1959 DC Les Paul Junior Build Thread

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miserneilmiserneil Frets: 5174
edited July 7 in Making & Modding
I thought i'd share, for anyone that might be interested, how I build my DC Juniors. They are based on an original 1959 Gibson Les Paul Junior that I owned (twice!). It was such a great sounding and playing guitar, I decided it would be a perfect blueprint so I set about measuring every last detail. If this gets a bit 'cork sniffy' I apologise.

I did set out to build an exact replica but over time and after studying 5 different Juniors and a Special the one thing that become consistent, was that none of them were consistent, they were all slightly different! Now, it's worth mentioning here that a lesson I soon learnt and one to bare in mind was that, even though we now covet these vintage Juniors as Golden Era instruments, while they are fantastic and one of the best guitars Gibson ever made IMO, they were in fact literally thrown together student models, being knocked out for $150 bucks.

So I decided, while I would stay as close to vintage as possible with modern materials, I would need to take averages where necessary and just try and make the best guitars I can so there are a few subtle changes, nothing major (in fact you'd probably never notice if I didn't tell you!) , just little things which I feel make for a better guitar.

Much of this will be done in real time, I already have the bodies cut, thicknessed, routed and sanded so i'll document that first.

So it all starts here:



Enough African Mahogany for 10+ bodies so I need to manhandle that home and cut it into manageable sizes...



Once I no longer need a block and tackle to moving the lumber around(!), I start by rough cutting the DC body shape out of the 1 piece blanks:



And then over to my thickening jig to bring it down to 45mm. The originals were mainly 1 3/4" so this will give me a little extra for final sanding:



Then tidied up on the router table. I've also routed the first route of the P90 cavity. This route is 15mm deep as per vintage Gibson:



At this point I have selected which bodies have the best grain for TV Yellow and which will look nice in Cherry Red. Next I start to hog out the neck mortice with a forstner bit and we get, what I like to call, the frightened rabbit....



Then I clean up the neck mortice and route to 35mm:





I also route the P90 'shelf' (where the baseplate of the pickup sits) at 7mm.

Next I drill the pot holes from the front about 30mm into the body (once the cavity is routed this gives me a nice, clean hole edge), flip it over and hog out the control cavity then route this to a depth of 40mm which is very slightly deeper than vintage to allow for the CTS TVT pots I use.



The jack hole is also drilled out with a 25mm forstner bit at this point. 



Next up is the body round over. There are a few options here. A '58 single cut, has a much tighter roundover than a '59, almost like a 50's Tele. The '59 had a much smoother body edge so I set my roundover bit to cut slightly lower than normal and then feather out the edges by hand to meet it, like this:





This leaves us with a '59 DC Body:





More in a few days! 


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  • JMP220478JMP220478 Frets: 152
    so what price will these be available at based on your "thrown together student model"  approach :-) 
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  • miserneilmiserneil Frets: 5174
    JMP220478 said:
    so what price will these be available at based on your "thrown together student model"  approach :-) 
    Ha! These are far from thrown together, I have 'refined the process' into a borderline OCD, Vintage Nerd approach.... ;) Drop me a PM with what you're after, i'm not sure Making and Modding is the place for sales, mods?
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  • stevebrumstevebrum Frets: 4325
    Great stuff. Looking forward to the next instalment.
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  • designerseye88designerseye88 Frets: 261
    Fantastic as always Neil, I think I maybe asking for a double cut in cherry at some point in the not so distant future. 
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  • poopotpoopot Frets: 1403
    Blimings! They look cracking!!!!
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  • DougDoug Frets: 116
    Bloody Stunning!, keep the build progress pic's coming
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  • SaszSasz Frets: 6
    Beautiful work indeed.
    I love threads like these - thank you for taking the time to document it all, much appreciated!
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  • WezVWezV Frets: 9123
    Nice
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  • sawyersawyer Frets: 189
    Love these threads!
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  • lovestrat74lovestrat74 Frets: 394
    Frightened rabbit- love it!!
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  • paulnb57paulnb57 Frets: 1184
    edited June 18
    Very nice! Looking forward to the next episode!........
    Stranger from another planet welcome to our hole - Just strap on your guitar and we'll play some rock 'n' roll

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  • BoromedicBoromedic Frets: 998
    Awesome stuff, looking forward to the next post! As above, frightened rabbit made me Lol :)

    .....and what to my wondering eyes should appear.....      nothing.......


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  • customkitscustomkits Frets: 796
    Where did you find that mahogany, i want some, it looks lovely, whats the weight like
    www.danielsguitars.co.uk
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  • BigMonkaBigMonka Frets: 1512
    Loving it so far, and this thread is going to be epic by the end.
    Is the neck pocket route flat (at the 35mm depth you said) or is it angled to get the right neck angle?
    Always be yourself! Unless you can be Batman, in which case always be Batman.
    My boss told me "dress for the job you want, not the job you have"... now I'm sat in a disciplinary meeting dressed as Batman.
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  • miserneilmiserneil Frets: 5174
    BigMonka said:
    Loving it so far, and this thread is going to be epic by the end.
    Is the neck pocket route flat (at the 35mm depth you said) or is it angled to get the right neck angle?
    Thanks @BigMonka ;

