I didn’t expect to assemble the Luxe Paul in one night, but when the body arrived after what seemed like forever, I was energized and motivated. One night was all it took for the basics. Fine tuning will be ongoing.
The pictures below show the body as it came from Warmoth. I just set some of the hardware pieces on top to see how much contrast there was going to be between the aged elements and the high gloss finish. If you look closely you can see how shinny it was, which I’m sure is why it took so long to get to me. Sadly for the people who did all of the polishing, I didn’t like the super high gloss finish because it made the rosewood look fake, as if the whole body was shrink-wrapped.
I sanded the body with 2000 grit wet/dry sandpaper, then polished it with the finest grade polishing papers, which I think were also 2000 grit. It matches the hardware much better now, though I still have some detail work to do.
Neck, Selector, Bridge and Bigsby
After sanding away the hard work of the folks at Warmoth, I attached the neck, the pickup selector switch, and then the bridge bushings & ground wire. I needed to make sure the Bigsby was aligned correctly before I drilled the holes for its screws, and I needed to have the bridge in place so that I could use fishing line to gauge the string locations.
I also needed the Bigsby to be in place so that I could see how much space the control knobs needed. That part pretty much came down to guesswork. I tried to measure the location from the bottom and back of the guitar and map it to the pre-drilled control cavity, but it was very difficult to trust that the measurements were accurate. In the end I decided to drill one 1/16″ hole from the inside of the cavity to the outside, then used that as a guide for the other hold locations. I used a step bit to increase the size up to 3/8″. It made some finish flaking, but it wasn’t too bad.
There was more wood between the control cavity and the top of the body than I expected, and when I tested the depth, the volume knobs were barely visible. I noticed this was due to a little locking mechanism that sticks up on the potentiometers, so I cut a slot for these into the cavity. After doing that, the knobs came through with enough threads showing so that I could lock them in place. There wasn’t enough room though for the locking washers that came with them, and this is why I ended up not using the copper shielding. I didn’t want to add more thickness, even though in hindsight it would have been a negligible amount. If noise becomes a problem later it won’t really be too hard to take the controls out and add the sheilding.
Ordering the pre-wired harness from MSSC was really helpful. I don’t remember intentionally requesting the 50’s Les Paul wiring configuration, but it’s interesting. It retains the high end as you roll off the volume, and drops the volume slightly when you roll off the tone. I think I might like it better with a darker set of capacitors, but I think I’ll keep it this way for a little while and test it out.
The wiring harness came attached to a plexiglass plate, and I used this to hold the pots in place while I soldered the pickups and selector. The coil-tap pickups made the wiring slightly more complex, but only added a new connection for each pickup. I left the labels on that came with the harness so it would be easy to update things in the future. I also left the length of the wire as it came from Lollar. There was plenty of room for it.
An oddly thick pick came in the order from Lollar, and it actually was very useful for reinforcing the shafts of the pots. The control knobs I have were screw-in, and I wanted to make sure I didn’t crush them when I tightened the screws.
Setup, Pickgaurd and Final Details
I got lucky with the soldering and things seemed to work after the first try. I’m still adjusting the relief, action, and pickup heights to find a good balance, but sounds are coming out of the amp, and that’s encouraging.
I expected I would need to make a custom pickguard, and I ordered some tortoise samples to gauge the color. Today I found a similar one in a Les Paul style, so I bought it and will try it out to see ifI get luck with the measurements.
In general the only real issue with the guitar right now is that its weight isn’t evenly distributed, and it doesn’t feel balanced. I think I might need to sacrifice the heavy volume and control knobs to see if that helps. Another option will be to replace the metal pickup rings with plastic. Aside from drilling holes into the back to weight-relief it, I’m not sure if there is anything else I can do about it.
What Would Joe Do?