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Which do you think are the most important tonal qualities of a good Les Paul?

Wilko

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You know? I often wonder if it’s the guitarist above the guitar? Because if you play one long enough? You know the nuances of it and how to work around the faults of it. I don’t think many guitarist played a guitar and said, “take that trash, I need a better one!” When it they were playing a Les paul. It didn’t matter, they MADE it work. Sure some sound better?
NOT true. They were disapointed in the pickups and the build, and that's what launched the vintage guitar and third-party pickup/accesory markets. It became more and more clear that the contemporary guitars from 70s from Gibson and Fender did not compare with their vintage counterparts. Wood quality went to really heavy relatively dead wood and lower output pickups made that even worse.
 
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Wizard1183

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NOT true. They were disapointed in the pickups and the build, and that's what launched the vintage guitar and third-party pickup/accesory markets. It became more and more clear that the contemporary guitars from 70s from Gibson and Fender did not compare with their vintage counterparts. Wood quality went to really heavy relatively dead wood and lower output pickups made that even worse.
I don’t recall Ace F, Tommy Shaw, Randy Rhoads, Peter Frampton complaining of pickups?

You sure it wasn’t experimentation over disappointment? Or making their guitar more original? You’re telling me EVH was dissatisfied with a strat so he threw a bunch of shit together and said that it was better now? ?
 
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Wizard1183

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Which do you think are the most important tonal qualities of a good Les Paul?​

Answer: The player.

I cannot comprehend vague notions of "open", "throaty", "dry, woody, with lots of presence", "clarity", "3D", or "airy". Might as well describe the sound as "yellow" or "aromatic".

The worst is "Tele on steroids". If you like that sound then play a Telecaster!

If there's no "...percussive, fast-responding low-end..." then it sounds like an amp issue to me.

I like Les Pauls. They sound great!
Honor your Les Paul and have it properly set-up by a professional.
After that, if your guitar doesn't sound the way you like, don't blame the guitar.

View attachment 20994
Mike Bloomfield hit the nail on the head. As long as they have their fav amp the guitar is the easy part
 

Wilko

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I don’t recall Ace F, Tommy Shaw, Randy Rhoads, Peter Frampton complaining of pickups?

You sure it wasn’t experimentation over disappointment? Or making their guitar more original? You’re telling me EVH was dissatisfied with a strat so he threw a bunch of shit together and said that it was better now? ?
You answered your own question. EVH famously led the charge. His strat was completly modified to suit him. Most plyers changed parts and pickups. Even Ace. Thse guys put dimarzio on the map.

You're joking right? how old are you? I was there.
 

Frankie

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Jun 27, 2015
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Which do you think are the most important tonal qualities of a good Les Paul?​

Answer: The player.

I cannot comprehend vague notions of "open", "throaty", "dry, woody, with lots of presence", "clarity", "3D", or "airy". Might as well describe the sound as "yellow" or "aromatic".

The worst is "Tele on steroids". If you like that sound then play a Telecaster!

If there's no "...percussive, fast-responding low-end..." then it sounds like an amp issue to me.

I like Les Pauls. They sound great!
Honor your Les Paul and have it properly set-up by a professional.
After that, if your guitar doesn't sound the way you like, don't blame the guitar.
Exactly! The crazy thing is that it took 14 replays before it was said!
 

rialcnis

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It can have thick and thin sounds. It can have thick, thin sounds. Thick--thick and thick thin, Think thick. TT think penetrating....objectively speaking.
 
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Wizard1183

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You answered your own question. EVH famously led the charge. His strat was completly modified to suit him. Most plyers changed parts and pickups. Even Ace. Thse guys put dimarzio on the map.

You're joking right? how old are you? I was there.
EVH modified it, but it wasn’t dissatisfaction. It was that he tried combining Gibson and Fender. He used a Les Paul pickup in the bridge as the only active pickup.

None of those guys changed parts to make it “better” but to make it their own. Like they knew what they were doing?
 

somebodyelseuk

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Jun 10, 2020
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The guitar being setup the way I like it, not the standard, generic 'setup by numbers'.
I'm with the 'amp is more important' guy, but it shouldn't be ignored that a guitar hanging in a shop - no matter which brand - has been setup to a recommended set of numbers, which may or may not be optimal for that particular instrument, and almost certainly not optimal for your preferences.
While a setup may not cure a dud, it can hide a diamond... and no shop is going set a guitar up for you before you've paid for it.

Also, what sounds good in your bedroom, more often than not, doesn't work within a mix.
 
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Wilko

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I guess you know more than me. Whatever.
 
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1allspub

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EVH modified it, but it wasn’t dissatisfaction. It was that he tried combining Gibson and Fender. He used a Les Paul pickup in the bridge as the only active pickup.

None of those guys changed parts to make it “better” but to make it their own. Like they knew what they were doing?
It was absolutely dissatisfaction. He didn’t like the sound so he put the Gibson pickup in it (which, ironically, was a PAF).

