New Javamagic project under way - John Cipollina Tribute SG!!!

Discussion in 'Luthier's Corner' started by javamagic, Aug 18, 2008.

  1. javamagic

    javamagic Well-Known Member

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    SG copies seemed to me to be the best place to post this - a JOHN CIPOLLINA TRIBUTE SG!

    I've been considering this project for some time and have collected most of the parts needed for it: Bigsby B5, Grover Imperials, a pair of Fralin humbuckers (around 7.5 - 8K so not hot) and a Gibson ABR-1 - and have sourced most of the other parts. The original has had a ridiculous amount of work done to it (and money spent!) so I realise I cannot recreate all of this exactly and for that reason it's a "Tribute SG", based on my research into JC's own guitar and recreating the look as far as I can. It's a daunting prospect as there's a fair amount of tricky work involved but, if I succeed, it will turn out like this:
    [​IMG]That tiny image is the one on the John Cipollina Memorial Website! Have a look at this slightly earlier incarnation:

    [​IMG]

    That's a bit better.
    On my recent trip to England I found a nice piece of sapele for the body so decided to get on with the work. Here are the pics of progress so far.
    The body blank with a 3mm strip of maple inserted into the top.

    [​IMG]

    If you look closely at the original you will notice the stripe down the centre but then JC had his SG overlaid with more timber (type unspecified). Here's the body roughed out with the router jig fixed to the top.

    [​IMG]

    And the body shaped and pickup holes routed ...

    [​IMG]

    Followed by the neck pocket ...

    [​IMG]

    Note the markings for the body contours pencilled in on the top. Next up the control cavity rout ...

    [​IMG]

    The contours for the back were also marked on. All the measurements were taken from my 64 Standard and 65 Custom (both of which are slightly different!)

    [​IMG]

    The contours were shaped with a combination of spokeshaves, a round surform rasp and a small block plane before being sanded with 100 grit paper. The finer grades will come later.

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    For those of you who are interested in weight I can tell you that the body weighs about 4 1/2 lbs at this stage so I'm anticipating a finished weight of probably around 9lbs. I'm now approaching the tricky part - cutting a rebate around the contoured edge for the binding - and possibly the stage where I f*** it up.
    I accept that the binding cannot be a consistent width all the way around the guitar and it certainly seems to vary slightly in all the pics I have found but I shall try to replicate it as close as possible. I was intending to use a Stew-Mac screw-on attachment for the Dremel but when I checked this will only cut so deep in places. I've toyed with the idea of modifying it by grinding the base at an angle but reckon it needs something more in the line of handwork to accomplish this part of the work. I'll keep you updated as work continues.

    Wish me luck. :)
     
  2. SG dan

    SG dan Active Member

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    luck thoroughly wished man. looks like a nice future axe.
     
  3. SG John

    SG John Well-Known Member

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    Wow! :Droolin:


    Good luck Jav. I've never seen anyone attempt copying John's guitar. Can't wait to see how it developes.

    O0
     
  4. SG Lou

    SG Lou Moderator Staff Member

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    Looks great Mate.
    Maybe you could have routed the binding ledge before you contoured?
     
  5. TNT

    TNT Active Member

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    You guys who make guitars and refinish them are amazing. It takes some cajones to do what you do.
    [​IMG]
     
  6. Dorian

    Dorian Active Member

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    Good luck! Here's another image...

    [​IMG]
     
  7. javamagic

    javamagic Well-Known Member

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    [quote author=brucewayne131 link=topic=17692.msg218254#msg218254 date=1219144519]
    Looks great Mate.
    Maybe you could have routed the binding ledge before you contoured?
    [/quote]

    I suppose that was a possibility but the line would still go up and down around the edge of the body. At least it would have given me a square edge to work to but, being impetuous, I went ahead and did all the bevelling. It looks like I'll be doing a lot of the rebate in the good, old-fashioned luthiers manner, i.e. with cutting gauges, knives and chisels! ;D
     
  8. barbas23

    barbas23 Active Member

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    nice one, man! 8)
     
  9. Zeppelin Rules

    Zeppelin Rules Active Member

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    Wow man thats nuts. Hope it turns out right!
     
  10. Strange Brew

    Strange Brew Well-Known Member

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    Bloody fantastic news, Java! What a project...

    I can't wait to see the finished article....

    keep us posted
     
  11. javamagic

    javamagic Well-Known Member

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    Just an update on the Cipollina SG. I'd been putting off doing the rebate for the binding - largely through fear of f***ing up the whole thing - but gritted my teeth and got on with it. I scribed the edge of the body with a small home-made device.

