Skip to content

Forum

Notifications
Clear all

Les Paul Upgrade

Page 1 / 2

 Nuno
(@nuno)
Famed Member
Joined: 16 years ago
Posts: 3998
Topic starter  

Hi,

I'm planning to upgrade my Epiphone Les Paul. I want to change the bridge. This is more a repair because the small spring is bad, it is longer than it is needed, and generates noise and vibrations. I already ordered an original Gibson bridge.

I want to change also the electronics, pots and pickups, and probably also the nut, although I think the nut will be a job for a professional luthier, and the tuners.

Now it is time for electronics.

I was reading some sites and the LP guitars use 500 K pots. I was to buy them this week and there are two "stick" lengths, short and long. I was considering Gibson pots as well, they have stock in the store.

Which model is used in LPs?

On pickups. I must say I'm a single-coil guy so I like the pickups with no much output. I want to play mainly blues, classic rock and jazz (in the future).

I was reviewing the Seymour Duncan and DiMarzio sites. I like the SH-2N Jazz for the neck and the SH-4 JB for the bridge in Seymour Duncan. Perhaps I prefer the Seymour Duncan because the samples include the clean and dirty channels.

A friend recommends DiMarzio better than Seymour Duncan. By using the DiMarzio wizard with my constraints I got the Air Classic Neck or the Humbucker From Hell for the neck and the new PAF 36th (neck and bridge versions) for the bridge.

Any experience with these pickups? Any recommendation? DiMarzio? Seymour Duncan? These pickups? Another ones?

Thanks in forward.


Quote
(@slejhamer)
Famed Member
Joined: 18 years ago
Posts: 3297
 

Well, if you want more of a single-coil sound, then a humbucker-sized P90 is something to check out. Duncan makes them, but the GFS "Dream 90" and "Mean 90" are excellent low-priced alternatives.

You say you want lower output, but the Duncans you list are fairly hot. A set of Duncan '59s would be more of a vintage humbucker output.

Keep in mind the impedance values - a hot bridge pickup combined with a low-impedance neck pickup might seem like a good idea, but in the middle position the neck pickup sound will dominate. So the 5.8k Humbucker from Hell might sound good on its own, but not when matched with a 16k JB! Middle position will sound just like neck position.

The Dimarzio Air Classic neck + 36th Anniv. bridge would be an excellent combination, too.

For a true classic Les Paul humbucker sound that will do well with the music styles you mention, the Gibson '57 Classic pickups are the cream-of-the-crop. Pricey, too.

"Everybody got to elevate from the norm."


ReplyQuote
 Nuno
(@nuno)
Famed Member
Joined: 16 years ago
Posts: 3998
Topic starter  

Thanks Mitch! :D

It's true, Duncans Jazz and JB are hotter. I was also considering the '59s but it seems it only has one wire and I'm thinking to connect them as normal humbuckers and also in split coil with push/pull pots. Thus I didn't consider the P90 initially but I'll do.

The pair recommended by my friend is also the Air Classic Neck and the PAF 36th Bridge (or the Humbucker From Hell -HFH- in the neck position). We already ruled out some pickups as for example the Eric Johnson's bridge for the neck and PAF Joe for the bridge. He knew them and they are not very appropriate for the way I want to use them or I play.

He used a HFH and he likes it but he doubts if the Air Classic Neck it is better for my proposes.

I will also see the GIbson '57. I didn't consider them because they use to be pricey.

Thanks!


ReplyQuote
(@slejhamer)
Famed Member
Joined: 18 years ago
Posts: 3297
 

Yes, the Gibson '57s are expensive compared to the comparable Dimarzios and Duncans .

I agree with your friend about the PAF Joe. That pickup sounded great in the neck of my old semi-hollow Ibanez, but it's not what you're looking for. Especially not for the bridge - much too midrangey.

By the way, if you're going to coil tap the new pickups, consider series/parallel wiring instead. The parallel mode will give you a brighter, cleaner sound like a split coil, but it will still be humbucking. Wiring the switch is only slightly different.

Also, the best way to find out if you need long-stem pots is to open up the guitar's control cavity and see what's in there now.

"Everybody got to elevate from the norm."