Ace too... he yanked the factory pickups and put in DiMarzios. Frampton’s guitar was a heavily modded 54 (3rd pickup routed, P90s removed and 3 humbuckers added). People have been messing with their guitars from the git-go. Page was famous for it too.
 

Jethro Rocker

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It was absolutely dissatisfaction. He didn’t like the sound so he put the Gibson pickup in it (which, ironically, was a PAF).

Ace too... he yanked the factory pickups and put in DiMarzios. Frampton’s guitar was a heavily modded 54 (3rd pickup routed, P90s removed and 3 humbuckers added). People have been messing with their guitars from the git-go. Page was famous for it too.
Exactly. EVH was dissatisfied with single coils in a strat. He also bolted pickup directly to body. The whammy bar didn't stay in tune. He helped with the FR system. He angled the pickup more.
Etc.
To make it his own?
No because he couldn't work wihn it stock. Of course he did it to make it better, for him.
 
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Wizard1183

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It was absolutely dissatisfaction. He didn’t like the sound so he put the Gibson pickup in it (which, ironically, was a PAF).

Ace too... he yanked the factory pickups and put in DiMarzios. Frampton’s guitar was a heavily modded 54 (3rd pickup routed, P90s removed and 3 humbuckers added). People have been messing with their guitars from the git-go. Page was famous for it too.
Show me where he was dissatisfied with his guitar? It started out as a factory “2nd” body and he changed pickups, necks, paint schemes and bridges many times. It wasn’t a one trick pony where he installed a PAF and that was it. He had a PAF. Then dimarzio PAF, etc.

That guitar was nothing but an experimentation its entire life. Fact is? He still sounded like Eddy.

It was ALL experimental when swapping parts. Even today. You’re telling me that everyone that installs thro-backs over custombuckers are 100% satisfied? I’ll call it placebo. You spent money, it sound’s different so you shall like. Some change it just to. Not say upgrades won’t do well.

However no one has a sound in their head and changing a part will get them there. That’s impossible. You change a part cause you want to. No change in guitar part will make you play better. None. Zero. Zip.
 
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Wizard1183

Guest
It was absolutely dissatisfaction. He didn’t like the sound so he put the Gibson pickup in it (which, ironically, was a PAF).

Ace too... he yanked the factory pickups and put in DiMarzios. Frampton’s guitar was a heavily modded 54 (3rd pickup routed, P90s removed and 3 humbuckers added). People have been messing with their guitars from the git-go. Page was famous for it too.
I’ll call BS until proof is shown
 

JASIII

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I’ll call BS until proof is shown
"
GP: So why are you building your own guitars now?

EVH: See, actually I ruined a lot of old guitars. I just didn't like the fact of having the standard rock-star setup - you know, a brand-new Les Paul and a Marshall. I was really into vibrato. Like when we used to play the high schoool dances and shit, I bought myself a '58 Strat. But it's only guitar and bass and drums musically, and the rest of the guys just looked at me and said, "Hey, that thing sounds like hell!" [Laughs.] You know, single-coil pickups, they sound real buzzy, thin. It wasn't enough sound to fill it up. So the reason I started dickin' around that way is I wanted a Gibson-type of sound, but with a Strat vibrato. So I stuck a humbucking pickup in a Strat, and it worked okay, but it didn't get good enough tone because Fenders are kind of cheap wood - they're made out of alder or something. So then I found out about Charvel, but I'm suing them right now because it's actually my guitar design that's keeping them in business. See, Wayne Charvel sold it to another guy, and Wayne was a real cool dude. When he owned it, I was considering endorsing it. And then this other dude took over, and he's just sold so many of them for like a grand apiece. "
 
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Wizard1183

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He constantly changed everything on that guitar. So trying achieve a certain tone was bullshit. Only thing that stayed the same was basically a couple PAF hum buckers. It was solely experimental. Only thing he wanted? Was a Gibson hum bucker with a strat vibrato.

See changes here:
 

Wilko

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The fact is well know and documented. How old are you?

The quality of the guitars and the fact that they didn’t get the sounds that they could previously is what started the aftermarket pickups business. The t-top pickups output was far less than the PAF that was wound inconsistently hotter.
The three bolt strat was a pain in the ass.
 
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Wizard1183

Guest
The fact is well know and documented. How old are you?

The quality of the guitars and the fact that they didn’t get the sounds that they could previously is what started the aftermarket pickups business. The t-top pickups output was far less than the PAF that was wound inconsistently hotter.
The three bolt strat was a pain in the ass.
I just posted an article of ALL the changes in the guitar he did. Most were done to avoid the BS with lawsuits and what not. Had zero to do with tone. The only tonal property was the fact that the Charvel body was better than fender’s body and he wanted a hum bucker and a vibrato. That was it. He changed bridges and necks so many times it didn’t make a shit.

Doesn’t matter how old I am. When eddy was younger he lied about shit. It’s in the article. Did you know him personally from 15yrs old and stick in the band life with him? No. Like I said, the guitar is not a major factor in tone in comparison to the amp and the fingers other than if it’s a humbucker les paul or single coil Strat. It was All-experimental if you replaced parts. You don’t know what part will sound like til it’s replaced. And it never guarantees better. It’s a placebo.

