Gibson CS356 build

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Nick
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Gibson CS356 build

Post by Nick » Tue Mar 12, 2013 2:23 pm

Well all my customer builds are finished for the time being (just finished another Uke, no build pics for the gallery but a youtube clip has been promised by the customer!) so just to keep my hand in, I figured it was time to get selfish and do one of the guitars on my personal wish list. I've had all the bits sitting there for some time now ready for a 356 build so it's back to my electric roots for this one. Nothing out of the ordinary on this build, it's just going to be "as designed" by Gibson (although I am going to play around with the pup switching options and add some extra sound capabilities :wink: , more on that as I get to it).
For anyone not familiar with them, the CS (CS standing for "Custom Shop") 356 is a semi hollow and a smaller cousin to the Gibson ES335 semi hollow. The 356 has a lower bout of 14" (352mm) width so is a nice size for playablity with all the same sound as the 335 which has a 16"(400mm) lower bout.
I thought I'd do a bit of a build documentation incase anybody fancied doing a semi hollow sometime in the future or just likes looking at build pictures :wink: .
I got some plans some time ago from guitar granny which are perfectly adequate for building, they don't have every dimension or profile shape with regards to the body contouring but there's enough to 'fill in the gaps', you can't go wrong with them if you used them & they are 1:1 scale if you really got stuck & wanted to chance it.
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The back and sides are hollowed out from a solid piece, Gibson uses Mahogany but the 'proper' stuff isn't available over here so I've used Sapele, just as good! :D two bits of 200mmx50mm glued together & run through the thicknessor to 42mm
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I then made an acrylic pattern for my pattern bit to follow when routing out the body chamber,
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Had to fit a couple of 'outriggers' to my router's base so I could rough out in the lower bout area without the router falling in! Removed them for the final finishing of the walls.
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The dark patch you can see up in the lower horn area was a split in the Sapele so I've just run some epoxy into it to hold the crack, if it comes through onto the rear I'll just epoxy that side also, this baby will be getting a dark stain over the back so shouldn't be seen! (famous last words :oops: ).
For the top I got a couple of fairly "plain" bits of bookmatched Maple from North Ridge Hardwoods.
Fairly ordinary Maple.jpg
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This stuff was in their private bin and cost a fair few $ but boy was it worth it!
A spritz of Methanol and it pops
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The top "laminate" finishes up at 17mm thick.
That's where I'm up to at the moment, I'm just going to plod away on this one so it may not be an update everyday but I will continue to keep you all updated and I hope you enjoy it :D .
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Tod Gilding
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Re: Gibson CS356 build

Post by Tod Gilding » Tue Mar 12, 2013 2:45 pm

I'll be starting something similar very soon Nick so will watching closely :)
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Re: Gibson CS356 build

Post by rocket » Tue Mar 12, 2013 3:02 pm

Couldn't you find anything a bit nicer for the top wood Nick? :mrgreen: :mrgreen: :mrgreen:
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Re: Gibson CS356 build

Post by Nick » Tue Mar 12, 2013 5:05 pm

rocket wrote:Couldn't you find anything a bit nicer for the top wood Nick? :mrgreen: :mrgreen: :mrgreen:
Rod.
I've got some nice bland Macrocarpa Rod, but I'm saving that for something 'special' :wink:

As I say Tod, this won't be a super quick build, just going to noodle away at it during my lunch breaks and any spare time I'm not spending with the boss, she's a patient woman who never complains about the hours I spend in the shop so I try to make up for it when I get the chance. So pics may be few and far between although there is less work/time spent building these electric things so it may appear to move forward at a good pace :shock: .
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Re: Gibson CS356 build

Post by DaveW » Tue Mar 12, 2013 8:34 pm

Hi Nick
I will be watching this with great interest as I have this urge to build an archtop
infact Ive just been building a mould and bending patterns that I can hopefully use for a flat top or archtop
but looking at this maybe a semi hollow would satisfy my........ "cravings "
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Re: Gibson CS356 build

Post by Kamusur » Tue Mar 12, 2013 8:58 pm

Nice Nick, bring it on :)

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Re: Gibson CS356 build

Post by Crafty Fox » Tue Mar 12, 2013 9:40 pm

This is also on my 'want list'. I'll be following with great interest.
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Re: Gibson CS356 build

