little pieces of blue latex. Duh. I tore the glove off and proceeded to glue my fingers together. While discussing the whole operation with God I worked my way around the guitar until the gel glue stopped coming out of the tube. Wife grabbed the thin stuff, clipped the top and we didn't miss a beat. When it was all done it looks like hell - glue dripping down the sides and top, hardened CA all over my fingers - looked like this

 

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but by some sort of miracle, the binding was perfect.

 

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even inside the horn

 

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At that point I called it a very good day and opened a nice cold adult beverage.

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Where is the rest? Hurry up, brother. Great work.

 

I'm going to take a break for a few days. Heading to Chicago, mostly business but I plan to hit some blues clubs. Back to building next weekend.

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Hey Freeman

 

I missed this thread!

 

It's looking very good indeed - every guitarist should have a Les Paul (and a Strat and a Tele - that will keep you busy!)

 

Are you going to tune it to open G?

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Dang it Freeman!

 

Just got my feet wet on the acoustic build, and then I stumble across this thread.

 

Seriously, looks great so far!

 

-A

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I am loving this too. Build threads, to me, are the most worthwhile threads of all!

Excellent job so far!

 

 

x eleventy billion!

 

Love them! And love this!

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OMG. I freakin' love this thread! You're a huge inspiration right now.

 

I have a very noob question sorry:

 

Will the binding stain when you finish the top?

 

(anyone that knows feel free to chime in)

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OMG. I freakin' love this thread! You're a huge inspiration right now.


I have a very noob question sorry:


Will the binding stain when you finish the top?


(anyone that knows feel free to chime in)

 

I've never built one but my understanding is that the binding doesn't stain and you just scrape the stain off the binding before clear coating it.

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OMG. I freakin' love this thread! You're a huge inspiration right now.


I have a very noob question sorry:


Will the binding stain when you finish the top?

 

Its a good question, and the answer is that this plastic binding will not absorb the stain, as you will see when I get around to finishing it. However wood binding, which I use on most of my acoustics, absorbs stain like crazy - usually I give it a coat of shellac to try to seal it and then also mask it.

 

Well, lets continue on. We've shaped the neck and inlayed the fretboard and headstock. Next lets fret the board. There are several thoughts about when (and how) to fret it. The "when" is either before it has been glued to the neck, or after it has been glued to the neck or after the neck has been glued to the body. The advantage of doing it now is that it is very easy to support it while either hammering or pressing, once fretboard is on the neck or on the body you must build a bunch of funky supports - some folks use a shot bag behind the neck. A slight disadvantage is that the frets will push the slots apart slightly and you won't get quite as tight a fit for the tangs and the board will take a slight back bow which will need to be clamped out. I've done it all the different ways and prefer to do it now while the board is off.

 

"How" is next - the two main ways to install frets are hammering them in or pressing. I hammered a lot of frets but once I started pressing I'll never go back (unless the neck is on the guitar, then I might still hammer).

 

Last, as I mentioned earlier, bound fretboards can either have the frets flush with the binding (the Gibson way) or extending over the top of the binding - thats the way I've done it and I'll do it again here. If you do it Gibsons way you need to scrape and shape the binding to fit the frets and since most of my bound fretboards have had wood binding that would be a real pain.

 

OK, lets rock in the fret world. First curve the fretwire in a simple little bending thinging that I built out of two ball bearings and a bolt with three big "fender" washers. Sandwiched between two large diameter ones is a slightly smaller one, that makes a groove in that the tang of the fretwire moves thru. The middle bolt has a bronze bushing so it can rotate - the socket wrench turns the bolt with the washer while I feed the wire thru it

 

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Next I cut enough pieces plus a couple extras, making them a little longer than each position. I stick them in a numbered piece of wood so I can keep track. With my belt sander and a little file I file off the tang at each end so the tang is just as wide as the slot. Sorry about this picture, Photobucket wants to keep turning it sideways

 

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That little "L" shaped thing is a piece of fretwire that I've filed the barbs off the tang - I use it to check the depth of the slot in the fretboard - with 12 inches of radius I want to make sure the fret won't bottom out. The block of wood clamped to my workbench is to hold the wire while I file the tang - it would make more sense if the picture was turned correctly

 

Now the cool trick. This little gizmo if from StewMac and has cauls of all different fretboard radiuses (radii?). I've got the 12 incher in there and it is pivoted in the middle so it kind of centers itself. The caul is designed for a arbor press, but I've got it in an ordinary drill press (which I try to remember not to turn on). Pulling the drill press lever will press the fret in - the chuck even rotates slightly if needed to line itself up.

 

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I put one small drop of CA in the middle of the fret and one under each end where the tang is filed off. When I'm done I can clip the ends of the frets off and file them flush with the edge of the board

 

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We can put the fretboard away for a while now and go back to the body

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The following picture may not look like much but it is the biggest scariest single part of the whole build. For a week I fiddled and futzed around with the neck and body, trimming and shimming and measuring and waking up in the middle of the night worring about finally gluing the neck on. Not only does the center line of the neck have to line up with the center of the top, the angle with the body has to be perfect since that is what sets bridge height and action. The cheeks of the neck heel have to be perfect where they lay against the body or there will be gaps - not only both sides but on the bottom too.

 

I had to think of how to clamp it while the glue set - both up and down in the tenon pocket, but it also has to be pulled back tight against the body. Finally I decided to quit farting around and squirt some glue in it - I was committed.

 

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Its hard to see in the picture, but I used a lashing strap like you would use on a kayak or something on your car to go around the neck heel and pull it into the body. I cinched that as tight as I could, then put the vertical clamps on. I added a clamp at the waist to tighten the strap even more - when glue squeezed evenly out of all of the sides I figured it was well clamped.

 

The neck was slightly below the level of the upper bout which I brought down so it was nice and flush. That let me finish carving the top on both sides of the upper bout. Next I could glue the fretboard on, but first I want to show you something

 

Here is the double acting hot rod truss rod adjusted perfectly flat (which is what I want when it goes in the neck)

 

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Here it is with one turn on the adjuster

 

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The reason I put those pictures in is to show how sensitive that thing is. I hear people talking about "giving the truss rod a turn" or "cranking a little relief in the neck" - just remember that a very small amount of turning has a huge effect - 1/8 of a turn usually is pretty significant.

 

OK, lets adjust it straight again, put a couple of drops of silicon calking at each end and one in the middle of the channel, and drop it in place. Another pic that Photobucket wants to turn sideway, I don't feel like trying to make it right.

 

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I put a piece of tape on the rod while I smear glue on the neck

 

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pull the tape off and clamp it in place. Another cattywompus picture thanks to Photobucket

 

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Last picture of this set - when the glue dried I remembered that I hadn't installed the side dots -should have done it before because the ones over the body are hard to drill. The dots are little pieces of black plastic glued in with CA

 

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