Replacement pickups for vintage Les Paul Custom?

JonnyQ

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2,029
I have a 1975 LP Custom. I never questioned the stock pickups...until now.

I don't know if the usual suspects for Les Pauls apply...or if there are other ways to go.
 

enharmonic

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Can you tell us a bit more about the characteristics you dislike in the stock pickups?
 

icr

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The pickups in my 1974 Les Paul Custom were long gone when I got the guitar. I put these Gibson 57 Classics on this about 20 years ago and am happy. Most importantly, I replaced the 300K pots with 500K.

file-35.jpg


 
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eigentone

Gold Supporting Member
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Well, what tone are you chasing? There are about 100 ways to go.

I might suggest the Doug and Pat Show's YouTube channel. They do a lot of pickup comparison vids.

https://www.youtube.com/user/DFraserHomes

Looks like they have made 7 PAF shootouts so far.


My favorite that I own is the Gibson CustomBucker. AlNiCo 3 -- low output. Sweet and clear. I know of one set for sale right now. CustomBuckers are rare because they are pickups pulled from recent Gibson Custom Shop instruments and not sold as parts by Gibson.
 
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JonnyQ

Member
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2,029
Well, what tone are you chasing? There are about 100 ways to go.

I might suggest the Doug and Pat Show's YouTube channel. They do a lot of comparisons like this.

My favorite that I own is the Gibson CustomBucker. AlNiCo 3 -- low output. Sweet and clear.

Never saw that show--will check out.

In terms of tone, I am one of these odd dudes who mostly plays the neck pickups on all of my guitars, including this Custom. As such, I would like to get more articulation out of my neck pickup and if possible more warmth out of my bridge pickup, per chance I would actually consider using the bridge pickup..if that makes sense.
 

JonnyQ

Member
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2,029
The pickups in my 1974 Les Paul Custom were long gone when I got the guitar. I put these Gibson 57 Classics on this about 20 years ago and am happy. Most importantly, I replaced the 300K pots with 500K.

file-35.jpg
Lovely guitar. What did the pot value changes change?
 

eigentone

Gold Supporting Member
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9,944
Never saw that show--will check out.

In terms of tone, I am one of these odd dudes who mostly plays the neck pickups on all of my guitars, including this Custom. As such, I would like to get more articulation out of my neck pickup and if possible more warmth out of my bridge pickup, per chance I would actually consider using the bridge pickup..if that makes sense.

The neck is my primary pup on all my guitars :beer I use the middle pos more than the bridge alone. Maybe we are not-so-odd after all? :brick

Given that description, I would recommend underwound/low-wind PAF style pickups which have AlNiCo 3 or AlNiCo 2 magnets. Your favorite winder probably offers such a pickup. That's not an answer, but a push in the right direction (I hope).

If your guitar is acoustically bright, you may want to avoid AlNiCo 3 since it may be bright + bright. There is a good chance, considering the ebony board and general weight of LPs of the era.
 
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enharmonic

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Your pickups could be T-Tops. They can be great, but I have heard them described by others as grainy at times.

Swapping magnets would be the most affordable way to dial your stock pickups in, but if you don't want to do that, my recommendation would be for Wolfetone Dr. V neck, and a Marshallhead 2 bridge.

You'll get dozens of recommendations, but for what you're looking for, the Wolfetones are the ones that I'm most experienced with. :beer
 

JonnyQ

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2,029
The neck is my primary pup on all my guitars :beer I use the middle pos more than the bridge alone. Maybe we are not-so-odd after all? :brick

Given that description, I would recommend underwound/low-wind PAF style pickups which have AlNiCo 3 or AlNiCo 2 magnets. Your favorite winder probably offers such a pickup. That's not an answer, but a push in the right direction (I hope).

If your guitar is acoustically bright, you may want to avoid AlNiCo 3 since it may be bright + bright. There is a good chance, considering the ebony board and general weight of LPs of the era.

Nice to know another neck folk :beer

Interesting you say Alnico 2 or 3 -- I think I have only had Alnico 5's in any LP I have ever played.

Been looking at the Duncan Antiquities and Seth Lovers. The Wolftones also look cool. And ThroBaks are nice too, albeit pricey.
 

amstrtatnut

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14,835
I have a 1975 LP Custom. I never questioned the stock pickups...until now.

I don't know if the usual suspects for Les Pauls apply...or if there are other ways to go.

I believe, correct me if Im wrong, those are t tops, and they are making a comeback, just as PAFs everyone took out of their guitars did.

My bandmate has a newer LP custom, loaded with 490R and 498T. It is a ballsy sound. Those pickups dont get enough credit. Imo.

PAF style is nice but the set above is pretty rock and roll.
 

JonnyQ

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2,029
I believe, correct me if Im wrong, those are t tops, and they are making a comeback, just as PAFs everyone took out of their guitars did.

My bandmate has a newer LP custom, loaded with 490R and 498T. It is a ballsy sound. Those pickups dont get enough credit. Imo.

PAF style is nice but the set above is pretty rock and roll.

