New Guitar Project: Les Paul Junior Build – Part Six
Saturday, May 5, 2012 10:22AM / Event
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We’re into the home stretch.
I drilled for the bridge posts and drilled a small hole from the lower post hole into the control cavity for the ground wire.
I routed for the pickup, making the cavity deeper than normal. That’s because I used a ‘dummy coil’ under the pickup (a regular P-90 pickup with the magnets and polepieces removed) to reduce noise that single coil pickups (like p90s) have. I used a ‘push-pull’ pot as a way to switch the dummy coil in and out of the circuit.
Originally I was going to put the dummy coil in the control cavity on the back (which is why it is bigger than a normal Junior cavity).
I drilled the hole for the input jack on the side of the guitar.
Okay, now we have photos. Of the finished guitar.
I cut out the pickguard, though it’s not an exact copy. I always wondered why the Junior pickguard looks like it does, but now that I built one I see why. The pickguard goes under the strings to the butt of the neck so that it covers the place where the mortise ends because the fretboard doesn’t go all the way to the end of the mortise.
I painted the guitar yellow because Gibson used a color that has come to be called TV Yellow. Back in the 50s, when TV was black and white, white guitars played havoc with cameras, so Gibson came up with a color that looked white on TV and didn’t make the cameras go haywire.
I’m sure it’s a lousy color match, but for HK$30 it was close enough. I didn’t grain fill the wood because I wanted the grain to show. I sprayed very little paint, and this one will probably wear through quickly. Which is fine, since that’s what I want.
I put mahogany veneer on the cavity cover so it would match the rest of the guitar.
Here you can see the neck heel, the maple laminates in the neck and the roundover in the heel area. The roundover that’s perpedicular to the neck is the one I had to do before milling the mortise. The parallel roundover was done after the neck was glued in and the excess was trimmed away.
The neck joint area came out really well, probably since I did it the right way for a change. I decided to get a little funny with the paint line:
As you can see the body’s not very smooth. The real Juniors were budget guitars that were made quickly and cheaply. I tend to see guitars as tools more than works of art, so I don’t get too carried away trying to make pristine finishes. Besides, I don’t have the equipment for that kind of thing.
The headstock came out pretty well, though it needs more lacquer. The patina is really nice because of the angle-cut quartersawn wood.
The headstock design is different from Gibson’s; Les Pauls are notorious for tuning instability because the strings come off the nut at a horizontal angle. My headstock tries to straighten the string path as much as I can.
I need to do a better job with drilling the tuner holes. On this build, I forgot to do it before I glued the neck to the body, so it was awkward. It still works, but the holes are out of alignment.
The truss rod cover is missing too. Not just from the picture, I mean I can’t find it!
I wanted to do some sort of inlay, and I wanted to do a simple Chinese character. Given my personality, and the expectation that people will ask if it’s a Gibson, I chose NO:
The bad part about those pretty maple laminates is that they make it easy to see how wrong the tuner placements are!
Speaking of wrong, I mixed up the tuner buttons because I wanted white buttons but only had 4. I have 6 brown buttons, but I like the white ones better. Hopefully soon I can get some more.
Below you can see the end of the laminate I glued on with the ‘wings’ of the headstock. It makes a nice detail.
You can also see the volute, which I think could be refined, and it may be.
Tuner button update: I ordered replacement buttons from a eBay seller in Taiwan (so it got here quickly).
They’re bigger than the old ones, but they fit, I like the color, and they’re actually more comfortable than the small ones.
The guitar sounds really good, and plays well. I need to work on the frets a little, and tweak the setup some, but it’s just what I was hoping for.