builders.... how thick

Discussion in 'The Small Company Luthiers' started by JimH, Mar 12, 2008.

  1. JimH

    JimH Member

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    do you have your LP type tops? Is 5/8" suitable? OR does it need to be the full inch?
     
  2. Jack Briggs

    Jack Briggs Member

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    I think Historics are 5/8"; original '50's LP's were 1/2"; I use 5/8" on my Classics and Apollos.
     
  3. JimH

    JimH Member

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    Thanks - to the point!
     
  4. Red Suede

    Red Suede Member

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    I thought Historics were supposed to be accurate? How come Gibson made the tops thicker?
     
  5. scott

    scott Member

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    This is a weird subject.
    I think people are mistaken on this. Ive read a lot of books on old LPs and gibsons. Ive seen plans drawn from original LPs. Ive seen pics of the inside of the pup cavities on vintage LPs. Ive measure several tops on gold tops and an original 60 LP. I also have info from trusted people who have measured several original 58/59 LPs. People who know how to read dial calipers. All of the info I have suggests that the original LPs had thicker tops. 3/4" or more in some cases. The tops on the real LPs were carved much deaper than todays.
    The top carve was changed somewhere along the line and they started using 1/2" tops. Which is what is used today on production models.

    [slight rant}
    On top of that, every one of them Ive seen is different.(not just the top)
    Almost every top was carved different. The headstocks on some were lopsided. Some of them had crooked tailpieces. Some were angled as much as the TOM. Some of the tailpieces were straight. Clearly there was a lot of hand work done to these guitars. I dont think they made as much out of the details that some people think they did.



    www.heatleyguitars.com
     
  6. Jack Briggs

    Jack Briggs Member

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    scott,

    You may be right. I think they def. started with 5/8", but they were all carved a little differently. McCarty states in the forward of the BOTB book that they were 1/2" at the bridge (highest point.) Many other vintage experts seem to back that up. I've had my doubts for years, though.
     
  7. dwes

    dwes Member

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    Good post/point.
    From my limited exposure, I draw the same conclusion about '50's guitars. Tolerences may not have been as exacting as we see more regularly today. Maybe that's part of the magic.

    Then again, maybe that's the beauty of being a player today....
     
  8. fretnot

    fretnot Gold Supporting Member

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    I once heard that Gibson made the original Les Pauls with all different variations and tolerances, just to screw with people 50 years in the future.

    :D
     
  9. scott

    scott Member

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    I think what might be confusing is that the guitar has almost .5" of carve.(a little less actually)...from the top of the binding to the highest point where the bridge is located. This is how they are on all the drawings Ive seen. Looking at the plans Mcarty might have misinterpreted this.This is not how thick the guitar top is as far as I can tell..the actual Maple top that is.
    Ive read somewhere(cant remember where) that the tops ranged in thickness from 5/8" to .8".
    This has confused me for years and the first time I ever heard about the .5" top was here at the GP and on the LP forum.
    As far as i know they were 2" at the edge. If the top was only .5" thick and the backs were 1.75"thick then that means the tops were only carved .25". It doesnt make sense cause with a 4.5 degree neck joint the bridge would be almost an inch off the guitar. Ive noticed on the newer production models that the bridge is way farther off the guitar than the real old ones were. The old one have a much more vaulted top as well(the ones Ive seen) meaning they taper down in thickness from the bridge to the neck joint.

    I could be totally wrong about this but I have seen the insides of some vintage LPs and they were definatley thicker than 1/2" inside the pickup cavity.



    www.heatleyguitars.com
     
  10. Rich Rice

    Rich Rice Member

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    I can't say definitively what the thickness was. I did a walk through of the Kalamazoo plant many years ago, (right after Heritage took over) and saw the original machinery that Gibson had used. Their routing machine made terraces in the tops at different levels, which were then sanded to make the contours of the top. This was achieved by multiple passes, and was hand guided. Each one must have been a little different, with varying sanding styles by different workmen, and depending on what they found in the individual pieces of wood. It was very low tech- I enjoyed seeing their methods and machines in action.
     

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