    [​IMG]

    This gave me a line to work to and avoide breakout when cutting the rebate. I used a Stew-Mac attachment for the Dremel to cut as much of the rebate as possible.

    [​IMG]

    The rebate was trimmed out with chisels and gouges where the Dremel wouldn't reach and filed to get a square shoulder.

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    Let me say that cutting in those tight curves is a real pig! I pre-shaped the binding and taped it in position as I progressed.

    [​IMG]

    And I came to the conclusion that I will need something to hold the binding in place in the cutaways while the glue sets so I reversed a quick-cramp to achieve this.

    [​IMG]

    This is where I am at present. The binding has not yet been glued so the next update will cover that and trimming and scraping. :)
     
    RVA likes this.
  12. SG John

    SG John Well-Known Member

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    That's looking awesome Java. I love these kind of threads. Can't wait to see how this next step turns out. Keep us posted.

    O0
     
  13. javamagic

    javamagic Well-Known Member

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    Binding update: Now scraped flush.
    The cutaways:

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    The top edge:

    [​IMG]

    And the lower bout:

    [​IMG]

    That should give you some impression of where things are at present. Am also working on the neck, photos to follow later. :)
     
    dickjonesify likes this.
  14. MauritsP

    MauritsP Member

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    Very cool Java, looking forward to seeing how this one progresses. Are you planning on adding all the extra inlays as well?
     
  15. Spunky

    Spunky Active Member

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    Java,

    This is a really cool and excellent project.
    I think this is a first and it is beyond expectation and scope.
    I can't hardly wait for updates as this is so exciting.
    You have eclipsed any of my endeavours...
    truly coolness!
     
  16. Daniel

    Daniel Active Member

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    WOW! it really looks the bees-knees Java! can't wait to see it progress. be sure to keep us posted.
     
  17. javamagic

    javamagic Well-Known Member

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    OK, so I've started work on the neck. It's multiple laminate and made from the leftovers that formed the neck for my Tele4 (See separate post! ;D).

    [​IMG]

    Here's the truss rod rebate and the rod fitted with the fillet about to go in

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    Cipollina's guitar had a fairly thick piece of ebony added to the back of the head but I'm settling for a rosewwod veneer which has the added benefit of bonding all the bits together (as will the top overlay).

    [​IMG]

    That's where things are at present. I'll update when I make some more progress. :)
     
  18. SG Lou

    SG Lou Moderator Staff Member

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    Brian,
    How much of a curve did you put into the rod slot or did you have a template to use for routing the slot and fillet piece??

    I'm making a neck also and I'd rather use the old fashion Gibson style like you're using as opposed to the dual action TR
     
  19. javamagic

    javamagic Well-Known Member

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    I have to confess I put it in straight! I know it's sacreligious and anathema to purists but, in my defence, I will say that I did the same thing in my "Blue Meanie" Coronet copy that was made in 1978 and it has given no trouble in 30 years. Mind you that has a four piece laminate neck so that could be one reason for the stability. Think your more likely to have trouble from a one piece (and not well seasoned) neck. :-\

    [​IMG]
     
  20. javamagic

    javamagic Well-Known Member

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    The inlays are the most daunting part of this project and I was trying to farm it out to one of those Far Eastern sweatshops that advertises on ebay. I contacted two. One said send photos which I did - three times but got no response. The other looked at the photos and declared he was too busy! So that left me with only one alternative, and one which will at least ensure my input to this guitar is total - do it myself. These are the drawings for the inlays.

    [​IMG]

    I bought the pearl from "Inlaid Artist" (who never replied to my emails!), a set of pre-cut Custom style blocks (That saved me some time. ;)) and 100g of raw white pearl.

    [​IMG]

    So then it's a matter of cutting out the paer patterns and gluing them to the pearl.

    [​IMG]

    The pearl cutting/shaping tools and the jig (clamped to my kitchen table).

    [​IMG]

    And the result of about three days hard graft, peering at bits of pearl much smaller than you ever realised, is this: one set of head inlays...

    [​IMG]

    ... and one set of fingerboard inlays.

    [​IMG]

    Now I have to buy an ebony fingerboard blank and head overlay from Touchstone Tonewoods and, after planing the radius and cutting the fret slots, rout out those lovely little shapes for the pearl. That's not going to be until after New Year so until then have a great holiday. :)
    P.S. Sorry for the fuzzy state of the pics.
     

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