Need Help Improving My Old LP Custom

Lennox Lewis

Member
Messages
130
I have a 1981 Les Paul Custom that I've been playing for 16 years.
*First Issue
I've played it a ton and the frets are very worn to where I have trouble bending at times-like I'm having to use a lot of effort "digging in" to get under strings etc. The frets are so level that I think it may need new wire. I absolutely have no idea what to replace it with. I know there are many kinds and sizes, but I have no idea what to get. Any help on what works best? I don't want to pay for it and sacrifice playability and have to do it over.

*Second Issue
The guitar sounds overly dark and muddy. I don't know if it has always been like this and I'm just more aware of tone, or if it's lost some clarity over the years with pots etc. It currently has a SD Jazz in the neck and a SD Custom SH5 in the bridge.

I've gotten to where I play my LP classic exclusively over this, and I want to incorperate the Custom back into my arsenal. I feel like it's getting neglected sitting in it's case all of the time, but I don't want to bring it back until it can perform up to standards.

Thanks for any advice you can share. :AOK
 

infiniteposse

Member
Messages
1,747
Firstly you need a refret. As for size of fretwire, if it worked for you before, why don't you just get the same size wire? If you're other guitar has frets you love, you could also have your luthier measure the gauge of wire and just use the same gauge...

Muddy-wise... There's a ton of things it could be ranging from pickup height, mediocre pots/wiring to the pickups themselves. There's stunning aftermarket pups out there, so go for it if you want to make this guitar rock and you know you love it in general. Check out WCR, Lollar, Frailins and on and on. Wiring-wise, there's the RS wiring kits that I've heard good stuff about. Maybe just overhaul the electronics and pups on the guitar when you get it refretted and have a brand new guitar:)

Good luck and have fun:)
 

walterw

Platinum Supporting Member
Messages
38,019
1: get tall frets, the sustain and ease of playability will be night and day better even than the low-ish frets it had when it was new.

2: you've likely got terrible sounding 300k volumes and 100k tones in there, which are choking that guitar down considerably. put 500k audios all around and wake that thing up!

once you've done that, you can hear what the pickups actually sound like, and can then judge if you need something else. unless they're the awful and short-lived "circuit-card" pickups they used for a little while, chances are you'll quite like the neck pickup, at least. (you may end up wanting something a little stronger in the bridge.)
 
M

Monroe

Also, you may want to consider either treble bleed circuits on the volume pots, or the vintage wiring scheme to retain the highs as you roll the volume down from ten.
 

Lennox Lewis

Member
Messages
130
Thanks for the replies. About overhauling the electronics - how expensive of a job is that (ballpark figure)? I've played around with pickup heights and don't think that is going to comletely fix the problem.

I figured i was looking at a new refret job. I've worn the frets down to almost level with the board. I had just dealt with it for a while, but when I bought the latest Les Paul that I'm playing through, it really exposed how tough the worn frets really are.

Thanks again, and if anyone else has anything to add please do. I wouldn't mind hearing more about the RS kit. :cool:
 

infiniteposse

Member
Messages
1,747
RS Kits: http://www.rsguitarworks.net/cms/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=42&Itemid=1

I highly recommend you subscribe to the Les Paul forum which is an amazing resource for all things LP - http://www.lespaulforum.com/forum/index.php

Ballpark on electronics can vary greatly depending on who you bring it to... I'd guess $150 to $200 for the labor, tops. The kit price will depend on what you get. Check the link about for pricing and email them for more specifics about what you should buy.
 

walterw

Platinum Supporting Member
Messages
38,019
yikes! 4 cts 500k pots should cost about $5 each, and maybe $50 or $60 to wire them in.
 

Pete Galati

Member
Messages
1,680
Don't worry about the sound till after you get it refretted. It's best to take care of one thing at a time. Bad frets aren't exactly good for your sound sound.

Get some Caigs DeOxit5 and clean your pots before you start swapping them out.
 

rastus

Member
Messages
1,536
Pete is right. Get some fresh frets on it first. Then evaluate it. If the frets are real low (and I've been through this, my main LP a 70 Custom is on it's 3rd set of frets) the strings are probably thudding on the ebony, killing sustain and restricting string vibration. If you are happy with the stock Classic frets, have them miced, then order the same wire installed, crowned to match the profile on the Classic.

If this does not do it, them get those chump 300K pots outta there-these things can be real "pickup mufflers". RS kits take the work out of changing harnesses, they do the work for you, matching pot values, selecting caps, and wiring the parts into a harness. If you are a DIY guy they can save you some money and trouble.

If the pots still don't get you there (and I honestly think the frets and pot change will) then consider pickups that may be more appropriate to your musical tastes.

Don't be discouraged, take it slow, one thing at a time, so you can hear how each procedure effects the sound. A great LP Custom is worth the effort! Good luck with it!
 

walterw

Platinum Supporting Member
Messages
38,019
yeah, it seems that lp customs from even gibson's darkest days can be made into jems with new frets and electronics.
 




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