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How can I tell which wood's in my guitar

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Hi, I've got an Epiphone Les Paul Standard.

From the serial number I can work out it's made in June 2006 in Qingdao, China.

 

I bought it from www.guitarampkeyboard.com, which says "Crafted with mahogany body and carved maple top, rosewood fingerboard". However I've heard that at various times various different body and especially top woods have been used such as alder tops and that the only time they've used maple it's been a maple veneer over various other woods.

 

Is there a way I can tell what's in MY guitar?

 

Cheers,

Matthew

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+1 on that

 

The body wood could be any of the 'Mahogany' styled woods (quite a few of which have, shall we say, only a passing aqaintance with real Mahogany!).

 

The cap could be some type of maple or it could be alder.

 

The veneer is definately maple.

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Right, I've had a look what I can see inside all the cavities for pickups etc. Unfortunately, apart from a few bald patches it's completely painted black and the bald bits are end-on the grain which makes it hard to distinguish.

 

Can anyone tell me how to get this paint off safely (it's not earthed and doesn't seem to be conductive, just matt black paint).

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A local guitar shop guy here has told me the standard Epi Lesters he has worked on have a very thin maple cap ( I am assuming they are bent rather than carved) over a mahogany and alder body.

 

I would guess they are not made with Hondouran Mahogany or something but rather Sapele or Nato.

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As an example mine is constructed as follows:

 

3 piece Nato body

3/8" Maple cap

1/8" Flame Maple veneer top

1/8" Honduran Mahogany veneer back

 

yours may be different construction but 100% guaranteed that any Honduran Mahogany involved would be a thin decorative veneer if at all.

 

The maple/alder cap would most likely be cnc machined to achieve the correct 'carve' and then the veneer bent to match.

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That is shielding paint and is designed to reduce hum caused by electro-magnetic or radio frequency interference

 

On second inspection it does appear to be conductive' date=' however it is only a single thin coat that doesn't cover everything. I had to have quite a determined poke with the multimeter to find continuity. Also, in the pickup cavities, the conductive paint is not earthed, nor can I see where it might be earthed when the pickup is screwed in. In the control cavity, it is connected to the earth by the nuts and shafts on the pots, but the cavity's plastic cover is not shielded. Faraday cages need to be earthed to have any effect.

 

In short, the paint in the control cavity will have some shielding effect, although having a gaping big gap in the shielding on the plastic cover will greatly reduce the effect. The paint in the pickup cavities has no effect as it's not earthed.

 

Epiphones are designed really well these days. Along with higher quality switches and jacks that won't turn in their holes; in the control cavity when you need to run a signal and a ground line between 2 points, for the most part they use shielded single core wire with the outer conductor for the ground, which shields the inner wire. E.g. between the volume and tone pots. There's not much area of wire in them that's not shielded.

 

I'll be shielding the control and switch cavity. The conductive paint in the pickup cavity isn't doing anything right now, but I might repaint mine later and earth it up to the shielded 4 conductor switch cable. Covered humbuckers with shielded cables don't really need it anyway.

 

I'm thinking of carefully sanding off the black conductive paint, or at least some of it, to see what the wood's like underneath before I start rewiring and reshielding.

 

100% guaranteed that any Honduran Mahogany involved would be a thin decorative veneer if at all.

Yes, mine's a 2 piece back and from the pink tint i can see in holes in the paint in the control cavity and stringy chunks sticking out in there it looks like it might be african mahogany; although I don't know much about Sapele or Nato. As far as I know, even Gibson rarely use Honduran mahogany these days except in some customs, reissues, VOS etc. I hear they usually use african mahogany, although of higher quality than Epiphone. Presumably manufacturers will be more likely to use a Honduran veneer on something with a natural unpainted finish.

 

There doesn't seem to be much standardisation in construction from one year or factory to the next and not much in the way of records of what's used when, where and for which model. If there was, that would be great, or if there was an easy way for anyone to see what was in their guitar.

 

P.S. Big up the Farnham! Nice to see a local.

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There is no standardisation, you have bought an authorised cheap Asian copy of a Gibson. In the last 10-15 years Epiphone copies of Gibsons have been made in several different Asian factories under contract to Gibson, with umpteen variations in specifications across factories and time periods.

 

Words like mahogany, maple and alder all encompass umpteen sub-species. So, why are you bothered? Surely what matters is whether it sounds ok, and whether it looks ok?? Why obsess beyond that? If you're fussy about wood species, you don't buy an Epiphone. They're for folks that want an affordable playable Gibson copy and aren't that fussy about specs.

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Just thought I'd take the chance to find out more about the guitar while I'm changing the pickups and electronics, mate.

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P.S. Big up the Farnham! Nice to see a local.

 

Are you from Farnham too? (No location shown on your profile)

 

If so maybe catch up for a beer sometime

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You have my deepest condolences! Doing missionary work? [biggrin]#-o

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Q : What kind of wood doesn't float ???????

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A : Natalie Wood .......sorry, just couldn't resist [biggrin]

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Q : What kind of wood doesn't float ???????

