Custom Gibson Les Paul Guitar Build Diary

Custom Gibson Les Paul Guitar Build Diary

Here are the specs:

  • one-piece African mahogany back
  • book-matched flamed maple top carved
  • 24-3/4″ scale length
  • wenge fretboard with flamed maple binding on the inside
  • 7-piece lamined neck: mahogany / wenge / mahogany veneer / flamed maple / mahogany veneer / wenge/ mahogany

 

Starting with a nice piece of African mahogany

Starting with a nice piece of African mahogany

 

Sizing the mahogany with the template

Sizing the mahogany with the template

 

1-piece mahogany cut

1-piece mahogany cut

 

tracing the shape of the LP

Tracing the shape of the LP

 

The LP shape is rough cut on the bandsaw

The LP shape is rough cut on the bandsaw

 

Drilling most of the wood from the electronics cavity

Drilling the majority of the wood from the electronics cavity before using a router

 

Routing the switch channel

Routing the switch channel

 

Cleaning up the edges on the oscillating spindle sander

Cleaning up the edges on the oscillating spindle sander

 

The mahogany body weight 3.7lbs

The mahogany body weights 3.7lbs. That’s just about where I want it, so I won’t carve any weight relief. I expect the final guitar to weight between 7.5 and 8 lbs.

 

Hand sawing a piece of flamed maple

Hand sawing a piece of flamed maple

 

This will be a bookmatched piece

This will be a bookmatched piece

 

Making sure one edge is perfectly square so I can take it to the band saw

Making sure one edge is perfectly square so I can take it to the band saw

 

Ripping the maple into a book-matched set

Ripping the maple into a book-matched set using a 3/4″ blade

 

Not my best cut but I have plenty of thickness to plane it.

Not my best cut but I have plenty of thickness to plane it.

 

Gluing and clamping the book-matched set

Gluing and clamping the book-matched set

 

Rough cut the body shape on the band saw

Rough cut the body shape on the band saw

 

The two pieces

The two pieces

 

Applying glue to the two faces

Applying glue to the two faces

 

Clamping the top and bottom

Gluing and clamping the top and bottom

 

After the glue has dried overnight

Out of the clamps after the glue has dried overnight

 

Cutting away excess

Removing excess maple on the bandsaw to make it easier for the router bit

 

Using a flush trim template following router bit

Making the maple flush with the mahogany. Using a flush trim template following router bit, the mahogany is the template in this case.

 

Cleaning the router bit scratched on the spindle sander

Cleaning the router bit scratched on the spindle sander

 

A look so far

What’s been done so far…

 

Carving for the switch cavity cover

Carving for the switch cavity cover

 

Switch cavity

Switch cavity

 

Carving for the electronics cavity cover

Carving for the electronics cavity cover

 

The electronics cavity

The electronics cavity

 

Gluing two pieces of flamed maple to make a cavity cover

Gluing two pieces of flamed maple to make a cavity cover

 

Carving out the cavity cover on the cnc

Carving out the cavity cover on the cnc

 

Test-fitting the covers, they are still high and will eventually be sanded flush with the body

Test-fitting the covers, they are still high and will eventually be sanded flush with the body

 

Carving the steps on the maple top

Carving the steps on the maple top

 

Starting to removing the step with the random orbit sander

Starting to removing the step with the random orbit sander

 

Preparing to route the neck-plane angle

Preparing to route the neck-plane angle

 

Neck-plane angle is cut

Neck-plane angle is cut

 

Sanding the top

More sanding the top

 

Drilling out the pickup cavity on the drill press

Drilling out the bridge pickup cavity on the drill press

 

Routing the neck pickup cavity

Routing the neck pickup cavity

 

Drilling out the neck pickup cavity

Drilling out the neck pickup cavity

 

Both pickup cavities are routed

Both pickup cavities are routed

 

Starting to build the neck…

Laminating the neck blank

Laminating the neck blank. You can watch a video of how I built this neck blank

 

The neck blank after passing through the planer

The neck blank after passing through the planer

 

Trimming the end to proper length

Trimming the end to proper length

 

tracing the neck profile onto the blank

Tracing the neck profile onto the blank

 

Cutting the angle for the headstock

Cutting the angle for the headstock on the bandsaw

 

Cleaning the cut marks

Cleaning the cut marks

 

Fine sanding the headstock top

Fine sanding the headstock top with a sanding block

 

The neck so far...

