Gibson Les Paul Traditional Upgrades...Wow!!

Discussion in 'Other Guitars, other instruments' started by tah1962, May 9, 2020.

  1. tah1962

    tah1962 Friend of Leo's

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    I have had several posts seeking suggestions on brightening up my 2016 Gibson Les Paul Traditional. Thanks to all who responded to my other posts. After trying different strings, and adjusting pickup heights, and pole pieces, I finally decided to upgrade the pots and caps and live with the outcome. I’m glad I did.

    After pulling out the stock Gibson pots, it’s no wonder the guitar was dark. Gibson’s specs for the volume and tone pots were supposed to be 500k pots 20% tolerance. Here’s what they measured on my DMM. Volume pots weren’t even close. I’m sure the volume pots were 300k instead of 500k based on the measurements. :mad:

    Neck Volume Pot = 294k
    Neck Tone Pot = 426k
    Bridge Volume Pot = 256k
    Bridge Tone Pot = 472k

    I replaced the pots with four CTS 500k Audio Taper Pots 5% tolerance. Three pots measured at 538k, and one pot measured at 539k. +7% on the positive side!

    Once I got the new pots and pickups wired back up, I used some test leads with mini alligator clips to test capacitors (orange drops & paper in oil), and treble bleeds (parallel & series many different values).

    I started with modern wiring. Much better and the treble bleed did the job. I liked a .001uf cap with 100k resistor in series the best. Next I wired the guitar with 50’s wiring and experimented with the different caps that I had. I kept switching back and forth from (modern to 50’s) comparing the differences and after over a hour of playing, I decided on the 50’s wiring. It took a while to get used to the volume and tone pot interaction but I loved how just barely turning the volume knob back cleaned up the tone. I ended up using a .015uf PIO cap in the neck, and a .033uf PIO cap in the bridge.

    I also added some Kluson Steel Knob Pointers.

    I am finally happy with my Les Paul. :) Thanks again to all who responded to my previous posts. Below are pictures of the final 50’s wiring, and of my Les Paul Traditional. Cheers!

    8AEA2B7E-E49F-4E2F-9DC2-1B6BA393049B.jpeg 96E07AE7-ED18-409B-A6CA-0EC369B02E80.jpeg 0B1C5A39-2A95-4DEE-B922-3BBFFB4FF1F2.jpeg
     
  2. 50ShadesofOrange

    50ShadesofOrange Tele-Meister

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    I’m so glad it worked out for you.

    I was in the same boat with my 2013 Traditional, not getting what I’d hoped from it, but now I love that guitar.
     
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  3. tah1962

    tah1962 Friend of Leo's

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    Thanks. Yeah, I can believe the difference good pots and caps makes. It’s like new guitar day all over again. :D
     
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  4. 50ShadesofOrange

    50ShadesofOrange Tele-Meister

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    I replaced the Classic 57s with Duncan Antiquities when I swapped the pots. I often wonder if the pots alone might’ve done the trick.

    It sounds like you did this more intelligently than me. Well done, sir.
     
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  5. tah1962

    tah1962 Friend of Leo's

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    Thanks. I thought about replacing the pickups but I like the Classic 57 in the neck. I have a love/hate relationship with the Classic 57+ in the bridge. Some days I think it sounds pretty good, other days not so much. I may try something else down the line but for now, I’m happy with the changes.
     
  6. Zepfan

    Zepfan Poster Extraordinaire

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    It really depends on the pickups. Those lower value pots work well with Burstbuckers which are bright anyway, but can be a bit dark on other pickups.

    When it comes to HB's, I generally like 500k pots and .022 cap the most with a tone bypass switch or no-load tone pot for that extra bright boost, but if the guitar is bright toned, those lower value pots and caps work well. I have a Firebird pickup in neck position of a Strat on 250k volume only and it works great.
     
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  7. jvin248

    jvin248 Poster Extraordinaire

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    .