 

A : Natalie Wood .......sorry' date=' just couldn't resist #-o [/quote']

 

The real answer to your question would be Lignum Vitae. [biggrin]

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Hi' date=' I've got an Epiphone Les Paul Standard.

 

I've heard that at various times various different body and especially top woods have been used such as alder tops and that the only time they've used maple it's been a maple veneer over various other woods.

 

Is there a way I can tell what's in MY guitar?

 

Cheers,

Matthew[/quote']

 

Whenever I'm try to find out what wood is in one of my Epiphones, I just walk around the neighborhood looking for a tree with a guitar-shaped hole cut into it.

 

So far, no answers ...

 

Jim

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Whenever I'm try to find out what wood is in one of my Epiphones' date=' I just walk around the neighborhood looking for a tree with a guitar-shaped hole cut into it.

 

So far, no answers ...

 

Jim

 

[/quote']

 

Matthew, I have it on good authority that there about 200 + species of wood around the world that are similar to the classic "honduran" mahogany." The kicker is that the "real" mahogany is a rainforest timber. If you draw a line around the world either side of the equator it will cross many countries like Africa, Indonesia, northern Australia, Honduras, etc, etc.

 

All the other species (names like Sipo, Nato, etc) are timbers that are similar to the "real" mahogany. Same with maple caps - thicker, thinner, different timber species.

 

The really important thing about any solid electric is that it is made of solid timber, not plywood or laminates. That said, the next most important thing is that it has good resonance when played "unplugged". That means if you play a nice open chord like a D or G, the guitar rings and the chord decays slowly. If that is true, then you have a winner.

 

I don't know if Honduran Mahogany is better than Nato, Sipo, or whatever other mahogany species. What makes a Gibson so expensive is that the timber is air-dried for a long time and is scarce. Any quality timber stored and dried for years and this boosts the cost a lot.

 

If your axe sounds good unplugged, then just get decent setup, maybe change the nut and bridge, then get down and play it.

 

StewartB

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I emailed Gibson about it when I posted this, asking if there was any laminate wood in Epiphone Les Pauls, what woods go into them etc..

 

"Epiphone Les Paul models utilize a multi-piece mahogany back and neck, and a multi-piece maple top with a maple veneer."

 

They didn't say its definately all solid wood, but it sounds like it to me, a 2 piece mahogany back and a however many piece maple cap with a 2 piece maple veneer. It depends how they define "mahogany" and "maple", although common sense would dictate that it actually had to be from those tress.

 

All I really wanted to know in the first place was how likely it was that between my solid mahogany back and maple veneer was a plywood or MDF or... i dunno... kiln-dried pine miscelaneous cap.

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All I really wanted to know in the first place was how likely it was that between my solid mahogany back and maple veneer was a plywood or MDF or... i dunno... kiln-dried pine miscelaneous cap.

It should be solid wood (of multiple pieces, obviously, as stated)....of the "mahogany" species (maybe some alder thrown in ???) and "maple" (or alder ???) for the cap (with maple veneer) ... looking at the sides of my Std, it appears (unless the sides are veneer as well) to be a minimum of 3 pieces (maybe 4 if the top piece is actually 2 joining in-line with the neck and not visible). Heck, I don't know....perhaps it's a whole bunch of pieces and they used 3 pieces of veneer on the sides as opposed to the 1 on the back. LOL. I wouldn't worry, really, about it being laminate/plywood/MDF, if it's a genuine Epi, it should be made of (pieces) of solid wood.....just play the heck out of it and enjoy it !!!

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This particular guitar player also had same question:

 

DON'T do this!!!!!!!! :- :- :-

 

22062009166.jpg

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Haha... Wow, what's that guy up to?!

 

I considered drilling a hole straight through my Squier at one point just to see the cross section... I don't think it could have actually made it sound worse, it is a Squier after all.

 

 

I once saw a guy try to relic a couple of strat knockoffs by stripping them down, using them as a skateboard on tarmac and then setting fire to them. They put them back on their shop for like £400 when they started off as £100 guitars... As far as I know they stayed there until the shop closed.

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As has been said many times before, you play as many of the model you are interested in until you find one that looks good, plays well, sounds good unplugged and plugged, and you buy it. If it's an Epiphone, you know it doesn't have the same woods and hardware as its Gibson counterpart, but it didn't start at a price point 3 times higher. It's a great guitar for the money and we don't care if it's made of Chinese/Asian Mahogany and Maple veneer. I don't care if my Ford's leather didn't come from Corinth, either. If my Ford was a Mercedes then I might be picky

 

Three piece slabs are normal in solid wood construction. They are handpicked, machine joined, and are possibly stronger than a single wide slab that is liable to develop a crack over time even with extended drying and curing. They are several orders of magnitude less expensive than handpicked large slabs.

 

Don't sweat the small stuff ...

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I was just curious and wondered if there was either a reference out there on the interweb or an easy way to tell by looking at the thing. I didn't expect people to keep going on at me telling me I don't need to care as long as I like the guitar. I'm not trying to chose a guitar here, it was just a question born out of curiosity.

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