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Love how my LP plays, don't like the sound

Studio Standard

New member
Joined
May 3, 2021
Messages
1
Hey guys, first time poster. I've got a bit of a dilemma. I've got a 1986 LP Studio Standard. Beautiful axe, plays very well, great weight. Love how it plays. But I've never liked how it sounds. It's dull, there is virtually no definition to the front pickup, and I like playing the front pickup a lot. To my ears it is my worst sounding guitar, though it's also my most expensive one.

My dilemma is that I'm not sure what to do with it. Should I keep tinkering with pickups until I find some I might like more? For a model I like how P90s sound, and very bright, almost twangy humbuckers. Full but clear. I've tried a few different pickups in the neck, including the GFS Drean 90, and it always sounds the same, kind of dull.

The issue is it's kind of becoming a vintage axe. If I sold it I would probably regret it later.

Should I just put the original pickups back in, put it in the basement and come back later, and see if I like how it sounds better?

I know this is a geeky question, but that's what forums are for, right?

Any advice?
 

fakejake

Well-known member
Joined
Sep 3, 2010
Messages
1,225
You could try changing the bridge and tailpiece as well. Both might be pretty heavy if your guitar is stock. I use Pigtails hardware on my R8, that really made the sound more clear and defined.
Also, people here have reported that changing to lighter tuners (likely Kluson style in your case) opens up the sound.
Finally, could it be that the tone pot for the neck PU needs replacing?
 

dumeril7

New member
Joined
Apr 20, 2021
Messages
2
I've wrestled with muddy-sounding neck pickups quite a bit and the most effective, zero-cost remedy I've found is to lower the pickup and raise the screw polepieces. This unbalances the contribution of the coils so that the sound slightly favors the screw coil (similar to unmatched coil windings), which makes it slightly less hum-canceling, but also slightly more singlecoil-like. I've found that it gives more clarity, more openness, and less bass.
 
Joined
Jul 7, 2006
Messages
631
Hey guys, first time poster. I've got a bit of a dilemma. I've got a 1986 LP Studio Standard. Beautiful axe, plays very well, great weight. Love how it plays. But I've never liked how it sounds. It's dull, there is virtually no definition to the front pickup, and I like playing the front pickup a lot. To my ears it is my worst sounding guitar, though it's also my most expensive one.

My dilemma is that I'm not sure what to do with it. Should I keep tinkering with pickups until I find some I might like more? For a model I like how P90s sound, and very bright, almost twangy humbuckers. Full but clear. I've tried a few different pickups in the neck, including the GFS Drean 90, and it always sounds the same, kind of dull.

The issue is it's kind of becoming a vintage axe. If I sold it I would probably regret it later.

Should I just put the original pickups back in, put it in the basement and come back later, and see if I like how it sounds better?

I know this is a geeky question, but that's what forums are for, right?

Any advice?
Maybe you have 350k pots in there which will make the guitar sound more dull,

You can try getting a good wiring harness with good pots and caps. The pots should be selected to be in the 500-550k range. 50’s wiring may help too.

Next pickups with more clarity and chime may be needed. I’m wondering if you have 498t/490r pickups in it. Those sound good with gain in my experience but don’t have enough clarity and chirp for cleaner tones.

A light vintage style aluminum tailpiece may help too.. but not nearly as much as the above I don’t think. You probably have a Nashvile bridge but maybe a higher quality iteration may brighten up the guitar.

Good luck it sounds like a cool guitar.
 

Shelkonnery

New member
Joined
Jan 28, 2021
Messages
11
I think the guys got it spot on!

Try adjusting pickup height.

If you go for new 500k pots and caps, maybe get a push-pull one to get that brighter response you're after.
 
Last edited:

Amp360

Active member
Joined
Feb 16, 2012
Messages
226
I wouldn't have changed Gibson pickups to GFS. I would have adjusted the original pickups and pole pieces and if that didn't do it for me I probably would have sold the guitar.

Chasing the dragon with pickups, parts, etc... just is something that I'm not interested in doing. Sell it, take the cash and find something you like.
 

Wilko

All Access/Backstage Pass
Joined
Mar 11, 2002
Messages
19,866
500k pots is all it needs. Possibly has Shaw pickups. Fun guitar!

Good collector value if you keep it stock and want to sell it.
 

Big Al

Well-known member
Joined
Apr 24, 2002
Messages
14,231
Welcome to the fun world of tone tailoring. First install 500k audio pots. That removes some of the load from the pickups and increases overall brightness.

Next replace the neck pup tone cap with a .015 or .01 value to allow less mud or wool when used. The bridge pup can keep its .022 cap.

Different string alloys effect tone and brightness. You may find a type or brand that will have a very bright tone that you like. Experiment.

Amp and signal chain. Longer than 15ft of total cable length will load your signal and reduce treble. Every stomp box will too. Use quality cables and buffered fx as well as true bypass. If you run multiple fx boxes a switching looper will remove them from your chain as well as their load.

Correctly dial your amp. This is the single most important tweek for tone and seems to have been forgotten in this era of plug and play mentality. There is no universal amp setting. The amp needs to be set for the room, for the guitar and for the desired tone. It works WITH the guitar.

Set the controls for best tone with neck pup with both volume and tone controls wide open. You want to adjust the tone for as bright as you want the pup to sound. In other words to the brightest tone you expect to use. Make sure the bass is tight. You barely want to hear its effect and should avoid muddy, flabby bass. The low E should have a full twangy tone when hit at volume. General rule is higher volume=lower bass setting or lower volume=higher bass settings.

Use the presence control to shape overall sparkle but be carfull not to push it too high. General rule is push the treble and keep presence low.

Now you must dial in the guitar controls. With the amp dialed in for the neck pup, the bridge pup will be way too bright and strident. Well how the heck is that gonna work???? VOLUME AND TONE CONTROLS!!! Just shave off the excessive treble using the bridge pup tone control to get a full twangy tone that will work with your now dialed in neck pup. Use your ears and don't worry about numbers! You will be able to use the tone to roll off all the way for warmer jazzy tones, shave highs for regular twangy tone or goose up the tone for in your face Roy Bucahnan bright tonal mayhem.
 

Triplet

Active member
Joined
Mar 13, 2006
Messages
1,584
If you have a real tone turd, I've found that if you jumper your pick up straight to the output jack (and make sure nothing else is in circuit) THAT is your brightest available tone. You can play with P/U and slug height for clarity at that point. Adding components in circuit will start changing the signal. Even with the pots turned to max, the RC circuit that will have a significant effect.
 
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