Why do les pauls come in 2 halves?

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fastonebazfastonebaz Frets: 245
Why are les paul bodies made from two pieces glued together in the centre as opposed to one single piece of wood? Or is it just the maple cap that's 2 piece and the mahogany is 1 piece? 
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  • hyperbenhyperben Frets: 354
    Depends on the year, but a typical Les Paul is one piece mahogany back and 2 piece maple top
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  • FelineGuitarsFelineGuitars Frets: 5631
    Gibson ones often come in a body and neck and a separate headstock ....just hanging there

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  • Phil_aka_PipPhil_aka_Pip Frets: 9325
    I don't think the number of pieces matters. I think my 1982 Standard has 3. It still sounds OK (but I'm aware there are other models that might sound better)
    "Working" software has only unobserved bugs. (Parroty Error: Pieces of Nine! Pieces of Nine!)
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  • fastonebazfastonebaz Frets: 245
    I just checked out the size of maple trees... I don't think they could make a one piece cap, they don't look big enough.  Guess that's why. 
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  • stonevibestonevibe Frets: 3003
    Depends on what size timber is available to use at the time, as they need to make thousands of guitars every year.
    How much does it weigh? & Does it play like butter?

    You can now read my insane guitar ramblings daily here http://www.gearnews.com
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  • WhitecatWhitecat Frets: 2034
    I just checked out the size of maple trees... I don't think they could make a one piece cap, they don't look big enough.  Guess that's why. 
    They exist - PRS especially likes to do them occasionally. Rare-ish though for exactly the reason you give - you need a big tree. 

    With Gibson, Custom Shop LPs will always have one-piece backs, but Gibson USA editions will usually be multi-piece (you do spot the odd one that is a one-piece though). 
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  • JackGrantJackGrant Frets: 11
    It’s the way violin tops  and acoustic soundboards are made.  It’s a beautiful bit of woodworking. The story is that they put the carved top on The Les Paul “because they could”. 




     
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  • GluedtoMusicGluedtoMusic Frets: 30
    edited October 7
    I just checked out the size of maple trees... I don't think they could make a one piece cap, they don't look big enough.  Guess that's why. 
    Les Pauls have what is called a book matched top, meaning the maple top starts out about 2" thick, they cut it in half to produce two 1" thick pieces and open them up like a book, this means the figure in the maple is a mirror image of its self on each side, and you get a nice consistent figure.

    Maple is plenty big enough for one piece tops but it is rare to get consistent figure across the whole top in enough quantities for a production line the size of Gibsons, the figure tends to be quite wild across the top.

    PRS do use them in their private stock guitars a fair amount:


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  • customkitscustomkits Frets: 886
    edited October 7
    I just checked out the size of maple trees... I don't think they could make a one piece cap, they don't look big enough.  Guess that's why. 
    Wrong I've got a one piece cap now on a burst I'm building , fantastic looking top but wasn't cheap, they don't seem very common
     
    www.danielsguitars.co.uk
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  • thegummythegummy Frets: 1117
    Would buy a one piece prs if I win the lottery.

    I've always wondered why Santana got a line down where the sides meet on his guitar. Guess he likes the way it looks.
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  • HAL9000HAL9000 Frets: 4167
    On seeing the thread title, I must admit that my first thought was that the OP was referring to the headstock part and the rest of the guitar part.
    It might look like I'm listening to you, but in my head I'm playing my guitar.
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  • WezVWezV Frets: 9146
    Trees come in all sizes, but finding a consistently figured 1 piece top is much harder than a 2-piece.

    Gibson copied other traditional instruments with this look..  violins also have 1 or 2 piece backs, but 2 piece is common on anything bigger than that.

    Not all Les Pauls are bookmatched, not even all the flamey ones
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  • sweepysweepy Frets: 1943
    Two piece top and one piece body on my one 

    https://i.imgur.com/DVNjSoq.jpg
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  • ICBMICBM Frets: 33969
    thegummy said:

    I've always wondered why Santana got a line down where the sides meet on his guitar. Guess he likes the way it looks.
    It's an old woodworker's method of covering an imperfect seam. I assume the first one PRS made for him needed it, and he liked the look.

    The two lines between the pickups would have been the same, on a guitar with a full-width extended neck tenon - which I think the first all-mahogany one he had was. Notice they align with the edges of the neck.
    "Take these three items, some WD-40, a vise grip, and a roll of duct tape. Any man worth his salt can fix almost any problem with this stuff alone."
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  • WezVWezV Frets: 9146
    ICBM said:
    thegummy said:

    I've always wondered why Santana got a line down where the sides meet on his guitar. Guess he likes the way it looks.
    It's an old woodworker's method of covering an imperfect seam. I assume the first one PRS made for him needed it, and he liked the look.

    The two lines between the pickups would have been the same, on a guitar with a full-width extended neck tenon - which I think the first all-mahogany one he had was. Notice they align with the edges of the neck.
     I seem to remember the early mahogany one has the tenon falling between the pickups, outlined in pearl and looks proper hokey.  

    The two lines between the pickups on any later ones serve no function other than identifying it as a Santana model
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  • ICBMICBM Frets: 33969
    WezV said:

    I seem to remember the early mahogany one has the tenon falling between the pickups, outlined in pearl and looks proper hokey.  

    The two lines between the pickups on any later ones serve no function other than identifying it as a Santana model
    Ah yes - I think you're right, the tenon outline didn't go all the way to the bridge pickup. The production version with the lines *not* on the seam in the maple looks really odd too.