    The pocket is flat and then the heel of the neck is cut at 2 degrees (vintage spec although it all depends on the bridge/P90 used, mine are cut at 3 degrees.) to get the angle :)
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  • valevale Frets: 1039
    edited June 19
    thanks for the brilliant thread. another inspiring one that makes me think 'well that looks possible...' & i have to fight the urge because i secretly suspect i would get into a terrible mess trying.
    the step by step photos (with tool types & dimensions listed) hit all the important stages in crystal clear detail. much appreciated.

    i did wonder about a couple of things.

    the wood seems very light at the start of the shoot and redder at the end. does the wood surface oxidise to a redder hue once it has been cut for a while, or is it just a lighting thing? or is it just the species (some are brown, some are red, some are golden)?

    also the neck pocket bottom seems incerdibly thin. i guess that's because these are set necks so the glue will achor to all sides of the pocket, whereas a bolt-on only attaches to the bottom.
    would a bolt on version need to be double that neck pocket bottom thicknesss or even more?
    hofner hussie & hayman harpie. what she said...
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  • tone1tone1 Frets: 1640
    Looks fantastic.. I particularly like the frightened rabbit or slightly drunk space hopper  :)
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  • miserneilmiserneil Frets: 5174
    Thanks for all the nice comments so far folks, it’s much appreciated!

    @vale The wood does oxidise slightly after working but it’s also a combination of lighting too. Once sanded it returns to the lighter colour.

    The neck pocket has 10mm left at the bottom as per the originals. It’s glued on all sides of the tenon so it’s perfectly stable and there’s no fear of it coming out. I’ve not looked into bolt on Junior style necks (heaven forfend!! ;) ) but the depth of the pocket should certainly need to increased by a considerable margin IMO.
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  • customkitscustomkits Frets: 796
    I agree Neil, don't ever bolt one of these necks in, that should be a punishable offence

    A strat and tele neck pocket isn't as deep though and they work
    www.danielsguitars.co.uk
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  • sawyersawyer Frets: 189
    If its a bolt on,its not a Junior. Always fancied building one of these from scratch but the fret work scares me. These sort of threads are always fascinating.I've built up one of GSPBASSES double cuts which is now a firm favorite and just as good as my Gibson SC Junior. They truly are fantastic guitars. Everyone should have a Junior. 
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  • WezVWezV Frets: 9123
    My very first guitar build was actually a bolt on neck version!!!  


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  • AustrianJohnAustrianJohn Frets: 405
    Great thread - thanks!
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  • sawyersawyer Frets: 189
    Why 3 degrees rather than 2 degrees? Are the p90's you use slightly taller? Loving this by the way! 
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  • miserneilmiserneil Frets: 5174
    sawyer said:
    Why 3 degrees rather than 2 degrees? Are the p90's you use slightly taller? Loving this by the way! 
    Bloody hell, What’s with all the questions @sawyer , mind your own business!!

    ;)

    The P90 covers are the same as they always were/are at 11mm, I go for 3 degrees because 2 degrees is just too shallow an angle over the pickup for the bridge I’m using. At 2 degrees, the strings pass over the polepieces, with only about 2mm to spare and playing with your palm rested at the front of the bridge (the only way you can with a wraparound), any additional pressure on the strings causes the classic ‘THUNK’ as the string hits the polepiece so at 3 degrees it just gives that extra bit of clearance to stop this happening :)
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  • sawyersawyer Frets: 189
    Thanks for the explanations. Sorry for questions. I just find the whole thing so interesting. I'  just ssooo into Juniors.Cant wait for next instalment :)
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  • miserneilmiserneil Frets: 5174
    sawyer said:
    Thanks for the explanations. Sorry for questions. I just find the whole thing so interesting. I'  just ssooo into Juniors.Cant wait for next instalment :)
    Not a problem at all, i was only joshing, I enjoy the questions :) 
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  • rexterrexter Frets: 176
    Love seeing things go from slabs of timber to gorgeous looking bodies! Even better in multiples like this... look forward to more updates, thanks for the explanation re neck angle. Somebody was selling a job lot of lovely looking old mahogany on Gumtree here the other week - thick wide boards like this. Wish I'd bought it - not that I could build anything this nice!
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  • customkitscustomkits Frets: 796
    rexter said:
    Love seeing things go from slabs of timber to gorgeous looking bodies! Even better in multiples like this... look forward to more updates, thanks for the explanation re neck angle. Somebody was selling a job lot of lovely looking old mahogany on Gumtree here the other week - thick wide boards like this. Wish I'd bought it - not that I could build anything this nice!
    Next time you see some give us a shout, love good mahogany and it's getting more difficult to get in a nice weight imo 
    www.danielsguitars.co.uk
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  • merlinmerlin Frets: 1485
    I love build threads, and I'm really looking forward to the way this one is going! Thanks for posting @miserneil ;
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  • rexterrexter Frets: 176
    @customkits ;
    Will do man, I fear this was a really nice bundle to miss. Should have gone for it even though I was broke! Old guy clearing out garage, large and smaller boards, most of them 50mm+ thick all looked build worthy, dry stored for 20+ years All for £140.

    I look on gumtree everyday for guitars, timber and tools at the moment and barely anything decent ever comes up for timber especially. Railway sleepers, pressure treated 2x4s and people in North Norfolk trying to flog tables made out of dirty old wood they're labelling "reclaimed"  for £800 to the richer holiday home owners up there!
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