Post by 68matts » Wed Mar 13, 2013 10:06 am

I'll also be following with great interest as something similar to this is on my "one day" list as well.
The only concern I have is that if you use that rather dreary piece of maple, when the guitar is finished, you may be disappointed that you didn't use a nicer top wood. But I may be able to help you there. My work bench needs a chock in one corner of around 17mm so if you send me that piece of maple, not only will it rid you of the temptation to use an inferior topwood "just because you have it", my work bench will also be stable and level again. A real win win situation.
And as a further gesture of goodwill, I would even pay any shipping costs involved :D

























:bum
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Re: Gibson CS356 build

Post by Dominic » Fri Mar 15, 2013 12:22 am

I am just finishing 2 of these. I'll get some pics up. I love the open sound. I've had one strung up for a month or so now, it has humbuckers. Sounds quite nice acoustic as well. The other one has HH S S pickups that I am winding myself. Just making face plates for the winder and off i go.

One problem with the design is the cutaway is a little tight to get my hand in there comfortably and fret chords. Its probably done so it looks very ES'y but it does not work well from a player point of view. I am going to change my templates and make the horns more open, perhaps narrower with wood removed from inside the horn. I just love carving stuff so these are easy to pop out.
Just finished a Ventures Mosrite copy with P-90s and an old style vibrato. Cool guitar and it has lots of carving, which I love btw.
Cheers
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Re: Gibson CS356 build

Post by slowlearner » Fri Mar 15, 2013 2:24 pm

Dominic wrote:I am just finishing 2 of these.
Show off :p

Pics! [goes off to find tissues to wipe up drool]
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Re: Gibson CS356 build

Post by Nick » Fri Mar 15, 2013 5:25 pm

Dominic wrote:One problem with the design is the cutaway is a little tight to get my hand in there comfortably and fret chords. Its probably done so it looks very ES'y but it does not work well from a player point of view. I am going to change my templates and make the horns more open, perhaps narrower with wood removed from inside the horn.
You must have some mighty big paws there Dominic! :shock: That far up the neck I'm only usually playing lead runs or non-barre chords so I don't need to get my hand too far around the neck. I've noticed a few that have a slightly bigger radius on the cutaway areas and end up with the pointed horns, must be for people such as yourself that find the upper neck area awkward.


I've made further progress but time is a little tight to post now so I'll post pics when I have more time.
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Re: Gibson CS356 build

Post by Dominic » Fri Mar 15, 2013 10:32 pm

Nick, my hands are smallish with narrow fingers. But playing a bar chord or something with my wrist in the normal position I get stuck. You don't get this on a full size ES. I figure if there are frets there I may as well make them accessable or its kind of fake.

If we talking about tweaking designs as in the other thread, I consider proper access up the neck a must have playability issue. Another little issue is where the waist puts the guitar when sitting down. A little far foward for my liking. But these issues have come through a deliberate process of finding areas to improve the design. But as I said, I love the open sound and I do love playing the twin humbucker model. Flamed maple on sapele with dark red stain.
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Re: Gibson CS356 build

Post by Dominic » Fri Mar 15, 2013 10:52 pm

CS 016 (Custom).JPG
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Not as washed out in real life
CS 012 (Custom).JPG
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This is the first one, mahogany neck and cocobolo FB. Fun to play.
CS 011 (Custom).JPG
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CS 013 (Custom).JPG
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Mosrite copy. Its put together so I can play it and check the final fit before it gets final coats of nitro and then buffed. Real nice to play, both sitting and standing. And its such a funky shape.
CS 014 (Custom).JPG
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Re: Gibson CS356 build

Post by nnickusa » Sat Mar 16, 2013 5:02 pm

Love the Mosrite. One of them is on my list, after I finish the Iceman. Did you build from plans, or another guitar?
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Re: Gibson CS356 build

Post by P Bill » Sat Mar 16, 2013 6:04 pm

Nick, this will be good. How thick will the top be over the chamber? Graduations?
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Re: Gibson CS356 build

Post by Dominic » Sat Mar 16, 2013 7:07 pm

Nick, there is a place that sells templates and a really good Mosrite forum http://www.mosriteforum.com/forum/index.php. One of the guys does a photo journal of building a couple. Great work, particularly watching how he carves the cool detail around the horns.
I could copy out what I have and post it to you if you want.

