I think they are great. I own one old 3 bolter and have played a few. They are amazing sounding and feeling guitars. They seem to have some something special I only feel in old guitars. That said, you should play it first, if it doesn't hit you over the head, maybe it isn't the guitar for you.
They're fine... I would not say the tone is nothing like a Strat ... you can dial in some pretty credible Stratty tones (dial back the bass & treble to get to Strat territory), and a whole lot more with those MFD pickups.
Well... I love G&Ls myself, but it's a bit of an uneven trade, as the Gibson's resale value will hold up far better than the G&L's (at least for now. G&L are slowly getting more popular).
HOWEVER, if price/resale means nothing to you and you're only in it for the quality/playability of the S500 itself, then I think it'd be an okay trade since you know you're getting something completely different from the LP as well as your run-of-the-mill Strat style guitar as far as sound.
Thank you for all the help. I went and tried it out and I liked the neck and the tone. A lot of tone control very versatile. I know the resale value is better on the LPs but I was really looking for "value" as in the quality of the guitar.
So here it is.
Sorry these are cell phone pictures. I'll take more DSLR pictures later.
Did I mention I love the MFD pickups? I do. They take some getting used to, but they respond with less input on your part. Very sensitive and precise. A bit like the concept behind playing EMGs, you let the amp do the distortion. Vintage pickups are warmer, fuzzier, and will let you be sloppier, but if you've got your chops together the MFDs absolutely rock.
BTW, if the pickups are too bright, there are a couple of things to try. Modern S-500s have a .001 cap running straight to ground. You can also use a lower value tone control, or cut out the treble bypass. But, keep in mind, Leo never meant for people to turn everything to "10".
Also, Leo thought the 3-bolt neck was one of his better inventions, and was PO'd Fender mucked it up. Lots of G&L owners agree. They went back to 4 bolts due to market pressure (same reason they introduced the Legacy, something Leo was against).
While I was noodling around at home on my practice amp (mind you these are strings he had on here, not sure how old they are) But I never noticed it being too bright. If anything I was rolling off the the bass pot, it seemed a bit muddy on the lower (6th, 5th, 4th) strings. Perhaps with new strings and a setup might take care of some.
One other thing was, I don't quite get how the 2 position switch works in relation to the 5 position switch. I know it works where I can have both neck and bridge on and all three on at once. Could someone enlighten me?
I think I made the right choice, it was sad to let go of my Les but I think I got a great one in my possession. It's very smooth and the sustain is unlike a single coil instrument.
The deal with the MFD pups and the secondary switch along with the 5 position switch, is to give you the maximum variety of tones for the instrument. There is a learning curve involved though and all I can say is you just have to fiddle around with it, try all different combinations and just... learn as you go. I'd like to have me an S500 someday. Played several and liked them all.
The little switch ties the outside pickups together. When it's on, and the 5-way is in the middle, you just get the middle. In positions 2 and 4, you get all three pickups, and in positions 1 and 5, you get the two outside pickups. So, if positions 1 and 5 on the big toggle sound the same, the little switch is on.