You think Peter green gave a shit about Greeny having a pickup flipped or whatever? Nope he used it as was and called it a piece of shit.

Billy Gibbons rack will makes a Fender sound like pearly gates. Amp + rack =tone…

There’s not a guitarist on the planet that’ll buy a part to achieve better tone knowing exactly what he’ll get from it. It’s a rabbit hole. I see guys buying pups and the they being sold. Similar to speaker swaps. Chasing something that maybe 1% will ever achieve…
 
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Jethro Rocker

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There’s not a guitarist on the planet that’ll buy a part to achieve better tone knowing exactly what he’ll get from it
You don't have to know that. You just need a desire to change it because you think it needs a change. Try something until you find what you are happy with. If you are happy why change it?
Thus changing the lax stock Strat whammy bridge. As an example.
I might change out the pickup in my 76 LP. Why? Because they are very low gain and I want more. So I have a SD Distortion. Ace did the same with his guitar. He didn't change it just for giggles.
Changing it because I want something different. Eddie was unhappy how single coils sounded so he changed them.
 

RossL

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Dec 11, 2021
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I have had quite a few from all periods between the 60s and now and it was a long journey but I finally narrowed down what tonal qualities are a must-have in a Les Paul to be a good sounding one for me. These are certainly not universal truths so I'm interested what are your preferences compared to mine. This is not a specifically Historic-related question but I think this is a good enough place to begin the discussion.

What I experienced in this 15 years of comparing Les Pauls after Les Pauls, a new one traded for another on almost a monthly basis are the following:

- Acoustic and electrified tone go hand-in-hand. A Les Paul must have the below mentioned qualities when you strum it sitting on your porch without an amp. If there is no attack or sustain on a certain area of the neck, you can put any Throbaks or original PAFs in it, it won't magically put it there into the wood.
- Weight doesn't matter as much as it is highlighted on forums in the past 10 years or so. It's not a rule that a good LP must be under 9 lbs to sound "right" regardless of original Bursts' documented weight range. It was 'the more heavy the better' in the 80s and now the trend is the complete opposite on forums. It's simply BS.
- A good Les Paul must have a percussive fast-responding low-end. The palm mutes should sound tight and punchy instead of flabby and soft through a cranked Plexi.
- Many Les Pauls have a weaker sounding low-E and high-E compared to the other strings acoustically. It's a deal breaker.
- Also, many of the very light and extremely resonant Les Pauls tend to have a soft, rubbery tone. On the other hand, old ones or some of the guitars made honestly from old wood can be very light, extremely resonant yet still firm, tight and bright sounding with a Telecaster kinda low-end response.
- From more current ones, oftentimes it's the heavier 9.5-10lbs Les Pauls that have this Tele-like response in the lows and the bright cutting highs. I have an assumption that the light mahogany of the last few decades do not sound like the light mahogany of the 50s. Heavier mahogany strangely can sound closer in some instances.
- The tone must have a "dry" woody quality overall with lots of presence. It's the opposite of the soft, rubbery tone that I mentioned.
- Whatever you do some Les Pauls won't feedback correctly through a cranked amp, you can fight all you want, the notes will just die instead of turning into that desired blooming feedback effortlessly. Those LPs aren't good ones.
- If a Les Paul is acoustically loud and resonant that is the icing on the cake but never the deciding factor.

These are just my experiences and my own preferences. I have to emphasize that there are two ways I play my Les Pauls. I play them either through a cranked tube amp (69 JMP) with no effects that could mask the sound or I play them acoustically because I just can't ever get bored of hearing the natural voice of that sweet Honduras mahogany, maple and rosewood. Playing them this way they always reveal their secrets. Through a cranked Plexi with no effects there is nowhere to hide for a guitar (nor the player), the true quality will come trough either shining or dull and forgettable. As strange as it is, it's exactly the same thing playing them acoustically.

Anyway, I freakin' love Les Pauls!
Wow! Thanks for your insight and experience in explaining the qualities of a great rock machine! I’m going to compare my two babies to your recommendations and determine if they cut the mustard!
 

RossL

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Dec 11, 2021
Messages
68
You know? I often wonder if it’s the guitarist above the guitar? Because if you play one long enough? You know the nuances of it and how to work around the faults of it. I don’t think many guitarist played a guitar and said, “take that trash, I need a better one!” When it they were playing a Les paul. It didn’t matter, they MADE it work. Sure some sound better?


But let’s get away from bursts 58-60 since there weren’t many made and it wasn’t until ppl realized the scarcity of them before they exploded. But in the 70s, if someone played a Les Paul? They didn’t say this one sounds like shit. They just played. Whether it’d be a special or a junior or a les paul. I never read an article where a famous guitarist said oh yea I remember that shitty guitar! I pitched it in a dumpster after that show. It’s STILL around? ?
Actually Alex Lifeson talks of a Lester he bought in the 70’s that was a funky guitar with a crap neck haha
 
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