My #1 '59

Discussion in 'Guitars' started by andrewsrea, Aug 24, 2019.

  1. andrewsrea

    andrewsrea Well-Known Member

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    @tobijohn was curious about the back story on my #1, mentioned in another thread, so here goes:

    About 2001, my wife and I are pretty involved with helping a friend who was dying of Melanoma. Had a wife and two kids. His wife's brother was a lawyer who one day showed me his 1957 Gold Top LP. He couldn't tune the thing, but had a classic. After spending some time with it he offered it to me for $30K to $40K (I think he finally got $40K). I did the next best thing and dissected it , took copious measurements, traced it, took pictures, etc.

    I naively set out to build my own burst. #1 goal was sound over looks. I turned over lumber yards for mahogany & maple, getting strange looks for tapping and listening to the wood. One elderly yard owner asked a lot of questions and said, "I think I have some African mahogany that may do the trick. But I am not sure you'd want it. It is really old, as I built a bedroom set in the 40's as a wedding gift to my wife. I hope I can find it" He returned with a very light weight species, which to me - resonated very musically. Best $28 I ever spent and even had enough to use to start another guitar (my green Special).

    The maple top took me longer and I really did not have a source for old, figured wood and settled for a plain top. Again the yard owner dug through a pile of scraps to find an a very tonal East-coast maple (he thought Michigan or New England) from what he remember was there in the late 60's. The rosewood came from an old neighbor, who swore it was Brazillian - but I could not confirm that.

    My brother-in-law did the planning, the neck joints and I did the rest with a lot if his guidance (he is the son of a master cabinet builder). I took my time (I was doing a ton of repairs and had finished my MBA) and by 2005, she was ready for paint. I decided on a tobacco top with a purple back and neck. Was ugly as sin, so I stripped it. Since I had no paint booth, I had to wait for the Spring or Fall to use a screen tent. Fall 2005, I had a really beautiful burst with a cherry back and neck. On a gloss coat, the sun had snuck around and boiled the finish.

    I finally got it right in 2006, doing a replica finish of a '59 335 for the back and neck. I had played one for 15 minutes at a guitar show and noticed it had dark cherry filler and a golden hue from age. I gave the top a 3D tobacco-cherry (ice tea?) burst. The tobacco is a stain, with about 10 coats of clear, then a touch of cherry frame, then a yellowed gloss to make it look aged.

    Traditional ABR-1 type bridge and stop (Gotoh?). Grover tuners. Bone nut. Same type of plastic inlays. It originally had Duncan SH-1's, but now has my AMI Gold Greeny's. Gold hardware (I wanted to be a little different). Gibson selector and the CTS pots were out of an old guitar. Mojotone oil filled caps.

    The surreal moment came when I first strung it up. Prior builds told me this would belong an iterative to get it playable and I was ready for a long, frustrating road. Not this one. I dialed in the action and the intonation was perfect, except one string. I couldn't believe it.

    So it is lighter than most Gibson LPs, plays and sounds better than I remember the '57 Gold Top it was born from. Very forgiving and comfortable. From that day, it became my #1.

    Here are some better pictures I just too She is a little worn, but still my favorite.

    AMI LP1.jpg AMI LP2.jpg AMI LP3.jpg AMI LP 4.jpg
     
  2. andrewsrea

    andrewsrea Well-Known Member

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    LP bump
     
  3. Fat Jack

    Fat Jack Well-Known Member

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    Absolutely beautifully stunning. If the sound is there like you say (and no reason to doubt it is) then that would be just about anyone's number 1.
     
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  4. tonray

    tonray Well-Known Member Supporting Member+

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    Great story
     
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  5. Chad

    Chad Well-Known Member

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    Thats a great story behind a great guitar!
     
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  6. LessPawl

    LessPawl Well-Known Member Supporting Member+ Gold Supporting Member

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    Man, great back story leads to a gorgeous guitar. Very cool. If it was a lefty, I'd offer you 500 CASH for it, Rob...LOL. Kidding, it's priceless and I know it. The amount of love that went into that can never be matched again. Two thumbs up !!!!
     
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  7. tvvoodoo

    tvvoodoo Well-Known Member AGF Registered Dealer

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    Made my saturday night your dedication to purity of tone
     
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  8. big daddy

    big daddy Well-Known Member

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    Fantastic guitar. Better than a Gibson, I'd guess.
     
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  9. RiverDog

    RiverDog Well-Known Member

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    Wow. How cool is that?! That's some talent right there. Love it!
     
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  10. MichaelR

    MichaelR Well-Known Member Supporting Member

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    A fine guitar worth owning for life!
     
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  11. tlarson58

    tlarson58 Well-Known Member

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    You write very good. I enjoied the story from begin to finished.

    Seriously, well done (both with the guitar and narrative).
     
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  12. manco53

    manco53 Well-Known Member

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    That is a super cool story and an even cooler Les Paul! I love a good Les Paul story, so fascinating.

    Just curious, what’s on the headstock??
     
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  13. backinit

    backinit Well-Known Member

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    I love a great story about a special guitar. I have a similar guitar in process. Hopefully that one will have a great story attached to it.
     
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  14. Rollin Hand

    Rollin Hand Well-Known Member

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    That is a nice guitar. You have my admiration for a job well done.
     
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  15. andrewsrea

    andrewsrea Well-Known Member

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    Thanks.

    To your $500 comment, if you discount the expensive tools my brother-in-law & I had to build it and five years of trial and error to build it (I am guessing hundreds of hours), I am thinking I have around $400 of raw material into it (including the Rondo tweed HSC). So be making $100.

    I forgot to add in my original thread that the headstock logo says Andrews That took me forever, as made my own blanks from a shell that my wife and I found on our honeymoon. I hand polished them, overlaid a script template, cut with a jeweler's saw, routed the headstock with a dental bit and then had a disaster. I had the hand-cut letters that fit perfectly into the routing in a frisbee and one of my cats decided to inspect my work and jumped into the frisbee. I never recovered the 'e' or 's' and had to painfully recreate the original.

    Oh and I used my ES-125 headstock as the guide for the headstock size. The second time I met Paul Reed Smith, he told me about the 'D' & 'G' strings binding in the nut of the fat Gibson headstocks. He said their student models with the thin design, were actually better and less prone to the nut binding. The 57 LP and 59 335 had way fatter headstocks.

    I discovered that I would love to work at a guitar factory for the experience, but never want to do that one-off complex build again.
     
  16. andrewsrea

    andrewsrea Well-Known Member

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    As I responded to @LessPawl , my last name hand-cut from a shell my wfe found on our honeymoon and a smaller, student sized headstock...

    AMI LP Headstock.jpg
     
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  17. andrewsrea

    andrewsrea Well-Known Member

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    Keep at is and there are some folks here that are fantastic builders, so hit them up with your ideas. Looking forward to the pics!
     
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  18. andrewsrea

    andrewsrea Well-Known Member

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    40% better!

    Kidding aside, I am sure there are a lot of Gibson rivals. This just really works for me.
     
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  19. LongBlackTie

    LongBlackTie Well-Known Member

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    that's incredible (guitar and story)!! once the kids are a bit older I'd like to try my hand at a custom build like yours.
     
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  20. dearlpitts

    dearlpitts Well-Known Member Supporting Member

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    Really awesone
     
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