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#1
I would like to build a LesPaul style guitar out of a single, solid piece of wood within the next year or so, and I was wondering what might be a good wood choice. I originally wanted mohagany because I wanted a very girthy/meaty tone to go along with the girthyness/meatiness of a single piece guitar, but thought that might end up weighing waaay to much. Is that an accurate thought? Are there light woods that would sound similarly "thick and warm" like mahogany would? Also, say there isn't a light wood to build a guitar out of that has a beefy tone like mahogany does, could I build it out of something like basswood or alder ( I thought alder was light, but maybe I'm way off here ) and slap some really dark/warm pickups in it to compensate?

Also, I would still have to have a fingerboard of a different piece of wood, unless I didn't put a truss rod in the guitar, but that wouldn't be a one-piece then. I would like a truss rod, but I also don't want to have a separate piece for the fingerboard...is it feasible to build an electric guitar that would play nicely without having a truss rod in the neck? If not, I want the fingerboard to be the same species of wood as the rest of the body. Are there woods that don't work well as fingerboards, and should therefor be avoided?

I've read in one of LP Addicts builds that he has done, or plans on doing, a build without a truss rod...if you read this LP, what was the result of that?

Pardon the plethora of newb questions, any tips would be greatly appreciated!

#2
M.d.f
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#4
Mahogany isn't that heavy to be honest.

If you've played a normal Les Paul, as i'm sure you have, that's the approximate weight of what you're guitar will be there.

If you're worried about weight, you can thin it out abit but i've never had any trouble with them.
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#5
Mahogney that has been routed out a bit?
agathis-- cheap not to heavy but still descent tone
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#6
dude, make the same wood a LP is made from...adn u need a truss rod, wood cant stand that amunt of pressure without bending, just make a truss rod, and i dont think u can do the species, uless u do your neck in rosewood
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#7
You can have 1 pc necks. The truss is inserted from the back. Take a look at some fender necks...
#8
If you want a proper Les Paul shape, with the contours, you might struggle with a one piece body.

They are about 2 and a bit inches thick.

Normally, LP's have a back section of mahogany etc and then a thick cap of maple or something pretty on top.

This also gives you the chance to rout out some of the mahogany to reduce weight, before putting the cap on and carving it.
#9
Oh also, you can't build the whole guitar out of 1 piece of mahogany.
I was going to do this but was advised against it.
Apparently it won't be anywhere near as strong.
I don't remember where I was,
When I realized life was a game.
The more seriously I took things,
The harder the rules became.
#10
buy a sapele blank from me! hahaha. the shit issss heavy, but like you said, anything les paul is pretty heavy unless you chamber the hell out of it. i never did the no truss rod thing, its not worth it, a truss rod is like 9 bucks.
#11
The choice of woods for the body is pretty much up to you. Mahogany is what makes a LP a LP, meaty, sustainfull and extremely heavy. The alternatives you mention are all feasable options though. It's all a matter of personal preference.

That's not the case with necks and fingerboards. Basic engineering requirements limit the number of choices to those you see on most other guitars. Making a neck with no steel reinforcement can't be done. Steel string tension is such that an all wood neck must be very thick to cope with that load, making it impossible to play. Classical guitars having about half the string tension can do without truss rod, and also have the maximum fretboard width/neck thickness a regular human hand can manage. An all wood neck for a steel string would be about 50% thicker still.
Choice of fretboard material is also pretty limited. It must have good tonal properties and a hard, wear resistant surface. Maple, Rosewood and ebony qualify, of which maple is the only one suitable for making necks also. One piece neck/fretboard assembly's are very common. The truss rod is put in place through a routed cavity on the back side of the neck, which is then closed by gluing in a strip of wood. Making this strip out of some darker material, like rosewood, makes for the skunk stripe design commom on many electric guitars. If you make this strip out of maple, you can come very close to a neck/fretboard appearing to have been made out of a single piece of wood.
#12
Quote by WH15P3R
Oh also, you can't build the whole guitar out of 1 piece of mahogany.
I was going to do this but was advised against it.
Apparently it won't be anywhere near as strong.