    It might also help explain why Mr. Smith was an early and enthusiastic adopter of CNC tooling as well ;).
    "Take these three items, some WD-40, a vise grip, and a roll of duct tape. Any man worth his salt can fix almost any problem with this stuff alone."
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  • WezVWezV Frets: 9146
    edited October 7
    Here is one



    and a pre-production Santana model after someone had obviously had a word about the  line... notice the middle bit of maple doesn't match the rest of the (one-piece) top, so is likely capping a long tenon.  Modern ones are just a couple of pearl inlays with the normal PRS join


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  • ArchtopDaveArchtopDave Frets: 473
    edited October 7
    It's down to the width of the wood available and aesthetics. There's much more useable wood available for 2 piece tops, and, indeed, 2  piece bodies. It can be quite hard to see the centre join on body wood if the grain pattern is nice and even. Also we've grown used to seeing nicely book matched tops.  As @customkits says, you can find good looking single piece tops, and backs for that matter, but they are significantly more expensive (supply vs demand).
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  • ICBMICBM Frets: 33969
    WezV said:
    Here is one


    I'd forgotten about the horribly crudely recessed bridge too!

    WezV said:

    and a pre-production Santana model after someone had obviously had a word about the  line... notice the middle bit of maple doesn't match the rest of the (one-piece) top, so is likely capping a long tenon.  Modern ones are just a couple of pearl inlays with the normal PRS join

    That's by far the best-looking of them.
    "Take these three items, some WD-40, a vise grip, and a roll of duct tape. Any man worth his salt can fix almost any problem with this stuff alone."
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  • Why are les paul bodies made from two pieces glued together in the centre as opposed to one single piece of wood? Or is it just the maple cap that's 2 piece and the mahogany is 1 piece? 
    Pay the price for a custom shop Les Paul and you could get a one piece body.  More recently, bodies have been made with several pieces of wood. Two piece is top of the line.
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  • rlwrlw Frets: 1725
    I'm always intrigued when I see a two or three piece body.  HTF do you glue bits of wood together, essentially, end to end or side to side?  Surely it cannot be the strongest bond ever?

    Even my old breadboard has those wiggly nail/staple like things in it to hold the pieces together .
    Save a cow.  Eat a vegetarian.
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  • ICBMICBM Frets: 33969
    rlw said:
    I'm always intrigued when I see a two or three piece body.  HTF do you glue bits of wood together, essentially, end to end or side to side?  Surely it cannot be the strongest bond ever?

    Even my old breadboard has those wiggly nail/staple like things in it to hold the pieces together .
    A perfectly-fitting join with modern glue is as strong as the wood. They machine the faces very flat to begin with, then apply enough pressure to completely close up any gaps, which works because wood is slightly compressible.

    If your breadboard has the wiggly nail things then it's just a cheap one.
    "Take these three items, some WD-40, a vise grip, and a roll of duct tape. Any man worth his salt can fix almost any problem with this stuff alone."
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  • fastonebazfastonebaz Frets: 245
    rlw said:
    I'm always intrigued when I see a two or three piece body.  HTF do you glue bits of wood together, essentially, end to end or side to side?  Surely it cannot be the strongest bond ever?

    Even my old breadboard has those wiggly nail/staple like things in it to hold the pieces together .
    Yeah that's kinda what I was thinking to start with. 
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  • ChuckManualChuckManual Frets: 460


    I've got a one piece cap now on a burst I'm building , fantastic looking top but wasn't cheap, they don't seem very common

     

    Er... Is there a build progress thread for this?  Because I am I N T E R E S T E D !!!   =) =) =)  
    Not much of the gear, even less idea.
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  • rlwrlw Frets: 1725
    ICBM said:
    rlw said:
    I'm always intrigued when I see a two or three piece body.  HTF do you glue bits of wood together, essentially, end to end or side to side?  Surely it cannot be the strongest bond ever?

    Even my old breadboard has those wiggly nail/staple like things in it to hold the pieces together .
    A perfectly-fitting join with modern glue is as strong as the wood. They machine the faces very flat to begin with, then apply enough pressure to completely close up any gaps, which works because wood is slightly compressible.

    If your breadboard has the wiggly nail things then it's just a cheap one.
    ....or about 70 years old......
    Save a cow.  Eat a vegetarian.
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  • HenrytwangHenrytwang Frets: 79
    My 1978 Les Paul Deluxe has. 3 piece top.  This wasn’t unusual on 70s  Gibson Les Pauls,
    Fender weren’t the only USA guitar manufacturer cutting corners in order to save money in the 70s.
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  • TA22GTTA22GT Frets: 356
    I actually prefer the look of two piece tops in general.

    The PRS posted just looks way over the top to me and it does nothing for me.

    However, the one piece top from @customkits looks really good because it's almost like a two piece top with similar sides but without the join.

     It looks classier to me than the PRS! That will be a nice guitar.
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  • 57Deluxe57Deluxe Frets: 6004
    ...does having a one piece body make you play it any better??
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  • fastonebazfastonebaz Frets: 245
    57Deluxe said:
    ...does having a one piece body make you play it any better??
     It might do....if you felt you looked better you might play with more confidence and there mitt be 0.001% more sustain from having unbrokenwood fibres running through the body ;)
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  • martmart Frets: 2895
    57Deluxe said:
    ...does having a one piece body make you play it any better??
    I don’t know, I’ll just cut myself in half and see if that makes me play any worse.
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