Other Nick, sorry for talking about Mosrites in a CS forum. I used sapele on the 2 I built and I had problems blowing out corners when I was routing the outside template. Very brittle. I have this beautiful spiral down cut pattern follower bit but I had to be really careful even with that.

I didn't have any maple tops over 8mm and they get really exp. The red one is just glued on flat and carved. But I wanted more curve. So with the green one, I glued on a piece of spruce to the inside block. I kept sanding in my radius dish until the sides and all the spruce cover had been shaped. Now, the maple top is glued down ensuring the glue line is free of gaps or weak points. This way I can get the effect of heavy carved top but only use 7mm thick maple.

Looking forward to seeing progress
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Dom
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Re: Gibson CS356 build

Post by Dominic » Sat Mar 16, 2013 7:08 pm

Nick, there is a place that sells templates and a really good Mosrite forum http://www.mosriteforum.com/forum/index.php. One of the guys does a photo journal of building a couple. Great work, particularly watching how he carves the cool detail around the horns.
I could copy out what I have and post it to you if you want.

Other Nick, sorry for talking about Mosrites in a CS forum. I used sapele on the 2 I built and I had problems blowing out corners when I was routing the outside template. Very brittle. I have this beautiful spiral down cut pattern follower bit but I had to be really careful even with that.

I didn't have any maple tops over 8mm and they get really exp. The red one is just glued on flat and carved. But I wanted more curve. So with the green one, I glued on a piece of spruce to the inside block. I kept sanding in my radius dish until the sides and all the spruce cover had been shaped. Now, the maple top is glued down ensuring the glue line is free of gaps or weak points. This way I can get the effect of heavy carved top but only use 7mm thick maple.

Looking forward to seeing progress
Cheers
Dom
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Re: Gibson CS356 build

Post by charangohabsburg » Sat Mar 16, 2013 11:30 pm

Nick wrote:Image
Hi Nick,

I am with all those who are looking forward to see how you are going to remove all these nasty water stains! :twisted:

:D

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Re: Gibson CS356 build

Post by Nick » Mon Mar 18, 2013 7:32 am

P Bill wrote:Nick, this will be good. How thick will the top be over the chamber? Graduations?
There's the central 'block' which stays at the original 17mm thickness which matches the 'block' in the Sapele Bill but the rest is whittled down to a top thickness of 7mm. As you'll see in some of the pictures to follow, with this,most of my $ investment in the Maple has gone up the dust extraction system or ended up as chips on the floor ( :shock: ) but that's the nature of these beasts.
Dominic wrote:Other Nick, sorry for talking about Mosrites in a CS forum. I used sapele on the 2 I built and I had problems blowing out corners when I was routing the outside template. Very brittle. I have this beautiful spiral down cut pattern follower bit but I had to be really careful even with that.
That's cool Dominic, it all adds to the pool of forum info which is what this place is about I reckon. Yeah Sapele can be a bit brittle, I've found the best approach to be more small, lighter cuts (and downcutting rather than upcuts) than deeper or larger cuts, it's quite stringy and can snap a chunk out before you've even had a chance to think about it!
Dominic wrote:I didn't have any maple tops over 8mm and they get really exp. The red one is just glued on flat and carved. But I wanted more curve. So with the green one, I glued on a piece of spruce to the inside block. I kept sanding in my radius dish until the sides and all the spruce cover had been shaped. Now, the maple top is glued down ensuring the glue line is free of gaps or weak points. This way I can get the effect of heavy carved top but only use 7mm thick maple.
Nice trick :D
The Green top isn't too shabby in the figure department.

