So, after months of researching and getting to understand a lot of the finer details of how luthiers design and construct their guitars I am finally going to build one for myself. It is a quite ambitious build having only customized my old Fender Squier “Crafted-in-China” Strat into my “Praisecaster” and using the old parts to build a crude, but functional “Mongrel” for my son. The “Mongrel” project was simply to prove to myself I could make a functional guitar body, and having completed it entirely free-hand, without the use of templates, I think I can do much better with quality wood (not treated pine), well-designed templates, and taking my time.
In researching what I wanted to make, I defaulted at first to a classic single-cut Gibson Les Paul like Slash or Ace Frehley, but as I researched more, I learned about the relative fragility of the mahogany neck and the single-use nature of the sound of the thick, warm Les Paul. As much as I admire the
aesthetics of the LP, I grew to appreciate the design and variety of the Paul Reed Smith models. After reading a lot from other luthiers on how the 24-fret design is so much more superior than the 22, giving a full multiple tone range to the two humbucker pickups (it’s a math thing as Ed Romanexplains it here), I am going full-ambitious on this and attempting to make kind of a clone of a PRS Custom 24. Except, I plan on making it with Les Paul, style binding, and probably a cherry sunburst finish. Another modification I am planning on is to use a maple neck and a bolt-on style (after further reading on Ed Roman’s site) to contribute to a fuller tone and enhance durability. Also, I am not convinced on the switch position or design on the PRS Custom 24, but we’ll see.
First step was to get templates designed on the computer. I took a jpeg I found online of a 24-fret PRS template that was small and not-to-scale. I opened it up in Photoshop and using the pen tool, copied the outlines and contours using vectors, not rasterized pixels. Then, I simply enlarged the image to match the width of the neck pickup rout. Final dimensions were pretty easy after that. I also used the contour lines in the jpeg to make routing templates for the carved maple top. I am not sure if I will have to give the neck a down-angle as I am still not sure of the type of bridge I want to use, so I’m saving that for later.
Here are the results for the routing templates and they are to scale. (please, double check everything before you use, as I have not used these yet either) I have printed them out (4 pages of 8.5x11 paper that I plan on piecing together and taping down to MDF to make my actual routing templates) and am planning on making the templates soon. Keep in mind the place I labeled "saddle" corresponds to a non-tremelo, Strat-style bridge that Stew-Mac's fret-position calculator determined. For accurate numbers, use their calculations and save the bridge drilling for last.
Here we go!
|Neck Template (24th fret position is marked, cut-off neck where applicable for your project)|
|Top Level of Carve (not for routing, for tracing only)|
|Routing Template for Top Carve|
|Routing Template for Bottom Carve|