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

Wilko

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subtleties of other tonal properties don't mean much when you play higher gain.
... what an electric guitar sounds like acoustically.
What you are saying makes perfect sense, but I'll go one step further with that idea.

IMNSHO, the acoustic properties that help while playing the clean to edge of breakup "hairy" tones, can actually DETRACT from the performance in higher gain situations. For thiose tones I find that the stiffer, heavier Norlin type guitars really shine in that space. They are clearer in tone and can make for very punchy tones that aren't "mushy" like many desribe the more resonant type Les Pauls.
 

Jethro Rocker

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Nov 6, 2022
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What you are saying makes perfect sense, but I'll go one step further with that idea.

IMNSHO, the acoustic properties that help while playing the clean to edge of breakup "hairy" tones, can actually DETRACT from the performance in higher gain situations. For thiose tones I find that the stiffer, heavier Norlin type guitars really shine in that space. They are clearer in tone and can make for very punchy tones that aren't "mushy" like many desribe the more resonant type Les Pauls.
My first LP, a Classic Burst 2016, had a very chunky punchy sound acoustically. Seemed to transfer over to electric to some degree.
But then, my Godin LGSA sounds remarkably similar unplugged, and electrically. Add the piezo in the bridge though and a different critter.
Mushy doesn't work...
 

renderit

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Jan 19, 2009
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10,941
What you are saying makes perfect sense, but I'll go one step further with that idea.

IMNSHO, the acoustic properties that help while playing the clean to edge of breakup "hairy" tones, can actually DETRACT from the performance in higher gain situations. For thiose tones I find that the stiffer, heavier Norlin type guitars really shine in that space. They are clearer in tone and can make for very punchy tones that aren't "mushy" like many desribe the more resonant type Les Pauls.
While I don't agree entirely I will say that the properties of a lively guitar which makes ME FEEL the response in the neck at low volumes (which I like) is somewhat circumvented when the sound level is high.

But then I FEEL the guitar in my pants legs as well through the amp.

At this time you can usually play the distance and not get mush at all ... just another variable in the mix.


But yes. I had a 69 custom with a Dual Showman (no reverb) with 2 - 2/15 JBLS before I got married.

Acoustically a brick.


But on that Dual anything over 4 cracked glass and knocked the clothes off'a the crowd.
 

Any Name You Wish

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Apr 15, 2021
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These days I play at lower volume in order to preserve what is left of my hearing, so the nice articulate sounding cleans are important. When shopping for a new guitar I try it out through my amp at my typical clean volume. I suppose in my younger years I would crank it up and make the decision that way. Based on the responses here I think there are these two camps. It is a lot like what is the best neck profile. "Best tonal qualities" is perhaps too general.
 

DrewB

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Can't let this thread die right? Greg Koch shows how he shops for a Les Paul...


Funny that I did the same thing at Wildwood, only out on the sidewalk, and nobody filmed me, and that's ok.
This perfectly (to me) illustrates that the differences between them may border on subtle, but they all do sound different and you have to find the one that works with your hands and ears. I always take my own Achilles'-heel amp and cable when I'm shopping for Les Pauls, and the neck position is where I focus my attention. I'm after the clarity you hear in Duane Allman's solo in Blue Sky and the chirp in John Squire's solo in Tears. From this video, Carmelita is the closest to that, but the Joe Walsh is the close 2nd.
 

1allspub

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Feb 25, 2018
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What you are saying makes perfect sense, but I'll go one step further with that idea.

IMNSHO, the acoustic properties that help while playing the clean to edge of breakup "hairy" tones, can actually DETRACT from the performance in higher gain situations. For thiose tones I find that the stiffer, heavier Norlin type guitars really shine in that space. They are clearer in tone and can make for very punchy tones that aren't "mushy" like many desribe the more resonant type Les Pauls.
This is a great insight. I never really considered this, but I think you may be onto something. At least, it seems to gel with my experience. I had an R8 that sounded great acoustically, clean, and at the edge of breakup. But when the gain started to edge up it just didn’t quite deliver the goods like some other LPs I had/have. It just wasn’t a “rocker” like I wanted it to be. To some players who play cleaner than me (or at the edge of breakup) it would probably be considered a fantastic guitar. But because I tend toward a bit more gain (not full out Metallic-type gain, but more probably than what you hear from, say, early AC/DC (which isn’t super gainy)... kind of a live KISS type gain... their live stuff was always gainier than their studio stuff and I always liked that extra push—just not so much it totally clips and squishes the sound).

Anyway, it just goes to show that the same guitar can be one man’s dream guitar and another man’s not-so-much guitar... and it’s really not the guitar’s fault, it just depends on what you’re using it for. :unsure:
 

Any Name You Wish

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The Greg Koch video shows that 4 Custom Shop Les Pauls sound different (I'm sure it was more pronounced in-person), but it doesn't resolve the "one thing," that is what is the biggest reason? We will never know. One would have to take those 4 Custom Shop Les Pauls and start swapping out parts between them. Maybe the "spank" Greg was looking for would stay with the body, or maybe it would follow with the pickups, or thumb wheels! Its a beautiful mystery. This is for me the coolest thing, and I can just barely afford it:)
 

brandtkronholm

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This perfectly (to me) illustrates that the differences between them may border on subtle, but they all do sound different and you have to find the one that works with your hands and ears. I always take my own Achilles'-heel amp and cable when I'm shopping for Les Pauls, and the neck position is where I focus my attention. I'm after the clarity you hear in Duane Allman's solo in Blue Sky and the chirp in John Squire's solo in Tears. From this video, Carmelita is the closest to that, but the Joe Walsh is the close 2nd.
Yeah, but how will he know what they really sound like if he doesn't play them unplugged?
I mean, he's missing all the subtleties!

