Les Paul 11

Nov 5 2004, 03:34 PM

Things are starting to get shiny round here…

I shot my final coats of clear, levelled with 1500 then 2000 and buffed out using Rustin@s burnishing paste. I use the paste slightly cut with water on a foam buffing pad from Screwfix Direct. The gloss it leaves is very nice, but it does tend to leave fine scratches (or swirls) which I have to get rid of. The last guitar looked OK with the swirls still there, but the dark finish of this one makes them more obvious, so I’ll have to find a good swirl remover and/or glaze to get rid of them.

Anywho, the front:

Shiny front!

and the back:

Shiny Back!

Lee asked: Setch looks awesome! where you from btw?

Barnet, North London.

MKGBass asked: did you write us a note in the reflection of the back…the picture is a little blurry so i can’t quite make it out…looks like…?

but yeah…the burst is killer! It looks much different than the photos you posted earlier, the black edges look amazing.

I wrote a note backwards to illustrate the reflective gloss, but it’s totally illegible at this resolution. It said something like ‘Plenty Shiny, but the swirls are a bitch’.

Nov 19 2004, 12:25 AM

For the pots, and consequently the knobs to lie perpendicular to the curved top it is necessary to angle the control cavity. I do this with a router bit in a powerdrill. The router bit (a 1/2″ roundover) is fitted with a 3/8″ bearing on the shank. This runs against the edge of the hole to prevent burning, and to offer an indication of depth. Sorry for the lousy photo.

Counter bore

The cutter is placed in the hole to be counterbored, like so:

The counterbore in place

As you can see, the back of the cutter will do the boring. The shank of the cutter emerges on the front of the guitar:

The counterbore shaft

The shank is gripped in the chuck of my drill, and once aligned correctly, the drill is slowly run, counterboring the back of the hole. I check regularly at the backof the guitar, but I know I can’t go too far, because I can stop as soon as the bearing becomes visible in the hole at the front.

Counterbore in drill

Here’s the result:

Shiny Back!

Next, I rough out the nut. So far I’ve been using a graphite pre-slotted nut for the rough setup, but now it’s time to cut my own from bone. I use a half pencil to mark the fret height on the blank, then use a razor saw and cheapo nut files to cut the slots. There’s still a lot of work to do, but the basic height is set. Tomorrow I’ll fine tune the slots, then shape the nut and fine sand it.

Roughed out nut

Nov 19 2004, 01:47 PM

Here’s the finished nut:

Polished nut

The height has been adjusted so that the wound strings are 2/3rds in the slot, and 1/3rd peeking above. The plain strings sit so that their top surface is just below the top of the nut. The sharp corners are all rounded over, and the nut is sanded upto 800 grit then polished with burnishing paste until it shines.

johnsilver asked: Would it be possible to accomplish the angling of the pots by using a forstner bit from the cavity side instead of the method you used? It worked great for you but for me I’d be afraid I’d ruin the finish coming in from the top.

John, you could angle from the back, but I found that cutting from the front gave me a much better idea of when I was perpendicular to the carve. I was also scared of marking the finish, but with a sharp cutter it is *very* controllable. You could put a pad between the front of the chuck and the finish if it made you feel better.

CudBucket asked: could you not use a Forstner bit to counter bore the hole because your shaft hole was already drilled? Just wondering. Looks amazing!

Part of the problem was that my pot holes were drilled, and after drilling them the carve was tweaked slightly to increase the recurve area and extend the convex area closer into the centre of the guitar. This meant my pot holes needed very minor enlarging to get the pot to sit right. Also, a forstner bit needs a central area for it’s locating point to engage with, otherwise it will pull out of control very quickly (unless you’re using it in a drill press, which I don’t have :(

Dec 31 2004, 02:00 PM

Small picture bump: She’s wired up, and has come out to rehearsal a couple of times. Sounds fantastic, very thick and woody. I’m really sold on these Golden Age humbuckers, especially for the money! The more observant of you may spot the Marshall Amp knobs… they’re a stop gap, since I didn’t like the look of the Gold speed knobs I got. I actually like the look of these knobs, but I plan to replace them with some silver-topped ebony knobs to match the chromed hardware.

Reclining! Les Paul front

Maher asked: you used stew macs golden age pickups?? how are they? do you think they are worth putting in my Epiphone Les paul?

Absolutely. I like the sounds I get from them every bit as much the other pickups I’ve tried. Admittedly I’m not much of a tinkerer, and I’ve never been one to swap pickups every few weeks, but I get good clarity, note separation, and a ‘good’ sound, whatever that means. :)

Whether that is particularly attributable to the pickups or the way I build my guitars is unknown, but I like the results I’m getting, and I like the price.

Feb 19 2005, 12:53 AM

Looks like fullserve is down for the time being, maybe for good, so all my images are broken. Here’s some new ones, taken with my new digital camera.

Since the last update I’ve applied a decal to the head, and cleared over it. Next time I get the strings off I’ll have to rub it down and buff it out again, then it’ll finally be 100% done.

Headstock Les Paul front Les Paul back

Hopefully I’ll get my images hosted somewhere else soon, or fullserve will recover. (Ed. Obviously that didn’t happen, hence my reassembling this here. Smokey Joe - if you’re reading this, thanks for providing all the folks at PG with free hosting for so long. It was great whilst it lasted)

You can see the completed guitar in the guitar gallery.