ReplyQuote
(@ricochet)
Illustrious Member
Joined: 19 years ago
Posts: 7850
 

I love P-90s, but I wouldn't suggest they'll sound "more like single coils" (of the Fender sort) than humbuckers. They're hot, high output pickups with loads of inductance and a fairly low resonant peak, sounding really more like humbuckers than other sorts of single coils. They do in my opinion have more "twang" and "quack" than humbuckers, with a better reach into the higher treble range than most humbuckers. And of course, they pick up more hum than anything else you could use. I'd still rather have P-90s than anything else, but buy them with your eyes open to their character, flaws and all.

"A cheerful heart is good medicine."


ReplyQuote
(@hyperborea)
Prominent Member
Joined: 15 years ago
Posts: 833
 

If you are planning to do a coil split option on the guitar then having hot pickups will be necessary to making the single coil sound decent. If the pickup is pretty low output then when split it might be too low. The Duncan Jazz and JB both sound pretty decent split - they aren't the same as a regular single coil but it's a good sound.

Are you going to go all the way and put in a Jimmy Page style four switch coil split, serial/parallel, and phase switching setup? How about shielding? Are you planning to shield the control cavity? It won't be a lot of extra work since you are ripping everything out anyways.

You might want to look around and see if you can find push-push pots rather than push-pull. It's much easier to engage a push-push pot. It's spring loaded so you push it to switch and it pops up and you push it again to switch it again. Depending on the type of knobs you have a push-pull knob can be troublesome to switch (e.g witch's hat knobs).

As for short versus long pots as I understand that will vary by model. Some Gibsons use short and some long. I think that Epiphones use short shaft pots. There's also the diameter of the hole required by the pot to consider. Make sure that you get the right size. If you get pots that are too small for the hole then especially with a push-pull pot you'll put extra strain on the pot because it's not supported well. If you get too large a pot then you'll need to drill out the hole - there are special bits for expanding holes.

Pop music is about stealing pocket money from children. - Ian Anderson


ReplyQuote
 Nuno
(@nuno)
Famed Member
Joined: 16 years ago
Posts: 3998
Topic starter  

The main reason to change the pickups is because I don't like the sound of the standard Epiphone pickups. It is a good guitar that can be improved with no much effort. Although I must say that I've change my opinion on its sound since I bought the Fulltone OCD: now it sounds much better. It is also a way to play it more frequently, currently I only use the Strat and eventually the Martin.

I'm not decided if I'll do the coil tap or the series/parallel. The idea is also that the guitar has more different sounds and I got it when I was interested in the Parker some weeks ago. For that reason I'd like to do something like Page but I'm terribly lazy when I have to do electronics but I want to do myself.

I checked the series/parallel sound in the Baja Telecaster and I liked it. They are single coils and a Tele but the difference between both sounds is very appreciable. There are also several videos on YouTube.

I got all the schematics from DiMarzio and Seymour Duncan and, I agree, they are very similar.

The phase switching is also a good option. I think Peter Green used it in some of his most famous recordings and it is a sound which I like very much (obviously I would also need his fingers).

Today I was searching some info on the pots shafts. It seems the most usual are the large ones, the short model is for some Les Paul vintage models. But I completely agree: the easier is to open the guitar!

And thanks for the tip on the P-90!

And I'll ask for the push-push pots. I was reading and it seems that the CTS pots are better than the Gibson. I use CTS in my Strat and I like them very much because you can use a large range of volume and tone. With the Epiphone standard pots the difference in the tone is very small.

There is a lot of variables!

Thank you very much for your comments! :D


ReplyQuote
(@the-ethical)
New Member
Joined: 14 years ago
Posts: 4
 

I replaced the stock pickups on my '94 Les Paul with the SD Jazz/JB combination (coil tapped) about 5/6 yrs ago. The most noticeable change was the clarity of the SDs. Far less mush, far more definition!

[-----------------------------]
If it wasn't for bad luck...


ReplyQuote
(@trguitar)
Famed Member
Joined: 15 years ago
Posts: 3711
 

How about a no brainer? What about Gibson pickups? The ones that come in the Gibson Les Pauls?

"Work hard, rock hard, eat hard, sleep hard,
grow big, wear glasses if you need 'em."
-- The Webb Wilder Credo --


ReplyQuote
 Nuno
(@nuno)
Famed Member
Joined: 16 years ago
Posts: 3998
Topic starter  

As Mitch said, the Gibson are expensive compared to the comparable DiMarzio and Duncan. I'll check the Gibson pickups.


