Technical difference between PRS and Les Paul

Discussion in 'Guitars in General' started by kwk13, May 21, 2006.

  1. kwk13

    kwk13 Supporting Member

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    I know this has been covered a million times but what I have read in my searches really hasn't answered my question. I have a PRS Singlecut and a Gibson 58 RI Les Paul. I look at them and they look extremely similar. Plug them in and the Les Paul has that low end roar with that great LP rip on the top end. I have WCR Dark Bursts in it currently. Plugging in the Singlecut sounds similar but it loses something in the low mids and it sounds a bit compressed- doesn't sound as alive/open. The PRS is still stock with the #7s. Technically, what exactly is it that makes the LP and the Singlecut sound different? Is it strictly the scale length difference? Is it the electronics (caps and pots)? I have heard the "apples and oranges" story but never a real answer as to what makes them sound different when they look (body size and make-up, wood types) almost identical. From what I read, putting the same pickups in both guitars will not make them sound the same, so what exactly is the difference? Does the difference in scale length somehow "restrict" the openness of the tone and take away (what seems like) a specific frequency range in the low mids? Any information would be appreciated. If it's as easy as putting a LP RS kit in my Singlecut, I'll do it.

    Thanks Again,

    Keith
     
  2. Scott Peterson

    Scott Peterson Staff Member

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    Scale length, body thickness, PRS has a different nut break angle (I think); different nut materials. Different headstock shape and thickness; different bridges. Different pickups and electronics.

    I've owned a PRS SC and it is a very far cry from a LP. Both are fantastic instruments, but IMHO, they only share a similar outline; they are completely different animals.
     
  3. DiazDude

    DiazDude Member

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    I love the looks of the PRS. The thing that I cant get past is that HUGE area of the neck where it joins the body. It's never felt right to me.

    [​IMG]
     
  4. Tarbender

    Tarbender Member

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    One is good. The other is better:)
     
  5. Clorenzo

    Clorenzo Member

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    But until you do that, you won't know if the particular difference you are hearing, and more specifically the things you don't like in the PRS, are due to the construction of each guitar, the pickups or a combination of both. It's like asking why this Honda has better grip than that Toyota when one has crappy tyres and the other one has the best in the market.

    Just drop the WCR's into the PRS and see what happens. You may confirm that it's the guitar, or you may like the result better than the LP!
     
  6. alderbody

    alderbody Member

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    +1 that the WCR's make the biggest part of the difference!...

    plus, i would vote for the LP 'cause i don't really like PRS guitars. :D
     
  7. DiazDude

    DiazDude Member

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    +2 on WCR's!! I have a Darkbursts/RS Kit combo in my R8.
    Result: "The Sleeper HAS Awakened":AOK
     
  8. Kappy

    Kappy Member

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    Were the PRS and Les Paul made from the exact same batch of wood too? Is the maple/rw/mahogany Gibson used that day, that was however old it was and from whichever tree it was going to sound the same as the seemingly exactly same material on the PRS?
     
  9. matte

    matte Senior Member

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    Body thickness, Finish material, Headstock angle, binding, scale length, etc....
     
  10. malabarmusic

    malabarmusic Member

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    I believe the tonal differences described exist when comparing the two instruments unplugged, so any discussion about pickups does not address the question at hand. IMO the scale length difference explains a large percentage of the equation. If you peruse the link below, you'll find interesting results of a "lab experiment" designed to show how scale length differences dictate to a large degree the series of harmonic overtones available to the pickups.

    http://www.novaxguitars.com/info/technical.html

    - DB
     
  11. Clorenzo

    Clorenzo Member

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    Er... have you compared kwk13's two instruments unplugged?

    There's one very important reason why the practical significance of the experiment described in that link is questionable to say the least. What it shows is that a given string of a given gauge played open at exactly the same X percentage distance from the bridge for two different scale lengths shows certain differences in harmonic content.

    How do you quantify the significance of those differences? What if, for a fixed scale length, a different X and the fact that you fret the string produce differences which are orders of magnitude larger? When a guitarist is playing he's picking at a slightly different point each time, but even if he picked always exactly in the same point, each time he frets a string a) he's changing dramatically its scale length and b) he's changing dramatically the relative distance of the picking point to the bridge.

