1970s Frankenstein Les Paul-copy Electric Guitar

Update 2019: I've added fresh pictures, a video clip, and new details.

This began life as a Japanese-made Aria-style 70s Les Paul with a very warped/twisted neck. The owner had a same-period Japanese-made Epiphone bolt-on acoustic neck available... so this is the merger. Ironically, the Epiphone neck seems to have been made by the same company that made the LP copy in the first place as the construction (interior truss rod and placement thereof) was exactly the same.

It's strange, however, because while the 24 3/4" scale is the same as before, the bridge is placed farther aft and the whole arrangement now makes this feel more like an earlier small-body archtop electric sorta like a Premier Bantam or similar. I like it -- it's fun to have a full-scale instrument that pulls your left-hand in closer to the body like a "parlor" guitar. The neck is pretty wide at the nut (though modern front/back cut), too, which emphasizes that feel.

Work included: fitting the "new" neck and giving it a fret level/dress, making use of the original "stop tail" posts to hang an adjustable tail/bridge combined unit in its place, cleaning, and a general setup. It plays bang-on at 1/16" overall at the 12th fret (a hair higher on the low E), has a straight neck with a working truss-rod, and is strung with 46w-10 gauges.

Scale length: 24 3/4"
Nut width: 1 13/16"
String spacing at nut: 1 9/16"
String spacing at saddle: 2 1/16"
Body length: 17 3/8""
Lower bout width: 12 3/4"
Upper bout width: 9"
Side depth: 1 7/8"
Body wood: ply with mahogany veneer back/sides, maple veneer top
Neck wood: mahogany
Fretboard: rosewood
Neck shape: slim-to-medium C-shape, ~12" radius
Bridge: adjustable "wraparound" tailpiece
Nut: zero fret with plastic spacer nut

Condition notes: various screws are replaced or mismatched on the body, there are extra tuner-holes at the headstock, there's a replacement jack-plate on the side, there are 2 useless extra bridge studs in the body, and there's general usewear, scratches, dings, and whatnot throughout.

Check out the actual-Grover Imperial tuners! These were borrowed from the busted LP neck that was wearing them as aftermarket gear.

Because I did a full level/dress of the frets, this guitar now has a functional zero fret rather than a wonky one. This makes setup super easy as all adjustments just need to be made at the bridge or truss-rod during setup.

Wild humbuckers, huh?

They're late-'70s or early-'80s Carvin M22 humbuckers with Alnico magnets and 11 polepieces for each coil of the pickup (that's 22 on each pickup). When you bend, that means you're not going to get a dropped signal because the poles cover such a wide area. All of those adjustable poles means you can get output string-to-string balanced perfectly, too.

The control layout is interesting, too -- reverse-control tone knobs and a mini-switch which seems to do series/parallel switching for the pickups. These are high-output pickups and they're dark and brutally-pushy in series (really great for drive and "period" rock or even, played clean, for a mids-forward jazzy tone). In parallel mode they're cleaner and more relaxed, with a voice closer to '60s Gibson humbuckers.

While the original bridge adjustment shaft feet can't be helped, they don't look too out of place with this giant new hunk-of-steel bridge hanging out in the same vicinity.

The body is plywood with mahogany veneer on the back and sides and maple veneer on the face.


tim gueguen said…
Those look like Carvin humbuckers. The small polepieces were one of their things.