ReplyQuote
 Nuno
(@nuno)
Famed Member
Joined: 16 years ago
Posts: 3998
Topic starter  

Just a quick update. I was playing that guitar today and probably I'd have to change also the tuning machines. It tends to detune when I am bending the notes strongly. I'm starting to think if it is easier if I buy a new guitar!

I don't have enough clear the pickups. I like the Mitch configuration but I'd like to hear them in the clean channel, DiMarzio only has distorted sounds and the new pickups don't have the demos yet.

I'll wait some time. Probably DiMarzio will update the web, somebody will upload a video to YouTube or I will play a guitar with those pickups. I'm not in a hurry and if I add all the parts they sum a more or less considerable amount, considering that it is a cheap guitar.

Thank you guys! :D


ReplyQuote
(@steinar-gregertsen)
Honorable Member
Joined: 17 years ago
Posts: 503
 

Just a quick update. I was playing that guitar today and probably I'd have to change also the tuning machines. It tends to detune when I am bending the notes strongly.

Don't run out and buy new tuners yet, it could just as well be a matter of a poorly filed nut. This is, sadly, becoming a quite common problem these days, even on high end guitars. When you bend the strings radically they can get caught in the nut and don't go back to 'default' position, leaving them a little flat. Have someone look over the nut before spending money on new tuners,- more often than not that's where the problem is and not with the tuners.

"Play to express, not to impress"
Website - YouTube


ReplyQuote
 Nuno
(@nuno)
Famed Member
Joined: 16 years ago
Posts: 3998
Topic starter  

Don't run out and buy new tuners yet, it could just as well be a matter of a poorly filed nut.
It is very probable! The nut of those guitars is made of plastic and it seems 'more plastic' than other guitars. I also thought on change it but I prefer that operation was made by a luthier. I'll check it.

Thank you very much! :D


ReplyQuote
(@steinar-gregertsen)
Honorable Member
Joined: 17 years ago
Posts: 503
 

I had an Epi Les Paul for a while, and only needed to do a few modifications to elevate it from "decent" to "good" -

* Filed the nut so the string height was uniform and intonation was correct at the first few frets
* Replaced pots and capacitors with a Les Paul "50s Historic Premium Electronic Upgrade Kit" from Specialty Guitars
* Replaced the bridge with a TonePro Tune-o-Matic locking bridge

That was it really, I was prepared to replace the pickups too but felt the new electronics improved the sound to the point where I was perfectly happy with the original pickups. I really loved the sound of that guitar, but eventually sold it because I felt the neck was too tiny for my hands, it didn't have much "Gibson feel" to it, and I prefer necks to be a bit on the fat side.

"Play to express, not to impress"
Website - YouTube


ReplyQuote
(@trguitar)
Famed Member
Joined: 15 years ago
Posts: 3711
 

Hmmmmmmm ... Oddley enough Nuno I just purchased an Epiphone Les Paul on Thursday. Is yours an older one made in Korea of a made in China one? My Epiphone SG is made in Korea and I changed those pickups as they were muddy sounding to me. The Les Paul is made in China and has alnico humbuckers and they sound amazingly similar to my "real" Les Paul pickups. Also the SG had knock off Gibson vintage style tuners. The Chineese Les Paul has Grovers. In the old days people used to replace the tuners on their Gibson Les Pauls with ....... Grovers. I definitely would look to the nut on yours. Mine seems to be cut nicely although I confess I haven't checked the intonationon the upper frets. It is smooth, level and doesn't bind. All I needed to do to this guitar was lower the action, adjust the truss rod and adjust the intonation. It plays like a dream. If it continues to impress me I might in the future replace the pots and toggle switch and would consider a better bridge to make it perfect. This could be done a piece at a time. Overall though I would have to say I am impressed. For what it's worth I have owned a "real" Les Paul for the past 26 years and I am sold on the Epi. For the price I paid it is exellent. As far as the neck goes, the Epi has the 60's slim taper as do my Gibbys so I like it.

"Work hard, rock hard, eat hard, sleep hard,
grow big, wear glasses if you need 'em."
-- The Webb Wilder Credo --


ReplyQuote
Page 1 / 2