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Help Choosing Les Paul Pickups

Bigsby

Member
Messages
1,266
I've got a well-worn 1978 Les Paul Deluxe that a previous owner routed for full size humbuckers. My problem with it is that no matter what pickups I've tried in it, it has not compared favorably with my mid-90's Epiphone Riviera running late 60's Gibson minihumbuckers. My Les Paul has always sounded smaller, with less presence and fullness of tone. It's not just me either. Other guitar players have noticed the same thing.

My pickup saga up to now started with the set of non-original, open coil humbuckers that came with it. I wasn't happy with the sound, so I put in a 70's/80's Gibson minihumbucker in the neck, and some sort of Gibson PAF remake (epoxy potted, four leads) in the bridge slot.

Same thing. Not enough balls in the sound, with less sustain, volume and fullness than my Riviera.

I then put in a set of Duncan Antiquities. Same thing.

I have a Duncan Jazz/JB set I can put in it, but at this point, I'd rather go for a set that I know will open up the sound. Also, I find the JB I have to be quacky sounding. Duck-like is not good.

Should I go for a set of overwound PAF types? Try ceramic magnets? Something else? Are there other factors at play that I should be considering? Help! I want to want to play my LP!
 

Phil M

Shapeshifting Member
Silver Supporting Member
Messages
11,685
There are so many choice these days. I personally have had good luck with Duncans like the JB and '59 but it sounds like you already have an opinion on the JB.

My favorite lately are the Wolfetones. I've got a Marshallhead and a Timbrewolf. Both are fat yet clear. I think you might really like the Marshallhead. The Timbrewolf is nice and powerful (sort of like a JB with less accentuated mids) but the Marshallhead is no slouch either. For boutiques, they're priced nice and Wolfe's easy to deal with. Give 'em a shot.
 

goldtop4g63

Member
Messages
259
I put a Motorcity Torque in my R7 it is high output but cleans up nicely, very full sounding not muddy and too bright just very ballsy. I find that it works great from classic rock to metal the cleans are good out of it too.
 

jads57

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
6,189
Fralin 8k & 9k Humbuckers and get them w/ 4 way co0ductor wire. That way you can run them series (trad sound) or parallel (more single coil tone). I say Fralin cause you're looking to fatten up your tone!
 

pirateflynn

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
1,942
I don't want to be a bummer but it's probably the guitar that you don't like. Pickups are not going to solve that problem.
 

Phil M

Shapeshifting Member
Silver Supporting Member
Messages
11,685
I don't want to be a bummer but it's probably the guitar that you don't like. Pickups are not going to solve that problem.
I thought of this possibility as well but didn't want to say it. Lord knows how many of us have run around swapping pickups, pots and caps to no good end...
 

BPSUL

Member
Messages
1,664
Maybe the Gibson's pots measure out to about 300k or even lower whereas the Rivera's are closer to 500. This is a common problem with gibsons.
 

Gibson 1964

Member
Messages
1,283
Have you thought of just replacing the pots first to see if those are thinning out the sound? My initial thought would be to rewire it with a new pair of pots, (maybe 1meg ohm to just open it up a bit more) Thats the cheapest thing and might make the biggest difference. I would then see if you had an open sounding pickup in another guitar to see if you like the sound in this one, because if it is just dead sounding wood to you, you can't polish that turd into a gem, and reading your post, it seems you suspect that.
 

BPSUL

Member
Messages
1,664
In fact, I just reread your post and its certainly your pots. Pickup swaps don't help because the pickups aint the problem.
 

JLee

Gold Supporting Member
Messages
2,814
I don't want to be a bummer but it's probably the guitar that you don't like. Pickups are not going to solve that problem.
I have to agree. Had an Edwards that had the same problem, even with new pots and pickups. Try new pots. If that doesn't work I would suspect that the wood is the source of the anemic tone.
 

Bigsby

Member
Messages
1,266
A lot of really good information, thanks.

I will check the pot values, and report back. Gary Brawer did my first pickup swap, and I assumed he would've made sure the pots were right. Possibly a poor assumption.

Also, I've got a Bigsby B5 and a Schaller roller bridge on it. I'm wondering now if that's a problem. I've got Bigsby's on my Rivieras, which have sustain in spades, but maybe it's a bad match for my Les Paul.
 

Bigsby

Member
Messages
1,266
I really hope it's not a dead wood body. I should probably start with maximizing the acoustic tone, comparing to other Les Pauls, then tackle the pots and pickups.
 

BPSUL

Member
Messages
1,664
I've hear of cases where stock gibson pots were as low as 250k - thats a STRAT POT! This is extremely common. Even if your guitar does have deadwood, which I highly doubt, switching to 500k pots will still be a big improvement either way.

And this is something not all techs even know or bother with. Just because something is common knowledge on TGP doesn't mean its common knowledge at your local shop.
 

Blanket Jackson

Every day is like Tio's birthday
Gold Supporting Member
Messages
16,240
I put Seth Lovers in my routed 76 LP DeLuxe and they sounded f-ing amazing. Then again, my guitar might have been built on a Tuesday or Thursday and the pots might have been correct. If the other Duncans don't sound good, my money is on the pots / caps / wiring. It'd probably cost you about the same to re-wire the thing with new pots / caps / etc. than to keep replacing pickup sets at +$200 a cycle. Do some research, buy all the parts yourself, and have your tech do the grunt work.
 

Bigsby

Member
Messages
1,266
So the pots are all gunked up with solder from multiple pickup changes. Can't tell what the codes are.

I went ahead and bought a RS pre-wired kit from a member on the emporium. Will report back on the results.

I now need to figure out which pickup set I'm going to try in it, the Duncan Antiquity PAF's, the Duncan Jazz/JB combo or a WCR Crossroads/Darkburst set I have.
 

mahler

Member
Messages
1,399
Again, I agree that at this point the electronics in the guitar need a tune up, that would probably fix your problem right there.

However if you are looking for pickups, the Over the Pond Guy PAF's are good, there lead times are in the months and the price is in the 650 area, and I wouldn't want them, but according to other people they are amazing pickups.

I'm doing just fine with my 59's and antiquities!
Although at 650, those pickups have to sound good right? :D
 






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