2019 Les Paul Special P90's very dark indeed...

Discussion in 'Just Pickups' started by marc2211, Feb 27, 2020.

  1. marc2211

    marc2211 Tele-Holic

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    Hi all,

    After some pickup advice! I recently bought a Gibson Les Paul Special (2019) model, and while I love the way it plays and feels, every time I plug it in I'm always very underwhelmed.

    I usually play a Tele through a Marshall Origin or an Orange amp (mostly clean with a Wampler PlexiDrive pedal, touch of reverb and chorus, phaser 90, or with a Fuzz.). Always play my Teles with on the bridge pickup, with tone rolled off a little, a Strat (usually bridge/middle), or a Gibson SG with p90's (usually bridge or both, again tone rolled off slightly).

    I play mainly classic rock, blues, Zep etc so go for a chimey overdriven tone, pretty big on mids.

    The LP Special consistenly sounds very dark and muddy, even on the bridge pickup - it's pretty 'dead' with no character, almost like there's a blanket over the speaker. I have set it up according to the Gibson guide, and also the Lollar guide. I then tried myself, listening to the amp as I went, but no dice. It's 'better' now, but there is no chime or subtelty there at all, just thick heavy mud :(

    The people I jam with have now started to say 'why not use another guitar, that one sounds way too muddy' - which I take a sign that it's not just me hearing things.

    My SG with p90s give some real clarity while sounding much thicker than a Strat SC - it has some really sweet overdriven tones. I assumed I'd get similar on the LP. :(

    Any ideas on what to try next, or what other pickups will give me the tone I'm after?

    I was thinking Lollar or Lindy Fralin?

    Any info appreciated!
     
  2. hopdybob

    hopdybob Tele-Afflicted

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    maybe try to use no load tonepots?
     
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  3. El Marin

    El Marin Tele-Afflicted

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    Try different pots. Higher ohms will take Darkness away... some... but is a cheap try
     
  4. Ess Eff

    Ess Eff Tele-Holic

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    Hahaha....

    Cue the guy that's gonna say 'adjust your pickup height'.

    The good old cure-all.
    Guitar won't stay in tune - adjust your pickup height.
    Guitar won't intonate - adjust your pickup height.
    Bright - adjust your pickup height.
    Dark - adjust your pickup height.
    Hate the colour - adjust your pickup height.
    Etc, etc.....
     
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  5. -Hawk-

    -Hawk- Friend of Leo's Silver Supporter

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    I’d definitely look the other electronics first. Maybe you’ve got a pot that is way out of spec. My experience with recent Gibson p90’s has been great. Would be a shame to spend a bunch of money if all you had to do was replace a $5-10 part.
     
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  6. uriah1

    uriah1 Telefied Gold Supporter

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    Most p90 apps I add the 50 wiring or the treble bleed..
    but, mostly to neck..never had bridge problems.
     
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  7. Rayf_Brogan

    Rayf_Brogan Tele-Meister

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    At full volume, my p90s got very dark. Rolling the volume back to 7 through 9 brought out some sparkle. Kind of the opposite for most if my Fender single coils.
     
  8. beyer160

    beyer160 Friend of Leo's

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    Sounds like something's wrong with your wiring- an LP should be a little "fuller" sounding on the bottom than an SG with the same pickups, but my P90 LP Special is anything but "dark". Try rolling down the tone knobs- do they do anything? I once ran into a Tele that had the tone pot wired backward from the factory.
     
  9. Fiesta Red

    Fiesta Red Friend of Leo's

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    Change pots, add a high-pass capacitor, adjust pickup height (although what @esseff wrote above was funny) and *then* try replacing pickups.

    If you’re going to replace the pickups, you might try calling Pete at Pete Biltoft Vintage Vibe pickups or the folks at Rio Grande pickups and take suggestions from them.
    I’ve had good conversations with both of them—they’ll talk to you even if you aren’t already a customer or didn’t buy from them directly.

    Great pickups, great prices, nice people.
     