I think the "ballsy" quality is what I equate with "grainy," especially the bridge pickup. It's definitely rock and roll. I'm not sure I am anymore :dude
 

eigentone

Gold Supporting Member
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9,944
Nice to know another neck folk :beer

Interesting you say Alnico 2 or 3 -- I think I have only had Alnico 5's in any LP I have ever played.

Been looking at the Duncan Antiquities and Seth Lovers. The Wolftones also look cool. And ThroBaks are nice too, albeit pricey.

Good times. Our 'problem' today is that there are so many good choices ;)

If you have a preferred winder, it may help to just chat with him/her and explain the tone you are after. Even big winders like SD have a Custom Shop. For a little more than Ants, you can get a pickup set built for your needs.

Bare Knuckle offers many models -- with sound clips for each. I picked up some great P90s from them this year. It looks like Stormy Mondays are their cleanest/clearest humbucker.

Since you are a neck guy, I should mention I buy matched, not calibrated sets. In the 1950s (for example), bridge pickups weren't wound hotter by design. I found I prefer (approximately) matched sets. In the middle pos, this adds air. In the bridge it is still bright, but lower output and not-so-nasal.

Lastly, "50s wiring" can really improve usability with Volume and Tone rolled back.

Enjoy listening to demos :beer
 

kev

fire hydrant
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2,957
Have fun in the journey! Does your Custom have a maple neck (rather than a mahogany)? Just curious more than anything, not saying this r/n/r sound at the bridge pickup is 'built-in' your Custom.

you may be able to keep that pickup(s) and do a mag swap only.

as a few other inexpensive alternatives to a full set of new pickups, these are things I've learned/experimented with my own guitars (esp. my '72 335, which your Custom indeed may have t-tops as well) over the years of haunting this online mecca of knowledge called TGP:

experiment with these general 'rules':
at your regular playing volume, roll the bridge pickup's volume and tone knobs back some and seek a 'sweet spot'...it might not always sound great with everything on 10
adjust the heights of the pickups/for what you are seeking (less 'grainy' sounding), lower them (and further, the adjustable pole pieces, raise those...even removing them altogether)
replace the (most likely still stock and 300K) pots with Audio taper 500K
 

JonnyQ

Member
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2,029
Have fun in the journey! Does your Custom have a maple neck (rather than a mahogany)?

I got this used years ago. I always assumed it was mahogany, perhaps a mistake, The original finish was/is a very thick sort of Olympic White which has now yellowed considerably everywhere. There is no sign of wood grain, aside from some deep wear on the back of the neck. Not sure if inspecting the grain reveals wood source, but I'd be happy to post pics for curiosity sake.


as a few other inexpensive alternatives to a full set of new pickups, these are things I've learned/experimented with my own guitars (esp. my '72 335, which your Custom indeed may have t-tops as well) over the years of haunting this online mecca of knowledge called TGP:

experiment with these general 'rules':
at your regular playing volume, roll the bridge pickup's volume and tone knobs back some and seek a 'sweet spot'...it might not always sound great with everything on 10
adjust the heights of the pickups/for what you are seeking (less 'grainy' sounding), lower them (and further, the adjustable pole pieces, raise those...even removing them altogether)
replace the (most likely still stock and 300K) pots with Audio taper 500K

All great 'rules'. The tone and volume controls are very "all-or-nothing," if that makes sense. Like "dull' or "bright", "full volume" or "very low output". Usually, the tone I play with on this guitar that fits my tatse is Neck only (volume and tone at 11 ;) ) or mid with just a hint of that bridge volumed in. Bridge PU: fuggedaboudit
 
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kev

fire hydrant
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I got this used years ago. I always assumed it was mahogany, perhaps a mistake, The original finish was/is a very thick sort of Olympic White which has now yellowed considerably everywhere. There is no sign of wood grain, aside from some deep wear on the back of the neck. Not sure if inspecting the grain reveals wood source, but I'd be happy to post pics for curiosity sake.

All great 'rules'. The tone and volume controls are very "all-or-nothing," if that makes sense. Like "dull' or "bright", "full volume" or "very low output". Usually, the tone I play with on this guitar that fits my tatse is Neck only (volume and tone at 11 ;) ) or mid with just a hint of that bridge volumed in. Bridge PU: fuggedaboudit

Pictures may help, post away (I was gonna selfishly ask for pictures regardless, lol...love Les Pauls)!

I completely understand where you are coming from with the Vol/Tone being all or nothing...exactly where I am with my 335 too (and thus why I am also looking to swap the pots for audio taper 500K at the sage advice of many wise folks around here). Here's a good thread about this topic:

https://www.thegearpage.net/board/index.php?threads/les-paul-wiring-quick-s.1766149/#post-23015583


On my guitar, I have found that between 8-10 on the Vols there is a world of color...but I'm looking for a wider 'sweep' target, lol. I know it's possible, since I have other guitars with audio taper pots. I'll set my Volumes low, dial in the amp to my liking (edge of breakup)...same with the Tone, I keep those rolled back a bit more on the guitar, and dial in more treble via the amp initially, then I can bring in more treble later via the guitar once the whole mix of the band is at play (no pun intended).
 




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