Saturday, July 27, 2013

Paul Reed Smith Custom 24 Build Part 1


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.

The "Mongrel"
The Praisecaster
The Praisecaster
The Praisecaster
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!

Body Template

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
part 2


  1. Any interest in sharing your templates? I would love to give this build a shot.

    1. Hey Justin, I have the template in a Photoshop file that is to scale. For some reason, the .jpg formats don't seem to scale correctly. I could send you the photoshop file, or you could experiment with scaling the .jpg files directly from the blog post with some editing program. Really, all you'd have to do is enlarge the jpgs and print them out on four sheets... then merge them together. I used them mostly as a guide as I wasn't replicating the PRS. My body measures around 12" by 18". Really, the only crucial dimensions are the bridge posts, and the neck length. Let me know.

    2. thanks for the quick reply and i would love to check out your pshop file and see if i can put it to good use. my email is

      strangly enough, after reading up for 6 months on building a guitar and finally deciding on your build, i also found some good aged wood