    The only way you can make that experiment to show something from which you can draw significant conclusions is to gather data for each scale length but also a) for a number of sets of strings (all from 1st to 6th) with typical gauge values, b) for each fretted position from open to the 24th fret and c) for a sufficiently large range of picking points between the end of the fingerboard and the bridge. Then you do a statistical analysis of all the measurements and see if, for each scale length, there is sufficient statistical correlation between those measurements for you to be able to show "trends", and if those "trends" are signifficantly different between different scale lengths.

    I'm not saying those differences don't exist or that the experiment I've described wouldn't give a possitive result. I'm saying that the experiment as it is proves nothing and that if kwk13 is speaking about what he hears with the guitars plugged in, the first thing he should do is remove one of the biggest variables affecting the tone of an electric guitar before he can do any fair comparison between them.
     
  12. malabarmusic

    malabarmusic Member

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    Is this a rhetorical question? Did you read my response? :confused: I said I *believe* the differences are there when unplugged, which was based on the supposition that kwk13 is hearing the same thing that I've heard from having played many Les Pauls and more than a handful of Singlecuts acoustically.

    I happen to think the experiment is very significant and provides empirical data to support what my ears have heard for many years, but no worries if you'd rather ignore it. I'm not looking to argue -- it's not my experiment. I just think it's interesting that holding everything else constant, the scale length has a clear impact on the series of harmonic overtones.

    - DB
     
  13. SteveStrat

    SteveStrat Member

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    I agree with Scott on this one. I play a year old LP STD and a buddy of mine has a single cut. Both are great guitars but I think the LP just has a more open sound, better mids with more presence. The PRS is just more mellow sounding, maybe a tad compressed.

    Why do they sound different? I can't say it's one specific thing, more the sum of all the little differences.

    Steve
     
  14. jimmyj

    jimmyj Member

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    They'll sound different no matter what and I'd guess they sound different when you play them unplugged.

    But, I got rid of a lot of that over-compressed feel/sound in my SC (I know just what you mean :( ) by replacing the stock #7s with Duncan '59s. The guitar is so much crisper sounding. I'd imagine that the WCRs would be an even bigger improvement.
     
  15. Mr.Hanky

    Mr.Hanky Supporting Member

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    No replacement for displacement.

    LP's just have more beef.
     
  16. Clorenzo

    Clorenzo Member

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    I'm sorry, I had no idea what you were basing your supposition on. If you have tried many LPs and SCs and always found that the difference between them was just as kwk13 described, then it's a fair assumption, but then doing what I suggested (simply removing the pickup variable) would only confirm if it's correct, so why not give it a try?

    As for experiments, I tend to consider them relevant or ignore them based on them being properly designed or not and regardless of whether they confirm my preconceptions or not. I also think it's interesting and it does prove that "holding everything else constant, the scale length has an impact on the series of harmonic overtones", but to say that the impact is clear as in clearly audible (you can't ascertain that from the plots, you should listen to the actual tones they analyzed, which btw would have been a very easy thing to do: just play them back for the audience and ask them to describe the difference they perceive, if any) and to go from there to "hence the commonly perceived tonal differences between guitars of different scale lengths" is just too big a logical leap.
     
  17. LTE

    LTE Member

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    According to Gibson's lawyers, only an idiot would confuse the two.

    *ducks under desk*

    :p
     
  18. michaelprice83

    michaelprice83 Member

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    That sums it up........discussion closed.......;)
     
  19. HeeHaw

    HeeHaw Member

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    Truth so pure!:AOK
     
  20. drbob1

    drbob1 Silver Supporting Member

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    You're assuming that all Les Pauls sound the same. Which is manifestly NOT true-they have hugely varying amounts of resonance, sustain and upper harmonic content, and have since the 50s. That said, generally a PRS and a Gibson will sound different, but there's a lot of individual variation. As a case in point, I have an 88 PRS bolt-neck and an 88 PRS Custom 24, both have the same strings, tuners, pickups, frets and scale length and they sound completely different. Some could be attributed to wood selection, but that's true with any two single cut style guitars as well. Where am I going with this? Well, I just don't think it's logical to say all PRSi sound like "a" and all Gibsons sound like "b".
     

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