The neck so far…

 

Drawing the centerline

Drawing the centerline

 

Marking the end of the truss rod

Marking the end of the truss rod

 

Positioning a stopper at the end

Positioning a stopper at the end… there’s also one at the headstock

 

Carving the truss rod channel

Carving the truss rod channel

 

Truss rod channel and access cavity are carved

Truss rod channel and access cavity are carved

 

Rough shaping the back of the neck

Rough shaping the back of the neck

 

Rough shaping the top profile

Rough shaping the top profile

 

Making the headstock shape template on the CNC

Making the headstock shape template on the CNC

 

The neck and headstock templates are held in place with masking tape and super glue

The neck and headstock templates are held in place with masking tape and super glue

 

Trim routing with the template

Trim routing with the template

 

The neck shaped

The neck is shaped, need to clean those burn marks

 

The headstock is shaped

The headstock is shaped

 

Cutting the wenge to fretboard dimensions

Cutting the wenge to fretboard dimensions

 

Preparing to cut fret slots

Preparing to cut fret slots

 

Fret slots are cut

Fret slots are cut

 

Cutting stripes of maple veneer for binding

Cutting stripes of maple veneer for binding

 

Cutting stripes of wenge for binding

Cutting stripes of wenge for binding

 

The maple is veneer is glued on are the wenge is next

The maple is veneer is glued on are the wenge is next

 

The fretboard is bound, needs some cleaning up

The fretboard is bound, needs some cleaning up

 

After planing it flat

After planing it flat

 

Making the positions of the markers

Making the positions of the markers

 

Fret markers are added

Fret markers are added

 

A look at the fretboard on the neck

A look at the fretboard on the neck with a maple veneer between them

 

Truss rod in installed and fretboard ready to be glued on

Truss rod in installed in the channel and the fretboard is ready to be glued on (see my article on how to install a truss rod and fretboard)

 

Fretboard glued and clamped

Fretboard is glued and clamped. The green tape is there to prevent glue from spreading on the neck.

 

After the glue has dried and the clamps removed

After the glue has dried and the clamps removed

 

Starting to create the radius on the fretboardStarting to create the radius on the fretboard

Starting to create the radius on the fretboard

 

A 12" radius created on the surface of the fretboard

A 12″ radius created on the surface of the fretboard

 

Starting to shape the back of the neck

Starting to shape the back of the neck

 

Gluing and clamping maple to make the headstock veneer

Gluing and clamping maple to make the bookmatched headstock veneer

 

The headstock veneer ready to be glued

The headstock veneer ready to be glued

 

The maple veneer is glued on

The maple veneer is glued on

 

Excess is trimmed on the band saw

Excess is trimmed on the band saw

 

After cleaning the edges and a wipe of mineral spirits

After cleaning the edges and a wipe of mineral spirits

 

Installing the side dots

Installing the side dots

 

Side dots done

Side dots done

 

Checking the tuners

Temporarily installing and checking the tuners

 

refining the belly carve

Refining the belly carve

 

Belly carve side view

Belly carve side view

 

Volute side view

Volute side view

 

Wenge fretboard sanded without oil

Wenge fretboard sanded without oil

 

Wenge fretboard sanded with oil

Wenge fretboard sanded with oil

 

Starting the fretting process

Starting the fretting process

 

Trimming the fret tang

Trimming the fret tangsClamping the frets

Clamping the frets

 

Frets are installed

Frets are installed

 

Carving the neck pocket

Carving the neck pocket

 

Neck pocket is carved

Neck pocket is carved

 

Test-fitting the neck

Test-fitting the neck

 

Removing the upper neck heel portion

Removing the upper neck heel portion

 

Neck heel is now properly shaped

Neck heel is now properly shaped

 

Getting ready to drill the output jack hole

Getting ready to drill the output jack hole

 

Output jack hole drilled

Output jack hole drilled

About araz

I'm an ex research scientist, now building electric guitars :)

9 thoughts on “Custom Gibson Les Paul Guitar Build Diary

    1. Thanks Pete! There are plenty of plans on the web, just do a search for “les paul plans” and you should find them easily.

      Araz

  1. Thanks for posting this. Your work is really inspiring. I’m hoping to start a similar, first time, project, building a Les Paul Jr. Do you have suggestions for where to buy the wood? I’m having a hard time finding it, without buying pre-cut blanks. Thanks.

  2. Hi,
    I’m looking for a stratocaster or telecaster exact plan with dimension (body and neck).Whould you please send me one?
    thank you:))

    1. Here’s what I recommend you do. Go to Google and type “stratocaster or telecaster exact plan with dimension” and see what you get!

      Araz 🙂

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