Reader Guitar of the Month: More Paul

A player with an affinity for Strat-style guitars reshaped a Les Paul-style Epiphone Basher into something more comfortable.


Name: John Haigis

Location: Tolland, Connecticut
Guitar: More Paul

My guitar, which I call the “More Paul,” started off as a tag sale find that I couldn’t pass up.

I’m mainly a drummer, but have been playing guitar on and off for a few decades. I mainly play Strat-style guitars, and when I got this Epiphone Basher series Les Paul home, I was severely disappointed with the lack of comfort. Prior to buying this, I’d never played a Les Paul-style guitar. Five minutes was all it took for me to decide that something had to be done, so I could play this without rib pain.

I started by taping pieces of 2x4 to the upper and lower portions of the body and shaping them until they felt right while playing the guitar. This gave me a rough template. I glued solid mahogany pieces to the body in the upper rib section (for comfort) and the lower leg cutout (to give the guitar better balance on my leg). I cut a V-groove at the intersection of the old and new wood to give a hint of the original guitar shape.

The new body got the full comfort treatment, similar to a Strat: right armrest on the front, large rib cutout in the back, and a full round-over on all of the edges. I fixed a very bad neck joint that was revealed when I removed the neck.

To fix the Les Paul string friction problem at the nut, I reshaped the headstock, added mahogany edge binding, and repositioned the tuning machines for a straight string path. The neck was stripped of polyurethane, and I gave it a pure tung-oil finish.

The guitar was originally red, but I found a grabber green engine enamel at an auto parts store that looked fantastic. (I’ve always liked Steve Vai’s green Charvel.) It turns out it’s an exact match for green M&Ms, too!

The pickups and electronics sounded great to me, so I left those as is. I countersunk the output jack into the body to eliminate the ugly plastic jack panel. I joke, but maybe Gibson wouldn’t have financial troubles if they fixed the Les Paul like I did.

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