Reader Guitar of the Month: The Wolf

How one guitarist transformed a hunk of plywood into a P-90 tone monster modeled after a classic Les Paul Junior.


Name: Tim Bradley

Location: Minneapolis, Minnesota
Guitar: The Wolf

I have an arsenal of axes, but I’ve never had a guitar loaded with a P-90—until now!

For years I’ve had my eye on a single-cutaway Les Paul Junior in TV Yellow: the simplicity, the single P-90, and the interesting color … supposedly it showed up as white on black-and-white TV. My fellow guitar player in my ’90s hard-rock cover band found a junker guitar body and gave it to me. It was in rough shape, but I got an idea: “Why not try to make a Junior?”

I started by stripping off the cheap, black polyurethane with a heat gun and scraper. Nasty stuff. Underneath, I discovered plywood.

I certainly could’ve bought a quality body, but I figured since the Junior was originally an entry-level instrument, why not keep going and see if I could turn this frog into a princess?

Once sanded, I used a Dremel tool to route the existing humbucker bridge pickup cavity to fit a P-90. Then I applied thick color coats (I wanted it as opaque as possible) and about 12 coats of clear gloss. After wet-sanding, buffing, and polishing, I was ready to assemble this plywood tone monster.

I’d spent basically nothing so far, so I splurged for high-quality internal components, including CTS 500k pots and 0.22 cap, a Switchcraft output jack, and vintage wiring. I wired up the electronics in vintage ’50s style, where the middle lug of the tone pot is grounded and the cap connects to the volume pot’s output lug. I highly recommend this!

Externally, eBay got me an aftermarket neck, wrap-around bridge, and vintage button-style tuners. Then I entered what I deemed to my wife as “shim hell,” as it took me a while to figure out what angle the neck should be (the original pocket was flat). And after some research, I found that a Les Paul Junior Tribute pickguard would do the trick to hide the neck pickup cavity.

The two final pieces-de-resistance were a Wolfetone Meaner P-90 pickup and wolf headstock decal (amazingly, it looks like mother-of-pearl inlay). Naming this single-coil scorcher of an axe wasn’t hard: This beast howls!

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