I defy you sir.
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Last edited by deftonesordie at Nov 12, 2008,
#13
I'm getting alot of suggestions and whatnot that are great, but some of them seem to have forgotten that the whole point of making this guitar would be to make it all out of one peice of solid wood. So,

1. There will be no cap of wood on top.
2. I won't be able to chamber the body.
2. I won't be able to get a truss rod in the back because the neck will be made from the same peice as the body.

It looks like I'll have to be putting on a different peice for the fingerboard because I'm getting the impression that an electric guitar sans truss rod = impossible, or at least improbable. However, I still would like the fingerboard to be the same wood as the rest of the guitar. Is there really no species that I can make the thing from and also use for a fingerboard? LP Addict, you tend to work with some different stuff, is there no exotic (or any other kind for that matter) wood that you know of that will double as guitar and fingerboard? What's the problem with using mahogany (or anything else) for a fingerboard if it's treated well?

Another thing is that I'm not going for an *exact* Les Paul shape, so I will be able to make it thinner and whatnot here and there. I will be modeling it a bit closer to the EC series from ESP guitars, so it will be thinner and a little bit smaller. With that in mind, I'm pretty sure heavy woods are back within the realm of possibility.

Thanks for all your help so far guys. Still hoping for more species suggestions, and remember, I'm looking for something that I can make a complete guitar out of AND use as a fingerboard material. At least that way, if I do a really good join with the fingerboard and neck, and can make it LOOK like it's still one peice
#14
you could make the whole ****in guitar out of hard maple. that shit is heasy to find in 8/4 and wide pieces. its just heavy and working it is going to suck, plus you could route a truss rod, and resaw a piece of it off to use as a fingerboard. all this is going to be is a one-piece neck through, which we all know is a really bad idea.
#15
Rosewood. I've seen rosewood bodies, rosewood necks and rosewood fingerboards before. it'll be damn heavy, but so will most things made of all the same wood, that actually work.
Same with maple, but it won't be as heavy. I don't really agree, but some would argue it would be too bright, but tonal difference in wood is minimal when amplified.
#16
Quote by LP Addict
all this is going to be is a one-piece neck through, which we all know is a really bad idea.



Is it a bad idea because of the lack of strength in the neck, as well as the huge waste of material?
#17
Quote by Skeet UK
Is it a bad idea because of the lack of strength in the neck, as well as the huge waste of material?

exactly.
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#20
Quote by LP Addict
the neck is fine, but when winter/summer comes around, it will warp, inevitable. laminates help prevent it.

it helps if there's a hard (poly) finish on it right?
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Quote by Anonden
You CAN play anything with anything....but some guitars sound right for some things, and not for others. Single coils sound retarded for metal, though those who are apeshit about harpsichord probably beg to differ.
#21
Quote by oneblackened
it helps if there's a hard (poly) finish on it right?


Yeah. It will help show you that the neck is warping, when the cracks appear in the finish!
#22
If a one piece necks always warps then....

....how do people make one piece guitars?
....how is it that many necks are made out of a single piece of wood and don't warp?

I have an original 1965 Gibson Melody Maker guitar with a mahogany body and neck, and the neck is a one piece. It's still straight as an arrow. I also have a vintage maple neck made from a single piece of wood and it's the same way. Why is this the case? Is it reinforced with steel? Is a really beefy steel truss rod enough to keep it from warping? Basically, all those questions are related to the ultimate one I should have asked at the beggining of this thread instead of my question about wood species:


I want to build a guitar out of a solid piece of wood; can it be done well, and if so, how can I do it???
#23
it can be done, its just not recommended. the body-neck joint is the major issue. make sure you use a big fat .25'' quartersawn ebony fretboard to prevent it from warping, and you will want to extend the fingerboard over the body joint, so id go for 24 frets.
#24
Wait. 1 piece necks don't have to warp, most necks are 1 piece, and most necks are just fine.