:p
 

Wizard1183

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Jan 20, 2018
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Can't let this thread die right? Greg Koch shows how he shops for a Les Paul...


Funny that I did the same thing at Wildwood, only out on the sidewalk, and nobody filmed me, and that's ok.
Greg shows what HE likes. That doesn’t mean everyone follows Greg’s advice. I mean ever Les paul difference is subtle. Yes they sound different but it not like it’s that discernible. I mean some a little darker or brighter? But depending on what you play? It’ll sound basically the same. For one thing? It’ll sound like you regardless the guitar.
 

Guitar Magic

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Apr 16, 2015
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There is no right answer, different ears and perspectives to a certain extent. There are folks though who feel attacked immediately when it comes to topics about TONE. I find it funny because most of us buy high-end Les Pauls that cost a fortune for the very reason that we have a particular tone in mind from our favorite recordings that we keep chasing. We are not Jimmy Pages and Claptons, that doesn't mean we can't have a good pair of ears and enough experience in the game to be able to sort out the good ones from the duds by certain attributes.

I've been keep making recordings of my Les Pauls that come and go for the past 15 ears or so, it's incredible how individually different each of them feel and sound. The real gems are rare and a musician is able to recognize it at the moment he touches it. In reality 9 out of 10 choose the same one.
 

Wizard1183

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There is no right answer, different ears and perspectives to a certain extent. There are folks though who feel attacked immediately when it comes to topics about TONE. I find it funny because most of us buy high-end Les Pauls that cost a fortune for the very reason that we have a particular tone in mind from our favorite recordings that we keep chasing. We are not Jimmy Pages and Claptons, that doesn't mean we can't have a good pair of ears and enough experience in the game to be able to sort out the good ones from the duds by certain attributes.

I've been keep making recordings of my Les Pauls that come and go for the past 15 ears or so, it's incredible how individually different each of them feel and sound. The real gems are rare and a musician is able to recognize it at the moment he touches it. In reality 9 out of 10 choose the same one.
I do believe the guitar as long as it’s a Les paul? That the Page or Clapton could make it sound just like him with the right amp. The guitar is a minute factor in tone. People chase tone and think guitar plays the major factor when it just doesn’t. It’s the amp and the fingers or hands for that matter….granted as long as you use the same type guitar. Page and Clapton or Green/kossoff could play a BC Rich and make it sound almost exactly as they played if they used said Marshall or Fender amps
 

Bryansamui

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Outside of the player, the 2 most influential parts of the tone are the Front End ( Pickups) and Back End ( Amp/Speaker) Wood is far down the chain.

In my guitar shop I installed ( for an experiment) a 1971 Strat pickup with a 250k pot into a Les Paul neck slot .
Through a MARSHALL Major and boost pedal it NAILED Ritchie Blackmores Strat tone on 'Made in Japan'.
It wasn't just a Strat sound I was hearing from the Gibson, but specifically an early 70s Strat tone. The 90s Strats in the shop Couldn't do that tone ,but the Gibson was creating it.
Similarly, I have a knockabout $300 Chinese Les Paul with Jimmy Page Pickups that replicate his 73 MSG tone.Yet my Custom Shop Les Paul with Custom Buckers won't do the authentic Zeppelin tones in comparison simply because the pickups are 'miles off the pace''
 

thejaf

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I almost always liked the tone of those Les Paul historics that have very straight grained mahogany backs. Don't know why, but most often they're just "more" when the body wood grain is straight.

Oh, and it'd be a great bonus if it could walk my dog at night when I've forgotten.
 

Wizard1183

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I almost always liked the tone of those Les Paul historics that have very straight grained mahogany backs. Don't know why, but most often they're just "more" when the body wood grain is straight.

Oh, and it'd be a great bonus if it could walk my dog at night when I've forgotten.
You can hear the tone from wood grain? Lol
 

Any Name You Wish

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You can hear the tone from wood grain? Lol
I wouldn't laugh too hard. If you hold a slab of mahogany in your hands and knock on it you'll quickly realize why it is considered a tone wood. It might be the best tone wood of all. Straight grain may indeed resonate better than a slab with large swirls and knots, generally speaking. I noticed this when I was shopping for an SG (essentially all solid mahogany except for the fretboard). Now whether a guitar that resonates acoustically sounds better plugged in than a guitar that does not resonate acoustically, I think that has bee beaten to death here.
 

Wizard1183

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I wouldn't laugh too hard. If you hold a slab of mahogany in your hands and knock on it you'll quickly realize why it is considered a tone wood. It might be the best tone wood of all. Straight grain may indeed resonate better than a slab with large swirls and knots, generally speaking. I noticed this when I was shopping for an SG (essentially all solid mahogany except for the fretboard). Now whether a guitar that resonates acoustically sounds better plugged in than a guitar that does not resonate acoustically, I think that has bee beaten to death here.
I understand “knocking on wood” you’ll hear it. But playing guitar and hearing wood grain? No. That’s a fallacy
 

thejaf

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Fallacy for some maybe, but all the historic Les Pauls (except one) that have made me pull out my wallet in the last 20+ years have been constructed of arrow straight wood grain. The one exception is my chambered R8, which has a tiny bit of swirl to some of the grain. But, well it's chambered. Your mileage may vary.
 
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