Pigtail hardware on Historic Les Paul - upgrade to tone?

Discussion in 'Guitars in General' started by Gravelrocks, Apr 8, 2015.

  1. Gravelrocks

    Gravelrocks Member

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    I've been thinking about picking up some Pigtail hardware for my Les Paul. Has anyone else changed out their Historic studs, bushings, bridge and tailpiece for Pigtail? If so, I'd be interested to hear about your results... were there tonal improvements to the guitar? Thanks.
     
  2. AdmiralB

    AdmiralB Silver Supporting Member

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    I did it once. I bought one of the 'Oxblood' Jeff Beck non-signatures they made for a few years in the early-mid '00s (A 2005, IIRC). It was basically an R4 with humbuckers (with the bridge pickup intentionally moved so far back it almost touched the bridge).

    I'd heard so much stuff about Pigtail, so I bought the steel studs, bushings, and aluminum tailpiece.

    Short answer, it changed nothing. The Pigtail stuff was really nicely made, especially the tailpiece - the 'ridge' was much more clearly defined. But there wasn't any perceptible change in tone or playability or anything.

    I liked Pigtail hardware, and I used Steve's 'Badass style' intonatable wraparound on several guitars since, but I wouldn't do what you're proposing. Here's why:


    1. Gibson has improved the tailpiece since then, it's gone through at least two more revisions - and that's assuming it's getting used as a bridge, as on my guitar. If it's just a tailpiece, even the old one would have worked fine. If I was buying for a guitar that didn't already have aluminum, I'd get the Gotoh - it's just as good and it's helluva cheaper.
    2. Gibson already used/uses steel tailpiece bushings; I discovered that before I removed those in my guitar, but I went ahead and swapped anyway.
    3. Gibson switched to steel tailpiece studs sometime around 2011 or 2012 - I have a couple 2010 Historics with brass, but also several 2012 and newer and they came with steel.
    4. The last time I bought Pigtail stuff, the quality wasn't up to par. The machining/manufacturing was fine but the plating was crap, and some of the studs weren't plated at all - just bare polished steel. And it took a while to get sorted out. That was a couple years ago, but it wasn't like it was *right* after he died, so I would have expected the business end to be back together by that point. IIRC I had to open a dispute with PayPal, because none of my emails were ever replied.
    That latter point is totally anecdotal and everything might very well be cool now. But the times I've needed anything like that recently (steel studs), I've used Faber or other sources.
     
  3. sws1

    sws1 Member

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    What Pigtail gets you is the exact metallurgy of a vintage ABR1. I took the vintage ABR1 off my 57 Goldtop, and put on a new Gibson ABR1. The sound was a bit snappier / brighter. I then tried the Pigtail, and it sounded exactly like the original ABR-1. Only difference is that the saddles won't fly off.

    Anyone...what is "improvement" to some, might not be an "improvement" to others. Seems like a lot of guys want to change things on their historic and actually take them further away from vintage. (Steel bridge, etc).
     
  4. 71strat

    71strat Member

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    While I don't have the Pigtail on a Gibson. I had a Les Paul type guitar made and couldn't be happier with the PT Bridge Assembly.
     
  5. SkydogFan81

    SkydogFan81 Supporting Member

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    I switched out the parts on my 2014 R9 for pigtail parts since I already had most of them. It sounded good before, not it sounds a little better, but def more sustain. I recently bought the vintage length pigtail studs and they are machined at much tighter tolerances than the orginal Gibson parts.

    I swapped out brass studs on my 2006 R7 shortly after I got it and that improvement was very noticeable.

    I would change the studs and bushing on a newer gibson because the pigtail tolerence give a tighter fit, their shipping is much cheaper than retrospec - so for the price and shipping of retrospec studs you can get pigtail studs and bushings....
     
  6. gmann

    gmann Member

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    I have a Pigtail tailpiece on my '06 Historic Jr. Also a Pigtail ABR-1 on my '97 LP Custom as well as a tailpiece on my late '60's ES345 which had some weird tailpiece on it when I got it. It was originally a trapeze that had been converted to stop tail. There's improvement over what these were before, not earth shattering, life changing, but better. I like having the correct stuff on there and the parts look great. For me it was worth it, I'd do it again.
     
  7. Sean French

    Sean French Supporting Member

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    You have a post '02 Historic, Correct? If so, then all that's needed is the steel studs. Gibson bushings are steel. No need to swap them. Your Historic should have an aluminum TP. No need to swap that.
    Next is the bridge and bridge posts. I highly recommend the steel bridge posts. They won't bend like the stock brass posts. Tonal improvement? That's relative.
    Unless you wish to differ from the zinc bridge/brass saddles then leave that alone too.
    The biggest and most noticeable tonal change is going from a heavy zinc TP to an aluminum TP and going from a zinc bridge/brass saddles to an aluminum bridge/saddles or steel bridge/saddles.
     
    Last edited: Dec 7, 2015
  8. jalguitarman

    jalguitarman Member

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    Have you tried an aluminum Abr 1 bridge on a Les Paul before?
     
  9. Sean French

    Sean French Supporting Member

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    Yes. Way too bright , hollow in the mids and lost low end on the two LPs I put it on.
    Not for me. Could be good for someone else's LP and or their prefence.
     
    jalguitarman likes this.

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