If he means making a whole guitar, body, neck and all out of one piece of wood, well... this is madness.

EDIT: Removed obscene amount of ...'s.
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#25
Quote by Øttər
Wait... 1 piece necks don't warp. Most necks are 1 piece... and most necks are just fine...

If he means making a whole guitar, body, neck and all out of one piece of wood... well... this is madness.



It's actually been done many times before. I'm still waiting for someone to explain why lots of necks are made from a single peice and still don't warp...

So, that's me and Øttər saying: "Answer me THAT!"
#26
Yeah, my Gibson neck, my Yamaha neck, my Epiphone neck, all post-skunk-stripe fender necks, most necks really.

A question for the master woodworkers of UG.
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#27
it doesnt warp because it doesnt warp. the wood was dried properly and machined perfectly flat. if you can insure your wood is dried perfectly and you can machine it perfectly flat, then it should not warp (i say should because necks can and will warp). a very stable wood should be used, like hard maple. you are going to need a big-ass stanley jointer plane, and im not even sure how you would route the truss rod if you put one in.
#28
Quote by Øttər
If he means making a whole guitar, body, neck and all out of one piece of wood, well... this is madness.

madness?

MADNESS?



AHHHH

I'd say you could probably use those 1/4" steel rods as a reinforcement under the fretboard... maybe find a way to extend it through the neck joint a bit for some stability?
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#30
So lemme see if I can get there with all this info:

I could make the one-piece out of mahogany, put a big truss rod in it, put graphite rods on either side of the truss rod that extend the full length of the fingerboard ( as much as possible, in other words ) sandwich those with a nice thick ebony fingerboard ( compromise #1, considering I wanted uniformity of species ), and it might work.

DANG IT why do I have to say to word "might" still?? My brother's Squire has a one-piece maple neck with just a thin rosewood fingerboard and no reinforcement and it's straight as a laser! If I machine the wood properly it should work the same as that dang Squire, right? Right???


EDIT: Here's a photo I rooted out showing Johnny Rushmore building one (perhaps the only) of his one-piece guitars. Looks like he's got some support rod action going on there, so it could probably work, ya:

Last edited by lumberjack at Nov 12, 2008,
#31
the joint between the fingerboard and the neck goes a long way to keeping necks straight. a well glued joint will be much stronger than the wood around it.
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#33
Quote by LP Addict
you know man, that looks pretty cool, i wanna do this now. come to my shop and lets build two!



Agreed. We should so do this. I suck at guitar building though, just warning you...


That's the whole reason I got into the idea though, was that I saw someone who actually did it and how amazing it looks. There are some videos of some guy or other playing that exact guitar on youtube claiming that it provides "literally infinite" sustain, which is physically impossible; he's just standing in the amps sweet spot using feedback to make it go forever, but all that is besides the point.

The point is, owning and getting to play a solid one piece guitar that you built by hand would be one of the coolest things I can think of, and I wanna do it!
#34
ehh, i bet it would be anticlimactic. won't be that great.
Quote by corduroyEW
Cheap amps are "that bad". They suck up your tone like cocaine at Kate Moss' party.


I am Michael!
#35
Quote by tubab0y
ehh, i bet it would be anticlimactic. won't be that great.



Are you kidding me? A one piece guitar as fruit of your own labor, product of sweat off your own brow, brain child of your own ferocious determination?? The satisfaction I would derive from completing such a beastly-amazing project like that would be immense, and no amount of negative forecasting can dampen my ambition

Be gone, ye nay sayer!
#36
haha.. I gotta get a huge chunk of maple and make something like this... ill just use all the scrap to make maple fretboards and sell them on ebay or something, I'd probably make back more than all the wood cost.
#37
Quote by carousel182
haha.. I gotta get a huge chunk of maple and make something like this... ill just use all the scrap to make maple fretboards and sell them on ebay or something, I'd probably make back more than all the wood cost.


Exactamente my friend! Good for your tone and the environment, since you're selling off that extra wood.
#39
^ I knew that would come up .


We can lay this damn argument to rest once and for all.
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