    Glad you got it all sorted out to get the best tone you can get out of the guitar for you. So many start at the pickup swapping end rather than the less costly changing heights and pots 'n caps swaps. Seems like you did a wonderful and careful set of trial runs to determine which parts you liked best. Now when someone new on the forum is troubled by poor tone out of their guitar you'll know exactly how to help them out too.

    .
     
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  8. tah1962

    tah1962 Friend of Leo's

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    When I was testing caps today I tried a pair of .022uf orange drops but there was just something special about the .015uf and .033uf PIO caps with the new pots. Interesting about the Firebird pickup in your strat. Very cool.
     
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  9. tah1962

    tah1962 Friend of Leo's

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    Thanks. I spent a lot more time planning for these updates than actually doing it. It’s pretty cheap to swap out pots and caps so I thought I’d start there. I’m happy with the results. Thanks for your response.
     
  10. gridlock

    gridlock Friend of Leo's Silver Supporter

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    Congrats, looks really nice and I’m interested in the the ‘50’s wiring but I also love my 2012 Traditional all stock.
     
    Last edited: May 9, 2020
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  11. Paul G.

    Paul G. Friend of Leo's

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    .022/.016 PIO in my Firebird. Makes the neck pickup tone control so much more progressive and usable. I have the same combination in my SG.

    20150417_153515_zpsozqz9cka_DxO.jpg
     

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  12. joebloggs13

    joebloggs13 Tele-Afflicted

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    Nice! I had my LP re done as well. Custom Monty's PAFs, vintage wiring with Gibson historic bumblebee caps. I agree that it really makes the tone/volume controls more sensitive, and as a result, more tonal possibilities. Congrats. :)
     
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  13. SecretSquirrel

    SecretSquirrel Friend of Leo's Ad Free Member

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    Informative post , thanks!
     
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  14. cmm71

    cmm71 Tele-Meister Silver Supporter

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    It's my understanding that Gibson switched from 500 k ohm to 300 k ohm pots for many of their production models. I've replaced all the pots on both my Standard and Traditional. I kept the stock 57 pickups in my 2012 Traditional but I'm not really excited about them. To me they seem too hot, and I like them a lot better when I roll back the volume to about 7.
     
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  15. tah1962

    tah1962 Friend of Leo's

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    Nice! Sounds like a great setup. I’m sure that my LP will be seeing more action now. :)
     
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  16. tah1962

    tah1962 Friend of Leo's

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    I’m not sure about the 300k pots but below is directly from Gibson’s SPEC sheet for the 2016 LP Traditional. They must have been running short on 500k’s the day mine was made. Just curious, which pickups did you go with in your LP Standard?

    upload_2020-5-10_5-11-2.png
     

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  17. cmm71

    cmm71 Tele-Meister Silver Supporter

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    My standard is a 1988 and it looks its age. I bought it used and it had Seymour Duncan open coils in it. I'm pretty sure they were the very popular JB bridge and Jazz neck combo. The bridge pickup wasn't working. I like my humbucking pickups covered anyway. So I figured I'd end up with SD Antiquities because I didn't want a very clean and shiny new pickup going in such an old and worn-looking guitar. By pure luck I stopped by a music store that I never shop at, just to see if they happened to have any humbuckers. They had some Sheptone Tributes that were about 10 years old and the covers had the perfect amount of wear to match my old Les Paul. I know almost nothing about Sheptone but I really like the ones I have. They have less output than the 57s. They sound a little more balanced where the 57s are pretty aggressive in the mid-range. The Sheptones just seem to be more refined to me when the 57s can sometimes strike me as harsh. I don't hate the 57s, I just like the Sheptones more. FWIW, Lollar Imperial Low Winds are the absolute best humbucker I've ever heard...just my opinion.
     
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  18. tah1962

    tah1962 Friend of Leo's

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    Thanks for the update. Sounds like you were at the right place at the right time for those Sheptones. :)
     
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