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  10. EsquireBoy

    EsquireBoy Tele-Afflicted

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    Of course I've read your entire post, but IME there's no need to go further past that unfortunately. I've been there with more than one guitar and, although you should be able to make it sound more to your liking, it will never be quite "right". Often you end up wanting to sell the instrument, but since you've modified it, you take a bit hit.
    Unless it's already not stock anymore, I would skip the experimenting and try to trade it right away. Upgrading a bit is nice, but seeking something that's not here to begin with can be really frustrating.
     
  11. 11 Gauge

    11 Gauge Doctor of Teleocity

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    It almost sounds to me like something like the tone circuit is partially or fully engaged (beyond the minimal bit you'd get when not using a no-load pot), so I'd spec the tone pot, and also visually inspect the control cavity, to confirm that stuff like the tone cap's leads aren't touching anything they shouldn't be, along with the surrounding wiring.

    And if all the wiring looks good and it all specs out, and the issue still persists, I'd physically disconnect the tone cap, and see if that changes anything.
     
  12. gregulator450

    gregulator450 Tele-Holic

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    I put a six-inch suspension lift on my pickup and my guitar still won't intonate or stay in tune.
     
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  13. kohoutec

    kohoutec Tele-Meister

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    Interesting. I have the same guitar. Whilst I've no issues with the bridge pickup I did/do find the neck position quite dark (compared to other p90 guitars).
    I measured the pots via the jack with a lead, there's a formula that gets you in the ballpark without having to remove the pickups I think (although I'm no expert)...anyway both are close enough to 500k so it doesn't appear to be that.
    I spent quite a lot of time fiddling with the neck 90 height, and also the pole pieces... I've got it to a point that's much better and I think I'm going to keep it stock for now, it does seem that neck 90 is very sensitive to adjustments.
    I ended up with the neck 90 lowered about 50% from how it came, and then raised the poles up a bit (despite the comments above about pickup height )
     
    Last edited: Feb 27, 2020
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  14. marc2211

    marc2211 Tele-Holic

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    Hmm I guess I'll keep playing around with pickup heights. Thanks everyone for the advice.

    I'm not sure if I have modern or 50s wiring in the guitar - I'll have to figure it out, and if necessary change to the 50s style.
     
  15. AlbertaGriff

    AlbertaGriff Tele-Afflicted

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    I'd be curious about the pot value for the tone controls. I bought a 2018 LP Jr and put in a 500k volume pot and a 250k tone pot and found it way dark, especially compared to the Fenders I normally play. I swapped out that harness for a 500k volume and 500k tone and found it to be better. The cap value will also have an impact. Open up the back and snap us some pics.
     
  16. kohoutec

    kohoutec Tele-Meister

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    Mine is better since fiddling, but i would prefer it to be a bit brighter if I'm honest. It's interesting your bridge pup is also muddy, as mine is fine, so do wonder if something else is going on with yours.

    I think they come with modern wiring, which seems an odd choice for this but there you go!
     
  17. Jakester93

    Jakester93 Tele-Meister

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    I have a Tele and a P90 guitar. I EQ my amp completely different for each. The P90 gets an extra helping of treble. Could it be you are just so used to the comparatively bright Tele and strat?

    Edit: I didn't see that you also have an SG with P90s that you like. I still wouldn't discount the inherent EQ differences with the LP though.
     
  18. Si G X

    Si G X Tele-Holic

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    It shouldn't sound that different to your SG with P90's. How old is the SG, I'm presuming it has the same standard p90's?

    I'd start by checking the wiring between the two and wire your special exactly the same as the SG, (pots, caps) then see what happens.
     
  19. radiocaster

    radiocaster Poster Extraordinaire

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    It probably has happened before that the selector switch is wired upside down. Did you check that the correct pickup is on by touching it with something metal?
     
  20. bo

    bo Poster Extraordinaire

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    I have three P-90 guitars and the pickups all sound a bit different in each of them. For each of those guitars I find I have to crank the treble on the amp a bit to get them where I want them. Otherwise they sound dark like you describe. I also think they sound better set a bit low and away from the strings. YMMV of course.
     
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