On with the build.....
I mapped out where the pickup cavities will fall on the central block and machined slots for the wiring, much easier to do now before the top's glued on. As with most Gibson hollow bodies the CS's, the pots e.t.c were originally wired outside of the guitar and the whole,completed assembly fed in through the F hole but because I've got a few extra goodies under the hood it was going to be a bit of a nightmare so I decided to make an access cover from the back so wiring & maintainence would be much easier.
Body cavities.jpg
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The rear angled slot is for a T Bridge, I've decided to include an 'acoustic' option. I've never heard one of these before so it'll be interesting to hear how close to acoustic it does actually sound.
On the top I machined the 'F' holes, decided to go with the nike swoosh style rather than the traditional F style. I made an acrylic pattern and drilled out most of the excess before going in with a 1/4" Straight fluted router bit, I used the shank of the bit as a pattern follower, as I found with the rosette patterns I did on the Maccaferri, as long as you keep the router moving and don't let it rest to build up heat against the Acrylic, it seems to work quite well.
F hole.jpg
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Straight bit.jpg
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Flipping it, the top over I machined a tapering groove to outline the central solid block. It was tapered in depth, to match the final shape of the top
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I then bandsawed out the top close to it's finished size.
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The cardboard are profile patterns for the top, which I actually ended up only using one of :roll:, the longitudinal one, because once I had that shape in and the final 7mm thickness marked around the rim, the rest of the shape just seemed to fall into place. Outside profile done(I tried to take some photos of this profile but it's so thin and subtle that it didn't really show up in the pics so I haven't posted these).
Then using a pin for the top to rest on and drill set to drill to depth (7mm final top thickness), I set about drilling away most of the excess on what will be the inside. Then attacking the 'extra bits' with a curved palm plane I've managed to get the outside profile reproduced on the inside. Here, I'm part way there on one half, I was running out of time on Friday so the other half is still waiting to be done.
IMG_2487.jpg
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So that's where I'm at at the moment, I'll post more pics up as I proceed. :)
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Re: Gibson CS356 build

Post by P Bill » Mon Mar 18, 2013 7:20 pm

Your palm plane looks like a beauty. What kind?
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Re: Gibson CS356 build

Post by Nick » Mon Mar 18, 2013 8:45 pm

P Bill wrote:Your palm plane looks like a beauty. What kind?
It's a D'Angelico Bill (LMI sell them) a little hard on the ball of your hand when working on Maple (I usually end up with a decent blister after shaping an archtop back) but you could probably add some padding or something. The thing I like about it is that by setting the blade ( a Hock brand) out by a reasonable amount you can take varying depths of cut just by adjusting the angle you hold the plane, hold it at a low angle and you can really hog out the wood but lift it slightly and let the front of the plane run on the wood first and you can just take a fine shaving.
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Re: Gibson CS356 build

Post by rocket » Mon Mar 18, 2013 9:31 pm

Nick i wear a leather riggers glove when bulking out an arched plate, helps reduce the blister factor.
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Re: Gibson CS356 build

Post by Nick » Thu Mar 21, 2013 1:48 pm

Ok a little more progress has been made! Looking more like a twanger now. I finished scooping out the excess in the top and tidied up the 'points' on the f holes.Drilled all the necessary holes for the various pots & switches. Once this was done everything that was going to be on the inside received a coat of sheilding paint to stop any excess hum/interference, so all that "nasty water staining" has disappeared on the inside at least Marcus! :wink:.
Once the paint had dried the top was glued permanently to it's new Sapele partner and all the Pockets were machined into it as well as the holes for the bridge bushings, the 8mm hole was drilled centrally for the T Bridge wires to run through and into the slot previously machined into the Sapele centre block. I cheated here and used a milling machine as the neck pocket has a 4 degree angle on the bottom so that the neck is pitched correctly. It was easier & quicker to do it in the mill rather than make routing templates but it could have been done this way if I'd made half an effort :oops: :roll:
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A quick shot showing the sheilding
IMG_2490.jpg
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The sheilding paint is a great way of sheilding internal cavities but it's a shit of a stuff for rubbing off on your fingers/hands and for turning anything black that you subsequently touch, also it smudges if water comes anywhere close and seeing as I'm going with a water based stain for my burst & the f hole faces have a coating of the stuff on them I'm going to shoot a quick coat of lacquer over the areas I can get to with my airbrush just to stop the chance of turning my top black when I come to the staining stage or just working on the electronics :shock: .
Outside shape has been bandsawn and tidied up on my favourite shop tool...the belt sander 8)
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Tomorrow I plan to profile the back & finish off sheilding the pup cavities and shoot some clear sealing paint to the inside.
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Re: Gibson CS356 build

Post by rocket » Thu Mar 21, 2013 3:59 pm

Noice Nick

Rod.
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Re: Gibson CS356 build

Post by Nick » Fri Mar 22, 2013 6:20 am

rocket wrote:Noice Nick

Rod.
Meant to say thanks for the riggers gloves tip Rod, never thought of something as simple as that! :oops: I've seen people gluing big lumps of wood on the handle but didn't like the idea of 'defacing' mine like that :roll: . I suppose if I was knocking out archies all the time I'd build up caluses in all the right places but I'm not doing it enough for this to happen :( .
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