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Les Paul -----Jazz Guitar

Discussion in 'Guitars in General' started by musicalmoose456, Feb 12, 2008.

  1. musicalmoose456

    musicalmoose456 Member

    Jan 23, 2007
    Is there anything I can do to set up my les paul for more of a jazz sound. Right now it has '57 classic humbuckers in it and I'm just looking to get a jazzier sound out the entire guitar in general.
  2. Bryan T

    Bryan T Guitar Owner Silver Supporting Member

    Aug 22, 2002
    Flatwound strings are a good start. .012s or heavier.

  3. jcoggins7

    jcoggins7 Member

    Jan 10, 2007
    Nashville, TN
    Hmm maybe lower the pickups some as well. FWIW, I've never, ever considered the Les Paul a jazz guitar, especially after hearing some people try and pull it off, and that's how I will probably always feel. I think you're looking in the wrong place for jazz tones. Now an ES-137...that's a different story.
  4. Dana Olsen

    Dana Olsen Gold Supporting Member

    Oct 2, 2002
    Santa Barbara, Marin, Chico, CA
    A little thicker strings, .011's or .012's as Bryan said. Lower the pickups a little, as Jcoggins7 said.

    Try slightly raising the action - SLIGHTLY, and roll the tone knob off some. Lots of guys play Les Pauls for jazz.

    If that doesn't do it, you're gonna have to look at a different guitar. A Les Paul usually won't sound hollow next to a real hollowbody guitar, but if you're the only guitar player it should be fine.

    Good Luck, Dana O.
  5. southpawmax

    southpawmax Member

    Jun 9, 2007
    Brooklyn, NY
    I heard some guy playing some mean jazz stuff on a Les Paul. I forget his name, it starts with an L, I want to say Les Paul, but I'm not sure.

    I would say heavier strings, and lowered pickups should be a solid start. Maybe even switch out the pickups for lower output ones or 'bucker sized P90s
  6. daddyo

    daddyo Guest

    May 19, 2003
    I saw the same cat. Old guy, maybe as old as 90. Balding, used to perform with his wife. First name was Len, Larry, maybe Les. Second name started with a P - Polson, Paulus, Paul? Did a couple of albums with Chet Atkins. Anyone know this cat who played jazz on a Les Paul?
  7. KRosser

    KRosser Member

    Oct 15, 2004
    Pasadena, CA
    Some of my favorite John Abercrombie stuff was done on a Les Paul Deluxe, with the mini-hums, and really light strings.

    I think it has to do more with what you play than how the guitar's set up.
  8. Mc Tanza

    Mc Tanza Member

    Jun 7, 2006
    the LP can be a great Jazz machine, specially the LP Custom. Apart from the tips the previous posters have offered, I'd suggest to use the modern wiring (attenuated highs) and not the 50's wiring. Then use the neck pickup, roll off a bit the tone control, and dial your volume between 5 and 7. A good clean amp and your fingers will do the rest.
  9. dougb415

    dougb415 Member

    Oct 27, 2005
    On the farm, an hour south of Nashville
    Heard some fantastic jazz playing on a Les Paul at the Nashville GC a while back. Creamy smooth, no distortion; this was on a Lester pulled off the rack. Dude was on a very subtle burn.
  10. Don A

    Don A Silver Supporting Member

    Nov 3, 2004
    Yep. It's taboo to a lot of players, but turning down the volume and tone controls is key.

    Also, a small heavy pick, I use a heavy Fender 358, will make your guitar sound darker.
  11. Robertito

    Robertito Member

    Feb 16, 2005
    On the road
  12. BobbyRay

    BobbyRay Supporting Member

    Apr 9, 2004
    Cleveland Area

    I agree 100 percent!
  13. go7

    go7 Member

    Jun 20, 2006
    Vancouver Isl.
    Alnico 2`s. Any good PAF clone. Twiddle some knobs,excellent jazz guitar.
  14. Marty s Horne

    Marty s Horne Member

    Jun 4, 2004
    Palmetto, Florida
    Gibson uses the 57 Classics on most of their hollowbody guitars so before changing them, I'd try rolling off some of the high end on the amp and playing on the neck pickup with the tone control backed down.
  15. garyh

    garyh Member

    Jan 3, 2006
    Nova Scotia
  16. johnzias

    johnzias Member

    Jul 3, 2007
    Tampa Bay Area
    I have '57 Classics on my CS L-5. Keep 'em. I agree, you can get killer Jazz tones with a LP set to the neck pickup, especially with a Blackface amp. I recently recorded an uptempo Samba using my '61 SGLP. The original PAF neck pickup killed in that context.
  17. brad347

    brad347 Member

    Feb 8, 2006
    Brooklyn, NY
    A lot of the advice here seems to be of the "use flatwounds, roll the tone off, and turn the treble on the amp down" type of advice.

    While you can always try these things, I believe that the school of thought that says 'jazz guitar = dark sound' is all a big misconception.

    I don't know how these types of things get started, but listening to old Grant Green, Benson, Jim Hall (especially earlier JH), Kenny Burrell, etc. records the sound is not really dark at all most of the time. Now it's obviously not "spanky" or "twangy" like a typical country sound would be, but it is by no means "dark." Even Wes, on many of his records had a sound with a bit of brightness to it.

    What the above players all do consistently share is a sound with a lot of "body" to it.

    But there is a difference between a sound with a lot of body and a sound that is just a dull "thud." The first is a full-spectrum sound with a lot of warmth. The second is a flat sound with no high-end. Quite a difference!

    The overly dark sound is something you hear a lot from younger jazz players in student ensembles, etc. It's why, often when these guitarist play a solo, it seems like they are either too loud or too soft and can never find that middle ground. Some well-meaning soul probably told them they had to turn all the treble down on that damned Polytone amplifier, and someone else told them they had to roll the tone all the way down and use flatwounds on their guitar. :)

    So what ends up happening is that the sound makes a big "mush" that gets hidden in the string bass and bass drum and ride cymbal (yes there is a lot of low frequency content in most ride cymbals). In order to actually be able to make out the notes they are playing, they have to turn it up until it's too loud. When they turn it down again because someone glares at them, you can't hear them again, and finding the right volume seems impossible. Because, well, it sorta is in that situation...

    That's "jazz mud syndrome" at work.

    So how do you get that "body" to the sound that the great players had/have?

    The answer doesn't lie in your guitar, it lies in you. The human mind is pretty cool in that it can utilize learned skill in conjunction with instinct, and eventually learned skill becomes instinct all by itself. So I would suggest rather than any dinking around with setting up the guitar, enjoy listening to players with beautiful sounds, have fun trying to emulate those sounds with what you have, and it will all take care of itself. That's more fun anyway.

    Eventually your learned skill and instinct will take over and you will pull the sound out you want. Our mind is miraculous, with the ability to do thousands of little calculations in real time. If someone can perform the calculations to shoot a basketball into a hoop from 19'9" while being guarded, your fingers can eventually figure out exactly how to move to get most any sound out of most any guitar. In other words, it's really NOT the guitar. Really. This is great news, because you don't have to buy anything! Just do what you already love to do (play) and you eventually get the sound for free.

    Good luck!
  18. Cussion

    Cussion Member

    May 15, 2006
    Bill Connors had some great times with a Les Paul Custom.
    I heard a Return to Forever show where he had a very clean smoky tone, probably his Les Paul through a Hiwatt amp.
    They played "Spain" and his neck-pup jazz tone was stellar!
  19. rooster

    rooster Member

    Mar 9, 2005
    Someone mentioned it earlier; Les Paus was pretty good on a Les Paul.


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